Presidential Pardons: Who's Most Deserving?
Tis the pardon season. As the clock strikes midnight on his administration, Santa Bush gets to decide which convicted criminals have been naughty or nice. Being one of Santa's elves, I have prepared a pardon list for his consideration.
A presidential pardon for Lewis "Scooter" Libby, former chief of staff to Vice President Richard Cheney, would be one of the most controversial. Although he was investigated for leaking the name of CIA agent Valerie Plame, Libby was not even indicted for that crime. Scooter was convicted of lying and obstructing the investigation into the actual leaker. Many people suspect that he was covering for his boss, the vice president.
Some Republicans advocate for this pardon because they dismiss Libby's crimes as insignificant, but I do not agree. Lying under oath, especially by a lawyer, will never be a minor transgression to me. Our justice system depends on people telling the truth or being penalized if they don't.
Even though I am a card-carrying Democrat, I am still for this pardon. Public service lately has become a one-way, non-stop, nonrefundable ticket to a criminal investigation. Those that choose public service are required to have a good criminal lawyer on retainer even before they order their business cards. This must stop for the good of the country. I became more convinced of the necessity for the Libby pardon after President-elect Obama broke the land speed record for presidential criminal investigations by being summoned by a prosecutor even before he is sworn into office.
We, as a country, are the ones that are losing out when we criminalize public service. The best and brightest of our country are refusing to do public service because they do not want to be caught up in this maelstrom.
I cannot extend the same type of mercy to government officials that were involved in the torture of prisoners due to my abject revulsion that the American government would condone the torture of prisoners. Although I suspect -- or more accurately hope -- some involved in the commission of torture were just good soldiers following orders, I would be against a blanket pardon for the CIA and Justice Department employees involved.
After the furor that surrounded the pardon of fugitive billionaire financier Marc Rich, I am hesitant to propose the pardon of another billionaire financier, but Michael Milken deserves consideration. Milken partially suffered from being the first of the billionaire CEOs. In 20/20 hindsight, he looks like an eagle scout compared to Bernie Madoff and his middlemen, and Dennis Kowlowski of $6,000 shower curtain fame. Subprime mortgages and credit derivatives, which are legal, hurt more people than Michael Milken ever did.