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Mystery of the Missing Pardons | The Nation

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Mystery of the Missing Pardons

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We in the SPGWB (Society for the Preservation of George W. Bush) are getting worried.

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Terry Jones
Terry Jones is a film director and actor and member of the Monty Python comedy group.

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It's not that I'm keen on killing people. It's just that the money's so good.

What on earth has happened to those pardons we all assumed George W. was going to dish out on his last day of office? Isn't that every president's right ever since George Washington did it?

I mean it's not as though they're not going to need them, especially now that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said he'll support funding and staff for additional fact-finding by the Senate Armed Services Committee. You remember the Committee released a report last month tracing the abuse of detainees at Guantánamo Bay and Abu Ghraib back to Mr. Bush's decision to exclude terror suspects from the provisions of the Geneva Convention.

Committee Chairman Carl Levin, has already gone public saying: "There needs to be an accounting of torture in this country." And even Nancy Pelosi seems to be in favor of some sort of probe into the policies pursued under what House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, has called the Bush administration's "unreviewable war powers."

Now I know George W. hasn't been exactly generous with his use of pardons; as president he granted only slightly more pardons than he signed execution warrants while governor of Texas. In fact only one other president has granted fewer pardons since James Garfield was assassinated in 1881, and that is George W.'s father.

But you'd think simple self-preservation would have prompted him to dole out a few pardons before he left office--especially when he's been so forgiving to his friends like Scooter Libby.

And now that Eric Holder, the new Attorney General, has confirmed that waterboarding is torture, there are a whole lot of people standing right slap-bang in the sights of various do-gooding, busybody organizations that can't wait to stir up old hatreds instead of looking forward to the future.

We all assumed that when Dick Cheney went on ABC TV and confessed to having instigated the whole torture business, he was doing so safe in the knowledge that the president would pardon him for anything he might be charged with in the future. Apparently, since Gerald Ford pardoned Nixon before he'd even been charged, presidential pardons can be pre-emptive. Like bombing countries before they've done you any harm.

And don't forget Donald Rumsfeld. Remember him saying: "I stand for eight-to-ten hours a day. Why is standing (by prisoners) limited to four hours a day?" A lot of people would like to lay a lot of things at his door. I would think he could do with a pardon.

But our main concern, here at the SPGWB, is with ex-president Bush himself.

There are all those minor things we'd like him to be pardoned in advance for, just to be on the safe side, like: killing one million Iraqis while saving them from a hideous tyrant; lying about weapons of mass destruction; making the United States the pariah of the world; setting spies on US citizens; turning the Justice Department into a political yo-yo; introducing imprisonment without trial; setting up secret prisons and all those other little tricks that Saddam Hussein use to get away with.

What else would we like Mr. Bush to be pardoned for? Well, let's see? How about for taking $70 billion out of the budget used by the Louisiana Corps of Engineers shortly before Hurricane Katrina struck; letting his presidential e-mails be erased; allowing 9/11 to happen by ignoring warnings from the Russians, Israelis, Germans and his own national security adviser that Osama bin Laden was planning to strike.

And that brings us back to the Great Mystery. Why were there no mentions of pardons before he boarded that helicopter to obscurity? Why didn't he pardon Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfovitz, Alberto Gonzales and the rest of them?

We can only hope against hope that, in line with so much of his administration's business, he has done so in secret, and thereby spared the world the unpleasant business of having to watch criminal action brought against those who for eight years were the most powerful men on earth.

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