To: The Editors of the NY Times and the Huffington Post
Re: Request for Advice - Presidential Pardons
Perhaps you would be so good as to save President Bush the trouble of figuring out who to pardon as he gets ready to turn over the reins to President Obama. We are hopeful that your agreement with his recent pardon of Pumpkin, the Thanksgiving Day turkey, suggests that there may be a new commonality of thinking in this post-partisan time.
1. The Valerie Plame/Joe Wilson gang. You'll recall that in the run-up to the Iraq War there was a kerfuffle about the British intelligence report that Iraqi's were in Niger trying to buy yellow cake. Former Ambassador Joe Wilson was sent to check it out, was upset with the administration's interpretation of his report, and wrote an op-ed for the Times criticising the administration's rationale for the Iraq War. In the process it became known to Robert Novak that Wilson's wife Valerie, a CIA manager, had been instrumental in his selection for the trip. The source of that information has never been revealed, although Scooter Libby went to jail for not divulging it, and Karl Rove, Richard Armitage, and Dick Cheney have been under a legal cloud ever since.
2. The Federal Prosecutor crowd. You'll recall that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales removed nine federal prosecutors in 2006, generally for refusing to pursue voter fraud cases, operating under the assumption that they were "employees at will". The current attorney general, Michael Mukasey, has found that the firings were "haphazard, arbitrary, and unprofessional", and may have been more influenced by Harriet Miers and Karl Rove than by Gonzales. The prior practice of replacing all prosecutors at the beginning of a term doesn't seem to be relevant - even when it interfered with the prosecution of Congressman Dan Rostenkowski or the Whitewater events.
3. Defense and intelligence establishment managers and operatives who have been engaged in electronic surveillance and interrogations since 9/11. It may not be enough that they relied on legal opinions from the Justice Department, and should have exercised better judgement in trying to keep us safe.
1. The ACORN folks. Barack won by almost 200 electoral votes, so we may adopt a "no harm/no foul" approach, particularly since he has been on their board and his campaign contributed some $800,000 to their registration efforts that have been investigated in several states. Lets start the new era with a mood of conciliation.
2. Salim Hamdan, bin Laden's poor driver who was held for seven years before recently being sent back to Yemen. In fact, we could clean up a large mess if we just pardon the whole lot at Gitmo.
3. Harold Simmons, that guy from the American Issues Project who was running ads about Bill Ayers on the radio stations that he owns in Ohio and elsewhere. At the time we weren't too sure about the Obama campaign's demand that he be prosecuted for something, but it may be time to take a second look.
FYI, we will also be asking the advice of the new attorney general, Eric Holder, who served President Clinton so well in recommending the last-day pardon of Hillary's friend Marc Rich, and 140 others, as well as the commutation of sentences for the 16 Puerto Rican nationalists who had exploded 120 bombs around the country. We're told he's a good guy.
While we think of this clemency tradition as unfortunate, the potential desire of the new administration to seek legal retribution is more unfortunate.
The attached Xerox site, forwarded by Joe Maurer, offers an easy way to say a Holiday thanks to the folks serving in the Middle East.
Bill Bowen - 11/28/08