July 5, 2007

A Remembrance Of Pardons Past
From Investor’s Business Daily
Editorial July 3, 2007

Justice: Those who criticize President Bush's decision to commute Scooter Libby's 30-month prison sentence should remember: The punishment should fit the crime. And in this case, there wasn't one. Yet, that hasn't stopped Bush's foes from going into high dudgeon about Bush letting Libby avoid jail. … [P]residential candidate Hillary Clinton, made this comment, dripping in irony: "This commutation sends the clear signal that in this administration, cronyism and ideology trump competence and justice." Is this the same Democratic Party that shamed the White House for eight years in the 1990s with its illicit activity and lying? … Just checking. It's pretty rich listening to the Democratic grandees wax eloquent about the "rule of law." As we recall, just a few years back, they seemed to think the nation's laws were mere suggestions. … Let's return to the previous occupant of the White House — relevant, of course, because he might soon be back in 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. as first husband if Hillary can win in 2008. As we said, the "equal justice" argument against clemency really founders when you compare Libby with what took place under the Clinton administration and after. The difference in treatment is stark. President Clinton: Impeached for perjury and obstruction of justice, but acquitted by the U.S. Senate. His impeachment on the obstruction charge was basically a hung jury — 50-50. In 1999, District Judge Susan Webber Wright cited Clinton's "willful failure" to tell the truth and failure to obey the court's orders of discovery in citing him for civil contempt in the Paula Jones case. (Jones, remember, claimed she was sexually assaulted by Clinton.) Again, Clinton lied and obstructed an investigation. Yet he got off with a hand-slap: No prison time. An admission of misconduct, a $25,000 fine and a five-year suspension of his license. He had to pay Jones' lawyers' fees and some court costs — $90,686 total — but no felony was put on his record. Based on all this, the Arkansas Supreme Court made Clinton surrender his Arkansas law license and he subsequently resigned from the U.S. Supreme Court bar — just before they were about to suspend him. Sandy Berger: Former National Security Adviser Berger pleaded guilty in federal court to stealing classified documents from the National Archives, destroying some of those documents (obstruction), and lying to federal investigators (perjury). Berger hid secret NSA documents in his socks and pants. He stole and apparently destroyed secret documents from the national archives. … He took five copies, but returned just two. Again, perjury and obstruction of justice? Berger, too, got off with no prison time, a $50,000 fine, two years' probation and 100 hours of community service. No felony on his record. He also lost his law license.

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Then there are the Bill Clinton pardons. Those now screaming about the leniency granted to Libby surely forget that Clinton issued 140 pardons on his last day in office. Many are questionable, to say the least. … Clinton commuted sentences for 16 members of the Puerto Rican separatist group FALN. That group had set off more than 100 bombs in the U.S., and the 16 had been convicted for a number of violent crimes, ranging from sedition to bomb-making. … Clinton also pardoned carnival operators Edgar and Vonna Jo Gregory. How did carnival operators get on his radar? Turns out they had loaned Hillary's brother, Tony Rodham, $107,000, which he never repaid. … Then there was Carlos Vignali, a cocaine trafficker whose sentence Clinton commuted. And Almon Glenn Braswell, who was found guilty of mail fraud and perjury but won a pardon. … Braswell and Vignali each paid Hillary's other brother, Hugh Rodham, $200,000, hoping he could win them clemency. Rodham returned the money, but only after the scandal became public. … Others also found grace under Clinton's pardon frenzy — former Rep. Mel Reynolds (found guilty of sexual assault on a child and later of bank fraud); Susan MacDougal (pardoned for her role in the Whitewater scandal); and President Clinton's brother Roger Clinton (pardoned for earlier drug convictions). As we said, the list is a long one. We gave just a taste of its sordid contents. But it puts Scooter Libby's case in context. … To View Entire Article, Please Visit: http://www.ibdeditorials.com/IBDArticles.aspx?id=268354704071158

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