Presidential pardons. These will be Obama’s final chance to give a huge “F-U” to Donald Trump, the Republican party, and, ultimately, the American people.
The rules of the game? Well, they’re pretty loose. As it turns out, presidents can pardon not not only those convicted of a crime, but also any crimes that they may have committed. Wow. Now that is power. But can anyone, such as future presidents, reverse these pardons? In a word, no.
Surely, Obama is giddy with delight at the opportunity to wield this dictatorial power. As he counts down his last days in office, he is considering requests from literally thousands of criminals and wrongdoers, from minor drug dealers to those accused of espionage, for pardons or commutations of their federal prison sentences.
A few of the higher-profile pardon-contenders include:
Bowe, a U.S. Army sergeant, was held captive for five years by the Taliban then released as part of a prisoner swap. Why is he not free at this time? Well, he is waiting to be court-martialed for desertion.
Mr. Peltier is a native American activist who was convicted for the 1975 deaths of two FBI agents. His supporters, of course, say he did not actually kill anyone, but was “set up.”
Oh, Mr. Snowden, the young renegade who, in 2013, took it upon himself to make public thousands of classified documents which gave details of the United State’s global communications and internet surveillance systems.
Currently 33-years-old, and a refugee in Russia, Snowden is enjoying the support of numerous celebrities, such actress Susan Sarandon and singer Peter Gabriel. He is also supported by Amnesty International and the American Civil Liberties Union. Our incoming president, however, has called him a “terrible traitor.”
This transgender soldier is serving a 35-year sentence in solitary confinement for providing 700,000 military and diplomatic documents, all of them sensitive, some of them classified, to WikiLeaks. Having already made two suicide attempts, supporters of Chelsea (formerly known as Bradley) say that “her” sentence is excessive.
According to a Politico article on the subject, “Experts agree that Obama has the authority to [pardon] Clinton for any federal offenses she may have committed or could ever be prosecuted for. And he could do it whether she asks or not.”
About Pardons and Commutations of Sentences
Presidents are, per the US Constitution, allowed to pardon citizens who have committed “offenses against the United States.” Presidents are also allowed to commute (either shortening or ending) federal prison sentences.
In the history of the country, only two presidents have not granted any pardons: William H. Harrison and James Garfield, both of whom died soon after they became president.
Since taking office in 2009, Obama has granted 148 pardons and 1,176 commutations of federal sentences. This is a larger number of commutations than were provided by either Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
Not surprisingly, Democrats love to offer pardons and commutations when it is convenient for them. On the very last day of his second term, Bill Clinton pardoned fugitive trader Marc Rich, whose ex-wife had made enormous donations to the Democrats.
Whom will Obama pardon? We can’t be sure yet, but we can rest assured that he will use this power for his own good, and the good of the Democratic party. What about the good of the American people? One need only look at his track record to see how much that issue