Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Self-Pardon Hysteria Buried in Legislation

Gary Ater, at the American Chronicle, is taking the preemptive self-pardon talk to new and entertaining heights. In a recent column, he says:
... It was at that time that the Republican leadership's congressional stooges, House Speaker, Dennis Hastert, and Senate Majority Leader, Bill Frist, (now thankfully, long-gone from the House and Senate) jumped into high gear and pushed a bill through that was later signed into law by President Bush.

That bill is now referred to as the Military Commissions Act of 2006. Buried deep down in this bill of many pages is a clause that will allow President Bush to "pardon himself and to provide all of his staff retroactive immunity for any possible war crime(s) that date back to September 11, 2001".

So, unless this decision is challenged and overturned by a new Congress (which won't happen before the President's final term is finished), President George W. Bush could pardon himself and his staff from being accused and convicted of war crimes. It now appears that once again, President Bush and his Administration will be able to place themselves above the law ...
Hmmm. Let's see ... if the law allows the president to pardon himself, and the president pardons himself, then how is he placing himself "above the law?"

Mr. Ater had us thinking the law was hundreds of pages long. Turns out it is only 39 pages long. Readers can see it, in its entirety, here. Our initial searches show that the words "pardon" and "immunity" do not even appear in the bill. They must be buried really, really, deep. PardonPower will keep looking. The word "September" does appear three times in the legislation. But the topic of pardons or immunity could not possibly be inferred from the context absent a degree of uncommon lunacy.

There is also some discussion of an unnamed 2006 decision of the United States Supreme Court. I guessed it might be this one or this one. But searches for "pardon" or "immunity" are generally fruitless there as well. So, whatever Ater is quoting (above), it isn't the legislation he identifies by name or a Supreme Court decision. To be continued ...

1 comment:

Sims said...

The law wouldn't have let him pardoned himself and his cronies; it would have redefined torture retroactively and prospectively. The President doesn't need legislation to let him pardon himself since he already has that power under the Constitution.

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