Friday, November 18, 2016

Obama, Mistaken on Point re Pardon Power

In a recent interview, the President suggested that he cannot grant a pardon to someone unless they go "before a court" and "presented themselves." This is not correct. The President can pardon anyone, for a federal offense, at any time, before, during or after conviction. This would also include fugitives from the law. We guess that the President may have meant to say, "In Snowden's case, I am not willing to consider a pardon unless he turns himself in."

SPIEGEL: Are you going to pardon Edward Snowden?

OBAMA: I can't pardon somebody who hasn't gone before a court and presented themselves, so that's not something that I would comment on at this point. I think that Mr. Snowden raised some legitimate concerns. How he did it was something that did not follow the procedures and practices of our intelligence community. If everybody took the approach that I make my own decisions about these issues, then it would be very hard to have an organized government or any kind of national security system. At the point at which Mr. Snowden wants to present himself before the legal authorities and make his arguments or have his lawyers make his arguments, then I think those issues come into play. Until that time, what I've tried to suggest -- both to the American people, but also to the world -- is that we do have to balance this issue of privacy and security.

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