You may or may not be aware of all the events surrounding the CIA leak case and the subsequent imprisonment of White House aide “Scooter” Libby. In any case, when President Bush decided to commute his sentence earlier this week, it got me thinking a little bit about the president’s ability to basically undo what a judge, jury, or the courts have done when they convict someone. Bush is, by no means, the only president to use this kind of power (think Gereld Ford “helping out” some guy by the name of Richard Nixon), so it’s more about the power itself than anything else. Should someone have the power to pardon, i.e. “let off the hook,” someone who has committed a crime?
In Illinois, this privilege was used by the governor to commute the death sentences of death row inmates to life in prison, making sure no executions would take place. Even then, in a move that sought to make sure no one would be killed who might have been convicted inappropriately, some might say this executive power was used improperly.
So the question then becomes twofold: Should the power to pardon or grant clemency be available at all, and if so, how does one decided what the proper uses are for such a power?
I’d argue that helping out a friend in the political world is probably not the proper use of such power, but who am I to be the judge of that, right? If I, as president or governor think a judge or jury made the wrong call, why should I have the power to change it? Was I @ the trial? Probably not, but that apparently doesn’t mean anything. Is it any wonder why Americans’ confidence in Congress at All-Time Low, or that so many people don’t vote in our elections? We grant this huge power to our legislative and executive branches, but 1/2 the people don’t vote.
(I’ll probably get me a CIA file for writing this or something, but anyway…) It’s time for a revolution, people, and that involves making conscious decisions about who you vote for, where you shop, how you spend your time, and so much else. Will we all stand up and demand change, or will we let the rich, white, males who have ruled this country for 225+ years continue to do as they see fit with no repercussions?