Chip Clapp

Preemptive Pardons

Filed By Chip Clapp | January 17, 2009 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: George W. Bush, government, international relations, Preemptive Pardons

With Bush's departure, the question of whether or not he will give preemptive pardons to those in his administration is on everyone's lips.

There's one problem...

When talking about preemptive pardons for things such as torture and, oh I don't know, invading a country for no reason, these issues deal with international treaties that this administration has chosen to violate. These violations would be tried in the International Court and are not subject to American law.

Any sort of pardon that Bush could give would only pardon his administrators from violations of national civil liberties such as warrantless wiretapping. They would still be fully accountable for international crimes in the International Court. To give you a frame of reference, would we have given any legitimacy to Saddam Hussein pardoning Chemical Ali?

Speaking of legitimacy, that is exactly what we would lose if we failed to provide people for trial in the same court that we used to try Slobodan Milosovich. It would be an exploitation of the international system and one in which the members of the International Court not would, but might petition the World Trade Organization for sanctions against us, and with good grounds. I make no claims as to the probability of that or even that it would work, but without legitimacy, we begin to lose the authority that makes us a superpower.

On the national stage, a pardon is forgiveness for crimes committed. It does not mean however, that we could not still put them on trial to determine their guilt or innocence. If they violated laws, let the truth be told about it through a fair and just trial of their peers. If they want to wash away the stain this administration has left, let it be through the system that they supposedly violated, not press conferences.


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