Pres. Bush pardons 14 people

WASHINGTON - November 24, 2008 - The new round of /*White House*/pardons are Bush's first since March and come less than two months before he will end his presidency. The crimes committed by those on the list include drug offenses, income tax evasion, bank embezzlement and violation of the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.

/*Bush*/ has been stingy during his time in office about handing out such reprieves.

Including these actions, he has granted a total of 171 and eight commutations. That's less than half as many as Presidents /*Clinton*/ or /*Reagan*/ issued during their time in office. Both were two-term presidents.

On the latest pardon list were:

-Leslie Owen Collier of Charleston, Mo.
-Milton Kirk Cordes of Rapid City, S.D.
-Richard Micheal Culpepper of Mahomet, Ill.
-Brenda Jean Dolenz-Helmer of Fort Worth, Texas.
-Andrew Foster Harley of Falls Church, Va.
-Obie Gene Helton of Rossville, Ga.
-Carey C. Hice Sr. of Travelers Rest, S.C.
-Geneva Yvonne Hogg of Jacksonville, Fla.
-William Hoyle McCright Jr. of Midland, Texas.
-Paul Julian McCurdy of Sulphur, Okla.
-Robert Earl Mohon Jr. of Grant, Ala.
-Ronald Alan Mohrhoff of Los Angeles.
-Daniel Figh Pue III of Conroe, Texas.
-Orion Lynn Vick of White Hall, Ark.

Bush also commuted the prison sentences of John Edward Forte of North Brunswick, N.J., and James Russell Harris of Detroit.

Under the Constitution, the president's power to issue pardons is absolute and cannot be overruled.

Some high-profile individuals, such as Michael Milken, are seeking a pardon on securities fraud charges. Two politicians convicted of public corruption - former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, R-Calif., and four-term Democratic Louisiana Gov. Edwin W. Edwards - are asking Bush to shorten their prison terms.

One hot topic of discussion related to pardons is whether Bush might decide to issue pre-emptive pardons before he leaves office to government employees who authorized or engaged in harsh interrogations of suspected terrorists in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Some constitutional scholars and human rights groups want the incoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama to investigate possible war crimes.

If Bush were to pardon anyone involved, it would provide protection against criminal charges, particularly for people who were following orders or trying to protect the nation with their actions. But it would also be highly controversial.

At the same time, Obama advisers say there is little - if any - chance that his administration would bring criminal charges.

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