The Bush White House is letting petitions for clemency languish, writes George Lardner Jr. in the New York Times. Thousands have been waiting for years for a ruling, some since before Bill Clinton left office. Thousands of others have been rejected out of hand, largely because preparing a fair report of what might be said in their favor would take too much time and cost too much money. Bush has denied more pardon and clemency petitions than any post-World War II president. In his first seven years in office, he rejected 5,966 requests, almost twice as many as Bill Clinton did in eight years, five times more than his father did in four years, and almost five times as many as Ronald Reagan did in eight years.
Lardner says the Bush administration's pardon program is in “complete disarray.” There were 2,501 clemency requests pending as of Jan. 1. More than 800 are at the White House waiting a final decision; but the bigger logjam is at the Justice Department, primarily at the Office of the United States Pardon Attorney. The five staff lawyers in the office have no deadlines, and in the past they have been allowed to work about half of the time out of their homes. The sorry state of the system became apparent last month with the abrupt resignation of the pardon attorney, Roger Adams. His departure came after an investigation of alleged mismanagement by the Justice Department's inspector general. While Adams has disputed the findings, a heavily censored report of the investigation, found that he made “highly inappropriate” racial remarks concerning a Nigerian petitioner and threatened retaliation against employees who dared complain about other aspects of his work.