The Justice department is getting flooded with a new wave of requests for pardons and commutations from convicted felons hoping for clemency from President Bush before he leaves office, reports Newsweek. A number of politically connected Washington lawyers have been retained to push the cases, but there are few signs that Bush will be open to anything resembling the last minute “pardon party” that marked President Clinton’s final days in office. Bush has been stingy with pardons, granting fewer of them–just 157, and none of them high profile–than any president in modern history. He has directed all hopefuls to submit applications to the Justice Department’s Office of the Pardon Attorney.
The office received a record 555 pardon requests during the fiscal year ending Sept. 30 and an additional 103 in the past month. Among them are former junk-bond king Michael Milken, Marion Jones, the Olympic sprinter who was convicted of lying about steroid use, and John Walker Lindh, the so-called “American Taliban,” now serving 20 years for providing material support to a terrorist organization. One sticky question is how Bush will handle requests from former members of his administration. Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff, I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby, whose prison sentence for lying in the CIA leak case was commuted by Bush last year, has not submitted a pardon request to Justice. But speculation is rampant that Libby’s allies will press Bush for one.