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Bush issues 19 pardons, commutes sentence

[JURIST] US President W. George Bush on Tuesday issued presidential pardons [DOJ materials] to 19 people convicted of crimes that ranged from drug trafficking to forging US Treasury checks. Among those pardoned was Charles Thompson Winters, who was convicted of exporting military aircraft to Israel in 1948 in violation of the Neutrality Act of 1939 [text]. Winters, who was seen as a hero to Israelis during their war of independence in 1948, is only the second person to be granted a pardon posthumously [NYT report]. Bush also commuted the prison term of an Iowa man sentenced to life in prison for possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute.

Many convicted felons, including several well-known figures, are seeking clemency [JURIST report] from Bush before he leaves office. Among those said to have applied are financier Michael Milken [Forbes profile; personal website], former congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham [JURIST report] and former Louisiana governor Edwin Edwards [official profile]. Presidential pardons are granted under Article II section 2 [text] of the US Constitution which gives the president the "power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment." The US Department of Justice Office of the Pardon Attorney [official website] accepts clemency applications for Presidential review and determines if the applicants meet the necessary requirements [Executive Clemency Rules, text]. Bush has issued a total of 171 pardons in his seven years as president, among the fewest of any president [US DOJ clemency statistics] since World War II.

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