On the one hand, a blanket pardon for anyone involved in the interrogations could be viewed by the public as a tacit admission of colossal wrongdoing -- after years of public denial -- which would do nothing to help Bush's tarnished legacy. Yet, if the administration fears an investigation will follow Bush out the door in January, they may not want to leave officials exposed to potentially revealing criminal proceedings. Bush might seek to frame a blanket pardon as a preemptive strike against wrongheaded, partisan retribution.
Constitutional scholars say a pardon of this kind would be an unprecedented move -- the prospective pardon of not just individuals but entire categories of people, perhaps numbering in the thousands, for carrying out the president's orders , which the White House has argued all along were legal.
If you've shaken hands with the President for a photo op, you may be eligable for a Presidential pardon. That's pretty exciting. And for any of you milquetoast "centrists" out there who think we should just all move forward and not prosecute those in the Bush Administration who committed crimes, Greenwald responds thusly:
How is this anything other than a full-scale exemption issued to political leaders to break our laws? There's nothing unique about circumstances now. New Presidents are always going to have Very Important Things to do. And investigations and prosecutions of past administration officials are always going to be politically divisive. By definition, investigations of past criminality are going to be "distractions" from the Important Work that political leaders must attend to. They're always going to be what Litt perversely refers to as "old battles." To argue that new administrations should refrain from investigating crimes that were committed by past administrations due to the need to avoid partisan division is to announce that the rule of law does not apply to our highest political leaders. It's just as simple as that.