While the indictment raised against Vice President Cheney and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales may have raised some eyebrows, the real story may be in the many midnight regulations that President Bush has been approving in the last weeks.
According to a story in The Los Angeles Times, President Bush has pushed through 53 changes in federal law in the last three weeks – nearly double as many as Former President Clinton had in November of 2000. Many of the changes in rules deal with the environment.
The main changes deal specifically with oil drilling in the West – specifically an auction of three national parks drilling rights. The new laws also changed federal laws on endangered species, and allowed more waste from mining to flow into rivers and exempted factories from air pollution.
“I am very surprised by the actions of President Bush,” said Tyler Goodnough, an undergraduate environmental science. “I think that this speaks to the fact that he clearly does not seem to care about the environment.”
While these late term policies by President Bush may be angering some – they are the right of every president and very hard to overturn once enacted. Many of these regulations take 60 days to enact and with only 58 days until President-elect Obama’s inauguration many of these regulations will be impossible to overturn. The tradition of midnight regulations dates back to President Reagan.
Another tradition that has many people talking as the clock winds down on President Bush’s term is who will be granted a pardon. Presidential pardons have been in effect since George Washington. They serve as a way for presidents to pardon any criminal of their crime, except in the case of impeachment. Notable pardons from past presidents include Gerald Ford’s pardon of Richard Nixon, Richard Nixon’s pardon of Jimmy Hoffa, and Ronald Reagan’s pardon of George Steinbrenner.
Up to this point, Bush has pardoned 69 people but more may be coming as his term is coming to a close. Most notably among them is Lewis Libby who was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice in the FBI investigation of the leaking of CIA agents Valerie Plame’s identity. Bush communed Libby’s sentence, but only a pardon will allow him to practice law again.
Dr. Louis Zuccarello, a professor of political science at Marist College, said he doubts that Libby will be pardoned.
“I don’t know much about what Bush’s pardoning plans are. I guess it’s possible that he plans to pardon Libby, but I would be surprised. I doubt that he would pardon him because his sentence, as I remember, was not that long.”
If found guilty of condoning prisoner abuse in South Texas, Cheney and Gonzales will become eligible for a pardon under President Bush.
“It is appalling to find that numerous elected officials from different levels of our government throughout our country to our U.S. Vice President Richard B. Cheney, defendant, are profiting from depriving human beings of their liberty,” the indictment said.
But some doubt that Gonzales and Cheney will be charged of any wrong-doing.
“All that I have heard of this was what was on the news one night,” said Donald Caminiti, an attorney for Breslin and Breslin Law Firm in New Jersey. “I’m not sure if this is a story or not because nothing will likely come of it.”