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Alternatively, Pardons

By Matthew Yglesias

"Alternatively, Pardons"

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Peter Baker in The Washington Post: “For an administration that [i.e. the Libby trial] has been unusually opaque and mostly insulated from aggressive congressional oversight and prosecutorial investigation, it may seem like a gut-churning harbinger.” There’s much truth to this. The list of persons potentially facing criminal liability for actions undertaken at the behest of George W. Bush or on behalf of his administration is extremely long. Of course, in practice it’s exceedingly unlikely that Bush himself or, say, Donald Rumsfeld will ever face prosecution for war crimes they’ve ordered, but there’s at least a chance. And from the top various forms of criminality go all the way down and fan out throughout the agencies.

This, it always seemed to me, was one of the great unreported pretexts of the 2004 election. Team Bush was, substantially, fighting for its continued freedom. The mere fact of re-election, however, greatly shields them. Without a successor to try to put into the White House, there’s really very little impediment to the administration not only stonewalling at any turn, but simply handing out pardons whenever necessary. That’s how his dad did business and it worked.

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