To the surprise of exactly no one, in light of the torture scandal, the warrantless wiretapping scandal, the US Attorneys scandal, the Valerie Plame scandal, and the (fill in blank) scandal, conservative lawyers are pushing the Bush Administration for dozens of pardons for administration officials. Some of us, of course, predicted this months and even years ago (well, okay–a year and a half ago).
I believe that Bush will grant the pardons, including one to Cheney. Instead, at this stage the real question is whether the relevant Bar Associations going to move ahead by disbarring the lawyers involved in all of this. Candidate Number One is Addington. Number Two is Gonzales. Number Three is Yoo (although in Yoo’s case, it’s not actually clear whether he is a member of a Bar: he is not listed as a member in either California or DC. His home state is Pennsylvania, which does not appear to allow on-line access for non-members).
It’s far from clear that this would be real sanction: Richard Nixon was disbarred, as was Bill Clinton, and it didn’t hurt their careers. Gordon Liddy was disbarred, and he is now a conservative saint. But somehow I don’t see most of the Bushies as talk show hosts. For Addington, or Gonzales, or Judge Jay Bybee of the Ninth Circuit, or William Haynes, it could be a real hit. These men make their living as lawyers. On the other hand, I’m sure that some conservative think tank will give them a posh sinecure for their failure.
And just to keep things clear: even a Presidential pardon will not keep any of these guys free from international criminal indictment. Larry Wilkerson, Colin Powell’s former chief of staff, had it right:
Haynes, Feith, Yoo, Bybee, Gonzales and – at the apex – Addington, should never travel outside the US, except perhaps to Saudi Arabia and Israel. They broke the law; they violated their professional ethical code. In future, some government may build the case necessary to prosecute them in a foreign court, or in an international court.