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Justice Dept. Fights to Keep Rejected Pardons and Commutations Secret

shhhhBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration, which vowed to have more transparency in government, is working very hard to keep some secrets.

At issue: The names of more than 9,200 people President George W. Bush denied pardons and commutations, the National Law Journal reports.

Last year, a D.C. federal judge ruled against the Obama Justice Department and said the names should be made public. The Justice Department has appealed that ruling, insisting the privacy interest of the applicants outweigh the public’s right to know.

“The case is a politically sensitive one for the Justice Department, given Attorney General Eric Holder Jr.’s involvement in the decision to pardon fugitive Marc Rich at the end of the Clinton administration,” the Journal wrote. “The Rich pardon turned into a Washington scandal that compelled Holder to apologize for mistakes when it came up during his confirmation hearing last year.

The Journal wrote that the case applies only to the Bush years, but could open up the door for the public to see applicants from other administrations.

Under the current policy, the Justice Department can confirm a specific pardon, but won’t comment on a list of denials, the Journal reported.

Since October 2009, Obama has received 382 pardon petitions and 2,275 applications for commutation, but none have been acted upon at this time, the Journal reported.

The Journal said the case was initiated by retired Washington Post reporter George Lardner, who is writing a book on the history of clemency.

To read more click here.


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