Saturday, January 10, 2009

No Pardon For Rowland, No Mention of Holter

The Hartford Courant is still fixated on former Governor John Rowland, and the paper was pleased to announce that there is little indication President George Bush intends to offer a pardon to Connecticut's once imprisoned governor.

The signed story, “Former Governor Says He Is Not Seeking A Presidential Pardon,” was written by Jon Lender, Dave Altimari and Edmund H. Mahoney, the three horsemen of Rowland’s apocalypse.

The story raises a number of interesting questions, the most important of which is this: When three reporters sign off on a story, does this mean that one writes the nouns, the second the verbs and the third the adjectives and adverbs?

The answer obviously is – yes.

Now, no story about presidential pardons would be complete without a passing reference to former president Bill Clinton, the mother of all presidential pardoners, and readers of the Courant will be pleased to note that either Jon or Dave or Edmund H. Mahoney did indeed mention Bill-The-Pardoner.

Bill is mentioned in these few graphs; that's journalese for paragraphs:

“President Bush has granted more than 190 pardons during his eight years in office, not a large number compared with past presidents. End-of-term pardons are often controversial — as former President Bill Clinton's were — and Bush last month took the unusual action of rescinding a New York developer's pardon.

“The developer — Isaac Robert Toussie, convicted of mail fraud and making false statements to federal housing officials — was among 19 people Bush pardoned on Dec. 23. Bush rescinded the pardon on Dec. 24, after newspapers revealed that Toussie's father had given a total of $40,000 over the course of a year to either the national Republican Party or GOP candidates.

“Customarily, those seeking executive clemency apply to the White House but submit personal applications to the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of the Pardon Attorney. The pardon attorney initiates a review and, through the deputy attorney general, recommends to the president for or against clemency.

“In the past, the pardon attorney has followed a fairly rigid review process in accordance with federal rules, Justice Department regulations and past practice and tradition. But because final decisions ultimately rest with the president, there have been deviations from the traditional review process (italics mine).
En passant, as the French say – fleetingly, lightly, incompletely.

The careful reader will notice that there are no numerical comparisons between pardons offered by Bush and pardons offered by Clinton – nor will they be mentioned in this posting. The reader is invited to look up the numbers himself or, as the case may be, herself.

But there is something that is not mentioned, even en passant, even though Jon and Dave and Edmund H. Mahoney pointedly mentioned a Bush pardon of the notorious Isaac Robert Toussie, later withdrawn.

The number 2 pardoner during the Clinton administration was Eric Holter, recently tapped by President-elect Barack Obama to the next US Attorney General.

Here are a few graphs from a blog posting on Mr. Holter:

“At the time president Bill Clinton pardoned a wealthy contributor to his campaigns, Mark Rich, Attorney General-designate Eric Holder was the number 2 man in the Justice Department. Clinton had fired all the US attorneys connected with the previous administration and appointed new faces in the department.

“At the time of the pardon, Rich was the largest tax defrauder in the United States. In sworn testimony before Congress, Holder claimed he had “only a passing familiarity" with the case against Rich.

The Washington Times is now reporting:
““Correspondence with the Justice Department and testimony secured by Congress from other witnesses show that 15 months before the pardon, Mr. Holder met privately with Mr. Rich's attorney and received a presentation about what Mr. Rich's defense believed were flaws in the government's case…”

It so happens that, in Mr. Holter's case, the pardon review process was a) not ridgid, b) not in accordance with federal rules and c) devient.

Even the fish will smell something fishy there. But in the Jon, Dave and Edmund H. Mahoney story, it is not even mentioned.

Is it not odd how incurious some reporters are about the new news when they fixate on the old news.


On January 18, the Courant ran an op-ed piece critical of Holter.

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