November 25, 2008 / 3:51 AM / 11 years ago

Bush grants pardons to 14, but no big names

President George W. Bush speaks at the APEC CEO Summit in Lima November 22, 2008. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush on Monday granted 14 pardons and commuted two sentences but there were no high-profile names on a list released by the Justice Department.

The pardons were given for offenses ranging from distribution of marijuana to unauthorized use of a registered pesticide, a Justice Department statement said.

Under the U.S. Constitution, the president can grant pardons and shorten sentences.

Former media baron Conrad Black is among the high-profile offenders who have requested clemency before Bush leaves office on January 20, according to Canadian media reports.

Black, a Canadian-born member of Britain’s House of Lords, has been in prison since March, when he began serving a 6-1/2 year sentence for defrauding shareholders of one-time newspaper publishing giant Hollinger International Inc.

The New York Times reported that other defendants who have appealed to Bush for pardons include Marion Jones, the former Olympic sprinter convicted for lying about her use of performance-enhancing drugs and John Walker Lindh, the so-called “American Taliban” captured in Afghanistan.

There is speculation in Washington that Bush might issue blanket pardons to government officials and intelligence officers who took part in counterterror programs, the newspaper said.

Former President Bill Clinton created a controversy with the 2001 pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich, issued on Clinton’s last day in office. Rich’s ex-wife was a major donor to Clinton and the Democratic Party.

Writing by Joanne Allen; Editing by Chris Wilson

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