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President pardons 16, commutes a sentence

WASHINGTON -- President Bush issued 16 pardons to minor criminals yesterday and commuted the sentence of an Iowa man serving time for a drug conviction.

Six of the federal offenses were drug crimes, while others included bank fraud, mail fraud, the acceptance of a kickback, a false statement on a loan application, and conspiracy to defraud the government over taxes.

Seven of the 16 received no prison or jail time, but received probation or small fines. The longest sentence was nine years, for aiding cocaine distribution, followed by a six-year term for conspiracy to possess marijuana.

Including these cases, Bush has issued 113 pardons and commuted three sentences in his nearly six years in the White House, according to spokesman Tony Fratto.

A pardon amounts to federal forgiveness for one's crime, while a commutation cuts short a prison term.

The list did not include former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, charged in the CIA leak case with perjury and obstruction. Libby, whose trial is scheduled to begin in January, is accused of lying to investigators about his conversations with reporters regarding CIA operative Valerie Plume Wilson , the wife of an Iraq war critic.

Pardons are an end-of-the-year presidential tradition, and Bush was not expected to issue any more this year. He last issued pardons in August.

"Requests for executive clemency receive intense, individualized consideration based upon an established set of objective criteria," Fratto said.

Bill Clinton issued 457 in eight years in office. George H.W. Bush issued 77 in four years. President Reagan issued 406 in eight years, and Jimmy Carter issued 563 in four years.

President Truman, who served 82 days short of eight years, issued 2,031.

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