How Gerald Ford's Pardon of Nixon Enabled Bush's War Crimes
Gerald Ford granted Richard Nixon an absolute pardon for all federal crimes committed while he was in the White House - including for crimes connected to the Watergate scandal. Ford surrounded himself by advisers who would later play key roles in the Bush administration and in shaping Bush's Iraq war policy.
Donald Rumsfeld served first as his chief of staff and then as Secretary of Defense. Dick Cheney also served as Ford's chief of staff. Paul Wolfowitz served in the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. Nixon, like Bush, believed in the unitarian executive theory: that the president ran the country and the other branches were subordinate to him.
One of Ford's first acts was to appoint George H. W. Bush as head of the CIA to push back on Congressional oversight. Because Ford pardoned Nixon and his accomplices, men like Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz did not learn from example and felt free to scheme another day. When George W. Bush was appointed president by the Supreme Court in 2000, he brought all those old boys back into the White House.
For all we know, there could be other younger versions of Cheney and Rumsfeld that worked behind the scenes in Bush's White House. If Obama does not prosecute Bush for war crimes, they will feel free to scheme again. Next time it could mean the end of democracy.
It is Obama's constitutional duty to have Bush investigated for war crimes and prosecuted. Failing that, he can have the U.S. rejoin the International Criminal Court. If Bush can give retroactive immunity to the telecoms for illegal wiretapping, then the U.S. should join the ICC retroactively to 2001, so they can investigate and prosecute Bush and Company for war crimes.
John D. Morgan