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Just another act of executive lawlessness.

It is easy to understand church Canon 977, which holds that absolution by a priest of a partner in sexual sin is invalid.

It is equally easy to understand why President Bush's pardon of the Iran-contra criminals was one more act of presidential lawlessness. The issue of Bush's culpability aside, he has done enormous disservice by dismissing the crimes, by wrapping them in laurels of patriotism, even as he attacked their prosecutors.

Patriotism? Iran-contra involved illegal arms trafficking with a terrorist state (Iran), an equally illegal secretive transfer of arms to the contras by President Reagan's National Security staff and, once exposed, a coordinated White House cover-up.

It involved the shredding of documents, repeated lying under oath to Congress and ongoing obstruction of justice -- to this day. This kind of patriotism destroys government in which all are equal under the law.

The Reagan-Bush era will be remembered for many unsavory matters. Criminality will be near or at the top of the list. There is one consolation, however. At least the Christmas Eve pardons highlight a consistency for history to record.
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Title Annotation:Pres Bush pardons Iran-Contra defendants
Publication:National Catholic Reporter
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Jan 8, 1993
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