The ProPublica story about Clarence Aaron and the Office of the Pardon Attorney (OPA) [“Inmate still in prison after facts kept from Bush team,” front page, May 14] cannot be ignored by Congress. Yes, the president has exclusive authority to grant clemency, but Congress created and funds the OPA, and it has a responsibility to taxpayers to conduct oversight of the executive branch, especially when there is clear evidence of wrongdoing or incompetence.
The OPA’s handling of Mr. Aaron’s petition for a commuted sentence fits the bill. Congress should investigate the
OPA and see how many other deserving petitioners received the same awful treatment. The public deserves to know whose interests, if not the president’s, the OPA is serving.
Further, President Obama is on notice that the OPA is broken. If his intention is to go down in history as the least merciful president in the modern era, he need not change anything. That is the path he is on. But if he believes a president should use his exclusive constitutional authority to promote justice and second chances, he must support wholesale reform of the OPA.
Julie Stewart, Washington
The writer is president of Families Against Mandatory Minimums.