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George Bush's Pardon of Heroin Smuggler Remains a Puzzle


April 1993

A recent article in the Charlotte Observer speculates on why President George Bush, two days before leaving office, pardoned a small-time Pakistani heroin smuggler serving a long sentence in a North Carolina federal prison (John Monk and Gary Wright, "Why Did Bush Free Smuggler? Mystery Lingers in Charlotte Case," The Charlotte Observer, 3/27/93, 1A).

Bush freed 32-year-old Aslam Adam of Karachi on January 18. Adam would not have been eligible for parole for another two years, having served eight years of a 55-year sentence. Neither Bush nor the U.S. Justice Department would comment on the reasons for the unusual pardon. In his four years in office, Bush pardoned only two other federal inmates.

Speculation includes assumed ties between the inmate and the Drug Enforcement Administration or Central Intelligence Agency, and the mundane suggestion that the President took pity on a foreign national sentenced to an unusually long prison term for a relatively small quantity of heroin. The diplomatic or other ties of the inmate's family are unknown.