Some high-profile convicts past and present are among more than 2,000 people asking President George W. Bush to pardon them or commute their prison sentences before he leaves office.
Junk-bond king Michael Milken, media mogul Conrad Black and American-born Taliban soldier John Walker Lindh have applied to the Justice Department seeking official forgiveness.
But with Bush's term ending Jan. 20, some lawyers are lobbying the White House directly to pardon their clients. That raises the possibility that the president could excuse scores of people, including some who have not been charged, to protect them from future accusations, such as former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales or star baseball pitcher Roger Clemens.
Those who have worked with Bush predict that will not happen. The White House has declined to comment on upcoming pardons.
"I would expect the president's conservative approach to executive pardons to continue through the remainder of his term," said Helgi C. Walker, a former Bush associate White House counsel.