Washington, Dec. 23--(AP) President Bush pardoned seven Americans Monday for an array of mostly minor offenses, from a Mississippi man who tampered with a car odometer to a postal employee who stole $10.90 worth of mail. They were the first pardons of his administration.

Bush also pardoned a Tennessee man sentenced in 1962 for making untaxed whiskey; an Oregon man convicted in 1966 in a grain-theft conspiracy; an Iowa man sentenced in 1989 for lying to the Social Security Administration; a Washington state man sentenced in 1972 for stealing $38,000 worth of copper wire; and a Wisconsin minister who refused to be inducted into the military, sentenced in 1957.

Bush announced his pardons with little fanfare, and maintained a longstanding tradition by doing it near the holidays. While he personally approved the pardons, the announcement was made by the Department of Justice, with the White House quietly signing off. Bush is spending part of the long Christmas week at Camp David.

Pardons have become a politically delicate presidential prerogative in recent years. President Clinton left office two years ago touched by another scandal after a spree of controversial last-minute pardons. The first President Bush ignited a firestorm at the end of his presidency by pardoning former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger.Co

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