Jewish World Review Sept. 20, 1999 /10 Tishrei, 5760
http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- HILLARY CLINTON'S REPUTATION for political acumen, like those premature reports of Mark Twain's death, have been greatly exaggerated.
At this point in her pre-campaign for senator from New York, Miss Hillary seems to be doing as well as she did on health care, the first great big flop of the Clinton(s) administration.
Hubby isn't helping -- as much as he might have intended to. Bill Clinton's sweeping offer of clemency to 16 Puerto Rican terrorists has set off a fierce reaction among those who don't take murder and mayhem lightly -- especially when the targets are police officers, soldiers and sailors, and anybody who might get in the way.
Now the the U.S. House of Representatives has passed a resolution decrying the president's offer of clemency -- by a lopsided vote of 311 to 41, with 93 Democrats on the prevailing side.
To date, Bill Clinton had granted only three of the more than 3,000 applications for federal clemency during his administration, but now he's chosen to free 16 terrorists involved in the most horrific crimes.
Naturally, he raised suspicions that he was doing it to help his wife's Senate campaign in New York. Since the terrorists have something of a following among Puerto Rican politicians and voters there -- as opposed to Puerto Rican lawmen.
By the time this tempest in a New York Senate race was over, Hillary Clinton had managed to offend both the law-and-order crowd and the terrorists' supporters, first by endorsing her husband's action and then, after it set off shock waves, repudiating it.
Quite aside from the justice or morality of her stand(s) on this issue, Ms. Clinton's contradictory course was a textbook example of how not to make friends and influence people -- on both sides of a hot issue. At this point in the pre-campaign, she seems to be running against herself.
Meanwhile, the president has explained that he granted these prisoners clemency because, "even though they belonged to an organization that espoused violent means, none of them ... were convicted of doing any bodily harm to anyone.`
Well, that all depends on what is meant by "convicted'' or "bodily harm.'' With this president, you've got to watch the clinton clauses. These people he's now freed weren't just delivering speeches on street corners; they were convicted on charges ranging from bombmaking to armed robbery.
One reason many of these terrorists weren't charged with murder was that it wasn't a federal crime when the terrorists unleashed their extended bombing campaign in Puerto Rico and on the mainland. Instead, they were charged with seditious conspiracy and a number of other offenses.
As for not doing bodily harm to anybody, tell that to the Connor boys. John and Thomas lost their father when the Fraunces Tavern was bombed in New York's financial district; he'd made the mistake of deciding to have lunch there with some clients, and was among those killed by the blast. "Not a day passes without our feeling the void left in our lives,'' his sons protested when they heard about the releases.
Their father's murder was just one of the more than a hundred bombings linked to the FALN, the terrorists' organization. (And in Spanish, please note, FALN stands for the Armed Forces of National Liberation. This wasn't some Tuesday night discussion group.)
The release of these criminals has offended any number of Americans by now, in Puerto Rico and the rest of the country. Among those objecting: Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the senator from New York whom Hillary Clinton would replace or, more accurately, succeed.
Perhaps the most effective witness for the prosecution has been Deborah A. Devaney, a former assistant U.S. attorney in Chicago who's familiar with the case against the terrorists. She should be. She spent years prosecuting them and later co-authored the U.S. Attorney's filing that opposed their application for clemency. To quote from a letter she wrote to the Wall Street Journal: As one of the FALN prosecutors ... I know the chilling evidence that convicted the petitioners -- the violence and the vehemence with which they conspired to wage war on all of us. I know, too, the commitment and sacrifice that it took the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's Office to convict these terrorists in three separate prosecutions.
In the first prosecution, some of the petitioners were captured in the back of a van loaded with weapons to be used to commit armed robberies to fund the FALN operations.
In the second prosecution, three of the petitioners were caught on videotape in safehouses making bombs that they planned to plant at military installations. ...
In the third prosecution, the imprisoned leader of the FALN (whose sentence President Clinton has drastically reduced) led a conspiracy of cooperating radical groups to obtain C-4 explosives to be used to free him from Leavenworth Penitentiary and to wage war on the American people. ...
Yet the president has seen fit to reward these conspirators simply because they were unsuccessful in their murderous attempts. When news of the conditional clemency petition broke, the White House spun the tale that Mr. Clinton was freeing only those who had harmed no one. A few dedicated federal agents are the only people who stood in their way. The conspirators made every effort to murder and to maim. It is no small irony that they should be freed under the guise of humanitarianism.
Since the grant of the clemency petition, we have been subjected to the spectacle of convicted terrorists objecting to the conditions precedent to their release. Contrast those protestations with the poignant message of the Connors, whose lives were forever diminished by the political murder of their father.
There is little anyone can say to give solace, but I would like the Connor family to know that there were those who cared about the victims and fought for them, who believed these crimes were the precursors to heightened domestic terrorism and who tried very hard to protect the American people.
I would like the Connor family to know that the American justice system did not fail them, the president did.
Deborah A. Devaney, Chicago