Jewish World Review Sept. 2, 1999/21 Elul, 5759
http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- SO, YOU STILL don't think the president's character matters? Then, consider this.
The Constitution provides that the president shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for federal offenses, except in cases of impeachment.
The U.S. Supreme Court has made clear just how expansive this presidential prerogative is. It is equal to that of English Kings, Ex parte Grossman, 267, U.S. 87 (1925), and extends to all completed offenses, before, during or after trial, by individuals, or classes, conditionally or absolutely, without modification or regulation by Congress. Ex parte Garland, 4 Wall 333 (1867).
Chief Justice Taft, speaking for the Court in Grossman, explained the purpose of this awesome grant of power: "Executive clemency exists to afford relief from undue harshness or evident mistake in the operation or enforcement of the criminal law. ... Our Constitution confers this discretion on the highest officer in the nation in confidence that he will not abuse it."
Let's remember these sobering words as we feast upon another Clinton outrage.
By now, most of you are probably aware that President Clinton offered clemency to 16 Puerto Rican members of FALN (Armed Forces of National Liberation), a terrorist group advocating independence for Puerto Rico. FALN made 130 bomb attacks on political and military targets in the United States between 1974 and 1983, killing six and injuring dozens, including several New York police officers.
Though the 16 were not convicted of crimes directly linked to the deaths or injuries, they were key members of FALN, which existed for the purpose of violently advancing independence.
Clinton's offer was conditioned upon the prisoners signing statements requesting commutation, renouncing violence (which they have yet to do), and agreeing to abide by all conditions of release.
Clinton ostensibly made the clemency offer in response to so-called human-rights advocates, who argued that the sentences, ranging from 15 to 90 years, were too harsh. He did so in the face of overwhelming opposition by federal law-enforcement agencies, including the FBI, federal prosecutors in Illinois and Connecticut, where the convictions were obtained, and the Bureau of Prisons (whose officials say the inmates are not likely to obey the law if released).
What possible reason could Clinton have to reduce or commute these sentences? What scintilla of sympathy could anyone have for this band of misfits?
Of all the people incarcerated on federal offenses in this country, surely, the president could have found a more deserving group. These are terrorists who still represent a threat to citizens of the United States, who Clinton has a duty not to expose to danger.
For a man who claims to feel our pain, Clinton is doing a masterful job disregarding the pleas of FALN's victims and their relatives.
He brazenly ignores the pain of:
Many are accusing Clinton of extending the offer to enhance Hillary's standing with N.Y. Puerto Rican voters, whose turnout is believed critical to her victory.
Given the unanimous opposition of law-enforcement officials, the pain
of the victims, the conspicuous absence of contrition by the prisoners
and the character of a president who bombs pharmaceutical plants to
divert attention from his domestic scandals, can any fair-minded person
doubt that Clinton is once again abusing his authority for political
gain? Can anyone still maintain that character doesn't
08/30/99: Should we judge?