Originally created 08/18/99

Pardoning terrorists



Whenever you think President Clinton has sunk his office as deep into the muck of hypocrisy and cynicism as he possibly can, he always manages to find a way to shove it even deeper.

With the nation reeling from a seemingly endless series of deadly and near-deadly tragedies caused by nuts like hatemonger Buford Furrow Jr., charged in Los Angeles with shooting up kids in a Jewish community center and murdering a FilipinoAmerican postal worker, guess what Clinton does?

He moves to release 19 Puerto Rican terrorists on a vulnerable and unsuspecting American public. All he asks of their clemency review is that they "renounce violence and terrorism." Furrow would no doubt make that promise if offered his freedom.

One of the terrorists who fled to Cuba, notes The Wall Street Journal, is on the FBI's 10 most-wanted list. Maybe the Clintons should hold a welcome home party for him when he comes back -- because what these mind-boggling clemencies are all about is to help the first lady win the U.S. Senate seat in her prospective race against Rudy Giuliani, New York City's popular GOP mayor.

The pardons -- vigorously opposed by Janet Reno's Justice Department, the FBI and U.S. Attorney's Office -- are designed to win Hillary votes in the Hispanic and Puerto Rican neighborhoods of the city, even though there's scant evidence those voters support the terrorists, members of Puerto Rico's so-called Separatist Party (FALN).

In the late 1970s and early '80s, these self-styled "freedom fighters," linked to at least six killings, staged bombing and robbery attacks in 130 U.S. cities, including firebombing a New York police precinct. FALN's history stretches back to the 1950s' armed assault on Congress and assassination attempt on President Harry Truman.

To remove all doubt that the commutation of sentences -- some of which are for life terms -- is anything other than a blatant political ploy, The Journal points out that until these 16 pardons were put forth last week, the president had received 3,042 petitions for clemency since he took office in 1993 and granted only three.

But in addition to the danger in which the clemencies would place innocent Americans, there is the continued sullying of the presidency itself. This is the worst exploitation of the office for purely partisan purposes in memory.

At a time when Clinton lectures the nation on the need to combat terrorism by pushing Congress to pass more gun control laws and "hate crime" legislation, he plans to set free 16 of the most hateful terrorists in the nation. How this president, time and again, can get away with such breathtaking hypocrisy is one of the great political conundrums of our era.