Attorney General Designate and the clemency granted FALN terrorists

This article by John Perazzo in today's is absolutely devastating in its portrayal of Attorney General designate Eric Holder's complicity in the pardons of 16 Puerto Rican terrorists.

In his role as Deputy Attorney General, all clemency and pardon requests came through his office. You may already have read about Holder's role in the pardoning of fugitive financier Marc Rich (whose wife subsequently made a large contribution to the Clinton library). Well that's small potatoes compared to what he did to help the clemency process for 16 FALN terrorists.

FALN is a Puerto Rican separatist group that was active in the US during the 70's and 80's, setting off 150 bombs targeting government installations. Arrested in the early 80's, the 16 terrorists refused to take part in their own trial, calling the US government "illegitimate."

In the 90's, a group calling itself "Ofensiva ’92" began to petition the government for clemency. They didn't get very far until Holder met with them in 1997, telling them it would help their case if the terrorists wrote letter to the Justice Department expressing remorse for their crimes.

Eventually, the letters arrived - each one exactly the same as the next. This transparent ploy evidently impressed Holder who began to shepard the clemency request through the Justice Department:

Then on April 8, 1998, Holder again met with FALN supporters. This time, they finally delivered statements from the prisoners as Holder had advised in November. Once again, however, there was a problem: all their statements were identical, indicating that not one of the prisoners had made the effort to craft his own personal expression of repentance. Undeterred, Holder asked whether the prisoners might at least agree to renounce future violence in exchange for clemency. One of the prisoners’ backers, Reverend Paul Sherry, made it clear that they surely “would not change their beliefs”—presumably about the issue of Puerto Rican independence—but was vague as to whether they would eschew violence altogether.

Over the next few weeks, Holder and the Justice Department continued to meet with clemency advocates. Holder was the point man for these negotiations. As Brian Blomquist wrote in the New York Post, “A list of FALN documents withheld from Congress shows that many memos on the FALN clemency decision went directly to Holder, while Reno’s role was minimal.” Similarly, New York Daily News reporter Edward Lewine wrote that Holder was “the Justice Department official most involved with this issue.”

It should be noted that throughout the clemency review process, neither Holder nor anyone else in the Justice Department contacted the FALN’s victims or their families. As a result, most were never aware that clemency for the terrorists was even being contemplated. Those few who were aware of the possibility were rebuffed in their efforts to participate in the review process.

On May 19, 1998, DOJ’s pardon attorney sent Eric Holder a 48-page draft memorandum “concerning clemency for Puerto Rican Nationalist prisoners.” Seven weeks later, on July 8, Holder sent President Clinton a “memorandum regarding clemency matter.” Behind the scenes, indeed, the Deputy Attorney General was methodically spearheading the march toward clemency—despite the fact that the sentencing judges, the U.S. Attorneys, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the Fraternal Order of Police, and the FBI were unanimous in their opposition to pardoning the FALN.

In late July 1999 an attorney from Holder’s office spoke to White House Counsel Charles Ruff regarding the clemency. On August 9, 1999, Holder’s office and OPA held one final meeting to hammer out the details, and two days later the President made his announcement: clemency had been granted to the 16 terrorists, most of whom had served only a fraction of their prison terms. Of the sixteen, twelve accepted the offer and were freed; two refused it; and two others, already out of prison, never responded.

Clinton justified his decision saying that the terrorists had served enough time already.

Shortly after the decision to grant the terrorists clemency, a Justice Department report stated that the FALN posed "an ongoing threat" and Janet Reno said that their impending release from prison would "increase the present threat of terrorism."

Holder denies that Reno was talking about the 16 terrorists he had labored for two years to spring them from jail:

Holder’s response to the threat reports was unconvincing at best. In an October 20 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, and again with reporters the following day, Eric Holder denied that Reno was referring to the same FALN terrorists whose pardons he had worked so long and hard to secure. Yet, when Holder was asked to identify whom Reno was in fact talking about, his response amounted to little more than a pathetic stammer:

I don’t know, no, I don’t know that. We might be able to get you some more information on that, but, I mean, you know, there were certain people who are due to be released, or who were at least eligible for parole, had a release date in the next, as I said, three, four years. I don’t know exactly who they were. Maybe—we might be able to get you that information.

They never did. Neither Holder nor the Justice Department ever provided the names of any of these mystery men.

Will any of this matter - the Rich pardon or the pivotal role Holder played in getting terrorists out of jail?

How big of a stink are Republicans going to make in grilling the first African American designate for Attorney General? My prediction is they will be as meek as lambs and Holder will sail through - another triumph for political correctness over common sense.