Clinton Won't Turn Over FALN Files
By Kevin Galvin
Associated Press Writer
Invoking executive privilege, President Clinton today refused to turn over
to a House panel documents related to his decision to grant clemency to
more than a dozen members of a violent Puerto Rican nationalist group.
The clemency grants have stirred up a political firestorm, with law
enforcement groups and victims of actions by the group accusing Clinton
of using clemency to boost his wife's Senate ambitions. The group is
known as FALN, Spanish initials for the Armed Forces of National
``With the legal advice of the attorney general, the president is invoking
executive privilege over certain documents and testimony relating to the
grant of clemency,'' said Jim Kennedy, spokesman for the White House
Kennedy said the White House would be providing some 10,000 pages
of documents related to the decision, including thousands of letters
exhorting the president to show leniency toward the prisoners.
``But those that are directly related to the exercise of the president's
constitutional authority are not being provided,'' Kennedy said.
Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., chairman of the House Government Reform
Committee, was being informed of the president's decision in a letter from
White House Deputy Counsel Cheryl Mills.
Committee officials have threatened to seek contempt charges if they
weren't satisfied with the administration's response to its subpoenas.
The Senate Judiciary Committee also plans to issue subpoenas for
documents and testimony regarding the clemency case, according to the
chairman, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.
``This committee is a bipartisan committee that's not going to be stiffed.
Frankly we're just sick and tired of it,'' Hatch said Wednesday.
Critics have accused Clinton of making the clemency offer to help first
lady Hillary Rodham Clinton's budding campaign for Senate in New York,
home to 1.3 million Puerto Ricans.
Mrs. Clinton opposed the deal after it began to draw criticism, and then
was herself criticized by some prominent Puerto Ricans in New York.
Clinton offered clemency to 16 former FALN members, on the condition
that they first renounce violence. Fourteen accepted, and 11 were
released from prison last week.
None of the 16 was convicted of a violent crime.
Clinton extended the offer after a lengthy review by the former White
House chief counsel, Charles F.C. Ruff. Prominent human rights
advocates, including South African Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu
and former President Carter backed the move.
But there is strong sentiment against Clinton's decision in the law
enforcement community. At a Senate hearing, two retired FBI agents who
investigated the FALN characterized its members as terrorists.
At the same hearing Wednesday, Sen. Robert Torricelli, D-N.J., who has
pushed Mrs. Clinton to seek the Senate seat, lashed out at the president.
``I regret greatly the actions of President Clinton,'' Torricelli said.
the committee will learn more about his motivations and the process so
that it's never repeated.''
© 1999 The Associated Press