The New American
December 20, 1999,  Vol. 15, No. 26

Clinton’s Terrorist Jailbreak

by William F. Jasper

                            The President’s clemency for FALN thugs opens the door to new acts of violence and exposes the hypocrisy of his
                            supposed tough stance against terrorism.

                            The September 10th release from prison of 11 of this nation’s most notorious terrorists was Clintonian audacity at its
                            deadly, stunning worst. The granting of presidential clemency to the unrepentant terrorists of the Puerto Rican FALN
                            stirred a storm of outrage in law enforcement circles and elicited fiery polemics from congressional critics. This White
                            House-sponsored, massive, terrorist jailbreak was a flagrant and visceral broadside against America’s national
                            security. But the full significance of this move in its broadest ramifications, particularly in light of the transfer of the
                            Panama Canal and other Caribbean and Latin American developments, has not even begun to register.

                            The American public and Congress have yet to come to grips with the incredible treachery of President Clinton’s
                            terrorism policies and the lethal threat they pose to our nation. In September 1996, Mr. Clinton warned terrorists: "You
                            have no place to run, you have no place to hide." He declared that his administration would show "zero tolerance for
                            aggression, terrorism, and lawless behavior." Patterns of Global Terrorism 1998, published by the Clinton State
                            Department in April 1999, says on its first page, under the heading, "US Policy": "First, make no concessions to
                            terrorists and strike no deals"; and, "Second, bring terrorists to justice for their crimes."

                            The release of the FALN terrorists not only makes a total mockery of these claims and signals a complete lack of
                            resolve on the part of the U.S. to oppose terrorism, but virtually guarantees a resumption of the FALN’s murderous
                            bombing campaign, and an escalation of the Cuban-directed operations by the FALN’s adjuncts and allies to evict U.S.
                            military facilities in Puerto Rico. Even as the pardoned terrorists walked out of prison, Fidel Castro was stepping up his
                            decades-old propaganda campaign to drive the U.S. Navy out of its critically important Vieques Island bombing range
                            and amphibious training base off the coast of Puerto Rico. Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and the usual radical suspects in the
                            Congressional Hispanic Caucus are all on board this subversive train.

                            In an interview with the Washington Times on September 14th, Dr. Miriam Ramirez, a conservative candidate for the
                            Senate in Puerto Rico, said Clinton’s action has emboldened the underground Boricua Popular Army, better known as
                            "Los Macheteros" (The Machete Wielders), in its unrelenting war against the U.S. Navy. "They have made it into an
                            issue of getting the Navy out of Puerto Rico," Dr. Ramirez told the Times. "They all feel like they’re on a roll."

                            Among the most infamous actions of Los Macheteros, one of several terrorist groups working with the FALN, was the
                            murder of police officer Julio Rodriguez Rivera in August 1978, and its ambush of a bus carrying unarmed U.S. Navy
                            communications personnel near Sabana Seca, Puerto Rico, in 1979. John R. Ball and Emil E. White were killed in that
                            murderous attack and ten other American sailors on the bus were wounded.

                            On September 13th, The San Juan Star published a statement by Filiberto Ojeda Rios, leader of the FALN and Los
                            Macheteros, proclaiming that Puerto Rico should take advantage of this historic moment and battle against the
                            "reactionary offenses" of the U.S. government. But you won’t find much mention of Comrade Ojeda in the
                            Establishment press; it might throw sand into the greased skids Mr. Clinton and his media allies have been preparing
                            for normalizing relations with Castro.

                            Communist Origins

                            Filiberto Ojeda Rios is a Puerto Rican agent of Fidel Castro’s intelligence service, the General Intelligence Directorate
                            (DGI), which has always been subservient to the Soviet KGB. In 1967, under DGI direction, Ojeda organized the
                            terrorist group MIRA (Independent Armed Revolutionary Movement). Arrested in 1970 by Puerto Rican police for
                            bombing five San Juan hotels, Ojeda fled to the United States, after gaining his freedom on reduced bail. In New York,
                            he was given diplomatic cover at the United Nations, from which safe position he organized the FALN (Armed Forces
                            of National Liberation).

                            The FALN inaugurated its "armed struggle" with a bombing at Damrosch Park outside Lincoln Center in New York City
                            on August 31, 1974. This was followed on September 28th with bombings at Police Headquarters and City Hall in
                            Newark, New Jersey. It did not publicly take credit for these explosions, however, until October 26th, when it detonated
                            a series of early morning explosions in New York City’s financial district. On December 11th, New York City Police
                            Officer Angel Poggi, age 22, was maimed and blinded by a booby-trap explosive device after being lured to an
                            abandoned tenement building by a false report of a dead body on the premises.

                            On January 24, 1975, the FALN struck its most deadly blow, bombing the historic Fraunces Tavern in New York City’s
                            financial district, site of George Washington’s farewell to his troops. The attack on the civilian lunch-hour crowd killed
                            four and wounded 60. Bombings continued throughout 1975 in New York, Chicago, and Puerto Rico, culminating in a
                            coordinated multiple-bombing attack on October 27th, on ten sites — mostly banks and government buildings — in
                            New York, Washington, D.C., and Chicago. Over the next several years, dozens more bombings targeted department
                            stores, police stations, military recruitment offices, government buildings, monuments, commercial office buildings,
                            financial institutions, train stations, and post offices.

                            In all, the FALN has been connected to around 150 bombings, attempted bombings, bomb threats, shootings,
                            kidnappings, bank robberies, and other criminal acts. It is not a "nationalist" or "independence" group, as the
                            pro-Clinton media are wont to describe the killers. The FALN is a violent, Communist terrorist organization.

                            The October 21st Los Angeles Times, for example, refers to the FALN merely as "radical Puerto Rican separatists,"
                            and a "Puerto Rican independence group … which was blamed for 130 bombings in the late 1970s and early 1980," as
                            if the FALN might be totally innocent of the charges. Similarly, the New York Times, on the same day, calls the brutal
                            FALN thugs "Puerto Rican nationalists" and a "Puerto Rican independence group."

                            The ideologically blindered media mavens who are quick to see a terrorist in every pro-life activist, gun-rights advocate,
                            or UN opponent refuse to see the obvious terrorist record of the FALN prisoners freed by Mr. Clinton. Associated Press
                            reporter Shannon McCaffrey, for instance, like the rest of the Clintonite Washington press corps, dutifully regurgitated
                            the White House line in a November 10th story which claimed that "none of those offered clemency participated in
                            attacks that killed or wounded anyone."

                            Such stories shamelessly retail the lie enunciated by President Clinton when he said of the FALN: "They had served
                            very long sentences for offenses that did not involve bodily harm to other people." By the same logic, the Clinton
                            Justice Department would have to remove Osama bin Laden from its "top most wanted" terrorist list, since no one is
                            suggesting that bin Laden personally planted the bombs in our Kenyan and Tanzanian embassies. Likewise, Terry
                            Nichols would be released from prison because he was not with Tim McVeigh in Oklahoma City on the day of the
                            bombing, and was not shown to have been directly involved in manufacturing the Ryder truck bomb that prosecutors
                            say caused the death and destruction at the Murrah Building. Similarly, Mafia don John Gotti would be pardoned
                            because it was never proved that he actually pulled the trigger in any of the multiple murders to which he has been tied.
                            And narco-dictator General Manuel Noriega would be released because he was not caught selling drugs on the streets
                            of Panama.

                            The Victims’ Unheard Pleas

                            "Every day of the week all across the country, we arrest, prosecute, convict and incarcerate criminals on conspiracy
                            charges," New York Police Department Detective Anthony Senft points out. "I think everyone knows that under the law,
                            if you are driving the getaway car you are considered just as culpable as the guys who actually do the holdup. If you
                            pay to have someone killed, you are just as culpable as the hit-man who pulls the trigger." "These FALN terrorists
                            Clinton has released were not caught detonating a bomb — that almost never happens — but they were caught
                            red-handed, with bombs and with bomb-making components and paraphernalia, and some of them actually were
                            caught on videotape making bombs," Senft reminded THE NEW AMERICAN. "They were not convicted of many of the
                            bombings that we think they perpetrated, but it is wrong for the media to state as fact that they are innocent of these
                            crimes. The fact is that these people were a major core of the FALN bombing apparatus and when we locked them up
                            the bombings largely stopped. I hate to say this, but I think we will see them start their bombing campaign again."

                            This is a very personal matter, as well as a professional one, for Detective Senft. On New Year’s Eve, 1982 Detective
                            Senft and his partner, Detective Richard Pastorella, responded to a bomb call. They were junior members of the bomb
                            squad at the time. Three bombs had already gone off successively with devastating impact in various locations when
                            they were called to the Federal Building in St. Andrews Square to disarm two bombs. They had just left the Manhattan
                            Police Station, the site of a devastating blast where a gravely wounded Officer Rocco Pascarella had heroically
                            struggled to describe to them the type of bomb that had detonated. "Here was this incredibly, incredibly courageous
                            man, his leg blown off and his body all torn apart, and he was dragging himself on his elbows, trying to warn us that the
                            bomb had been 4 sticks of dynamite planted in a Kentucky Fried Chicken box."

                            When Senft and his partner arrived at the Federal Building they found two similar packages next to two columns of the
                            building canopy. This was a fairly busy pedestrian thoroughfare for the largely Chinese community, many of whom did
                            not speak English. "We had to physically carry some of the Chinese people away because they didn’t understand what
                            we were trying to tell them," recalls Detective Senft. Finally a Chinese man who understood English arrived and
                            shooed the other pedestrians away. Senft put on his bomb suit and looked inside the box. "You can imagine how that
                            Superman sign on my chest shrunk to nothing as I saw the four sticks of dynamite, blasting cap and watch inside." As
                            Senft and Pastorella prepared to disarm the first bomb, it detonated. "Witnesses say Rich was blown about 25 feet
                            back, while I was blown about 15-18 feet into the air," Senft recalled. "I lost my right eye and a finger, broke my hip, had
                            to have my whole face reconstructed, they cut my ears down, laid them down, gave me new ear drums. I lost sixty
                            percent of the hearing on my right side and forty percent on my left, I have severe vertigo, and, of course,
                            post-traumatic stress disorder, which comes with those kinds of injuries. Richard lost both his eyes, most of his
                            hearing, and the fingers on his right hand."

                            What does Detective Senft think of President Clinton’s subsequent posing with uniformed officers on October 21st to
                            promote his federal COPS (Community Oriented Policing Services) program? "It’s a terrible insult," he says. "Clinton’s
                            actions tell would-be terrorists around the world that terrorism against the United States, its people, and its police
                            officers is an acceptable form of demonstrating their political ideology. Richard, Rocco, and I, and our families, don’t
                            get any clemency from the pain and suffering these guys inflicted on us. There’s no clemency for Joe and Tom
                            Connor, whose dad was killed at Fraunces Tavern, or for any of the others who lost loved ones."

                            His partner, Richard Pastorella, is also harshly critical of Clinton’s clemency ploy. "President Clinton has sent terrorists
                            a message that the law enforcement community is expendable, and terrorists will not be pursued to the ends of the
                            earth," Pastorella told the Senate Judiciary Committee in September.

                            His is a view shared by many in law enforcement. Jim Ingram, Commissioner of Public Safety for the State of
                            Mississippi, commanded the FBI/NYPD task force in charge of investigating the FALN bombings in New York in the
                            mid 1970s. "Those of us who serve in law enforcement in this country, and especially those who were involved in
                            trying to bring these terrorists to justice are sickened and very concerned when we see the release of these
                            individuals. From what I have seen, they are still committed to the overthrow of this country and have shown no
                            remorse or reform whatsoever," Ingram told THE NEW AMERICAN. "There is no excuse for that. I am convinced they
                            will kill again, and [Clinton] can offer no credible assurance that they will not do so."

                            Joseph Occhipinti, a highly decorated law enforcement veteran and executive director of the 100,000-member National
                            Police Defense Foundation, told this magazine: "The law enforcement community is both saddened and outraged that
                            President Clinton saw fit to grant clemency to terrorists who have attempted to kill police officers, while there are
                            presently dedicated police officers imprisoned in federal jails for doing their sworn duty." His organization is currently
                            working on 36 cases across the country, he says, where police officers, many with sterling records, have been unfairly
                            prosecuted and imprisoned. "Don’t our police officers deserve at least the same consideration as terrorists?" he asks.

                            Gilbert Gallegos, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, representing more than 283,000 members, is not about to
                            pardon Clinton’s clemency gambit. In an August 18th letter to President Clinton, Gallegos said he was writing "to
                            express our vehement opposition to your offer of clemency to sixteen convicted felons involved with a wave of terrorist
                            bomb attacks on U.S. soil from 1974-83." "I would also like to express my own personal confusion and anger at your
                            decision," Gallegos wrote. "As an Hispanic-American myself, I can assure you that releasing violent convicted felons
                            before they have served their full sentences and to waive tens of thousands of dollars in criminal fines, is no way to
                            appeal to racial pride."

                            When President Clinton carried through with the FALN prisoner release, Gallegos, who had previously supported
                            Clinton’s COPS program, joined FALN victims and other law enforcement officials at a press conference condemning
                            the action. "We should make no mistake," said Gallegos. "The president has used his constitutional power to release
                            convicted terrorists, despite the opposition of federal law enforcement officials, despite objections from the law
                            enforcement community and despite the pleas of the victims and families of the dead — killed in their wave of bomb

                            Lieutenant Commander Raul A. Velez, who commands the Naval and Marine reserves in Albuquerque, New Mexico,
                            believes his views reflect those of far more Puerto Ricans than the press reports indicate. "I am outraged," Velez told
                            THE NEW AMERICAN, "by media coverage which presents stories about the FALN prison release, for instance,
                            showing crowds of Puerto Ricans celebrating, as if this represents the consensus of Puerto Ricans. In truth, every
                            time it has been put to a vote, we have rejected independence overwhelmingly. At most, about 2.5 percent have
                            supported independence, and only a very small portion of that tiny percentage actually support the FALN, Macheteros,
                            etc. in the use of terrorism to achieve it. These criminals are murdering terrorists, not heroes, and as a Puerto Rican
                            and a man who wears the uniform of the U.S. military service, I am deeply offended by President Clinton’s clemency
                            for these people. That should never have happened."

                            How and Why?

                            Just how and why this travesty did happen is still the subject of ongoing congressional investigations. But Mr. Clinton
                            has weathered plenty of those already and is, no doubt, supremely confident that his professional cabal of
                            spinmeisters, stonewallers, and obstructionists will pull him through another scrape. Conventional wisdom has it that
                            Mr. Clinton grabbed the clemency straw to boost Hillary’s and Al’s election chances with New York’s large Puerto
                            Rican community.

                            Although Mr. Clinton has (once again) claimed executive privilege and refused to release records sought by House and
                            Senate committees looking into the matter and blocked the testimony of Justice Department and federal law
                            enforcement personnel, some revealing documents have slipped out. One is a March 6, 1999 e-mail memo from
                            Jeffrey Farrow, chairman of Clinton’s interagency group on Puerto Rico. "The VP’s Puerto Rican position would be
                            helped" by the clemency, said Farrow, who noted that the issue was important to Representatives Nydia Velázquez
                            (D-NY), José Serrano (D-NY), and Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), three of the staunchest leftists in the Hispanic Caucus.

                            The next day, White House Deputy Chief of Staff Maria Echaveste relayed Farrow’s ideas to White House Counsel
                            Charles Ruff, who was handling the clemency question. "Chuck — Jeff’s right about this — very hot issue," her e-mail
                            said. A "very hot issue" indeed, it seems. Apparently Chuck, Jeff, Maria, et al, soon had this issue on Bill’s front burner.

                            In fact, Team Clinton was soon breaking all the rules to spring the FALN darlings from jail. There were some minor
                            obstacles to overcome, of course: The Justice Department, the federal Pardon Attorney, the FBI, and the Federal
                            Bureau of Prisons had all advised against pardoning the terrorists. In her September 1999 report on terrorist activities,
                            Attorney General Janet Reno even called the FALN an "ongoing threat to national security." Moreover, said the Reno
                            report: "Factors which increase the present threat from these groups include … the impending release from prison of
                            members of these groups jailed for prior violence." Apparently it was written for her by one of the few sensible, patriotic
                            souls who still survive (or did at that time, at least) at Clinton/Reno Justice. No one, of course, expected Reno to stand
                            by these words with anything remotely resembling conviction, much less to resign in protest over her boss’ despicable
                            course of action, as if her oath of office really meant something to her. Ditto for Louis Freeh at the FBI.

                            "The Justice department took extraordinary steps to enhance the chances for clemency," the New York Times
                            reported on October 21st. Documents show, said the Times, that the terrorists "did not apply for clemency personally,
                            as is usually required, but department officials processed an application anyway. Under department regulations, a
                            personal application is usually required to start the process, because such a move is taken as a sign of remorse for
                            the criminal act."

                            "Department officials acknowledged in internal memorandums," reported the Times, "that it was highly unusual even to
                            consider clemency in cases in which the prisoners themselves declined to file their own applications." Running this
                            "highly unusual" operation at Justice, it seems, were Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder and the new Pardon Attorney
                            Roger C. Adams (who replaced Margaret C. Love, the Pardon Attorney who had recommended against clemency).

                            The Times reported:

                                 On April 9, 1998, according to Mr. Adams’ notes, he contacted a staff aide to Rep. Gutierrez and said the
                                 department had not received any statement of remorse. The notes show that Mr. Adams counseled the
                                 staff aide as to how the statement should be worded for maximum effect. In the end, the prisoners
                                 provided a long ambiguous statement, with no explicit statement of regret.

                            FALN’s Remorseless Plea

                            The FALN statement said "innocent victims were on all sides." That’s as close as the defiant FALN cadres ever came
                            to contrition. In fact, FALN clemency recipients Luis Rosa and Alicia Rodriguez, together with Carlos Torres, who is
                            still in jail, told the Chicago Tribune in October 1995 that they "have nothing to be sorry for and have no intention of
                            renouncing armed revolution." Ricardo Jiminez threatened the judge in his case, "We’re going to fight; revolutionary
                            justice will take care of you and everybody else." The Senate Judiciary Committee released the transcript of a prison
                            phone conversation in which Adolfo Matos said he reveled in the memory of his 1970s activism because he had the
                            chance "to give my life for something I believe in … for the justice of my people. In this manner I get involved. And my
                            desire has gotten stronger."

                            The folks at Clinton/Reno Justice not only accepted the remorseless plea, but have also allowed the released felons to
                            violate the usual conditions of probation and parole that permit no fraternization with other criminals. "We plan to be
                            together, all of us," Ida Luz Rodriguez said outside the courthouse in San Juan. "Being in jail has not broken my spirit."

                            "According to news and intelligence reports," says Detective Anthony Senft, "the FALN are socializing, meeting, having
                            a good time — they have special privileges." That certainly appears to be the case, even before they got out of prison.
                            "They were allowed to have an unprecedented 16-way phone hookup between all the prisoners at the different prisons,
                            so they could come to agreement on their statement," says Senft. "The terrorists and their lawyers had regular
                            sit-down meetings with the Clinton people, but those of us who are the victims of their crimes had been writing to the
                            White House and Justice for two years on this matter and have never even received the courtesy of a response."

                            Although we have not confirmed at this point that the released FALN convicts personally have been involved in the
                            illegal demonstrations at Vieques Island, their independentista compadres definitely are involved. The Senate has
                            released the July 21st letter Mr. Clinton had received from Ruben Berrios Martinez, the president of the separatist
                            Partido Independentista Puertorriqueña. Martinez made clear that his letter was being sent from the beach of the
                            Vieques live-fire range — where he and others were then engaged in criminal trespass. His letter read:

                                 As you know, we have successfully interrupted the Navy’s bombing and I have pledged to remain here until
                                 the Navy formally declares its intention to leave Vieques, or until I am arrested. By now I have spent
                                 roughly the same amount of time on this beach as I spent in prison in 1971.

                                 [I also want to] bring to your attention once more the plight of Puerto Ricans who have languished in U.S.
                                 prisons during almost two decades, for activities related to their struggle for Puerto Rico’s
                                 independence.... The international community views them as political prisoners, not common criminals,
                                 who deserve the exercise of your constitutional powers of executive clemency without delay.

                            Incredibly, instead of ordering military police to arrest the criminal violators, and despite the advice of all his top military
                            advisors on the importance of Vieques to U.S. national security, President Clinton sent the following note to his
                            National Security Advisor, Samuel "Sandy" Berger:


                                 1) I agree with this — this is wrong. I think they don’t want us there. That’s the main point. The Navy can
                                 find a way to work around it —

                                 2) What about the prisoners

                                 Need Reply

                            No reply from Sandy Berger has been produced yet, but about three weeks after this inquiry, on August 11th, Clinton
                            announced his clemency decision.

                            Throughout his first six years in the White House, Bill Clinton had been presented with over 3,000 clemency requests.
                            He had granted only three. Why the sudden clemency rush for a bunch of terrorists who hadn’t even applied for the
                            favor? Unfortunately, there is a far more sinister motive at work here than merely buying Puerto Rican votes for Hillary
                            and Al. It concerns the full-scale Clintonista undermining of U.S. national security in general, and its attack on our
                            Caribbean and hemispheric security in particular.

                            The FALN terrorist release, keep in mind, has taken place concomitantly with the administration’s push to turn over the
                            Panama Canal to Red China, normalize relations with Fidel Castro’s Cuba, and abandon our military bases on Puerto
                            Rico. The current campaign against our base at Vieques is a continuation of a decades-old campaign by the
                            Castro-backed FALN and its allies. Previously, the comrades focused their demonstrations at the Navy gunnery range
                            on Culebra Island. But when Richard Nixon gave them Culebra, they were not appeased; the radicals switched their
                            focus to Vieques. Having already given up our bases in Panama, surrendering Vieques will be another major step
                            toward turning the Caribbean into a Red Sea dominated by Russia, China, and Cuba.