August 30, 1999

Jailed FALN members discussed return to violence

                  NEW YORK, Aug 30 (Reuters) - Some imprisoned members of a militant
                  Puerto Rican nationalist group discussed returning to violent ways if they go
                  free under a plan by President Bill Clinton to have their sentences
                  commuted, a magazine reported on Monday.

                  Secret audiotapes made by the Bureau of Prisons recorded at least some of
                  the prisoners saying that "as soon as they get out of there, they were going to
                  return to violence," Newsweek quoted a law-enforcement official as saying
                  in its issue dated Sept. 6.

                  It said that as a result of the tapes the Bureau of Prisons -- which rarely
                  participates in pardon and clemency debates -- strongly recommended
                  against leniency for the 16 members of the Armed Forces of National
                  Liberation (FALN), which authorities said made 130 bomb attacks on
                  political and military targets in the United States between 1974 and 1983.

                  The New York Times reported on Friday that Clinton bypassed objections
                  of the FBI, the Bureau of Prisons and several U.S. attorneys general when
                  he offered to reduce sentences of the 16 imprisoned members, convicted on
                  charges of conspiracy, possession of unregistered firearms, and other crimes
                  not directly linked to deaths or injuries.

                  They received sentences of 35 to 90 years in prison, and most have served
                  nearly 20 years.

                  On Sunday, House of Representatives Majority Leader Dick Armey said on
                  "NBC's Meet the Press" that Congress may investigate why Clinton made
                  the offer and also may consider a resolution of disapproval for Clinton's

                  Some Republicans have branded the move as a ploy to court support among
                  Puerto Ricans for Hillary Rodham Clinton's possible bid to become a U.S.
                  senator from New York.

                  But Sen. Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat appearing on the same
                  programme, said it was premature to judge the president's decision without
                  reviewing the reports of the FBI, the Bureau of Prisons and other agencies.

                  He also said he doubted Clinton made the clemency offer to help his wife's
                  political aspirations because the Puerto Rican community complained the
                  clemency did not go far enough.