The New York Post
September 11, 1999


                 By MARILYN RAUBER

                 WASHINGTON - Eleven jubilant Puerto Rican militants left jail yesterday - one in a gaudy, gold
                 Mercedes - after getting the key to freedom from President Clinton.

                 The radical members of the FALN terror group - tied to 130 bombings in the '70s and '80s - were
                 headed for celebrations in Puerto Rico or Chicago, with Uncle Sam probably picking up
                 some of the travel tab, federal prison officials said.

                 None is coming to New York.

                 "I'm sickened ... I was hoping it wouldn't come to this," said Joe Connor, 33, whose dad was killed
                 in an FALN bomb that exploded at Fraunces Tavern in Manhattan.

                 Connor warned the president will be to blame if the radicals, some of whom were caught making
                 bombs but were never charged with any of the bombings, return to violence.

                 "I have more animosity toward him than I do toward them ... If anything goes wrong, the blood
                 of our father is on his hands," Connor said.

                 Clinton sparked a furor - and speculation that he was trying to help his wife win Puerto Rican votes
                 for her New York Senate bid - when he offered the clemency deal a month ago to 16 FALN

                 Aside from the 11 freed yesterday, one still has more time to serve and two were already out of

                 Two others refused to renounce violence as a condition of clemency and remain in prison.

                 "I'm elated that I'm free, here with my family," declared Ricardo Jiminez, as his sister waited
                 inside a gold Mercedes near the Terre Haute, Ind. prison where he was serving a 90-year term.

                 Jiminez was one of the nine inmates going back to the island, where sources said families were
                 organizing a welcoming rally - although under Clinton's clemency deal, the inmates, including
                 two sisters, are not allowed to mingle with each other.

                 White House spokesman Jim Kennedy said it was "in their best interests" to abide by the rules.

                 The inmates were given 72 hours to report a federal probation officer, who will decide how
                 often they have to check in, said Tom Kowalski, of the U.S. Parole Commission.

                 Prison officials said they won't be under any tougher restrictions than any other parolee
                 convicted of similar crimes, and that if they violate parole, the commission would decide whether to
                 send them back to jail.

                 Rep. Vito Fossella (R-Staten Island) fired off a letter to the commission demanding to know "how
                 these terrorists will be monitored to reassure the American people that the proper controls are in
                 place to protect them."

                 "It's a tragic day - the president has opened the prison gates to let terrorists free," Fossella said.

                 Asked about the radicals' lack of remorse for the FALN bombings, Guillermo Morales Pagan, who
                 was waiting outside a California prison for his mother, Dylcia Noemi Pagan, to be freed, told
                 Fox TV:

                 "They were never charged with those crimes. I don't know if they feel guilty or not. They're not
                 responsible for those victims."

                 Freed militant Edwin Cortes, 44, said he was heading for a big party in Puerto Rico.

                 "I'm sure that we'll be recognized as patriots in our country, not the criminals we've been labeled as in
                 the United States," Cortes said. "I hope to follow the examples of Nelson Mandela, Gerry Adams
                 and Yasser Arafat."

                 The Senate is expected to vote Monday on a tough resolution condemning Clinton for making
                 "deplorable concessions to terrorists" - after the House voted on a similar resolution, opposed by
                 only 41 Democrats.

                 "I don't see how many Democrats [will] stand with Clinton on this," said one Democratic aide -
                 as party leaders angled for a bipartisan compromise to soften the resolution.

                 Two Senate panels and one House committee will hold separate hearings into the clemency flap next

                 Meanwhile Mayor Giuliani cried "cover up" - blasting Clinton for refusing to release White
                 House documents to show why he granted the clemency.

                 "Even though the act itself may seem irresponsible, very often the problems are compounded by a
                 desire to cover up whatever is involved by concealing documentary evidence," Giuliani told reporters.