SENATE DAMNS BILL, 95-2, FOR FALN OFFER
|Ex-cop Rich Pastorella and Joe Connor testify in the Senate yesterday. Pastorella was gravely injured by an FALN bomb; Connor's father was killed.|
By BRIAN BLOMQUIST and ROBERT HARDT, Jr.
The Senate yesterday voted 95-2 to condemn President Clinton's clemency
to 16 Puerto Rican
militants - as the White House stonewalled questions on how the decision was made.
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said the White House stonewalling was a key
reason for voting to
condemn Clinton's clemency grant.
"I have repeatedly requested information on these cases. I have been given
no such information and
therefore have voted to support the resolution," Schumer said.
Sen. Paul Coverdell (R-Ga.) charged that the White House, in a last-minute
move, "pulled the
plug" on a witness from the FBI who was set to testify to a Senate hearing on Clinton's
controversial clemency decision.
The stonewalling appears only to have fanned the flames against Clinton's
clemency, which led to the
freeing last week of 11 jailed members of the FALN, a Puerto Rican terrorist group responsible
for 130 bombings and six deaths.
In a letter to Attorney General Janet Reno, Coverdell wrote, "It is completely
for the administration to refuse to discuss the president's decision to offer clemency to 16
Aides to Clinton and Reno said they hadn't decided whether they'll allow
witnesses to testify
at a Senate hearing today and a House hearing tomorrow on Clinton's get-out-of-jail deal.
The House Government Reform Committee tried to force a response by subpoenaing
of White House Counsel Beth Nolan and officials from the FBI, Justice Department and Bureau of
Sources said the White House is considering having Clinton claim executive
privilege to keep
the witnesses from testifying.
The White House also has refused to give Congress documents that might
provide details on
how Clinton's decision was made and whether it involved political consideration for Hillary
Clinton's all-but-announced Senate campaign in New York.
"We've gotten a number of different requests from Capitol Hill. We're evaluating
those," said White
House scandal spokesman Jim Kennedy.
When Clinton first made the clemency offer over a month ago, there was
speculation it was to help
Hillary Clinton attract votes from New York's 1.3 million Puerto Ricans.
But it has only hurt Mrs. Clinton, who came out against clemency 11 days
ago and denies knowing
anything about the original offer.