Just last week, Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright, speaking on the first anniversary of the
deadly U.S. embassy bombings in Africa, vowed
to wage an all-out war against terrorism. This
week, President Clinton turned that promise into a
joke by offering to commute the justifiably harsh
prison sentences of 14 FALN terrorists, including
the wife of its bomb-maker mastermind, the
notorious William Morales.
The FALN, for those who may have forgotten,
was a small group of separatists who launched a
deadly "war of nerves" to bring about
independence for Puerto Rico. Over a six-year
period, the group claimed responsibility for more
than 100 bombings that took six lives and injured
some 130 people.
New Yorkers had particular reason to fear the
FALN: In 1975, it bombed Fraunces Tavern in
the Wall Street area, killing four.
It also bombed Police Headquarters in 1983,
maiming for life three cops who tried to defuse the
bombs. One, Salvatore Pastorella, was blinded
and lost the fingers on his right hand; another,
Anthony Senft, was partially blinded; the third,
Rocco Pascarella, had his right leg amputated.
Another FALN blast, at the Mobil Oil building on
East 42nd Street, sent shards of glass into Charles
Steinberg, a 26-year-old newlywed lawyer, killing
That explosive, like most of the others, was
planted by Morales, the murderous FALN master
bomber, who escaped from custody and now
lives a life of relative luxury in Communist Cuba.
His wife, Dylcia Pagan, was among those offered
clemency by the president. She was convicted of
conspiring to bomb 48 buildings in the Chicago
area in the late '70s. Twoothers covered by
Clinton's offer took part in a 1983 armored truck
heist in West Hartford, Conn.
The president will also free Luis Rosa, one of 11
FALN members arrested in Evanston, Ill., in
1980. Documents uncovered by federal agents
indicated the group planned to kidnap millionaire
industrialist Henry Crown and hold him for
ransom. Earlier FALN activities in the Chicago
area included more than a half-dozen bombings.
Even now, the imprisoned FALN terrorists claim
to be "prisoners of war" - after their arrests, they
refused to participate in their trials. Their release
has come about thanks to a celebrity-studded PR
The White House claims the releases are justified
because those involved "never killed anyone."
Maybe not - but their colleagues certainly did.
And no one among those who are about to be let
loose on the streets - in exchange for a mere
promise to refrain from violence - was in the
slightest bit ignorant of their movement's deadly
tactics, or reluctant to take part in them.
These people took part in violent crimes on behalf
of a murderous movement. They are not, in the
offensively silly description of Rep. Jose Serrano
(D-Bronx) "political prisoners, because their
offenses were complicated by the political
ramifications." No cause justifies criminal attacks
designed to kill innocent people - or engaging in
other acts to support those attacks.
Like Jimmy Carter's earlier decision to pardon
Puerto Rican nationalists who shot up Congress
and tried to assassinate President Harry Truman,
Clinton's clemency offer is an outrageous insult to
those who suffered at the FALN's hands.