The New York Post
August 24, 1999


                  By GREGG BIRNBAUM and
                  MURRAY WEISS

                 Mayor Giuliani yesterday charged that President
                 Clinton made a "mistake" in commuting the jail
                 terms of Puerto Rican nationalists who unleashed
                 130 terror bombings on U.S. soil.

                 Clinton has offered to free 16 followers of the
                 FALN - Fuerzas Armadas de la Liberacion
                 Nacional - if they renounce violence. The move
                 could boost his wife's possible campaign for the
                 U.S. Senate in New York, Republicans and
                 political analysts say.

                 "The president ... said the premise of his
                 pardoning them was that they would renounce
                 violence, and now it's a week or 10 days later and
                 they haven't renounced violence - that's got to tell
                 you something," Giuliani told reporters in
                 Rochester, where he attended GOP fund-raisers.

                 "The failure of the people involved to quickly
                 renounce violence gives you a sense that this was
                 a mistake."

                 Only a week ago, Giuliani had refused to
                 comment on the president's action, saying he
                 didn't have enough information.

                 Making his third trip upstate in a week, Giuliani
                 stopped short of accusing Clinton of moving to
                 commute the sentences to give First Lady Hillary
                 Rodham Clinton a helping hand with the Puerto
                 Rican vote in next year's contest.

                 A spokesman for Mrs. Clinton said she believes
                 the FALN members should not be released unless
                 they reject violence, and the White House has
                 insisted the commutation plans were in the works
                 long before Mrs. Clinton was considering running
                 for the Senate.

                 President Clinton has been under pressure from
                 minority groups and human-rights activists to free
                 the FALN members. Most have served at least
                 19 years behind bars for bombings in the 1970s
                 and 1980s.

                 The White House says none of the 16 was
                 directly linked to any deaths, but several FALN
                 bombs seriously injured cops in New York City.

                 "I gotta tell you what I honestly feel ... There are
                 very, very important questions here that are not
                 being answered," Giuliani said. "It should be
                 analyzed from the point of view of what's the
                 grounds for the pardon.

                 "I think the police officers who were seriously
                 injured by the FALN have every right to feel
                 strongly about this."

                 Meanwhile, Police Commissioner Howard Safir,
                 police unions and three cops maimed by FALN
                 bombs held a Manhattan press conference to
                 criticize Clinton for the clemency offers.

                 "We are the ones with life sentences," said
                 Richard Pastorella, a bomb-squad cop blinded
                 and maimed by the 1992 New Year's Eve
                 bombing at Police Headquarters.

                 Pastorella decried Clinton's decision as "a terrible
                 injustice" designed to pander to a segment of the
                 Puerto Rican community.

                 "These people were anarchists who wanted to
                 overthrow the government," he said.

                 Safir said the president "should never make deals
                 with terrorists ... These are people who killed and
                 maimed. There are no heroes in this group. They
                 are vicious criminals."

                 White House deputy press secretary Barry Toiv
                 said it's unlikely Clinton will change his mind.

                 "The president very much took into account the
                 seriousness of the crimes committed by these
                 individuals and made sure they had served an
                 appropriate time," Toiv said.