RUDY HAMMERS BILL ON TERROR PARDON
By GREGG BIRNBAUM and
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
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
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.