The Clinton White House, which piously insists
that the president's clemency offer to 16 terrorists
advocating Puerto Rican independence is in no
way connected to the first lady's political hopes,
has lashed out at Mayor Giuliani's altogether
justified criticism of this barbaric business.
The mayor said that those being released from
prison have thus far refused to accept the
president's insistence that they renounce violence,
and thus do not deserve clemency. Presidential
spokesman Joe Lockhart says Giuliani should
have waited for the imprisoned terrorists' formal
response to the clemency offer, saying that "there
is a process here that is ongoing."
That's arrant, offensive nonsense. Pardoning
terrorists is a bad idea to begin with, but if you're
going to do it, the renunciation of violence must be
part of any deal. What Clinton has done is to first
promise clemency and only then start negotiating
Which means that the president can't back down
without causing his wife political damage. The
FALN terrorists and theirsupporters, including
such short-sighted members of Congress as Jose
Serrano and Nydia Velazquez, realize this all too
clearly - which is why they're demanding an
"unconditional pardon" for these "political
Mrs. Clinton's Senate hopes are based in part on
the notion that she needs a large minority turnout.
Hence the all-too-plausible speculation that the
clemency offer has been made to encourage
Puerto Rican support for the first lady.
So now Clinton is the one who's under pressure
to back down and make his clemency offer
unconditional. Considering the president's political
debt to his stand-by-me wife, it's by no means out
of the question.
The president says he thinks the FALN terrorists
should be freed because, having served 20 years
in prison, they've been sufficiently punished. But
as Richard Pastorella - who was blinded and
permanently maimed by the FALN - notes,
"We're the ones with life sentences."
Is there no issue these Clintons will not play cheap
political games with?