Hillary, Terror and Clemency

Lessons from the Clinton pardon of Puerto Rican terrorists.

The multiple bombs prepared by Islamic terrorist Ahmad Khan Rahimi claimed no American lives but previous bombings in New York did indeed prove deadly. One bombing, in particular, sheds light on the career of Hillary Clinton, and how she might deal with terrorists if elected president.

On January 24, 1975, the Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional (FALN) bombed the Fraunces Tavern in Manhattan during the noon lunch hour. The blast killed four Americans, decapitating one victim, wounding dozens of others, and scattering body parts in the street. In 1999, during the presidency of Bill Clinton, First Lady Hillary Clinton urged her husband to grant clemency to the 16 Puerto Rican FALN terrorists who perpetrated that bombing and some 130 others.

As Christopher Andersen noted in American Evita: Hillary Clinton’s Path to Power (Morrow, 2004), mandatory reading for anyone covering the current campaign, those opposing the pardons included FBI director Louis Freeh, New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, New York Senator Charles Schumer and Carlos Barcelo-Romero, governor of Puerto Rico. He told the president “how can we responsibly set them free? What if they kill somebody else? What do we say? ‘Too bad?’”

The terrorists had not asked for clemency and didn’t want to accept because it might affect their martyr status. As Andersen shows, “Hillary pressed her husband to find some way to convince the terrorists to change their minds,” and he succeeded. The FALN bombers, “accepted the president’s offer and walked out of prison to the cheers of their supporters, all the while insisting that they had no regrets for what they had done.”

Andersen duly tracked down Joe Connor, whose father, Frank Connor, 33, was killed in Fraunces Tavern bombing. “My dad didn’t have any qualms with the Puerto Rican people,” he told the author. “He was just a working guy. He was eating lunch with friends and his life was valued less than that of the president’s wife and Al Gore. It’s disgusting.”

Two years before 9/11, Joe Connor said, “the world is a much less safe place and this country is a much less safe place, as a result of letting these people out. Certainly, other terrorist might be thinking about attacking us. It will send the wrong message to people who may be planning something.”

After the Senate voted 95-2 to condemn the FALN pardons, Hillary Clinton postured as though she opposed the act of clemency. For Andersen, “the FALN pardon opened the Clintons’ eyes to the ways this constitutional power could be used to achieve a political advantage. The president, unlike all who had gone before him, was willing to ignore the Justice Department altogether in the granting of pardons. To the Clinton’s unalloyed delight, they could empty the jail cells of their choice, and by merely claiming that it served the interest of justice, suffer no lasting consequences.”

Joseph DeGenova, a former US Attorney, went on record that the bombers were “pardoned because they were a political benefit to the president’s wife. Make no mistake about it.” As Debra Burlingame noted in the Wall Street Journal, White House advisor Mayra Martinez-Fernandez, believed releasing the prisoners would be “fairly easy to accomplish and will have a positive impact among strategic communities in the U.S.,” a clear reference to voters.

It is not out of the question that a President Hillary Clinton, in the style of her husband, would deploy her clemency power to curry favor with the nation’s imported electorate, particularly the Muslim communities she wants to bulk up with Syrian refugees. That prospect might give pause to Republicans and independents considering an endorsement of the Democrat.

Meanwhile, the same weekend of Rahimi’s bombing, Ahmed Dahir Adan, a Somalian “soldier of the Islamic State,” entered the Crossroads Center shopping mall in St. Cloud, Minnesota, and asked people if they were Muslim. If they weren’t, Adan stabbed them, and he managed to injure 10 before off-duty policeman Jason Falconer shot him dead.

The default position is that this sort of thing will become common, and the President of the United States appears to take it in stride. According to Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic, the president “frequently reminds his staff that terrorism takes far fewer lives in America than handguns, car accidents and falls in bathtubs do.” In similar style, when James Bond told Auric Goldfinger that his Fort Knox scheme would kill 60,000 people, he responded “Hah. American motorists kill that many every two years.”

If terrorist shootings, bombings and stabbings are to be the new reality, candidates for president might outline a plan for civil defense. A good person to head it up might be Jason Falconer, a firearms instructor dedicated to the best and most realistic training for his clients.

As Bob Owens notes in Bearing Arms, “While Mr. Falconer happened to be the armed citizen who stopped the wannabe mass killer before he could take a life, it just as easily could have been one of his students. It just as easily could have been one of you.”

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