- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 14, 2006

Notwithstanding Bill Clinton’s recent purple-faced tirade on Fox News Sunday where he launched into an all out attack against anyone who would dare question his “obsession” with killing Osama bin Laden, an assault far more ferocious than any actual strike authorized by President Clinton against the terror leader, the facts point to quite an different terrorist obsession.

Let the Clinton Terror Legacy be predicated on the record. Let the record show Bill Clinton had Yasser Arafat to the White House eight times, more than any head of state. Let the record show that Bill Clinton gave Gerry Adams of the Irish Republican Army and Sinn Fein his first visa to enter the U.S. prior to any agreement to lay down arms for good. Let the record show how many times the U.S. had bin Laden dead to rights with Mr. Clinton refusing to pull the trigger. And let the record show Mr. Clinton initiated and granted clemency to 16 FALN terrorists.

The latter is perhaps Mr. Clinton’s most egregious act. Between 1974 and 1983, the Puerto Rican terror group, Armed Forces for National Liberation, waged a war against the United States. The FALN set off more than 130 bombs in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. The most devastating attack took place in January 1975: a lunchtime blast at New York City’s Fraunces Tavern that killed four and wounded 60 more.

Yet in August 1999, Bill Clinton offered conditional clemency to 16 of these thugs convicted of conspiracy to commit robbery, bomb-making and sedition, as well as firearms and explosives violations. He did this against the advice of the Justice Department and the FBI. A report from Attorney General Janet Reno on the terrorist threat facing the U.S. focused on the danger from the FALN.

“They have previously used violence in an attempt to achieve independence for Puerto Rico. … Factors which increase the present threat from these groups include… the impending release from prison of members of these groups jailed for prior violence.”

Mr. Clinton’s argument that these particular FALN terrorists were not involved in actually killing anyone is absurd. In November 1999, Human Events quoted a federal prosecutor familiar with the case as saying the FBI busted these thugs while they were making bombs and planning to blow up military offices and rob a Chicago Transit Authority fare collector. They also planned to rob an armored car and kidnap an executive.

Another Clinton defense is that those who accepted clemency had to sign a form denouncing terrorism and violence. So what? These were such hard-core terrorists that they never even applied for clemency themselves. They thought of it as a sign of weakness or capitulation to the “system.”

In fact, President Clinton had denied most actual requests for clemency up until the time he let out the FALN terrorists. So why them?

Speculation centers around the bizarre notion that his letting Puerto Rican criminals out of prison would move New York Hispanics to vote for the wife of the man who set the prisoners free. But eventually, even Hillary Clinton who ran and won the Senate seat from New York, took issue with what her husband had done.

And so did the Congress. The House 311-41 and the Senate by a 95-2 margin condemned Mr. Clinton’s actions. According to the Congressional Record from Sept. 9, 1999, just two years and two days before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, New York Rep. Vito Fosella spoke about one of those “nonviolent” terrorists freed by the president.

He said Carmen Valentin had threatened her sentencing judge. She said, “You are lucky that we cannot take you out right now.” She then went on to call the judge a terrorist and said only the chains around her waist prevented her from doing what she would like to do — kill the judge.

The final version of the House and Senate Resolution on the FALN affair, S.J. 33, speaks volumes. Volumes that we should all read over again and never forget.

“Be it resolved by the Senate and the House of Representatives. — Whereas the president’s offer of clemency to the FALN terrorists violates longstanding tenets of U.S. counterterrorism policy and whereas the release of terrorists is an affront to the rule of law, the victims and their families and every American who believes that violent acts must be punished to the fullest extent of the law. — The making of concessions to terrorists is deplorable and that President Clinton should not have granted clemency to the FALN terrorists.”

In 1988 the State Department reiterated those two longstanding tenets of counterterrorism policy violated by Mr. Clinton:

(1) Make no concession to terrorists and strike no deals.

(2) Bring terrorists to justice for their crimes.

How would Mr. Clinton square his actions with that policy? I would guess with another purple-faced rant in defense of a truly atrocious legacy on terrorism.

STEVE MALZBERG

Mr. Malzberg is a national radio and TV talk show host and a columnist for Newsmax.com.

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