By Joseph F. Connor
Of all the malfeasant scandals the Clintons have committed, from lying under oath, to Whitewater to the Marc Rich pardon, little compares to the politically craven 1999 clemencies to 16 unrepentant terrorists of the Puerto Rican terrorist group FALN (Armed Forces for National Liberation). Fred DuVal was the co-chair of President Clinton’s White House Interagency Group of Puerto Rico, one of the groups that actively promoted clemency for terrorists.
From 1974 to 1983, the FALN waged a merciless, bloody war against the United States, attacking civilians mainly in Chicago and New York. On January 24, 1975, the FALN’s most deadly attack, the infamous lunchtime bombing of Fraunces Tavern, a New York City landmark, killed my father, Frank Connor, 33, and three other innocent men. It was supposed to be the day we would celebrate my brother’s 11th birthday, and my 9th.
An FALN communique of that day took credit for the attack, which it called a blow against “reactionary corporate executives.” In fact, my dad was born to immigrants and raised in working-class Washington Heights in northern Manhattan, not far from several of the FALN terrorists themselves.
The FALN continued its reign of terror until the early 1980s, when 11 of its members were arrested, tried and convicted of (among other serious felonies) weapons possession and seditious conspiracy. The entirely appropriate prison terms were to run from 55 to 70 years. During their Chicago trials, these defendants rejected US jurisdiction, claiming to be prisoners of war. Several FALN members threatened to kill or maim the judge, Thomas McMillan.
However, on August 11, 1999, President Clinton, (almost certainly in an attempt to gain favor with New York’s Latino community for Hillary Clinton’s 2000 NY senate run) offered 16 FALN members executive clemency. The FALN terrorists did not even request their own clemency. Freedom was engineered on their behalf by none other than then Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder with the help of DuVal’s interagency group. Disgracefully terror supporters were provided a reported nine meetings with the Justice Department while victims and families like ours were ignored. We only found out about the clemencies after they had been offered. If the unrepentant terrorists weren’t granted a month to decide to accept their freedom, they would have been released before families even knew of the offers.
Tellingly, one of the terrorists, Oscar Lopez Rivera, whose release DuVal’s office championed, was so committed to his comrades and cause that he outright refused clemency and remains in prison today.
DuVal and terrorist supporters may recite the line that these terrorists were not accused of killing or harming anyone. In fact, they were convicted of willfully and knowingly joining a conspiracy to commit various acts of violence, including 28 Chicago-area bombings that maimed several people.
Further, all evidence indicates that those convicted in Chicago were part of the same national conspiracy that killed five people in New York, including the Fraunces murders and the New Year’s Eve 1982 attacks on Police Headquarters that left three NYPD detectives permanently injured.
The most vital role of government is to protect its citizenry. As I said when testifying at Eric Holder’s AG confirmation in hearing in 2009, by releasing terrorists Holder (and by extension, DuVal) was playing Russian roulette with the American people. Arizonans saw the results of that again through Operation Fast and Furious and the death of Border Agent Brian Terry.
Does Arizona want a governor who has already put cheap politics ahead of the safety of the citizens he is sworn to protect? I think not.
Joseph Connor works in the financial services industry. He testified at Eric Holder’s 2009 Senate AG Confirmation Hearing and is co-author of “The New Founders,” a novel bringing the American founders alive in the 21st Century.