FALN Eyes Violence: Jailer
August 30, 1999 - KENNETH R. BAZINET - NY Daily News Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON - Jailhouse tapes reportedly reveal Puerto
Rican separatists planned a return to
violence after their release, fueling criticism from
Republican lawmakers yesterday slamming
President Clinton's clemency offer for 16 members
of the group.
The tapes, secretly made by the Bureau of
Prisons, caught some of the imprisoned FALN
nationalists saying that "as soon as they get out of
there, they were going to return to violence," a law
enforcement official told Newsweek magazine.
The magazine did not quote directly from the
recordings or say when the conversations were
recorded. Taping inmates' conversations is
standard procedure at federal prisons, according
to correctional authorities.
White House officials said yesterday they were
not aware the tapes existed, despite a four-year
review by the administration that led to Clinton's
decision to offer clemency for the members of the
FALN, the Spanish acronym for Armed Forces of
"We just have to see what the facts are with
respect to the tapes," White House deputy chief of
staff Maria Echaveste told the Daily News.
Top Republicans lined up behind Mayor Giuliani,
who has blasted the White House clemency offer
and questioned its timing, coming as the First
Lady mulls a Senate bid from New York.
"This sends the wrong signal to terrorists around
the world," said Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.), adding
that there are "a lot of people in Washington that
are questioning" whether it's linked to Hillary
Rodham Clinton's expected Senate campaign.
House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Tex.) said
on NBC's "Meet the Press" that "obviously we will
have some members of Congress that will want to
look into" the timing of the offer, though he
stopped short of calling for a formal investigation.
But New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, a Democrat,
dismissed the charge that the White House was
playing politics. "I don't think this was intended to
help Hillary Clinton," he told "Meet the Press."
The First Lady's spokesman, Howard Wolfson,
would not comment on the charges of suspicious
timing but said the First Lady's position has
remained consistent. "Prisoners should not be
released unless they renounce violence," he said.
Despite the heat from Republicans, the Clinton
administration is sticking by the President's
decision, which was backed by members of the
Hispanic caucus in Congress, human rights
advocates and Catholic clergy.
The jailed 11 men and five women offered
conditional release were not involved in attacks
that killed people, but the FALN carried out 130
bomb attacks on civilian and military targets from
1974 to 1983, including some in New York, that
killed six people and wounded dozens. So far,
none have accepted the White House offer.
In Puerto Rico, thousands of people shouting
"Freedom for the patriots!" marched through the
streets of San Juan yesterday to demand that
Clinton give unconditional pardons to the fighters
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