Al Gore and the FALN
New York Post - September 16, 2000
It was a year ago this week that 95 U.S. senators - including the current Democratic vice presidential candidate, Joe Lieberman - voted to condemn President Clinton's decision to give clemency to 16 members of the Puerto Rican terrorist group FALN.
In all that time, Al Gore has been strangely silent on the issue. This, despite the fact that - as subsequently released White House e-mails revealed - the clemency decision was tied directly to Gore's political fortunes.
In a March 1999 e-mail pushing for the terrorists' release, the head of Clinton's Inter-Agency Group on Puerto Rico, Jeffrey Farrow, told deputy White House chief of staff Maria Echaveste that "the VP's Puerto Rican position would be helped" by clemency.
Another memo, this one written by Farrow's assistant, Mayra Martinez-Fernandez, stressed that springing the FALN members would "have a positive impact among strategic Puerto Rican communities" - i.e., voters - "in the U.S." and added: "Jeff's right about this - very hot issue."
No wonder the vice president hemmed and hawed for weeks on whether Clinton was right to pardon the terrorists - despite the opposition of every single law-enforcement agency consulted, including his own attorney general.
Ultimately, Gore finally decided that he "wouldn't second-guess" Clinton's decision. Indeed, he said he declined even to look into the issue because "this is a power given to the president ... alone." (Gore's spokesman also insisted the vice president "was not involved" in any way - although documents show he twice discussed the issue with members of the Congressional Hispanic caucus.)
Gore refuses to second-guess the president - even though his own running mate joined with dozens of other Democrats to do exactly that.
Now he's now reaping the political benefits of a brazenly partisan misuse of executive authority.
So what else is new?