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Holder Pushed Clemency For Terrorists

[Note: this is a repost of an article we posted back in January that suddenly seems relevant again.]

From the Los Angeles Times:

Eric Holder pushed for controversial clemency

As deputy attorney general in 1999, Holder — now attorney general nominee — pressed subordinates to drop objections to clemency for 16 members of violent Puerto Rican nationalist organizations.

By Josh Meyer and Tom Hamburger
January 9, 2009

Reporting from Washington — Attorney general nominee Eric H. Holder Jr. repeatedly pushed some of his subordinates at the Clinton Justice Department to drop their opposition to a controversial 1999 grant of clemency to 16 members of two violent Puerto Rican nationalist organizations, according to interviews and documents.

Details of the role played by Holder, who was deputy attorney general at the time, had not been publicly known until now. The new details are of particular interest because Republican senators have vowed to revisit Holder’s role during his confirmation hearings next week…

President Clinton’s decision to commute prison terms caused an uproar at the time. Holder was called before Congress to explain his role but declined to answer numerous questions from angry lawmakers demanding to know why the Justice Department had not sided with the FBI, federal prosecutors and other law enforcement officials, who were vehemently opposed to the grants.

Some religious groups and influential individuals, including President Carter, had endorsed the commutations. But Clinton’s decision outraged law enforcement officials, who had tried to contain a bombing campaign in New York, Chicago and elsewhere in the 1970s and 1980s by groups seeking independence for Puerto Rico from the United States.

New interviews and an examination of previously undisclosed documents indicate that Holder played an active role in changing the position of the Justice Department on the commutations.

Holder instructed his staff at Justice’s Office of the Pardon Attorney to effectively replace the department’s original report recommending against any commutations, which had been sent to the White House in 1996, with one that favored clemency for at least half the prisoners, according to these interviews and documents.

And after Pardon Attorney Roger Adams resisted, Holder’s chief of staff instructed him to draft a neutral "options memo" instead, Adams said.

The options memo allowed Clinton to grant the commutations without appearing to go against the Justice Department’s wishes, Adams and his predecessor, Margaret Colgate Love, said in their first public comments on the case.

"I remember this well, because it was such a big deal to consider clemency for a group of people convicted of such heinous crimes," said Adams, the agency’s top pardon lawyer from 1997 until 2008. He said he told Holder of his "strong opposition to any clemency in several internal memos and a draft report recommending denial" and in at least one face-to-face meeting. But each time Holder wasn’t satisfied, Adams said.

The 16 members of the FALN (the Spanish acronym for Armed Forces of National Liberation) and Los Macheteros had been convicted in Chicago and Hartford variously of bank robbery, possession of explosives and participating in a seditious conspiracy. Overall, the two groups had been linked by the FBI to more than 130 bombings, several armed robberies, six slayings and hundreds of injuries…

After one meeting with advocates of the FALN prisoners, Holder asked Adams to try to obtain statements of repentance from the inmates to include in the revised clemency report and recommendation being prepared for the White House, according to a 1999 Senate Judiciary Committee inquiry. Clinton later justified the commutations in part by citing his consultation with the Justice Department and the statements of repentance provided by the prisoners.

"The Justice Department is supposed to say what we think on the merits," said another Justice Department official opposed to clemency at the time, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject. Instead, "we were pushed to tell [Clinton] what he wanted to hear, which was to grant it and to provide political cover."

When Clinton issued the commutations on Aug. 11, 1999, the House and the Senate passed resolutions condemning his decision. Some lawmakers charged that Clinton approved the commutations to bolster Latino support for First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, who was building her campaign for senator of New York, and Vice President Al Gore, who was gearing up to run for president.

Holder was called to testify on the case by the Senate Judiciary Committee but, invoking Clinton’s claim of executive privilege, declined to say whether the Justice Department had changed its position on the commutations

The rest of the Los Angeles Times article has excerpts from the new documents and other salient details.

Of course, as we noted when we posted this originally, Mr. Holder was probably acting under the direct orders of Mrs. Clinton, who wanted to sew up the Puerto Rican vote for her upcoming Senate bid.

Still, he could have opposed the orders and even resigned. But he didn’t.

He doesn’t seem to have ever had any problems treating terrorist with kid gloves.

This article was posted by Steve on Friday, November 13th, 2009. Comments are currently closed.

5 Responses to “Holder Pushed Clemency For Terrorists”

  1. retire05 says:

    Let’s not forget that Eric Holder was a full partner with Covington and Burling whose attorneys represented the Gitmo Uighers pro bono. Until just a few months ago, Holder was still listed on C & B’s web site as a full partner in the D.C. office. C & B has also removed their article about representing over 30 Gimo detainees pro bono (for free).

    Holder is a fool. And a statist. We are all going to suffer under this administration and the decisions that they are making. May God have mercy on our nation.

  2. Chuckk says:

    Maybe Holder will seek clemency for Hasan so Obama can corner the terrorist vote in 2012.

  3. Liberals Demise says:

    Jesus ……………..

  4. wirenut says:

    With a name like “Holder” as AG. One would think, he wouldn’t let you go, criminally speaking. Enter politics and ideology, and this “dog” won’t hunt. Serves the master well and has learned to heel also. Obedient, pathetic and no doubt whitehouse broken. Maybe it was “Holder” that left the spot on Air Force-1’s carpet. Only BO knows and
    “Holder” ain’t talking.

  5. proreason says:

    If you want proof positive that they want to let the maniacs go, just listen to what Holder has said. He wants “the death penalty”.

    And what do we know about EVERY SINGLE THING these liars say?

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