Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

TERRORISM Puzzling Policy Shift

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

TERRORISM Puzzling Policy Shift

Article excerpt

The offer of clemency to 16 Puerto Rican terrorists was an abrupt departure from long-standing policy, and it sends the wrong signal to would-be terrorists everywhere.

Since the president has not made his rationale public, and a White House spokesman says he is unlikely to do so in the future, it isn't surprising that both chambers of Congress have scheduled hearings to try to get the answers.

This much is known:

The pro-independence Puerto Rican terrorist group FALN staged about 130 bombing attacks in the United States from 1974 to 1983, killing six people and injuring dozens of others.

The president says he will free or reduce the punishment for 11 FALN men and five women, if they will renounce violence. None has responded.

According to published reports, however, some have said they will resume acts of terrorism if released. Those comments allegedly were made during phone conversations that prison officials recorded.

The Bureau of Prisons refuses to confirm or deny the existence of those tapes, but it does say it routinely monitors the inmates' social calls.

At the least, some administration official should find out if the tapes exist -- and, if so, listen to them. …

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