Eric Holder testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee that the pardons of 16 members of the Puerto Rican terrorist group FALN, which he helped push through the Justice Department, were “reasonable.” Certainly, the pardons were reasonable from the Clintons’ point of view — she was looking for support for her Senate bid from Hispanic groups. And they were reasonable from Holder’s point of view — he wanted to assist the then-first family of the Democratic party.
But were the pardons reasonable from the point of view of justice?
In an earlier post, Scott, quoting extensively from Joseph Connor, son of a victim of FALN terrorism, shows that the pardons were manifestly unjust. But Holder’s defense of the pardons is revealing enough to warrant further comment.
Holder noted that none of the 16 FALN members had been convicted of murder and that most had served almost 20 years in prison. But there is no shortage of long-term prisoners who have not been convicted murder. Among members of this class, why is it reasonable to bestow pardons on anti-American terrorists? And how can it be reasonable to give them to individuals so unrepentant that two of them refused to accept their pardon? As Mr. Connor put it, pardoning these terrorists was “a disrespectful affront to all Americans, particularly to those of us who have come face to face with their violence.”
For his part,Holder declined to “come face to face” with the victims of the FALN’s terrorism. He met with supporters of the terrorists but ignored their victims. He then pushed DOJ attorneys to drop their strong opposition to the pardons and alter a report they had prepared for the president recommending against clemency.
This approach to decision-making — heavy-handedness coupled with unwillingness to listen, in the service of a pre-determined objective — is the antithesis of the kind president-elect Obama is known for. It is sad to think that Republican Senators for whom we have always had great respect are intent on supporting Holder under these circumstances.
Holder has admitted that his role in the Marc Rich pardon was a “mistake,” but claims that he learned from that mistake and will be a better Attorney General as a result. Yet Holder has not learned enough to recognize that the FALN pardons represent essentially the same “mistake.” In both cases, pardons were bestowed on enemies of the United States or their abettors, over the objections of those at the Department of Justice charged with examining the cases objectively, in order to promote the interests of the presidential family. Holder’s failure to grasp (or more likely his unwillingness to acknowledge) this common thread should weigh heavily against his confirmation for Attorney General of the United States.
To comment on this post, go here.