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 TIME on politics Congressional Quarterly CNN/AllPolitics CNN/AllPolitics - Storypage, with TIME and Congressional Quarterly

Burton subpoenas White House over clemency for Puerto Ricans

September 1, 1999
Web posted at: 11:36 p.m. EDT (0336 GMT)

From Correspondent Jonathan Aiken and Producer Bill Mears

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The House Government Reform and Oversight Committee Wednesday subpoenaed members of the Clinton Administration -- including Attorney General Janet Reno and White House counsel Cheryl Mills -- in connection with the president's offer of clemency for 16 convicted Puerto Rican separatists, CNN has learned.

Rep. Dan Burton (R-Indiana), committee chairman, issued the subpoenas and sought all documents and records from the White House, Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Prisons relating to the clemency issue.

Copies of the subpoenas were obtained by CNN.

Congress has been considering conducting hearings on the clemency issue, with many members publicly voicing concern over published reports that the Justice Department never made a formal recommendation on the clemency question to the White House, as is usual in such cases.

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Many law enforcement officials opposed clemency for the nationalists, saying it would be bowing to terrorism at a time when the administration has been cracking down on terrorists.

The separatists were convicted on a variety of charges, ranging from bomb-making and conspiracy to armed robbery. They are affiliated with FALN -- a Puerto Rican independence group, which law enforcement officials blame for at least 130 bombings in the United States and Puerto Rico between 1974 and 1983. Six people were killed, and scores of others injured in those attacks.

Supporters of the separatists emphasized that the 11 men and five women who were offered clemency never were directly connected to an act of murder or violence. The activists have already served 14 to 19 years in prison.

In exchange for clemency, the separatists must renounce the use of violence to achieve political goals and agree to the traditional parole terms. The separatists have yet to agree to the clemency terms.

Some Republicans have accused Clinton of making the offer of clemency to boost Hillary Rodham Clinton's expected Senate candidacy in New York, a state with a large Puerto Rican population. The White House strongly denies that.

James Wilson, a spokesman for Burton's committee, said the White House has until Sept. 15 to comply with the subpoena and turn over all "relevant" documents.


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Wednesday, September 1, 1999






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