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
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.
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
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.