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Pardon Me...Again

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa

KSM et al submitted a statement (9/11 Shura Council) in March 2009, proudly admitting their role in some 3,000 murders on 9/11/2001 (including that of my cousin Steve Schlag as I witnessed from my office having just commuted through the WTC).  Should execution be bargained away by our government, regardless of potential life imprisonment sentences, we may well see these terrorists set free at some point in the future.  


Impossible?  No. It's happened before.

As our family knows far too well, future presidents may release these unrepentant terrorists as the Clintons and Obama/Biden handed clemency to the FALN terrorists responsible for my father, Frank Connor's murder.  

The United States’ war against terrorists is not new, nor is it limited to Islamic terrorists.  The US has been hit by home grown terrorists for decades including the January 24, 1975 lunchtime bombing of Fraunces Tavern in lower Manhattan. My 33 year old father, cousin Steve Schlag’s godfather, was one of four innocent men murdered in cold blood  by the Marxist Puerto Rican Separatist Terrorists, Armed Forces for National Liberation (FALN) on the very day we were to celebrate my 9th birthday.

The most prolific domestic terrorist group in US history, the FALN waged a decades long war against the United States from 1974 – 1983 which included some 130 bombings and six murders.

Between 1981 and 1983, 16 core members of the FALN and Los Macheteros, a related group, were arrested, tried, convicted and sentenced to appropriately long and well-deserved prison terms of between 35 and 90 years.

The FALN terrorists refused to participate in their Chicago trials, claiming they were soldiers in a war; that the US had no jurisdiction over them.  At sentencing several threatened to kill Judge Thomas McMillen who admittedly would have imposed the death penalty if available.

Though claiming responsibility, the FALN were never specifically convicted of the Fraunces bombing.  They were however convicted of Seditious Conspiracy, weapons possession, robbery and other felonies. The economics of law enforcement in the 1980s like today, would not allow the same convicted terrorists to be retried in New York where like Illinois, did not allow capital punishment.  But the majority of the terrorists were essentially put away for life.


But long prison sentences were not enough to hold these terrorists from two presidents who perceived value, not in the lives of the victims, but in the terrorists' release.

Despite objections from the Pardon Attorney, FBI, Bureau of Prisons and condemnation by congress, in August 1999 President Clinton, with the cover of then-Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder, infamously granted clemency to 16 unrepentant FALN terrorists and their Machetero comrades.  

Clinton's unconscionable politically driven clemencies were certainly intended to connect carpet bagger Hillary Clinton with the Latino community for her 2000 senate campaign in New York.  After being given 30 days on conference calls between prisons, all but one, Oscar Lopez Rivera accepted clemency.  

Lopez was so dedicated to his cause that he refused clemency in 1999 rejecting the condition of renouncing violence as a political tool and he said, at his 2011 parole hearing, comrade Carlos Torres was not offered clemency.  

You read that correctly. These terrorists did not request nor did they immediately accept clemency.  It was hoisted upon them by the Clintons and Eric Holder for cheap politics and was not accepted until September 10, 1999 a full month after the clemency grants.  Lopez actually refused clemency!

Disgracefully, Obama/Biden on their last day in office presented an unprecedented second clemency to FALN leader Oscar Lopez Rivera who I faced (keeping him in prison) at his 2011 federal parole hearing.  Obama put no conditions on Lopez's clemency like the renunciation of violence as a political tool that Clinton stipulated and Lopez refused to accept in 1999.


Since his release in 2017, the terror leader Lopez has been treated as a darling by the left, travelling as a VIP to countries like Cuba and Venezuela and even being offered a “Freedom Hero” award by New York politicians at the 2017 Puerto Rican Day Parade.

These are the sworn terrorists incredibly released by two presidents.  While details of their decisions were hidden behind Executive Privilege,  Obama and Clinton claimed that these terrorists were never convicted of killing anyone, minimizing the conspiracy convictions.

This is important. 

It is the same argument future presidents will offer in commuting KSM and the other 9/11 terrorists' sentences.  After all, these men, like the FALN, would not be convicted of personally murdering anyone.  The narrative will go, "They, themselves, didn't kill anyone.  They didn't fly the planes.  If they did, they'd be dead."

Supporters will fail to mention that whether they committed the murders themselves, members of conspiracies are responsible for all acts of that conspiracy whether or not they are physically present at the commission of the crimes.

Further, the future president could hide behind the precedent of the FALN clemencies to justify such another craven act.

Unfortunately when asked during my 2016 week at the pretrial hearings at GTMO (at which I witnessed the pure evil of  a red bearded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed grinning and waving as he taunted the children of those he murdered from the courtroom to the visitors' gallery), the 9/11 prosecution team agreed that a future president would be more likely to release terrorists should they be brought back to the mainland to face trial or serve life sentences.


Shortly before that GTMO trip, Obama and Eric Holder negotiated with the Taliban.  They arranged the outrageous exchange of GTMO detained terrorists captured on the Afghan battlefield, the Taliban 5, for deserter Bowe Bergdahl.  

According to the New York Post, since the humiliating US withdrawal last year, incredibly the Taliban Five have joined the new Afghani government as Acting Director of Intelligence, Acting Minister of Borders and Tribal Affairs, Deputy Defense Minister and Acting Minister of Information and Culture. The fifth member of the Taliban Five is now governor of eastern Khost province.  Again, an American president released sworn terrorists for some perceived gain.

We cannot allow this to happen again.

KSM and these al Qaeda terrorists have already admitted, even boasted of their guilt on 9/11 believing they would face the Death penalty. So why bargain with the devil?

As I stated in testimony at Eric Holder's 2009 AG senate confirmation hearing, anyone who would unleash unrepentant terrorists on the American people they are sworn to protect would do anything.  Let's not let that happen again.

Please demand your elected officials hold our government to it's pledge of administering capital justice to these enemies.  It's the only way we can be sure these wonton murderers will not be set free.After all, its all been done before.

(At which I witnessed the pure evil of  a red bearded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed grinning and waving as he taunted the children of those he murdered from the courtroom to the visitors' gallery.)


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