January 16th, 2009
11:50 AM ET
12 years ago

Holder criticized for 'playing Russian roulette' with American lives

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/16/art.holder4.gi.jpg caption="Holder is back on the Hill Friday."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - Attorney General-designate Eric Holder was harshly criticized Friday for "playing Russian roulette" with the safety of Americans by making an "egregious recommendation" in 1999 of clemency for 16 members of a Puerto Rican nationalist group convicted on conspiracy and bomb-making charges.

Joseph Connor, the son of a victim of a 1975 New York City restaurant bombing by the FALN - or Armed Forces of National Liberation - testified during the second day of confirmation hearings for Holder that the former federal judge and prosecutor was "soft on terror" and, as a result, should be "disqualified" for the position of attorney general.

"These terrorists took away my dad's life," Connor said. "Did he actually believe in their cause? Did he not know what they did?" Holder stated during his confirmation hearing Thursday that President Clinton's decision to grant clemency to the 16 FALN members "was reasonable."

Holder also noted that there were "a lot of people in support of that clemency request," including former President Jimmy Carter and Coretta Scott King, the wife of Martin Luther King, Jr.

The FALN is responsible for multiple attacks on U.S. military installations.

Filed under: Eric Holder
soundoff (71 Responses)
  1. Lucieann

    It would really be a welcomed CHANGE if for once during a confirmation hearing that Senators could stick to the issues of policy, instead of rehashing decades old incidents that have no bearing on today. Republicans seem to only want to play politics on the road to proving what hypocrites they truly are.

    January 16, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  2. Jon

    Connor hardly seems to hold an unbiased opinion. There is a difference between rashly demanding people pay for a loved one's death and a considered decision based upon the letter of the law. Similar reasons rationalize the American system of an impartial jury.

    January 16, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  3. Death of America by Obama!?..You must need a hug!

    Some people are wrapped a little too tight.

    A politician playing Russian Roulette with American lives....hmmm.

    In 4 days we will be getting rid of one of those....

    January 16, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  4. bk

    He will be confirmed and we all know why.

    January 16, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  5. Mike, Syracuse NY

    @ Larry, spend 5 minutes reading the whole story on google before you spout this 'they are reformed' nonsense. They wouldn't even support solving other unsolved FALN bombings. Doesn't sound too 'reformed' to me.

    vic January 16th, 2009 12:35 pm ET
    So, why did Clinton pardon them?? Whats the rest of the story?

    Vic, Hillary was running for US Seante in NY where there are 1.4 million Hispanic voters. Hispanic groups favored the pardon. Get it now? Clemency for votes.

    January 16, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  6. The Voice of Accountability

    He is the most qualified cabinet appointee ... by far and he will be confirmed.

    So glad to see the GOP has stuck to it's Fear & Smear tactics ... did they learn NOTHING from the election.

    Eric Holder will be confirmed. I guarantee it. The Republicans better look out because as America's top cop, they've got way too many skeletons in their closet to be pissing him off.

    January 16, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  7. Tim

    He'll become the AG, he is the perfect Democrat to fill the job. Soft on crime, soft on terrorism. He fits well with the rest of the plank.

    January 16, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  8. aware

    No confirmation for Holder! 🙁

    January 16, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  9. Joe in NJ

    "Look, these FALN people were a minor group of miscreants who saw their movement fizzle after the 70's, so releasing them twenty years later was not the end of the world."

    So if Al Qaeda fizzles, we should just forget about them?

    January 16, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  10. Danny in Chicago

    Susan wrote

    January 16th, 2009 12:44 pm ET

    As usual, CNN has failed to report the entire story. How could anyone make a reasonable decision based on how little this story gives us? The "news is not the news anymore–it's speculation and spin. Can't trust FOX and can't trust CNN. Too bad.

    I AGREE 100% SUSAN! CNN has been spreading lies just like FOX News ever since Hillary screwed up her campaign!

    January 16, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  11. kelly WI

    vic, Clinton pardoned them because Hillary was running for NY senate and they wanted the PR vote.
    Clinton pardoned Rich because he wanted the money from his wife.
    It's called politics.

    January 16, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  12. Matt

    @ nom deplume, esq.

    Gonzalez twisted the interpretation of the Constitution and other operative legal documents to aid and abet Bush and Cheney in torturing prisoners, wiretapping the american public without warrants and firing Us attorneys for political reasons WHILE HE WAS AG. All Holder has done is admit he interpreted the 2nd Amendment differently the the recent Supreme Court decision (which was, btw, 5-4 along political lines), but acknowledged he would abide by the ruling. He twisted nothing. And this nonsense about FALN is total garbage. The presidential power to pardon or grant clemency is absolute. NOTHING Holder could have done would have stopped it, nor was he even necessary for making it happen.

    January 16, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  13. Beth

    Matt, I am afraid of another 9/11 everyday, and its not because of the GOP shoving it down our necks. It's because the threat is real. Hundreds of plots to attack us have been broken up. I hope that people are constantly reminded of it so no one forgets what happened to 3,000 innocent people that day.

    January 16, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  14. Rico

    Of course the son of a victim shouldnt be at the hearing. From everything Ive read I find holder the be qualified. There's never going to be pleasing everyone.

    January 16, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  15. KenM

    @KJ: you should indeed "know how the beltway works", because you and your ilk have been milking it for so long now.....where was your disdain for its workings while the [R]s were in charge, and they were picking people with much more egregious backrounds than EH? Many of you neo-tards who voted for Bush, and then went for the trifecta of failure by voting for McCain, are now actually routing for Obama to fail as part of an apoplectic, hyper-partisan spin-game to promote fairytales that might help you justify the abject failure of Bush and the entire [R] party. What pathetic rightwing hypocrisy, to have cheered on the egregious malfeasence we were all subjected to for the last 8 years, and then to dare comment on other peoples' backgrounds as they come in to fix YOUR mess. You neo-tards have no standing to comment on EH.

    January 16, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  16. Danny in Chicago


    It's pretty amazing the R's are talking as much as they are considering how badly they are falling apart.

    I'm fine with the repubs talking – keep digging that grave....just keep digging.....

    January 16, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  17. Jacob

    Look at Iraq, now that is 'playing Russian roulette' with American lives. I am sure the GOP found this citizen to testify at the confirmation hearing. Give it up Repugs!

    January 16, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  18. Alan

    Look, I wasn't happy with the Mark Rich pardon, and this FALN thing doesn't sound so great either. Not that I (or any of you) have all the facts . . .

    But these were Bill Clinton's decisions. And, guess what? Bill Clinton is no longer President.

    I do not think everyone that was in Clinton's chain of command should be precluded from future appointments.

    BIG PICTURE: Eric Holder is a superb attorney who was a superb federal judge and will be a superb Attorney General.

    January 16, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  19. Matt

    @ beth

    There's a difference between realistic fear and prudent preparation based thereon, and the excessive perseveration of fear employed by the GOP to cow the public.

    January 16, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  20. Matt

    @ beth

    There's a difference between realistic fear and prudent preparation based thereon, and the excessive perseveration of fear employed by the GOP to cow the public. The moment you've started living in fear every moment, is the moment the terrorists have won. The GOP doesn't care because it sees the fear as an opportunity to get votes. What they don't get is taht this is an ideological war and he who abandons his ideology first is the one who has lost: so far, in light of fear jsutifying our abuse of prisoners' human rights and the Constitutional rights of our citizenry, WE'RE THE ONES LOSING.

    January 16, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  21. Matt

    The GOP donkey show continues.

    January 16, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
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