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April 24, 2008

Why aren't the terrorist pardons during the Clinton Administration garnering more attention from the MSM?

Because I look at much of the news from a criminal justice perspective, I find the complaints that the MSM is biased against Senator Clinton to be somewhat comical given the "free pass" she has gotten on a lot of questionable criminal justice decisions made during the Clinton Administration.  The most obvious example of these realities comes from the attack on Senator Obama concerning connections to a member of the Weather Underground and toughness on terrorism.  If this is a serious campaign issue, the mainstream media ought to be closely re-examining at, and asking Senator Clinton hard questions about, the pardons given during the Clinton Administration to two Weather Underground members and to members of a group of Puerto Rican terrorists (FALN). 

Fortunately, some thoughtful bloggers are trying to make sure these pardon issues does not get lost in all the obsession over Senator Obama.  The blog Pardon Power, helpfully, has had an on-going series of effective posts on this front, including recently:

In addition, as detailed in these posts, a Mother Jones blog has been pursuing this story in recent days:

My sense from reading these posts (combined with knowing a bit about a lot of ugly stories surrounding President Bill Clinton's various pardon decisions) leads me to think there might by a lot more to discover if the media we to do some serious investigative journalism about these pardons and Senator Clinton's possible input.  Sadly, I do not get the sense, even with seemingly endless discussion of the Democratic race, that many in the MSM are seriously trying to develop new stories rather than just recycling the standard narratives.

April 24, 2008 at 08:22 AM | Permalink

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Comments

There is no consistent bias against either Clinton or Obama. The MSM has only one interest in the democratic primary: for it to go on as long as possible (i.e. ratings and money). That's why they were consistently favorable to Obama early on, and now consistently favorable to Clinton.

The reason why these pardons have not gotten more MSM attention is because it continues to be unlikely that Clinton will get the nomination, yet it is still possible. Any story that would tilt it more towards "impossible" would run contrary to the MSM's economic interests.

Posted by: | Apr 24, 2008 11:31:01 AM

I don't see why this is an "obsession" with Obama. The fact that Obama feels comfortable in the company of unrepetant terrorists and haters of America, that's kind of, you know, a big deal.

Posted by: federalist | Apr 24, 2008 11:49:22 AM

Professor, You are just baiting political comments here.

So, here is my snark:
I feel comfortable around non-poor people that disagree with me, even though they hate America.

Posted by: S.cotus | Apr 24, 2008 12:11:59 PM

Federalist, really? "Obama feels comfortable in the company of unrepentant terrorists" WHILE serving on a charity board. So I guess Obama should have refused to serve on the charity board. You make it sound like he and the "unrepentant terrorist" are best friends. As for your reference to a "hater of America" I assume that is a reference to Rev. Wright. I guess Wright was hating America when he served it for years as a Marine. Pointing out flaws in your country does not equal hating America. Nice try.

Sorry to turn this into a political discussion on a sentencing blog, but I couldn't just let that comment go. By the way, I agree with the first comment about why the MSM isn't hitting this issue. They want the race to go on and on.

Posted by: Dorah | Apr 24, 2008 1:17:01 PM

Pshaw. Federalist's political rhetoric, devoid of nuance or context is concise and therefore it is better than true.

And really, the phase "hate America" comes neatly off the tongue. Therefore, the first person to use it has an advantage in the political battle for truth.

Finally, while Rev. Wright was a Marine, it does not matter. Federalist said he hated American and therefore he did not serve.

Posted by: S.cotus | Apr 24, 2008 1:19:57 PM

By the way, S.cotus, I proudly served in the Navy for five years so I don't denigrate anyone's honorable service, and I won't do so with Wright.

And no, I was not referring to Jeremiah Wright. While I think that his comments are reprehensible, I was not talking about him. I was talking about Ayers and Dohrn. In any event, Dorah, Ayers does hate America, and Obama is comfortable with him as Obama's own campaign manager said they were "friendly". Plus, if you look at Obama's website, you'll note that he provides quotes stating that Ayers was a respected member of Chicago society. Whatever.

Ayers is not acceptable in polite company. He is utter scum, along with Dohrn. People who are on friendly terms with people like them are contemptible.

Posted by: federalist | Apr 24, 2008 2:01:47 PM

If Clinton gets the Democrat nod then you will most likely hear about it. Between Clinton and BO the issues is who can promise the most without having and fulfill the least.

Posted by: JWK | Apr 24, 2008 2:45:53 PM

I don't really follow your politics (or care), so most of what you said is greek to me. As a real American I have better things to do.

However, saying that someone "hates America," as far as I can tell is acceptable discourse.

Posted by: S.cotus | Apr 24, 2008 3:42:03 PM

The media has every interest in this thing playing out; we'll hear about this once the Ayers stuff plays out for a bit. Maybe in time, for say, Oregon? That way Senator Obama's win there can be explained, in part, by new Clinton scandals.

Posted by: Alec | Apr 24, 2008 4:31:34 PM

Agree that Clinton has got a pass here. Commutations (my understanding is that the Weather folks got commutations, not pardons) are a significant political act - far more significant that guilt by association.

On another topic, sad that trolls seem to have taken up fairly permanent residence under this bridge.

Posted by: barksdale | Apr 24, 2008 5:06:24 PM

"On another topic, sad that trolls seem to have taken up fairly permanent residence under this bridge."

Agreed. I noted this in another thread a little while ago. In response, the most prolific source of insults on this blog took umbrage that I had insulted the insulters. Funniest thing I had seen here in a long time.

Posted by: Kent Scheidegger | Apr 24, 2008 5:15:15 PM

Barksdale, I was about to point out that because pardons and commutations ARE political acts, they really don't have much to do with sentencing.

Moreover, politically, I would even go so far as to say as it doesn't matter who the president pardons, so long as they don't reoffend.

Mr. Scheidegger, Do you agree or disagree with the above posters? If so, why?

Posted by: S.cotus | Apr 24, 2008 5:38:05 PM

Doug wrote: "If this is a serious campaign issue..."

It isn't. Not to serious people. Serious is why the MSM is not grilling the candidates on why they have not committed to cutting back the military budget in order to guarantee the right to health care to American citizens.

federalist wrote: "The fact that Obama feels comfortable in the company of unrepetant terrorists and haters of America, that's kind of, you know, a big deal."

But federalist ... you hate America.

Posted by: DK | Apr 25, 2008 12:51:21 AM

That's right DK, I hate America. Real cute.

The reality is that the Weathermen did some pretty shitty things in their day, and Ayers and Dohrn are unrepentant Weathermen. And Barack Obama is comfortable around them, and even defends them on his website as upstanding members of the Chicago community. It may come as a newsflash to a twit like you, DK, but a lot of people care about that kind of thing. And I am sure they'd just love to be told by the likes of you that they are unserious.

As for your crack about the right to health care, just remember that when you talk about a right to such things, you are talking about the right to force others to pay for it. And then you are talking about the power of the government to decide who gets it. For a group of people who distrust the government to do a relatively simple thing like figure out who did a crime and punish him for it, you sure are trustful with respect to a very large part of economy in a field that is very very complex. Oh that's right, Obama's gonna wave his magic wand and fix it for us--he's going to magically figure out how to provide good health care to us all.

When you figure out how Paris got its bread, then talk. Until then you're just a twerp who mistakes his naive utopianism for morality and deep thought.

Posted by: federalist | Apr 25, 2008 1:27:11 AM

I have not had time to read the comments so I can't determine who disagrees with me and therefore indisputably hates America. However, most of you know how I think about things, so if you do disagree with me, consider yourself an America-hater.

Posted by: S.cotus | Apr 25, 2008 8:30:00 AM

Federalist, apparently, you are not a Christian. In case you don't know, Christian are taught to forgive. So if Obama want to forgive and give people a second chance, good for him. As for myself, I don't hate America, I just hate racists, hypocrites, and war mongers. Unfortunately, these are the same people who control this country. By the way I am not a Christian.

Posted by: | Apr 25, 2008 12:10:27 PM

Usually it is better form to call yourself a Christian, and then say that you understand Christian theology, and Christian theology dicates that the other posters are evil.

Posted by: S.cotus | Apr 25, 2008 1:35:57 PM

Rosenberg was granted clemency, not a pardon. When released, she had served 16 years of a 58 year sentence. Her conviction was for unloading 740 pounds of dynamite and weapons. After she was sentenced, Rudy Giuliani dismissed the Brinks case charges against. She was never tried or convicted of it. The evidence against her in that case in large part came from an former members of the underground group turned informants. She always denied her involvement in it.

The reason for the commutation was that although eligible for parole and a model prisoner, the parole board said she would have to do another 15 years because of the Brinks case, even though she was never charged or convicted in it.

This was a valid exercise of President Clinton's clemency powers. Hillary had nothing to do with it and nothing to gain from it. She had just been elected Senator when it happened. New Yorkers were vocally opposed to it. Schumer opposed it, as did Giuliani. If she were looking to curry favor with constituents, she would have opposed it.

Margy Love at the time told the Providence Journal Bulletin (12/27/00) she thought Rosenberg was worthy of consideration:

"Margaret Love, a former pardon attorney for the U.S. Justice Department, said in an interview with The Journal that, when Rosenberg's lawyers asked her to assist in Rosenberg's clemency bid, she concluded that Rosenberg was worthy of consideration."

Despite some misconduct in prison prior to 1988, Rosenberg has renounced her commitment to revolutionary violence and become a model prisoner, assisting in the development of an HIV/AIDS curriculum that is now used throughout the prison system and helping newly incarcerated inmates adjust to life behind bars.

"Dr. (Chip) Gibson (the prison psychiatrist at Danbury) stated that in his 14 years in prison work, he has never regarded a prisoner as highly as he does this subject," said Rob Haworth, a hearing examiner for the Parole Commission. "Dr. Gibson believes this subject is a perfect example of one who has truly changed."

Nevertheless, the Parole Commission, informed by a letter from federal prosecutors that the government still believes Rosenberg was a participant in the Brink's robbery and other crimes, ruled in January 1998 that she would have to serve at least another 15 years in prison. "You just sort of say, 'How long, oh, Lord, how long? And what are we trying to do here?' " Love said.

One last thing: I read that Rosenberg represented herself at the trial that resulted in her 58 year sentence. Because of disruptions, she was banned for parts of it and had to watch from a tv monitor in jail. So she was pro se, partially tried in absentia and got a 58 year sentence when no one was killed or injured. And the parole board wanted her to do another 15 on top of the 15 she had already served. Bill Clinton did nothing suspect in granting her clemency. And neither did Hillary.


Posted by: TalkLeft | Apr 25, 2008 11:23:28 PM

Rosenberg deserves to rot in hell. I wish nothing but bad on that horrible person.

Posted by: federalist | Apr 26, 2008 12:00:26 AM

Ah, federalist. The more you post...

federalist wrote: "The reality is that the Weathermen did some pretty shitty things in their day, and Ayers and Dohrn are unrepentant Weathermen."

Quick math: Compare the number of people George W. Bush murdered to the Weathermen. If you can't divide by zero, don't come looking to me.

federalist wrote: "And Barack Obama is comfortable around them, and even defends them on his website as upstanding members of the Chicago community."

So Barack Obama defends people who haven't killed anybody and you defend George Bush, a mass murderer, and you question Barack Obama's morality? I just want to make sure I understand your position.

federalist wrote: "It may come as a newsflash to a twit like you, DK, but a lot of people care about that kind of thing. And I am sure they'd just love to be told by the likes of you that they are unserious."

You are unserious. Laughably so.

federalist wrote: "As for your crack about the right to health care, just remember that when you talk about a right to such things, you are talking about the right to force others to pay for it."

Of course. It's called insurance.

federalist wrote: "And then you are talking about the power of the government to decide who gets it.

Everybody gets it. No discretion.

federalist wrote: "For a group of people who distrust the government to do a relatively simple thing like figure out who did a crime and punish him for it, you sure are trustful with respect to a very large part of economy in a field that is very very complex.

I don't want the government figuring out which citizens deserve to die. That's why (1) it shouldn't be killing people; and (2) it shouldn't be determining who gets health care (everybody does). Simple enough for you?

federalist wrote: "Oh that's right, Obama's gonna wave his magic wand and fix it for us--he's going to magically figure out how to provide good health care to us all."

Sure. It's easy. Slash the military budget, i.e., corporate welfare.

federalist wrote: "When you figure out how Paris got its bread, then talk. Until then you're just a twerp who mistakes his naive utopianism for morality and deep thought."

Ha. Hitler was a naive utopian. I'm a realist. You're a sadist.

Posted by: DK | Apr 26, 2008 2:38:40 AM

Hilary lies about "working for civil rights for 35 years". I defy anyone to come up with one single pleading in a civil right lawsuit that has her name on it. She was a corporate lawyer taking care of piggish banks.

The best pardon story is that of Marc Rich, a wealthy guy represented by the now disbarred Scooter Libby.

Someone would serve their country well if they would simply publish the list of all those who contributed to the Clinton library and the amounts.

Another thing that seems strange. Two guys grow up in Hope, Arkansas. One talks like a hillbilly and the other one has a refined mid west accent. One went to Yale and the other I know not where. Both were Governors of Arkansas.
Why is it that the Yalie talks like a hillbilly? Is this fake? What accent does he put on when he takes those 3 a.m. calls from Monica?

Posted by: M.P. Bastian | Apr 26, 2008 9:13:03 AM

>Margy Love at the time told the Providence Journal Bulletin (12/27/00) she thought Rosenberg was worthy of consideration ...

TalkLeft, I think you have somehow missed the main point. The point isn't whether or not the clemency was justified so much as it is this: Mrs. Clinton should think twice about considering any possible link - no matter how remote - to the Weather Underground a disqualification for the presidency. I don't know a single person who has claimed that Mrs. Clinton benefitted from the Weather Underground clemency decisions. I do know that she has been asked about them and she has responded, "I didn't know anything." I also know that she has never once bothered to defend the use of the pardon power in those two instances (Rosenberg and Evans) like you have. What does that say? She very rarely lets Obama tag her last in debates. Why did she sit mute when he pointed out these cases? Why didn't she defend the pardon and the commutation?

Posted by: P.S. Ruckman, Jr. | Apr 28, 2008 3:15:39 AM

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