Joe Connor on Eric Holder’s AG nomination: ‘Terrorism cannot be treated as a political tool’

FALN terrorists bombed Frances Tavern, murdering Frank Connor.

Friday, while testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Joe Connor said:

Despite the warnings and recommendations to the contrary from the FBI, Bureau of Prisons, prosecutors, Janet Reno herself, then Deputy Attorney General and current Attorney General-nominee Eric Holder yesterday flatly admitted recommending release of those terrorists.

Democrat Senators Leahy, Kennedy, Biden, Kohl, Feinstein, Feingold, Schumer, and Durbin all currently serve on that committee. On September 14, 1999, they joined 87 of their fellow Senators and voted to condemn President Clinton’s pardon of 16 Los Macheteros (“the Machete Wielders”) and FALN terrorists.

Thursday, Eric Holder said those pardons were “reasonable” and indicated there had been heavy lobbying to grant clemency. Here is the audio:

What was really reasonable were the sentences the 16 terrorists had received, as Debra Burlingame pointed out in her written testimony:

Today, an Obama transition team spokesman has defended Mr. Holder by saying the FALN sentences were excessive. Whether the statement represents Mr. Holder’s position is not clear. It does not advance his cause. It merely refutes the claim that he has “learned from his mistakes.” Ten years ago the Sentencing Commission was consulted — not by Mr. Holder — but by members of Congress, and it was learned that the sentences for all the FALN prisoners were not only in line with other crimes of that magnitude, but that they would be harsher if sentenced under current guidelines, which provide for no parole.

None of the victims’ families was consulted prior to DAG Eric Holder recommending to President Clinton the pardons be approved.

On Friday, Joe Connor spoke for himself, his family, and many others.

My name is Joseph Connor and I’m here, as the Senator [Patrick Leahy] said, for the second time; once again addressing the unimaginable, immoral, really dangerous 1999 clemencies to sixteen Puerto Rican terrorists of Los Macheteros and the FALN. … These terrorists proudly claimed responsibility for over 130 bombings in the U.S., including the murder of my 33-year-old father, Frank Connor, as he ate lunch at Frances Tavern, downtown New York. It was January 24, 1975.

It is almost ten years ago but incredibly we’re revisiting today the same issues, the recriminations of the hearings, and how sad that we have to go through this again. We knew the clemencies were wrong in 1999, after all the Senate voted 95 to 2 to condemn them. Yet here we are contemplating the confirmation of the architect of that very release as the top law enforcement officer in our country. How can this be? [emphasis added his] If anything, after the devastating attacks of 9/11 we should be more resolute in our opposition to anybody who would be soft on terror or support any terrorist organizations.

If anyone needs to be reminded about what terrorism can do, give me a couple of minutes.

My dad was only thirty-three, as I mentioned. He was the only child of immigrants Thomas Connor and Margaret Maloney. His father was an elevator operator downtown and his mom was a cleaning lady at J.P. Morgan. She was so proud when she got him the job so he wouldn’t be in a dangerous position; his friends were becoming cops and firemen or working in the subways. But he got a job at a nice office out of high school. And his was an American success story. He went to college at night, he worked his way up to an officer position at J.P. Morgan, and he had two sons and he had made something of himself, from a cleaning lady to an officer at a bank. It was an amazing story.

Although my mom is remarried to a fine man and my brother Tom and I have families of our own, not a day passes without us feeling the void that this has been left in our lives. My father’s death has become a wound and it was reopened when the clemencies were offered and reopened now by this nomination. These terrorists took away my dad’s life … he’d never get to see his sons’ high school and college graduations, meet his daughters-in-law, or be a grandfather.

We asked why, the kids ask why, what happened. It seems that it was all done for politics. Was it directed by the President to further his wife’s Senate future or was it something else, someone who believed in the cause of the terrorists?

On 9/11, my brother Tom and I commuted through the World Trade Center. We left, I said goodbye to him in the Trade Center; I went my way and he went his. At a quarter-to-nine, I saw the North Tower explode out my window. I couldn’t get Tom on the phone and I called my cousin Steve who worked at Cantor Fitzgerald. Steve never answered. Steve was my father’s godson; he was killed on 9/11…

Terrorism cannot be treated as a political tool, it has to be treated for what it does; it kills people and it hit our family very hard twice.

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