Clinton's clemency for convicted bombers was...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

September 29, 1999

Clinton's clemency for convicted bombers was indefensible

The Sun's editorial defending President Clinton's offer of clemency for 16 Puerto Rican terrorists was flawed ("Clinton within rights to grant clemency," Sept. 21).

It suggested that it would make little sense for Mr. Clinton to try to help his wife's Senate campaign that way and that he signed the clemency papers without much thought.

That's not likely: not when the Department of State and the FBI, among others, had objected to the clemency offer.

The terrorists have been in prison for nearly 20 years. Mr. Clinton has been president for more than six years. Why give them clemency now?

When the clemency offer was made public, Mrs. Clinton's campaign claimed she had no involvement in the decision. But when opinion shifted against the decision, Mrs. Clinton injected herself into the controversy by asking her husband to withdraw the offer immediately.

She has tried to have it both ways, and that won't wash.

I agree with the final two sentences of the editorial: "Her future candidacy has no legitimate connection to his current office-holding. The two should be kept separate, by everyone."

Unfortunately, the Clintons are violating both these boundaries and our trust.

Karl Pfrommer, Baltimore

The Sun's attitude to President Clinton has varied over the year from supine to groveling -- whether the topic is Chinese campaign contributions or on-the-job sexual favors.

So it comes as no surprise that the release of known terrorists -- which drew criticism even from the first lady, to say nothing of the FBI -- would meet the approval of the Sun's editorial page.

Does it bother anyone on the editorial board that readers know their opinions before they do?

John Heasley, Ellicott City

Puerto Rican prisoners had served long enough

I couldn't agree more with The Sun's editorial "Clinton within rights to grant clemency" (Sept. 21), but I fear the problems it illustrates go beyond the obvious ramifications of the president's s decision.

More than 30 years ago, I was on the receiving end of a terrorist bombing. Obviously, I have no use for terrorists and the FALN is a despicable organization.

However, fair is fair: Sentences of 35 to 90 years for convictions that didn't include murder or manslaughter charges were overkill.

In many states, one would be eligible for parole on murder charges after serving as long as the prisoners involved had served.

One would expect the Dan Burtons of the world to howl about a decision such as the president's offer of clemency. What bothers me is that a majority of moderates, from both sides of the aisle, have objected as well.

If there was ever a politically correct issue to join, this is it.

Maybe there's something to be said for the accusation that these 16 people had become politically correct prisoners?

W. Cary deRussy, Timonium

Can Martin O'Malley create a friendlier city?

I am 9 years old, I live in Charles Village and I would like to congratulate Martin O'Malley on his victory in the Democratic mayoral primary.

I think the city should be more relaxed, and if you saw someone on the street you would say, "Hello."

Wouldn't that be a nice city?

I hope Mr. O'Malley can help us be like that.

Celia Neustadt, Baltimore

Bury power lines to prevent blackouts and ugliness

What was the cause of the power failures for thousands of Marylanders this past week? It may have been "pole-ution" -- power lines that should be submerged, but instead are elevated on wooden poles.

In the past 20 years, buried power lines have been designed into many new housing developments and have successfully defied storms.

Power poles and the accompanying profusion of wires and cables are one of the most ubiquitous and ugly products of the technical age. They could be eliminated by placing the lines underground.

The power company's loss of revenue during power failures and the expense of repairs has apparently been insufficient to encourage it to bury power lines.

This makes it necessary that we apply political pressure, and perhaps offer tax incentives, to encourage the power suppliers to put power lines underground, where they are not vulnerable to storms and accidents.

Those incentives could be augmented by making the power company pay a penalty to customers who lose power.

G. Marshall Naul, Chesterstown

Cartoon misrepresented city's response to spill

Mike Lane's Sept. 22 editorial cartoon clearly implied that the Department of Public Works (DPW) did nothing to prevent the sewage spill into the Jones Falls and did not take the spill seriously. That's absolutely wrong.

We had a hurricane. Like 490,000 Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. customers, we faced an electrical outage. Power went out to our sewage pumping station's primary line and backup line.

Heroic efforts by our workers kept damage to the facility at a minimum. The DPW repaired the serious damage to our pumping operations in less than two days.

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