President Trump has been under fire for his controversial decision to pardon former Maricopa County Sheriff, Joe Arpaio. Arpaio is a decorated police officer who was convicted without a jury present.
The media never reported a word when Obama pardoned Oscar Lopez Rivera. Rivera led a Chicago-based cell of the Armed Forces of National Liberation, or FALN. The group waged a violent struggle in an attempt to win Puerto Rican independence back in the 1970s, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The FALN claimed responsibility for nearly 120 bombings between 1974 and 1983. The attacks killed six people, and left many more people injured.
Rivera was sentenced to 55 years in 1981. The federal court found him guilty of seditious conspiracy, armed robbery, interstate transportation of firearms, and conspiracy to transport explosives with intent to destroy government property.
Rivera’s lawyer claimed that the seditious conspiracy was just a “thought crime,” and therefore, was not a serious offense. However, it is important to note that the indictment listed 28 bombings in Chicago, many of which caused injuries.
It was a real crime that caused dozens of injuries.
The FBI investigated Rivera’s assets, and found a number of suspicious items. Investigators discovered dynamite sticks, detonators, guns, and more.
According to one witness, Rivera trained others in bombmaking. His training could have been used to take the lives of countless other people.
Members of the FALN concocted an escape plan for Rivera after his appearance in federal court. The FBI became privy to this plan, and ultimately, everyone involved was arrested. The punishment for this attempted escape added an additional 15 years to Rivera’s original 55-year prison sentence.
In 1999, then-President Bill Clinton offered Rivera clemency, but Rivera refused. He was holding out and hoping the president would also pardon one of the individuals who helped plan the attempted escape. Clinton had also requested a renouncement of violence from the Puerto Ricans as a condition of the clemency.
Obama put no conditions, requirements or comments on the release of Rivera, unlike the White House statement about Chelsea Manning being remorseful and deserving a pardon because of it.
Obama pardoned Manning and Rivera. Isn’t that more serious than Trump’s pardon of Sheriff Joe?
Rivera was by no means nonviolent, a low-level offender, or remorseful. He is a career and lifelong criminal who has never once ceased to be a threat to society. This man believed it was his right to wage war on the United States. Is this the type of individual who should be granted a pardon by a US president?
Why would Obama make the decision to pardon such a criminal? His decision may have been helped by statements from Bernie Sanders about how Rivera was the longest-serving political prisoners in history. Maybe it was outspoken support for Rivera from celebrity activist Lin-Manuel Miranda or from South Africa’s Bishop Desmond Tutu. In any case, the decision to pardon a violent criminal like Rivera is cause for wonder.
When Obama pardoned him, he let a dangerous and harmful person back onto the streets. Should this individual resume to his old ways, more lives could be lost, and it would be on Obama’s hands.