On January 17, 2017, then-President Barack Obama granted 74-year-old Oscar Lopez Rivera – an extremely violent Puerto Rican nationalist – commutation, arranging for the criminal to get out of prison roughly 20 years early.
According to a Politico report from the time, Rivera had been convicted on seditious conspiracy, attempted robbery, explosives and theft charges.
He was supposed to serve 55 years behind bars but, thanks to one of Obama’s last acts as President of the United States, was freed in May of 2017.
While some have affectionately hailed Rivera as a political prisoner treated unfairly by the justice system, Politico’s report points out that things aren’t so simple.
Rivera was the leader of the Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional (FALN), which – in its heyday – was one of the deadliest domestic terrorism organizations in the United States.
FALN carried out more than 130 bombings during its run – among them the 1975 bombing of Manhattan’s Fraunces Tavern that left four people dead and 63 wounded.
In a report the day after that attack, The New York Daily News stated that a member of FALN actually called The Associated Press and bragged about the incident.
In 1977, FALN – under the leadership of Oscar Lopez Rivera, remember – set off several bombs in Manhattan, killing one person, injuring six and forcing 100,000 to evacuate their offices.
Officials set out to find Lopez in 1976 after discovering that an apartment rented in his name was being used as a bomb factory.
He would live as a fugitive for five years, still operating in a leadership role with FALN before he was eventually pulled over for a traffic violation.
When officials searched the home Lopez was living in at the time, they found dynamite, blasting caps, weapons and a bomb-making manual for FALN.
He was subsequently convicted and sentenced to 55 years in prison.
Surely being caught would have dulled Lopez’s appetite for criminal activity, right?
Even in prison, Politico’s report states, he remained criminally active. In one instance, he planned to escape jail by having a helicopter fly over the prison’s recreational yard, dropping explosives and machine guns.
He intended to shoot guards in their towers with the weapons while throwing the explosives in the path of those giving chase.
This is the man who Obama provided commutation to.
Remarkably, even after his release, Rivera stated “I have no regrets.”
Liberals like those at Democracy Now have hailed Rivera following his release, granting him glowing interviews.
In light of the outrage surrounding President Donald Trump’s pardon of former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a number of people – including CNN’s Jake Tapper – have pointed to the story of Rivera’s commutation.
While we're on the topic of pardons/commutations, this Obama move is deserving of discussion/debate. https://t.co/2JBF5ioKwU
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) August 26, 2017
Many liberals subsequently attacked Tapper for daring to bring up a dubious move by the apparently sacred Obama.
I wonder about you some times Jake! False equivalency has invaded once again! Until we, y'all stop doing this we will never resolve!
— Terri O'Connell (@goterrio) August 26, 2017
Excellent way to deflect. Almost doing Kellyanne's job for her!
— Myfizzypop (@myfizzypop) August 26, 2017
We get it Jake, you're fair and balanced, Obama is no longer president, let's stay focused ok? WE HAVE A WHITE SUPREMACIST PRES! Nuff said
— G R E G W A R D (@gdub1972) August 26, 2017
Jack you worry me.
— LAstone (@gerry_greene) August 26, 2017
Thanks for focusing on what's topical and relevant jake
— Alex Halpern (@HalpernAlex) August 26, 2017
Want to start digging in the past Jake? How about we talk about the role CNN and all your cronies played in helping Trump win? Not innocent.
— Brenda M-P (@wrldgrlbmp) August 26, 2017
How noble of you to point out Obama's errors taking the focus off of Trump. We have the makings of a despot in the wh. Please refocus sir.
— J.P at C.V. (@JPatCV) August 26, 2017