Bill Clinton’s last minute pardons included drug traffickers, killers, an accused spy and a terrorist. The latter may be the most interesting because it appears that the popular CBS 60 Minutes program may have played a role in springing her from jail. Last December 14th, 60 Minutes aired a story narrated by Morley Safer on how Susan Rosenberg was linked to a 1981 robbery of a Brinks armored car that resulted in the murders of two policemen and a security guard. After she was caught, she proclaimed, “Long live the armed struggle.” Rosenberg was a member of the Weather Underground, a Communist terrorist organization. She was sentenced to 58 years in prison, after she and a companion were found with 740 pounds of dynamite and weapons, including a machine gun. Authorities decided not to prosecute in the Brinks case because they got enough time behind bars for her on the weapons charges. This is the woman whose sentence has been commuted by Clinton, a president who claimed to be for gun control.
By contrast, Bill and Hillary Clinton never felt any sympathy for people like Billy Dale, the career civil servant and head of the White House travel office whom they set up on phony corruption charges.
They were trying to replace him and his staff with their Hollywood cronies. Dale was investigated by the Clinton Justice Department for two years before being indicted, prosecuted and tried. It took a jury only 20 minutes to dismiss the bogus charges against him.
But in issuing a commutation in the Rosenberg case, Bill Clinton has clearly expressed sympathy for her predicament. He probably saw the 60 Minutes story about her, and was touched by it. This demonstrates the twisted priorities of the Clinton Administration.
But CBS played a role. Rosenberg’s lawyers have not always made her available for interviews, but with 60 Minutes deciding to do a story which raised the possibility of a presidential pardon for her, they made an exception. She sat down with Morley Safer of 60 Minutes to claim she was rehabilitated and was never a terrorist, just a political activist. Safer said she was being denied parole because although she was charged with involvement in the Brinks robbery and murders, she wasn’t specifically tried and convicted for that crime. This was presented as a grave injustice. The Parole Commission had said it didn’t find her denials of involvement in the Brinks case credible.
60 Minutes could have focused on convicted killer Joanne Chesimard, a reported associate of Susan Rosenberg whose organization, the Black Liberation Army, was involved in the Brinks murders. Rosenberg was charged with helping Chesimard escape from prison in 1979. Chesimard fled to Communist Cuba. On September 14th, 1998, the Congress voted unanimously for a resolution urging Castro to turn Chesimard over to the U.S. Even the radical congressional Black Caucus could not produce one member to vote against the resolution. Ironically, If Chesimard had stayed here in prison, there’s a chance that she, too, could have gotten a pardon or commutation from Clinton, and could be free today.