Letter to Clinton from 60 Senators

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January 11, 1999

The Honorable William J. Clinton
President of the United States
The White House
Washington, D.C., 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We understand that during the course of the Wye talks you committed to review commuting the sentence of the convicted spy Jonathan Pollard. Therefore, you must now decide whether Jonathan Pollard should go free. We believe that he should not.

Because you have previously reviewed Mr. Pollard's case, we believe you are aware of the compelling reasons for his continued incarceration. We urge you to recall your latest denial of Pollard's request for commutation where you cited the "enormity of Pollard's offenses, his lack of remorse, the damage done to our national security, the need for general deterrence and the continuing threat to national security that he pose[s]." Mr. President, nothing has changed since that time. Any grant of clemency would not be viewed as an acquiescence to external political pressures and a vindication of Pollard's specious claims of unfairness and victimization. It would also establish two disturbing precedents.

First, a commutation of Mr. Pollard's life sentence would imply a condonation of spying against the United States by an ally. It would also give credence to the claim that espionage is somehow less serious when Americans spy on behalf of a friendly nation with which they sympathize. This would send the wrong signal to employees within the Intelligence Community. It is an inviolable principle that those entrusted with America's secrets must protect them, without exception, irrespective of their own personal views or sympathies.

Second, it undermines our ability to act as an honest broker throughout the world. We maintain relationships with many nations that are not necessarily complementary to one another. Those relationships depend upon our assurances of confidentiality. If you release Mr. Pollard, it will convey a message to our partners that we view secrets kept from our friends as less sacrosanct. They are not, and we must assure our partners that they are not.

You have stated that you will consider congressional views in your review of the Pollard case. We welcome your invitation and express our strongest opposition to any commutation of the life sentence given Jonathan Pollard for betraying our country. We urge you to deny clemency in the interest of justice and in the interest of national security.


Richard C. Shelby

J. Robert Kerrey
Vice Chairman

Bill Frist
Bob Graham
Bob Smith
Charles E. Grassley
Charles S. Robb
Christopher J. Dodd
Christopher S. Bond
Chuck Hagel
Conrad Burns
Craig Thomas
Daniel K. Akaka
Daniel K. Inouye
Diane Feinstein
Don Nickles
Ernest F. Hollings
Frank H. Murkowski
Frank R. Lautenberg
Fred Thompson
Herb Kohl
James M. Inhofe
James M. Jeffords
Jeff Sessions
Jesse Helms
Jim Bunning
John Ashcroft
John B. Breaux
John F. Kerry
John H. Chafee
John McCain
John W. Warner
Jon Kyl
Joseph I. Lieberman
Judd Gregg
Kay Bailey Hutchison
Kent Conrad
Larry E. Craig
Mary L. Landrieu
Max Baucus
Michael Enzi
Mike Crapo
Mike DeWine
Mitch McConnell
Pat Roberts
Patrick Leahy
Paul Coverdell
Pete V. Domenici
Phil Gramm
Richard G. Lugar
Richard H. Bryan
Robert C. Byrd
Robert F. Bennett
Rod Grams
Sam Brownback
Strom Thurmond
Thad Cochran
Tim Hutchinson
Trent Lott
Wayne Allard