No to Clemency

Washington Jewish Week - January 21, 1999

A majority of the Senate has joined officials at the CIA, State Department and Pentagon in urging President Clinton not to free convicted spy Jonathan Pollard, whose supporters in Israel and the American Jewish community have called for his release on humanitarian grounds.

"Any grant of clemency would now be viewed as an acquiescence to external political pressures and a vindication of Pollard's specious claims of unfairness and victimization," 60 senators said in a letter initiated by

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), chairman of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee, and Sen. Bob Kerrey of Nebraska, the committee's ranking Democrat.

But in one positive development for Pollard's supporters, Attorney General Janet Reno said she would postpone her recommendation until Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, World Jewish Congress President Edgar Bronfman and Harvard University law professor Alan Dershowitz who urged Clinton to delay his decision until they have a chance to personally argue for Pollard's release had an opportunity to make their case. Government officials said the group would be offered a meeting with Reno or top Justice Department officials.