Michael Mukasey urges Jonathan Pollard's release

Jennifer Rubin - The Washington Post - December 23, 2010

Another former U.S. official, Michael Mukasey, has stepped forward to call for Jonathan Pollard's release. The Jerusalem Post reports:

Former US attorney-general Michael Mukasey sent a letter to US President Barack Obama, released Wednesday, calling for Jonathan Pollard's sentence to be commuted to time served: "[Pollard] has not been alleged by anyone to have had any motive to harm the United States. In these circumstances, a life sentence can only be considered utterly disproportionate to the crime," the letter read.

"I had occasion myself to consider life sentences, and indeed to impose them. In more than 18 years on the bench, I imposed such sentences on four defendants," Mukasey said.

Mukasey, George W. Bush's attorney general, has a sterling reputation. And, as the federal judge who presided over the 1993 World Trade Center bombing case, he can't be characterized as "soft on crime" or lax on issues of national security.

This issue is one of those controversial ones that doesn't neatly line up along party lines. One would think that left-leaning civil libertarians would object to solitary confinement and excessive punishment, while those on the right would, as Mukasey has done, consider seriously whether this is a miscarriage of justice perpetuated by a familar list of individuals whose judgment is hardly flawless. (then-CIA director George Tenet threatened to quit during the Clinton presidency if Pollard was pardoned. Was his information more solid on that than on the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?)

Here is a suggestion (not my own, but I pass it on): Let's see some of the information, now 25-years-old, that is relevant to the case. What did former Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger say in his letter to the court -- and do we now know that information to be false? (It's practically inconceivable that any of that information should still be classified.) Were Aldrich Ames and Robert Hannsen in fact convicted for disclosing information to the Soviets that was incorrectly used as the basis for Pollard's sentencing? At the very least, the Obama administration should go back to the original documentation and assess whether, with 20-20 hindsight, Pollard was deserving of a life sentence and years of solitary confinement.

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  • See Also: Full text of Mukasey Letter to President Obama urging release of Jonathan Pollard