Former Republican Senator Steven Symms Asks President To Free Pollard
June 27, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Aaron Troodler
FORMER REPUBLICAN SENATOR ASKS PRESIDENT TO FREE POLLARD
Former Republican Senator and Congressman Steven Symms of Idaho has written to President Obama and requested that he commute Jonathan Pollard's sentence to time served (the full text of the letter appears below and a copy is attached). During his twenty years in the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives, Senator Symms was considered to be among the most conservative members of the Republican Party.
Pollard has spent more than 25 years languishing in a federal prison for passing classified information to Israel, an ally of the United States.
"I believe that the sentence he [Pollard] received was disproportionate to his crime," wrote Senator Symms in his letter to the President. "Mr. Pollard has fully complied with the terms of his plea agreement and has been, from all reports, a model prisoner. Unfortunately, the terms and spirit of the plea were completely ignored by the sentencing judge."
"I believe commuting his sentence to time served would be a wholly appropriate exercise of your power of clemency - not to mention as a matter of basic compassion and fairness," continued Symms.
Senator Steve Symms served in the U.S. Senate from 1981-1993. During his time in the Senate, Symms served on the Budget, Finance, Armed Services, Environment and Public Works and joint Economic Committees. Prior to serving two terms in the Senate, Symms was a four-term congressman (1973-81).
Before he entered public service, Symms served in the United States Marine Corps from 1960-1963. Senator Symms is presently a partner at Parry, Romani, DeConcini & Symms, which is a lobbying firm based in Washington, D.C.
Senator Symms' letter to President Obama comes in the wake of numerous calls for clemency for Pollard from prominent government officials, high-ranking individuals in the national intelligence arena, leading professionals in the legal world, and renowned religious and communal leaders.
Former CIA Director James Woolsey, former White House Counsel Bernard Nussbaum, former Deputy Attorney General and Harvard Law Professor Philip Heymann, and former Senator and Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee Dennis DeConcini, each of whom had the opportunity to thoroughly review Pollard's classified file and is fully familiar with the circumstances of his case, have called for Pollard's release.
Henry Kissinger, who served as United States Secretary of State and National Security Advisor under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, and who was a member of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board at the time of Pollard's sentencing, sent a letter to President Obama requesting that he commute Pollard's sentence to time served.
Lee Hamilton, a former U.S. Congressman from Indiana who served as Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee at the time of Jonathan Pollard's sentencing, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and is currently member of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, also called on President Obama to free Pollard.
In addition, a wide array of American leaders have called for a commutation of Pollard's sentence, including former Vice President Dan Quayle, former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz, former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, Senator John McCain of Arizona, former Arkansas governor and former Republican Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, former Senator and Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee Arlen Specter, Senator Charles Schumer of New York, former Assistant Secretary of Defense Lawrence Korb, Congressman Allen West of Florida, former Senator Alan Simpson of Wyoming, former New York City Mayor and former Republican Presidential candidate Rudolph Giuliani, Congressman Michael Grimm of New York, Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel, well-known conservative leader Gary Bauer, Rev. Theodore Hesburgh of Notre Dame, well-known Christian leader Pat Robertson, Pastor John Hagee, and Harvard Law Professor Charles Ogletree, who was President Barack and First Lady Michelle Obama's law professor at Harvard and remains friends with them today.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also sent a letter to President Obama calling for Pollard's release.
In addition, several months ago thirty-nine members of Congress submitted a "Dear Colleague" letter led by Congressman Barney Frank in support of commuting Jonathan Pollard's sentence. Further, a broad-based interfaith coalition comprised of more than 500 members of the clergy and community leaders sent a letter to President Obama in January 2011 in which they called on the President to commute Pollard's sentence.
Jonathan Pollard recently wrote a letter containing a personal appeal for clemency to President Obama, which was hand-delivered to the President by Israeli President Shimon Peres. Peres also raised the issue of clemency for Pollard in a recent White House meeting with President Obama.
Despite numerous pleas by Israeli leaders and people throughout the United States and Israel, President Obama recently refused to grant Pollard "compassionate leave," which would have enabled him to visit his ailing father, Morris, on his deathbed, and rejected countless appeals asking the President to allow Pollard to attend his father's funeral following Morris Pollard's death.
Jonathan Pollard has repeatedly expressed his remorse publicly and in private in letters to many Presidents and others. His health has deteriorated significantly during his two-and-a-half decades in prison.
Pollard's life sentence is grossly disproportionate when compared to the sentences of others who have spied for allied nations. Despite the fact that Pollard entered into a plea agreement and fully cooperated with the prosecution in his case, he nonetheless received a life sentence and a recommendation that he never be paroled, which was in complete violation of the plea agreement he had reached with the government.
The following is the text of Senator Symms' letter to President Obama:
June 8, 2011
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
I respectfully write to request that you use your constitutional power to grant clemency to Jonathan Pollard for prison time already served.
As I am sure you are probably already aware, Mr. Pollard is currently serving his 25th year of a life sentence (seven of which were spent in solitary confinement) for espionage. His crimes were very serious and I, in no way condone his actions. However, I believe that the sentence he received was disproportionate to his crime. Mr. Pollard has fully complied with the terms of his plea agreement and has been, from all reports, a model prisoner. Unfortunately, the terms and spirit of the plea were completely ignored by the sentencing judge.
Many of my colleagues, prominent national figures and religious leaders from all faiths have publicly stated their support for Mr. Pollard's release. Perhaps most noteworthy, similar support has come from those who have seen the classified information pertaining to this case - former CIA Director James Woolsey, and my partner and former head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Dennis DeConcini.
After more than two decades in the harshest prison conditions, Mr. Pollard's health is declining. He has repeatedly expressed remorse for his actions and I believe commuting his sentence to time served would be a wholly appropriate exercise of your power of clemency - not to mention as a matter of basic compassion and fairness.
Thank you, Mr. President, for considering my request. I remain
United States Senator, Retired
View original copy of this letter (PDF)