Bi-partisan Group of Senators Issues Historic Petition for Pollard's Release
November 6, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Aaron Troodler
BI-PARTISAN GROUP OF SENATORS ISSUES HISTORIC CALL TO THE PRESIDENT TO RELEASE JONATHAN POLLARD
Four Former Chairmen Of The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Call For Clemency For Pollard
In a historic display of bi-partisanship, a group of eighteen prominent former United States Senators recently wrote to President Obama and asked that he commute Jonathan Pollard's sentence to time served (the full text of the letter appears below and a copy is attached).
This letter, which marks the first time that a group of Senators have united to request clemency for Pollard, is an indicator of the solid support for Pollard's release as a matter of justice. In particular, retired senior American legislators and officials, no longer bound by party goals or political considerations, are now overwhelmingly in support of Pollard's release. Some of the Senators who signed the bi-partisan petition opposed Pollard's release in the past but now support an immediate commutation of his sentence to time-served and are urging the President to set Pollard free.
Jonathan Pollard has spent 26 years of an
unprecedented life sentence languishing in a federal prison for passing classified information to Israel, an ally of the United States. The median sentence for this offense is 2 to 4 years. On November 21, 2011, Pollard will enter his 27th year in captivity. No one else in the history of the United States has ever received a life sentence for this offense.
The signatories on the letter to the President include Senator Steven Symms (R-ID); Senator Dennis DeConcini (D-AZ); Senator Alan Simpson (R-WY); Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA); Senator and Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham (R-MI); Senator Birch Evans Bayh II (D-IN); Senator Robert Bennett (R-UT); Senator Donald W. Stewart (D-AL); Senator Connie Mack (R-FL); Senator Joseph Davies Tydings (D-MD); Senator Conrad Burns (R-MT); Senator Timothy E. Wirth (D-CO); Senator Larry Pressler (R-SD); Senator Robert Burren Morgan (D-NC); Senator David Durenberger (R-MN); Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND); Senator Donald Nickles (R-OK); and Senator Larry Craig (R-ID).
"We do not condone espionage, nor do we underestimate the gravity of Pollard's crime," wrote the Senators in their letter to the President. "But it is patently clear that Mr. Pollard's sentence is severely disproportionate and (as several federal judges have noted) a gross miscarriage of justice."
"After more than two decades in the harshest prison conditions, Mr. Pollard's health is declining," continued the Senators. "He has repeatedly expressed remorse for his actions as has the State of Israel, and by all accounts has served as a model prisoner. Commuting his sentence to time served would be a wholly appropriate exercise of your power of clemency - as well as a matter of basic compassion and American justice."
Four of the Senators who signed the letter are former Chairmen of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, namely, Senators Specter, DeConcini, Bayh, and Durenberger. Senator Durenberger served as Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence at the time of Jonathan Pollard's conviction. In addition, Senator Mack, who also signed the letter, served as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee during his time in the Senate. Senators Simpson and Nickles each held leadership positions in the Senate Republican's caucus during their tenure as members of the Senate. Prior to serving in the Senate, Senator Tydings served as a U.S. Attorney and was a well-known federal prosecutor.
"I am pleased to join with a number of distinguished former members of the Senate in doing what I believe is the right thing to do under these circumstances that have been clearly transparent," said Senator DeConcini. "Mr. Pollard has served an adequate sentence for the violation, in my opinion."
"One of our problems over the years has been our failure to remember to 'support our friends and oppose our enemies,'" said Senator Symms.
"Serving on the Senate Intelligence Committee, one is continually reminded of the importance in our society of maintaining the proper balance between protecting our country and ensuring the rights of individual citizens," said Senator Bayh.
"I join my other former Senate colleagues in calling on President Obama to grant clemency to commute Mr. Pollard's sentence in order to prevent a great miscarriage of justice," said Senator Tydings. "Mr. Pollard has already served over 20 years of a life sentence - a sentence grossly disproportionate to the typical 2-4 year sentence received by those who committed the same offense. As a former U.S. Attorney, I think it is crucial to speak out against such an uneven and unjust application of the law so as to ensure the health of our judicial system."
The Senators' 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, and former Deputy Attorney General and Harvard Law Professor Philip Heymann, each of whom is fully aware of all of the contents of Pollard's classified file and with the facts and circumstances of this case, have long been on record calling for Pollard's release.
In addition, some of the other prominent American leaders who have called for clemency for Pollard include former U.S. Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Shultz, Vice President Dan Quayle, former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, former Assistant Secretary of Defense Lawrence Korb, and former Congressman Lee Hamilton, who served as Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee at the time of Jonathan Pollard's sentencing
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 more than 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 the Senators' letter to President Obama:
October 26, 2011
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President,
We, the undersigned, retired U.S. Senators - Republican and Democrat - join the many other distinguished Americans to urge you to exercise your power of clemency and commute Jonathan Pollard's prison sentence to time served.
Mr. Pollard will complete his 26th year of incarceration on November 21, 2011 and begin his 27th year of an unprecedented life sentence (seven of which were spent in solitary confinement). He was indicted on one count of passing classified information to an ally without intent to harm the United States - an offense that normally results in a 2-4 year sentence. He pled guilty under a plea agreement with which he fully complied but which was ignored by the sentencing judge. Mr. Pollard is the only person in the history of the U.S. to receive a life sentence for passing classified information to an ally.
We do not condone espionage, nor do we underestimate the gravity of Pollard's crime. But it is patently clear that Mr. Pollard's sentence is severely disproportionate and (as several federal judges have noted) a gross miscarriage of justice.
Religious leaders from all faiths and prominent national figures have publicly stated their support for Mr. Pollard's release: Vice President Quayle, Secretaries of State Kissinger and Schultz, Attorney General Mukasey, assistant secretary of defense, Dr. Korb, Senators McCain, Schumer, Congressmen Frank, Waxman, Towns and thirty-nine Democrat members of the House, Republican Congressmen Grimm, West, Turner, Rev. Hesburgh of Notre Dame, Benjamin Hooks of the NAACP, Evangelist leaders Pat Robertson, Gary Bauer, Pastor John Hagee, former federal judge Leighton, former NYC Mayors Giuliani, Dinkins, former U.S. Solicitor General Olsen, Harvard Law professors Dershowitz, Ogletree, and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel. Perhaps most noteworthy, similar support has come from those who have seen the classified information of the damage that Pollard caused - former CIA Director Woolsey, former Deputy Attorney General Heymann, and former head of the Senate Intelligence Committee Senator 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 as has the State of Israel, and by all accounts has served as a model prisoner.
Commuting his sentence to time served would be a wholly appropriate exercise of your power of clemency - as well as a matter of basic compassion and American justice.
Respectfully and sincerely,
Senator Steven Symms (R-ID) (1981-1993)
Senator Dennis DeConcini (D-AZ) (1977-1995)
Chairman, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (1993-1994)
Senator Alan Simpson (R-WY) (1979-1997)
Senate Majority Whip (1985-1987), Minority Whip (1987-1995); Chairman, Committee on Committee on Intelligence (1995-1997); Veterans' Affairs (1995-1997)
Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA) (1981-2011)
Chairman, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (1995-1997); Chairman, Senate Committee on the Judiciary (2005-2007); Chairman, Committee on the Veterans' Affairs (1997-2001)
Secretary Spencer Abraham; Secretary of Energy (2001-2005); Senate (R-MI) (1995- 2001)
Senator Birch Evans Bayh II (D-IN)
(1963-1981); Chairman, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (1977-1981)
Senator Robert Bennett (R-UT) (1993-2011)
Ranking Member, Committee on Rules and Administration (2009-2011); Counsel to Minority Leader (2008-2010)
Senator Donald W. Stewart (D-AL) (1978-1981)
Senator Connie Mack (R-FL) (1989-2001)
Chairman, Senate Republican Conference (1997-2001); Chairman, Joint Economic Committee (1994-1996; 1998-2001); Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (1999-2001)
Senator Joseph Davies Tydings (D-MD) (1965-1971)
Chairman, Committee on the District of Columbia (1969-1971)
United States Attorney (1961-1963)
Senator Conrad Burns (R-MT) (1989-2007)
Senator Timothy E. Wirth (D-CO) (1987-1993)
Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs (1994-1997)
Senator Larry Pressler (R-SD) (1979-1997)
Chairman, Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation (1995-1997)
Senator Robert Burren Morgan (D-NC) (1975-1981)
Senator David Durenberger (R-MN) (1978-1995)
Chairman, Senate Select Committee on 2011); Chairman, Senate Committee on Intelligence (1985-1987)
Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) (1992-2011)
Chairman, Senate Committee on Indian Affairs (2007-2011); Chairman, Democratic Policy Committee (1999-2011)
Senator Donald Nickles (R-OK) (1981-2005)
Chairman, National Republican Senatorial Committee (1989-1991); Chairman, Republican Policy Committee (1991-1997); Chairman, Committee on the Budget (2003-2005); Senate Majority Whip (1996-2001); Minority Whip (2001-2003)
Senator Larry Craig (R-ID) (1991-2009)
Chairman, Republican Policy Committee (1997-2003); Chairman, Special Committee on Aging (2003-2005); Chairman, Committee on Veterans' Affairs (2005-2007)
See Also: Original (signed) Copy of Senators' Petition to President Obama: