Agudath Yisrael Letter to President: How much longer?
Agudath Israel of America
The Honorable Barack H. Obama
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
In going through my crowded in-box upon my return to my office yesterday from last week's Passover holiday, I found waiting for me a letter dated April 4 from Ronald L. Rodgers, Pardon Attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice, responding to my letter to you of December 15,2011 regarding the case of Jonathan Pollard.
Mr. Rodgers writes that "Mr. Pollard's application for commutation ... of sentence is under consideration. The processing time for an application for commutation of sentence can be lengthy, and we can give no assurance that final action will be taken by the President within a particular time frame."
I fully appreciate that an application for commutation of sentence requires time for processing and careful deliberation. However, I would respectfully point out that Mr. Pollard's formal application for commutation of sentence was submitted in October 2010, well over a year-and-a-half ago. Indeed, the issue of presidential clemency for Mr. Pollard has been raised a number of times, both formally and informally, over the course of the many years Mr. Pollard has been imprisoned. This is a case that is by now quite familiar to the White House.
More importantly, whatever the ordinary protocol and timetable for the processing of commutation of sentence applications, humanitarian considerations dictate that Mr. Pollard's dire health status should prompt an expedited review of his application. As you may be aware, less than two weeks ago on April 5, Mr. Pollard was hospitalized due to an emergency condition. He was released from the hospital this Sunday, April 15, and is now back in prison. Still, his medical condition is serious and has been deteriorating for some time, as many people who have visited him recently have testified. Under these circumstances, allowing the review process on his commutation application to stretch on indeterminately seems particularly cruel.
Last week, the President of the State of Israel, Shimon Peres, added his prestigious voice to those of the many prominent government officials, religious leaders, communal organizations and compassionate people in the United States and across the globe who have pleaded for Mr. Pollard's humanitarian release. Please, Mr. President, have mercy on this man who has languished in federal prison for more than 26 long and debilitating years, and whose very life may well be hanging in the balance. The time is now to at long last respond - favorably - to his application for commutation of sentence.
Many thanks for your kind consideration. As always, you have our best wishes and most fervent prayers.
Rabbi David Zweibel, Esq.
Executive Vice President
cc: Mr. Ronald L. Rodgers, Esq., Pardon Attorney