Background on Former CIA Director's Call for Pollard's Release

July 5, 2012


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Woolsey Reiterates Call For Pollard's Immediate Release; Cites Disproportionate Sentence

Former CIA Director R. James Woolsey has reiterated his unequivocal call the immediate release of Jonathan Pollard.

In a letter to the editor that was published in The Wall Street Journal (7/5/12), Woolsey underscores the gross disproportionality of Pollard's sentence and calls for his immediate release.

Pollard has spent more than 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. No one else in the history of the United States has ever received a life sentence for this offense.

In his letter, Woolsey writes that he was initially opposed to clemency for Pollard when he was the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency during President Bill Clinton's first term in office; but with the passage of time he has reversed position and is now a strong and vocal supporter of Pollard's release.

Woolsey states that the disproportionate amount of time Jonathan has served when compared with others who have committed far more serious crimes spying for enemies of the U.S. and especially when compared with others convicted of similar crimes compels Pollard's immediate release.

Woolsey notes that the sentences of numerous enemy spies who spied for enemy states such as China and the Soviet bloc pale in comparison to Pollard's unprecedented life sentence:

"Of the more than 50 recently convicted Soviet bloc and Chinese spies, only two - Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen - also received life sentences, and two-thirds of these some-50 enemy spies served or have been sentenced to less time than Pollard has already served," wrote Woolsey.

"The recently convicted spies for such countries as Saudi Arabia, Ghana, Ecuador, Egypt, the Philippines and South Korea are serving less than a decade. One especially damaging Greek-American spy, Steven Lalas, received a 14-year sentence, just over half of what Pollard has already served.

"Pollard has cooperated fully with the U.S. government, pledged not to profit from his crime (e.g., from book sales), and has many times expressed remorse for what he did.

"There is absolutely no reason for Pollard to be imprisoned for as long as Ames and Hanssen, and substantially longer than spies from other friendly, allied, and neutral countries. For those hung up for some reason on the fact that he's an American Jew, pretend he's a Greek- or Korean- or Filipino-American and free him."

A copy of Woolsey's letter as printed in the Walls Street Journal follows the text below.

Woolsey's comments come as a bi-partisan "Dear Colleague" letter is being circulated in the U.S. House of Representatives in support of clemency for Jonathan Pollard. Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Congressman Christopher Smith (R-NJ) are soliciting signatures on a letter to President Obama, which urges the President to commute Pollard's sentence to time served.

In addition to Woolsey, numerous American leaders have called for a commutation of Pollard's sentence, including former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger; former Secretary of State George Shultz; former Attorney General Michael Mukasey; former National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane; former Assistant Secretary of Defense Lawrence Korb; former White House Counsel Bernard Nussbaum; former Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Senator Dennis DeConcini; former Senator David Durenberger, who served as Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence at the time of Pollard's conviction; former Congressman Lee Hamilton, who served as Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee at the time of Jonathan Pollard's sentencing; and Senators John McCain and Charles Schumer.

Pollard has repeatedly expressed his remorse publicly and in private in letters to many Presidents and others. His health has severely deteriorated after nearly three decades in prison.

Pollard received his life sentence without benefit of trial, as the result of a plea agreement which he honored and the government abrogated.

Because of a gross deficiency on the part of his attorney who neglected to file a notice of intent to appeal following his sentencing hearing, Pollard has been forever deprived of his right to a direct appeal of his life sentence. The only appeals he was able to bring were collateral, and were dismissed on technicality, not substance.

All legal avenues of relief have been exhausted. The only possible relief that remains is executive clemency.

See copy of R.James Woolsey letter.