Former senator writes to Obama urging Pollard release

Cites then-Secretary of Defense's alleged anti-Israeli sentiment as factor in 'disproportionate sentence'

i24news - February 11, 2014

A former Republican senator who served as Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence at the time of Jonathan Pollard's conviction, has written to US President Barack Obama urging Pollard's release.


a letter

dated January 2, 2014, David Durenberger cited "t he vehemence of the Defense Secretary's reaction to the revelation" as he referred to then-Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger. The affidavit that Weinberger filed at the time Pollard's case was being heard is believed to have led to the imposition of a life sentence, in violation of the plea bargain that had been agreed to.

Durenberger represented Minnesota in the United States Senate from 1978-1995

Durenberger is not alone in expressing dismay over then-Secretary Weinberger's actions relative to the Pollard case. In a letter to President Obama calling for clemency for Pollard, former National Security Advisor Robert C. "Bud" McFarlane, who served under President Ronald Reagan from 1983-1985, called Weinberger's affidavit in the Pollard case part of the "manifestation" of Weinberger's "recurrent episodes of strong criticisms and unbalanced reasoning when decisions involving Israel were being made" and stated that "Weinberger's unduly harsh and unwarranted severity was disgraceful and mean-spirited."

Similar criticism of Weinberger has been made by former Assistant Secretary of Defense Lawrence Korb, who has stated that Pollard's life sentence was due to Weinberger's "visceral hatred of Israel."

In his letter to the President, Senator Durenberger also noted that from the outset Jonathan Pollard's disproportionate sentence was inappropriate and "uncalled for."

"Of course Pollard broke the law and his conviction was deserved," wrote Senator Durenberger. "But the harshness of his sentence, in light of existing relations between our countries and the nature of our observation of implicit agreements between the countries, was uncalled for."

In his letter, Durenberger is unequivocal that Pollard's continued incarceration represents a serious injustice and that there is no excuse for the failure to address and correct it.

"The fact that no President has chosen to take the action which I, and many of my former colleagues and associates in government, request that you take, Mr. President, does not reflect well on the office," continued Senator Durenberger. "I believe in my heart that you have the capacity to right this wrong. And I respectfully request that you do so at your early convenience." Pollard has spent 28 years of an unprecedented life sentence in a federal prison for passing classified information to Israel, an ally of the United States. The median time served 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. Pollard and the Government of Israel have both apologized and expressed remorse for their actions.

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  • See Also: Doc: Senator Durenberger's Letter to President Obama (PDF)