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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Groundswell Of Support For Release Of Jonathan Pollard

The Jerusalem Post is reporting that a number of voices have been raised recently in support of the release of Jonathan Pollard, especially with revelations of deception by the US government.

So, who is calling out for Jonathan Pollard's release?


Rafi Eitan (former minister and Pollard's former handler)
Eitan, who was Pollard’s handler, revealed on Thursday after press time that the US had violated an oral agreement with Israel to release Pollard after 10 years. In an interview with Israel Radio, Eitan also accused the US of deliberately perpetrating a travesty of justice by violating Pollard’s plea agreement and slapping him with what he called a grossly disproportionate life sentence.

He pointed out that at the time of Pollard’s sentencing in 1987, secret charges were laid against Pollard blaming him for the crimes of a Russian mole within American intelligence, Aldrich Ames. Pollard was neither informed of these charges nor given a chance to challenge them in a court of law.

Eitan said the US steadfastly refused to release Pollard even after Ames was exposed and arrested in 1994, “for their own reasons.”
Lawrence J. Kolb (former US assistant secretary of defense)
Korb, who was assistant secretary of defense under Caspar Weinberger at the time of Pollard’s arrest, wrote a letter to Obama calling for Pollard’s release that was released last week.

The letter called Pollard’s sentence “grossly disproportionate” and said it was the result of Weinberger’s “visceral dislike” of Israel, and not because of the offense Pollard had committed.
Other Americans
In addition to Korb, former CIA director James Woolsey and former head of the Senate Intelligence Committee Dennis DeConcini, as well as a cross-section of other notable Americans,
Woolsey spoke about Pollard's release during an interview last year with Newsweek:
former CIA director James Woolsey told NEWSWEEK he would support Pollard's release on two conditions: that he show contrition and renounce any profits from books or other projects linked to the case. In the mid-1990s, Woolsey advised President Bill Clinton to dismiss appeals by Israeli leaders on Pollard's behalf. But at that point, Pollard had been behind bars for just a decade. "We're now coming up on a quarter of a century," Woolsey said, a duration typically reserved for "only the hard-line Soviet bloc spies." (When Pollard was caught in 1985, Israel initially described his operation as rogue but then made him a citizen.) He said Pollard's release would send the right message at a time when Hamas is firing rockets on Israel.
DeConcini wrote a letter to Obama just this past August recommending that Pollard be released:
During my term of office, I carefully reviewed Mr. Pollard's case at the request of constituents and concluded at the time that it was not appropriate for him to be granted parole. With my knowledge of the Pollard case, it is clear to me that he no longer poses any security threat with the information he obtained 24 years ago. I believe that deterrence has been achieved and the requisite level of remorse has been expressed. I understand that his commutation is strongly supported in the Jewish community, who has only made this request after it became clear that his punishment was much worse than anyone else who has committed a similar crime. I believe commuting his sentence to time served is the right and compassionate thing to do.
The Jerusalem Post article continues:
Adding to the groundswell of support, four democratic congressmen – Barney Frank of Massachusetts, Bill Pascrell of New Jersey, and Edolphus Towns and Anthony Weiner, both of New York – have been circulating a petition among their colleagues with a letter addressed to Obama showing support for Pollard’s immediate release.
Also significant is that the request being made is not for a complete pardon but for clemency--that Obama commute Polllard's life sentence to time served. Esther Pollard notes:
Because the president’s powers of executive clemency are unlimited and not subject to review by any other government office or official, the president can correct this decades-long injustice in virtually a few seconds with a single stroke of his pen.
There were rumors at one point that Netanyahu was willing to extend the settlement moratorium in return for Pollard's release--an idea Pollard himself rejected. If Obama still needs political motivation, he should consider the goodwill Pollard's release would create with the Jewish community, at a time when polls show Jewish support for Obama is down.

Will Obama be the president to release Pollard?

[Hat tip: IMRA]

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