News that the U.S. government blocked the release of Jonathan Pollard on parole has prompted eight former senior U.S. officials to make a public protest decrying the injustice of the decision.
In a publicized letter to President Obama, the eight signatories, all of whom with first-hand knowledge of the case and fully familiar with the classified file, criticized the parole process as “deeply flawed.” They charged that the Parole Commission Decision document “mischaracterizes Mr. Pollard’s actions and makes a patently false claim upon which it bases its denial of parole.”
The signatories include: Amb. R. James Woolsey — Former Director of the CIA; Senator Dennis DeConcini — Former Chair of Senate Intelligence Committee; Senator David F. Durenburger — Former Chair of Senate Intelligence Committee; Robert C. MacFarlane — Former National Security Advisor; Lawrence J. Korb — Former Assistant U.S. Secretary of Defense; Prof. Angelo Codevilla — Former Senate Intelligence Committee Staff; Congressman Lee Hamilton — Dept. of Homeland Security Advisor to Pres. Obama; and Former Chair of the Select Committee on Intelligence; Bernard W. Nussbaum — Former White House Counsel.
Their letter says that the U.S. government’s allegation that “Mr. Pollard’s espionage was the greatest compromise of U.S. security to that date…is false and is not supported by any evidence in the public record or the classified file.” They note that nevertheless this “fiction” was the reason given by the Parole Commission for denying parole.
The officials further note that at the hearing, the government relied heavily on the 28-year-old, discredited Weinberger document, which Pollard’s security-cleared attorneys were denied access to, and which the Parole Commission was not cleared to review. The Commission was aware, they write, that in 2002 Weinberger himself had discounted the document as politically motivated.
They also point out that the Commission ignored a wealth of documentary evidence which mitigated in favor of Pollard’s release; and that the Commission also ignored all of the recommendations by top level officials with first-hand knowledge of the case, which call for his unconditional release. (Parole is conditional).
They express dismay at the fact that the Commission also ignored all compassionate grounds for Pollard’s release, and ignored Pollard’s record as a model prisoner for 3 decades.
The parole process now joins the long list of failed legal processes that have denied justice to Jonathan Pollard for nearly three decades. The officials note that it is clearly for cases like this that the U.S. Constitution grants the president virtually unlimited powers of clemency.
The letter to Obama concludes with a severe admonition and calls for the immediate commutation of Pollard’s sentence to time served:
“Denying a man his freedom based on a claim of damage that is patently false while ignoring exculpatory documentary evidence and hiding behind a veil of secret evidence is neither fair nor just nor is it the American way … We urge you to act expeditiously to commute Mr. Pollard’s life sentence to the 29 years which he has already served.”
In addition, according to The Jerusalem Post, the administration’s representatives at the parole board hearing spoke menacingly, treated Pollard with contempt and made it clear that the Israeli agent would not see Israel any time soon, if ever. Those present described the hearing as a “kangaroo court” and even “a lynching.”
The Committee to Free Jonathan Pollard expressed shock and anger at the U.S. government’s decision to prevent Pollard’s release.
“The heart breaks at the thought that Jonathan will not be freed after 30 years in prison,” the committee said. “The denial of the request proves that the regular bureaucratic path will not lead to justice for Jonathan.”
The committee said Obama should use the right given to him by the U.S. Constitution to cut short an inmate’s prison sentence “to redress the injustice” done to Pollard. “The regular procedure will not lead to this,” the committee said.
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud) said on Wednesday that the U.S. government’s rigid position on Pollard “crosses every moral boundary.”
“It seems to me that mercy has completely fallen off the ladder of [the U.S. government’s] values,” Edelstein, who was the first Israeli minister to visit Pollard in jail, said.