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US President Barrack Obama
Photo by Raymond Hall


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, February 11, 2014

Says the President’s failure to commute Pollard’s sentence “does not reflect
well on the office”

Former Senator David Durenberger, who served as Chairman of the Senate
Select Committee on Intelligence at the time of Jonathan Pollard’s
conviction, has written to President Obama and requested that the President
release Pollard as quickly as possible. (A copy of the letter is attached
and the full text appears below)

With his first-hand knowledge of the full file of Pollard’s case and all of
the secret documents, Senator Durenberger’s call for clemency is especially

A Republican who represented Minnesota in the United States Senate from
1978-1995, Durenberger cited “the 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 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.”

Durenberger, an attorney who also served with distinction in the United
States Army, is the only Republican United States Senator from Minnesota to
be elected to three terms. In addition to his tenure as Chairman of the
Select Committee on Intelligence, Durenberger also served as Chairman of the
Health Subcommittee of the Senate Finance Committee. He is currently a
Senior Health Policy Fellow at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis,
Minnesota and chairs the National Institute of Health Policy.

In addition to Senator Durenberger, the other major decision makers who were
intimately involved in the Pollard case and who were most informed on the
impact of Pollard’s actions have also issued public calls for his release.
They include former Secretary of State George Shultz, William Webster, the
head of the FBI at the time of Pollard’s arrest and the only man in history
to head both the FBI and the CIA, former Congressman Lee Hamilton, who
served as Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee at the time of
Pollard’s sentencing, former Assistant Secretary of Defense Lawrence Korb,
and former National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane, who served under
President Ronald Reagan at the time when Pollard was investigated and
ultimately charged with disclosing classified information to an ally without
intent to harm the United States.

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.

In addition, former CIA Director James Woolsey, former Chairman of the
Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Senator Dennis DeConcini, former
White House Counsel Bernard Nussbaum, and former Deputy Attorney General and
Harvard Law Professor Philip Heymann, each of whom reviewed the classified
intelligence reports about the Pollard case, have publically called for
Pollard’s release.

Further, some of the other prominent American leaders who have called for
clemency for Pollard include Republican Senator John McCain, Democratic
Senator Charles Schumer, former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger,
former U.N. Ambassador Bill Richardson, and former Attorney General Michael
Mukasey. There have also been numerous bipartisan calls for Pollard’s
release that have emanated from Congress and numerous former Senators.
The following is the text of Senator Durenberger’s letter to President

January 2, 2014

Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States of America
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington D.C. 20001

Dear Mr. President,

I am writing to ask that you commute the prison sentence of Jonathan
Pollard. I knew the circumstances surrounding the case as well as anyone. I
served on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence from 1979-1986 and as
its Chair during the 1985-86 session of the Congress. The Pollard arrest on
charges of spying for Israel, as well as cases involving the arrest of
several other Americans for providing classified secrets to foreign
countries, came before the committee in 1985 during a year weekly news
magazines called “The Year of the Spy.” Knowing the circumstances behind
each of these cases, I can recall my surprise at the sentence given Jonathan
Pollard compared to others.

I recall as well the vehemence of the Defense Secretary’s reaction to the
revelation, since I was aware as Chair of the Committee of changes that we
were told by intelligence agency heads had taken place in traditional
agreements between the U.S. and Israel on the subject of spying. Of course
Pollard broke the law and his conviction was deserved. But the harshness of
his sentence, in light of existing relations between our countries and

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