Op-Ed: Pollard Must Be Set Free Now!
For the past few days and especially today, as rumors of imminent freedom for him abounded, the name of Jonathan Pollard has been front and center. That is why it is important to revisit and make known the facts and issues surrounding his case.
Pollard is American who was convicted of passing classified information to Israel while working as a civilian intelligence analyst. Pollard is the only person in US history to receive a life sentence for spying for an ally, and the only American citizen convicted of such a crime to be sentenced to more than 10 years in prison.
Jonathan Pollard passed along information on Arab states, Pakistan and the Soviet Union – common enemies of America and Israel. He discovered that information vital to Israel's security was being deliberately withheld by America, despite the fact that Israel was legally entitled to this information according to Memorandum agreements between the US and Israel.
Despite the fact that Pollard entered into a plea agreement, he received a life sentence and a recommendation that he never be paroled - in violation of the plea agreement he had reached with the government. He was never indicted for harming the United States, never indicted for compromising codes, agents, or war plans, nor treason. He was indicted solely on the charge of passing classified information to an ally, without intent to harm the United States.
No one else in the history of the United States has ever received a life sentence for passing classified information to an ally - only Jonathan Pollard. The median sentence for this offense is two to four years. Even agents who have committed far more serious offenses on behalf of hostile nations have not received such a harsh sentence.
Today, Jonathan Pollard is in the 29th year of his life sentence. While the man committed a crime, he received a grossly disproportionate sentence. The time has come for America to free Jonathan Pollard - without any immoral freeing of terrorists, because he deserves it on his own.
Across the political fence, many voices have raised their voices in a loud public relations campaign, and it is clear that they agree that the time has come to free Jonathan Pollard:
US FORMER VICE PRESIDENT DAN QUAYLE:"[A] life sentence for the crime committed is very extreme...I join [many others] in urging a commutation of [Pollard's] sentence."
FORMER CIA DIRECTOR JAMES WOOLSEY:"[It was clear] 5 years ago that the punishment quite clearly was excessive. It is time for [Jonathan Pollard] to be released...and there should not be any quid pro quo."
FORMER WHITE HOUSE LEGAL COUNSEL BERNARD NUSSBAUM: "I extensively reviewed the Pollard file... [T]he time has come for Jonathan Pollard's sentence to be commuted...[A] failure at this time to commute his sentence...would be a miscarriage of justice."
FORMER ARKANSAS GOVERNOR MIKE HUCKABEE: "He has served an extraordinary length of time... it would seem now to be a matter of goodwill and a good faith gesture...for the president to release him. [Freeing Pollard] would send the right message to the rest of the world that America is not pulling back on its friendship and relationship with Israel but it is accelerating it and making sure that we are taking every step possible to solidify those bonds."
FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE GEORGE SCHULTZ: "Jonathan Pollard has now paid a huge price for his espionage on behalf of Israel and should be released from prison."
FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL MICHAEL MUKASEY: "In more than 18 years on the bench, I imposed [life] sentences on four defendants. [Murderers and terrorists]. Pollard's offense does not nearly approach any of those....Pollard has suffered confinement well beyond the severity of what he did."
FORMER U.S. DEPUTY DEFENSE SECRETARY LAWRENCE KORB: "[T]he severity of Pollard's sentence is a result of an almost visceral dislike of Israel and the special place it occupies in our foreign policy on the part of my boss at the time, Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger."
39 U.S. CONGRESSMEN: [T]here has been a great disparity from the standpoint of justice between the amount of time Mr. Pollard has served and the time that has been served - or not served at all - by many others who were found guilty of similar activity on behalf of nations adversarial to us, unlike Israel... [The more than] twenty-five years that Mr. Pollard has served stands as a sufficient time from the standpoint of either punishment or deterrence.
RUDOLPH GIULIANI, FORMER MAYOR OF NY, AND FORMER WHITE HOUSE OFFICIAL:
"...I have seen the documents -- his sentence is way beyond the sentence served by other people that have been convicted of the same offense."
ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: "At the time of his arrest, Jonathan Pollard was acting as an agent of the Israeli government. Both Mr. Pollard and the Government of Israel have repeatedly expressed remorse for these actions..." "Jonathan Pollard has reportedly served longer in prison than any person convicted of similar crimes...and his health has deteriorated considerably. "[T]he United States is a country based on fairness, justice and mercy. For all these reasons, I respectfully ask that you favorably consider this request for clemency for Jonathan Pollard."
LEE HAMILTON, PRESIDENT'S FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE AND HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISER; FORMER CONGRESSMAN: "I do believe that [Jonathan Pollard] has served a disproportionately severe sentence and that he should be promptly released...Commuting his sentence is a matter of basic compassion and justice."
DR. HENRY KISSINGER, FORMER US SECRETARY OF STATE AND NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR, NOBEL PEACE PRIZE WINNER: "[H]aving talked with George Shultz and read the statements of former CIA Director Woolsey, former Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman DeConcini, former Defense Secretary Weinberger, former Attorney General Mukasey and others whose judgments and first-hand knowledge I respect, I find their unanimous support for clemency compelling... I believe justice would be served by commuting the remainder of Pollard's sentence of life imprisonment."
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN, ARIZONA STATE SENATOR, AND FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: "I support the release of Jonathan Pollard."
SENATOR ALAN SIMPSON, FORMER WYOMING SENATOR AND CURRENT CO-CHAIR OF PRESIDENT'S ECONOMIC COMMISSION: "I join many other distinguished Americans to request that you exercise your power of clemency and commute Jonathan Pollard's prison sentence to time served... [I]t is patently clear that Mr. Pollard's sentence is severely disproportionate and (as several federal judges have noted) a gross miscarriage of justice...After more than two decades in the harshest prison conditions, Mr. Pollard's health is declining. He has repeatedly expressed remorse for his actions, and by all accounts has been a model prisoner...Commuting his sentence to time served would be a wholly appropriate exercise of your power of clemency - as well as a matter of basic compassion and American justice."
Jonathan Pollard has sat in jail long enough. His sentence is disproportionate. He is the only person in the history of the United States to receive a life sentence for spying for an American ally – and has sat much longer than other people who spied for allies.
I, Ronn Torossian, and countless others say: If you believe in justice, then you must support the freedom of Jonathan Pollard.