Lee H. Hamilton, a former U.S. Congressman from Indiana who served as Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee at the time of Jonathan Pollard’s sentencing, and Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, recently sent a letter to President Obama and asked the President to commute Pollard’s sentence (the full text of the letter appears below and a copy is attached). Pollard has spent more than 25 years languishing in a federal prison for passing classified information to Israel, an ally of the United States.
Hamilton, who spent 34 years in Congress, continues to be a well-respected leader on international relations and American national security. He is presently a member of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, a nonpartisan and independent body of the Intelligence Community, which has full access to the complete range of intelligence-related information. As a member of the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, Hamilton has direct access to the President and is charged with assisting the President by providing him with an independent source of advice on the effectiveness with which the Intelligence Community is meeting the United States’ intelligence needs.
Hamilton is also a member of the President’s Homeland Security Advisory Council, the FBI Director’s Advisory Board, the Defense Secretary’s National Security Study Group, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Task Force on Preventing the Entry of Weapons of Mass Effect on American Soil, and co-chair of the National Advisory Committee to the Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools with former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
“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,” wrote Hamilton in his letter to the President. “I do not underestimate the gravity of Mr. Pollard’s crime, but I do believe that he has served a disproportionately severe sentence and that he should be promptly released. He has already spent over 25 years in prison, several of which were spent in solitary confinement.”
“My support of clemency for Jonathan Pollard extends back many years,” continued Hamilton. “I hope you will act promptly on the requests you have received. Commuting his sentence is a matter of basic compassion and justice.”
Hamilton, who first got involved in the Pollard case in the early 1990’s, stated in his letter to the President that he knows the Pollard family for many years and noted that after all the pain and anguish they have experienced due to their son’s imprisonment, Jonathan’s father deserves to see his son freed.
Lee Hamilton is presently the director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University, which is a nonpartisan educational institution that aims to improve the public’s understanding of Congress and promotes civic engagement.
Hamilton served in Congress from 1965-1999, where he was a leading voice on foreign affairs, economic policy, and congressional organization. While in Congress, Hamilton served as the Chairman of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence from 1985-1987, and as Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs from 1993-1995. Hamilton also served as Chairman of the Select Committee to Investigate Covert Arms Transactions with Iran.
Hamilton was also co-chairman, together with former Secretary of State James Baker, of the Iraq Study Group, which was a bipartisan panel created at the urging of Congress that made recommendations on American policy options in Iraq in December 2006.
In addition, Hamilton was vice chairman of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (the 9/11 Commission), which issued its report in July 2004, and he also co-chaired, along with former New Jersey Governor Thomas Kean, the 9/11 Public Discourse Project, to monitor implementation of the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations.
Hamilton also served as president and director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, in Washington, D.C. from 1999-2010.
Lee Hamilton’s letter to President Obama comes in the wake of numerous calls for clemency for Pollard from prominent government officials, high-ranking individuals in the national intelligence arena, leading professionals in the legal world, and renowned religious and communal leaders.
Former CIA Director James Woolsey, former White House Counsel Bernard Nussbaum, former Deputy Attorney General and Harvard Law Professor Philip Heymann, former Senator and Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee Dennis DeConcini, and Congressman Anthony Weiner of New York, each of whom had the opportunity to thoroughly review Pollard’s classified file and is fully familiar with the circumstances of his case, have called for Pollard’s release.
In addition, a wide array of American leaders have called for a commutation of Pollard’s grossly disproportionate sentence, including former Vice President Dan Quayle, former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz, former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, former Arkansas governor and former Republican Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, former Senator and Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee Arlen Specter, Senator Charles Schumer of New York, former Assistant Secretary of Defense Lawrence Korb, former New York City Mayor and former Republican Presidential candidate Rudolph Giuliani, Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel, well-known conservative leader Gary Bauer, Rev. Theodore Hesburgh of Notre Dame, Pastor John Hagee, and Harvard Law Professor Charles Ogletree, who was President Barack and First Lady Michelle Obama’s law professor at Harvard and remains friends with them today.
Jonathan Pollard has repeatedly expressed his remorse publicly and in private in letters to many Presidents and others. His health has deteriorated significantly during his two-and-a-half decades in prison.
Pollard’s life sentence is grossly disproportionate when compared to the sentences of others who have spied for allied nations. Despite the fact that Pollard entered into a plea agreement and fully cooperated with the prosecution in his case, he nonetheless received a life sentence and a recommendation that he never be paroled, which was in complete violation of the plea agreement he had reached with the government.
The following is the text of Lee Hamilton’s letter to President Obama:
February 25, 2011
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President,
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 do not underestimate the gravity of Mr. Pollard’s’crime, but I do believe that he has served a disproportionately severe sentence and that he should be promptly released. He has already spent over 25 years in prison, several of which were spent in solitary confinement.
I have been acquainted for many years with members of his family, especially his parents, and I know how much pain and anguish they have suffered because of their son’s incarceration. The mother is now deceased, but the father lives. He deserves to see their son freed.
My support of clemency for Jonathan Pollard extends back many years. I hope you will act promptly on the requests you have received. Commuting his sentence is a matter of basic compassion and justice.
Thank you for your consideration of this request.
With warm personal regards,
Lee H. Hamilton
(YWN World Headquarters – NYC)