Former CIA Director R. James Woolsey today called on President Barack Obama to commute the sentence of Jonathan Pollard. Although Woolsey has in the past called for Pollard’s release, his statements today are particularly noteworthy due to the clarity of his comments and his direct call on the President to free Pollard. As the head of the Central Intelligence Agency, Woolsey was privy to Jonathan Pollard’s classified file and reviewed all the details of his case.
Woolsey served as Director of Central Intelligence and head of the Central Intelligence Agency from 1993-1995 under President Bill Clinton. In addition, Woolsey has served as Under Secretary of the Navy and as General Counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services.
In his comments to Israeli television today, Woolsey stated that although the United States has apprehended spies on numerous occasions, the detainees do not serve 25 years in prison. Woolsey said that after reviewing Pollard’s case and other similar cases, in his opinion, Pollard should have been released from prison five years ago, which is when Woolsey issued his first public call for a commutation of Pollard’s sentence.
Woolsey’s comments come in the wake of a similar call for clemency for Jonathan Pollard by Former Deputy Attorney General and Harvard Law Professor Philip B. Heymann, who, like Woolsey, had the opportunity to thoroughly review Pollard’s file and is fully familiar with the circumstances of his case.
In addition to Woolsey and Heymann, a wide array of individuals from the national intelligence arena and the legal world have called for Jonathan Pollard’s sentence to be commuted, including former U.S. Secretary of State George P. Shultz, former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, former Assistant Secretary of Defense Lawrence Korb, former Senator and Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee Dennis DeConcini, 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.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also recently sent a letter to President Obama calling for Pollard’s release.
In addition, thirty-nine members of Congress recently submitted a “Dear Colleague” letter led by Congressman Barney Frank in support of commuting Jonathan Pollard’s sentence. Further, a broad-based interfaith coalition comprised of more than 500 members of the clergy and community leaders recently sent a letter to President Obama, in which they called on the President to commute Pollard’s sentence.
Jonathan Pollard, who recently began his 26th year in federal prison, 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.
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