August 5, 2011

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Aaron Troodler

As the bi-partisan movement to free Jonathan Pollard continues to gain momentum, former Democratic Congressman Robert Wexler of Florida recently wrote to President Obama and asked that he commute Pollard’s sentence to time served (the full text of the letter appears below and a copy is attached). Congressman Wexler‘s letter is especially noteworthy in that he is a close friend of President Obama, who regularly consults him on issues relating to the Jewish community.

Jonathan Pollard has spent more than 25 years languishing in a federal prison for passing classified information to Israel, an ally of the United States. “The purpose of this letter is to advocate that Mr. Pollard be held to the same standards of punishment for his actions as others convicted of similar crimes,” wrote Congressman Wexler in his letter to the President.  “Mr. Pollard is the only person in U.S. history to receive a life sentence for disclosing classified information to an American ally. In fact, he is the only American citizen convicted of such a crime to be sentenced to more than 14 years in prison. Currently, the punishment for such a crime is set at a maximum of ten years.” “Having spent over 25 years in incarceration, seven of which were spent in solitary confinement, and having expressed remorse for his crimes, it is my humble opinion that Mr. Pollard has served sufficient time – both  terms of punishment for his crimes and in terms of deterrence to would-be perpetrators,” continued Congressman Wexler. “I therefore ask that you consider asserting your constitutional authority to grant clemency for Mr. Pollard.” Congressman Wexler is currently the President of the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace, which works with leaders and policymakers in the United States and the Middle East, including the Obama administration, to help reach a just and comprehensive peace that will bring an end to the Arab-Israeli
conflict. Congressman Wexler served as an advisor to President Obama on issues relating to Israel and the Middle East during his 2008 presidential campaign. He continues to work with the President today through his work at the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace. In addition, it has been reported that Wexler is a member of a team of high-profile in the American Jewish community who have been tapped by the President’s campaign advisers to assist him in responding to criticism of his stance on Israel during his upcoming presidential campaign. Wexler’s letter is particularly timely, in that earlier this week, Jonathan Pollard underwent an urgent surgical procedure after suffering from intense pain caused by problems with his kidneys, gall bladder, and high blood pressure. In addition, earlier this week, Congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts addressed the Members of Congress about Jonathan Pollard’s case. In what is believed to be the first speech about Pollard on the floor of the House of Representatives, Congressman Frank called on President Obama to heed the numerous calls to free Pollard.

Congressman Wexler represented Florida’s 19th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives for seven terms, from 1997 until he retired in January 2010. During his time in Congress, Wexler served on the Committee on the Judiciary and the Committee on Foreign Affairs. He also chaired the Subcommittee on Europe, and was a member of the  on International Organizations, Human Rights, and Oversight, the Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia, and the Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property. During his tenure in Congress, Wexler was known as an effective and well-respected leader, who was named one of the “50 Most Effective Legislators in Congress” by Congressional Quarterly. Congressman Wexler was also an outspoken advocate for the strong bond between the United States and Israel, and a leading proponent of Israel’s right to self-defense and the need for a just and comprehensive resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.  Before his election to the U.S. House of Representatives, Wexler served in the Florida Senate
from 1990 to 1996. Congressman Wexler’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, and former  Senator and Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee Dennis DeConcini, 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.  Henry Kissinger, who served as United States Secretary of State and National Security Advisor under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, and who was a member of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board at the time of Pollard’s sentencing, sent a letter to President Obama requesting that he commute Pollard’s sentence to time served. Lee Hamilton, a former U.S. Congressman from Indiana who served as Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee at the time of  Pollard’s sentencing, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and is currently member of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, also called on President Obama to free Pollard. In addition, a wide array of American leaders have called for a commutation of Pollard’s sentence, including former Vice President Dan Quayle, former U.S. Secretary of
State George Shultz, former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, Senator John McCain of Arizona, 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, Congressman Allen West of Florida, former Senator Alan Simpson of Wyoming, former New York City Mayor and former Republican Presidential candidate Rudolph Giuliani,
Congressman Michael Grimm of New York, former Republican Senator Steve Symms of Idaho, former Republican Congressman Matthew Salmon of Arizona, Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel, well-known conservative leader Gary Bauer, Rev. Theodore Hesburgh of Notre Dame, well-known Christian leader Pat Robertson, 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. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also sent a letter to President Obama calling for Pollard’s release. In addition, several months ago thirty-nine members of Congress 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 sent a letter to President Obama in January 2011 in which they called on the President to commute Pollard’s sentence.

Jonathan Pollard recently wrote a letter containing a personal appeal for clemency to President Obama, which was hand-delivered to the President by Israeli President Shimon Peres. Peres also raised the issue of clemency for Pollard in a recent White House meeting with President Obama.  Despite numerous pleas by Israeli leaders and people throughout the United States and Israel, President Obama recently refused to grant Pollard “compassionate leave,” which would have enabled him to visit his ailing father, Morris, on his deathbed, and rejected countless appeals asking the President to allow Pollard to attend his father’s funeral following Morris Pollard’s death. 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 Congressman Wexler’s letter to President Obama:

July 25, 2011

President Barack Obama

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Washington, DC 20500

Re: Jonathan Pollard

Dear Mr. President,

I write to you in order to join the long list of Members of Congress, former administration officials, Nobel Laureates, diplomats and religious leaders asking you to grant clemency for Jonathan Pollard. This letter does not seek to diminish the significance of his crime, nor does it wish to dispute the conditions under which the sentence was originally passed. The purpose of this letter is to advocate that Mr. Pollard be held to the same standards of punishment for his actions as others convicted of similar crimes.  Mr. Pollard is the only person in U.S. history to receive a life sentence for disclosing classified information to an American ally. In fact, he is the only American citizen convicted of such a crime to be sentenced to more than 14 years in prison. Currently, the punishment for such a crime is set at a maximum of ten years.  Having spent over 25 years in incarceration, seven of which were spent in solitary  confinement, and having expressed remorse for his crimes, it is my humble opinion that Mr. Pollard has served sufficient time – both in terms of punishment for his crimes and in terms of deterrence to would-be perpetrators. I therefore ask that you consider asserting your constitutional authority to grant clemency for Mr. Pollard.

Thank you for your kind consideration.

Warmest wishes,

Robert Wexler  President, S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace

Shira’s note: This one stumps me in that I am angry as to why Mr. Pollard has not been freed under this administration. Some would conclude that Obama is directly using Mr. Pollard as a political pawn in his political world. It is certainly pathetic that he has not answered the overwhelming chorus to free him. Obama’s proponents would conclude and indeed have opinions in backing this decision, which would fringe as anti-Semitic. Yep, I said it. What is the answer if not that? I have written to Jonathan and have prayed for him in that he will be freed and see the beauty that he deserves to see. He has done his time. It is time for Obama to let him go.  Go here: http://www.jonathanpollard.org/ get the info you need. Write to him, support him, and pray for his freedom anon.  Here’s his address:  Jonathan Pollard #09185-016; c/o FCI Butner; POB 1000; Butner, NC 27509-1000

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