(JNS.org) David Durenberger, a Republican U.S. senator from Minnesota from 1978-95 and the chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence when Jonathan Pollard was convicted of passing classified information to Israel, in a recent letter to President Barack Obama called Pollard’s life sentence “uncalled for.”
Pollard, now in his 29th year in prison, is the only person in U.S. history to receive a life sentence for spying for an American ally.
“Of course Pollard broke the law and his conviction was deserved,” Durenberger wrote. “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.”
Other officials in the intelligence community and elsewhere who have called for Pollard’s release include former Secretary of State George Shultz; William Webster, head of the FBI at the time of Pollard’s arrest; former U.S. Rep. 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; former National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane, who served under President Ronald Reagan when Pollard was investigated; and former CIA Director James Woolsey.
“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,” Durenberger wrote to Obama. “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.”