Sentence in Israel Spy Case Is Too Long, Giuliani Says
"...I have seen the documents -- his sentence is way beyond the sentence
served by other people that have been convicted of the same offense"
August 15, 1999 - David M. Herszenhorn - The New York Times
NEW YORK -- Touching on cases of sedition and espionage that
could be of concern to Puerto Rican and Jewish voters in next
year's race for the U.S. Senate, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said
Saturday that he did not have enough information to form an opinion
on President Clinton's decision to commute the sentences of 16
members of a Puerto Rican nationalist group that carried out
bombings in the 1970s and '80s.
But Giuliani said that the life sentence now being served by
Jonathan J. Pollard, the American who was arrested in 1985 for
spying for Israel, is too long compared with sentences in similar
cases. The mayor's remarks seemed to suggest that he believes that
Pollard ought to be granted clemency, a view shared by Israelis and
many Jewish groups but one that has been adamantly opposed by top
American military and security officials.
With each passing day, Giuliani seems to get more questions at
his daily news conferences about the actions of the Clinton
administration and whether he believes they are in any way related
to Hillary Rodham Clinton's all-but-declared candidacy as a
Democrat for Senate in New York. Giuliani, a Republican, is also
considering a run for the Senate.
At City Hall on Saturday, the mayor was asked about Clinton's
decision on Wednesday to commute the sentences of 16 members of the
Armed Forces of National Liberation, or FALN, a group that was
dedicated to the independence of Puerto Rico and carried out at
least 130 bombings of political and military targets in the United
States between 1974 and 1983.
The question focused on whether the Clinton's clemency offer
might boost his wife's standing among the large number of Puerto
Rican voters in New York.
The president had long been under pressure from minority
politicians and human rights activists to free the FALN members,
and the White House said the commutations had been in the works
long before Mrs. Clinton expressed interest in running for Senate.
Giuliani, who was the third-ranking official in the Justice
Department under President Ronald Reagan, said that in that post he
had handled thousands of pardon requests and that he would want to
read an internal Justice Department report about the individual
convicts and about the sentences in similar cases before he could
offer an opinion about whether the president's action was
Most of the 16 FALN members being offered clemency, in exchange
for declarations renouncing violence, were convicted of federal
crimes of seditious conspiracy, possession of an unregistered gun
or interstate transportation of a stolen vehicle. Some were
sentenced to more than 50 years in jail, and most have already
served more than 19 years.
"What I'd like to see is the pardon attorney's report,"
Giuliani said. "This is an area that I have a great deal of
knowledge of because this is what I used to do in the Justice
Department. The pardon attorney prepares reports that try to look
at factors like remorse, rehabilitation and also comparative
Asked whether he thought Mrs. Clinton's candidacy might have
been a factor, the mayor said: "Looking at the pardon attorney's
report would tell you something like that. I mean it would give you
a sense of is this usual. Does it fit within the way in which
presidents have routinely exercised the pardon power or is it
somewhat unusual? I am acutely aware of the fact that presidents
pardon a lot of people."
When asked about Pollard's case, Giuliani said he knew the facts
"I think that given comparative sentences, his sentence -- this
I happen to know because I have seen the documents -- his sentence
is way beyond the sentence served by other people that have been
convicted of the same offense," Giuliani said.
Israel and numerous Jewish-American groups have pressed for the
release of Pollard, who had been a U.S. Navy intelligence analyst
and pleaded guilty to spying for Israel. Clinton twice denied
Pollard clemency but agreed to reconsider the case after it became
an issue at the Middle East peace talks last year. The new Israeli
prime minister, Ehud Barak, has also said he would like to see
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