The Republican Party And Clemency for Pollard
Enid Weiss - New Jersey Jewish News - November 24, 1999
If New Jersey Assembly majority leader Paul DiGaetano (R-Dist. 36) and
Assembly member John V. Kelly (R-Dist. 36) have their way, their party will
support clemency for Jonathan Jay Pollard.
This move would help the Republicans atone for Pat Buchanan's anti-Semitic
remarks and gain support in the presidential election.
DiGaetano and Kelly sent a letter, dated Oct. 27, to Texas Gov. George W.
Bush, calling on the presidential candidate to advocate clemency for
Pollard is a former civilian intelligence analyst for the United States Navy
who pleaded guilty to spying for Israel. He admitted to passing classified
government documents to Israel and in March 1987 was sentenced to life in
prison. (See the Facts Page.)
A constituent, Robert Rogoff of Passaic, brought the Pollard case to
DiGaetano's attention. Rogoff has long been fighting for Pollard. Two years
ago he helped to arrange a meeting between Pollard and U.S. Rep. Bill
Pascrell (D-Dist. 8). Rogoff would like to see more Jews get in touch with
their elected officials on the state and federal levels to lobby for
"My goal is actually to free Jonathan Pollard from prison," Rogoff said. "If
we get politicians from both parties to understand the situation and to know
Pollard, he is more likely to be released." Rogoff said of DiGaetano that
"he's dynamic" and hopefully he'll have some influence over someone like
[Bush].' Rogoff said he is working to arrange a meeting between DiGaetano,
Kelly and Pollard.
When he reviewed the facts, DiGaetano decided that although Pollard had been
wrong, his sentence was "unduly harsh and inconsistent with other
sentences," according to the Assembly member's director of communications,
In their letter, DiGaetano and Kelly wrote, "The sentence imposed upon
Pollard is unduly harsh and inconsistent with the punishment given to other
Americans convicted of even worse crimes. As loyal members of the
Republican Party we are all too aware of statements made by former colleagues
that have raised understandable concern within the Jewish community. Your
policies have opened a real window of trust to the Jewish citizens of New
Jersey. Your advocacy of a pardon for Jonathan Pollard would expand that
No letters were sent to other presidential candidates, Lowy said.
"Not one single American was harmed because of Jonathan Pollard," DiGaetano
said, according to Lowy.
DiGaetano wrote another letter, dated Oct. 6, to President Bill Clinton, calling for Pollard's punishment to be commuted. In the letter he took Clinton to task for
releasing several convicted Puerto Rican nationalist terrorists. "Mr.
President, surely if you could see your way to pardoning terrorists who were
responsible for the deaths of innocent Americans, you certainly can consider
a pardon for someone whose actions never caused the death, or even the
injury of a single American," DiGaetano wrote.
In September, Clinton granted 12 members of the Puerto Rican group called
the Armed Forces of National Liberation (FALN) a clemency deal, releasing them
in exchange for their anti-violence statements. The move was seen as
political, aimed at winning Hispanic support for Hillary Clinton's New York Senate
Rogoff also cited the release of the FALN prisoners as an argument in favor
of releasing Pollard. Unlike the FALN members, Pollard has expressed
remorse, yet his sentence remains longer than "anyone has ever had" for
spying for an ally, according to Rogoff.
"He never gave up codes, never gave up names of agents," Rogoff said. "If
FALN terrorists can be released, who haven't expressed remorse, then
Jonathan Pollard, who certainly never killed anybody, can be released."
Meanwhile, Rogoff plans to continue pressuring Clinton and presidential
candidates on Pollard's behalf.
See also: NJ Reps DiGaetano & Kelly Letter to Bush
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