Former US officials blast decision to deny Pollard parole

In letter to President Obama, eight former senior officials protest "unjust denial of parole," criticize the "deeply flawed" parole process - It is "patently false" that Pollard's crime "was greatest compromise of U.S. security to that date," they say.

Former CIA director James Woolsey was among the signatories protesting Jonathan Pollard's parole denial

Yori Yalon & Israel Hayom Staff - November 21, 2014

Eight former senior U.S. officials have written a harsh letter to U.S. President Barack Obama strongly protesting the "unjust denial of parole" for Jonathan Pollard, an American citizen convicted of spying for Israel in 1985.

The former senior officials, all with first-hand knowledge of the Pollard case and the classified material pertaining to his incarceration, include former CIA director James Woolsey and former Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dennis DeConcini.

A U.S. Justice Department parole board denied a request to free the imprisoned Israeli spy earlier this week, according to the Committee to Free Jonathan Pollard.

Pollard recently submitted a request to be released under restricted conditions. However, American officials rejected the request, saying that freeing Pollard at this time would "constitute contempt for the severity of the offense and promote a lack of respect for the law."

The former officials' letter, meanwhile, lambasted the parole process as "deeply flawed" and called the U.S. government's contention that Pollard's espionage "was the greatest compromise of U.S. security to that date" a "patently false claim" that "is not supported by any evidence in the public record or the classified file [on Pollard]."

The letter was also signed by David F. Durenburger, also a former chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee; former U.S. National Security Adviser Robert C. McFarlane; Lawrence J. Korb, former assistant U.S. defense secretary; Professor Angelo Codevilla, a former Senate Intelligence Committee staffer; former chair of the House Select Committee on Intelligence Lee Hamilton; and former White House counsel attorney Bernard W. Nussbaum.

Pollard, 60, was arrested by U.S. authorities in 1985 and later sentenced to life in prison. In recent years, numerous former U.S. government officials -- including former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Schultz and former CIA director James Woolsey -- have openly and unequivocally called for Pollard's release, saying his punishment was disproportionate for the crime he committed, of spying for a friendly country.

Last March, Pollard's wife, Esther Pollard, personally appealed to U.S. President Barack Obama to free her husband.

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud) said on Wednesday that the U.S. government's rigid position on Pollard "crosses every moral boundary."

"It seems to me that mercy has completely fallen off the ladder of [the U.S. government's] values," Edelstein said.

The Committee to Free Jonathan Pollard expressed shock and anger at the U.S. government's decision to prevent Pollard's release.

"The heart breaks at the thought that Jonathan will not be freed after 30 years in prison," the committee said. "The denial of the request proves that the regular bureaucratic path will not lead to justice for Jonathan."

The committee said Obama should use the right given to him by the U.S. Constitution to cut short an inmate's prison sentence "to redress the injustice" done to Pollard. "The regular procedure will not lead to this," the committee said.

Pollard has spent half his life in prison and his health has deteriorated significantly in recent years. He has required urgent medical treatment several times due to a life-threatening health condition, and has undergone surgery to stabilize his health.

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