Former NYC Mayor David Dinkins Urges Obama To Release Jonathan Pollard

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david-dinkinsAs the bi-partisan movement to free Jonathan Pollard continues to grow, former New York City Mayor David Dinkins recently wrote to President Obama and asked that he commute Pollard’s sentence to time served (the full text of the letter appears below).

Jonathan Pollard has spent 26 years of an unprecedented life sentence languishing in a federal prison for passing classified information to Israel, an ally of the United States. The median sentence for this offense is 2 to 4 years. Next month, on November 21, 2011, Pollard will enter his 27th year in captivity. No one else in the history of the United States has ever received a life sentence for this offense.

In his letter, Mayor Dinkins noted that he first appealed to President Clinton in 1993 to commute Pollard’s sentence to time served, but in light of the fact that Pollard is still in prison, he is now urging President Obama to release him. Mayor Dinkins also stated that, “Pollard is the only person in the history of the United States to receive a life sentence for passing classified information to an ally.”

“Mr. Pollard is currently serving the 26th year of a life sentence – seven of the 26 served in solitary confinement,” wrote Mayor Dinkins in his letter to the President. “He was indicted on one count of passing classified information to an ally without intent to harm the United States – an offense that ordinarily carries a two-to-four year sentence. He pled guilty under a plea agreement with which he fully complied but that was apparently ignored by the sentencing judge.”

“Mr. Pollard has repeatedly expressed remorse for his actions and, by all accounts, has been a model prisoner,” continued Dinkins. “It has been reported recently, nevertheless, that he was denied compassionate leave to attend his father’s funeral, and now, after more than two decades of confinement, Mr. Pollard’s health is said to be declining.”

“It is in light of the above that I ask that you consider commuting the sentence of Jonathan Pollard to time served,” concluded Dinkins.

David Dinkins, who served as the Mayor of New York City from 1990-1993, is the only African-American to ever hold that office.

In addition to Mayor Dinkins, a number of other civil rights leaders have called for Jonathan Pollard’s release, including Congressman John Lewis of Georgia and Benjamin Hooks, who served as executive director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

From 1986-1989, Dinkins was the Manhattan Borough President. Prior to that, he spent time as the New York City Clerk, president of the New York City Board of Elections, and as a member of the New York State Assembly.

David Dinkins currently serves as a Professor in the Practice of Public Affairs at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (“SIPA”). Dinkins also serves on SIPA’s Advisory Board, chairs the Earth Institute’s NYC Sustainable Development Initiative, and hosts the annual Dinkins Leadership and Public Policy Forum.

Mayor Dinkins is a founding member of the Black and Puerto Rican Legislative Caucus of New York State, the Council of Black Elected Democrats of New York State, and One Hundred Black Men. He was vice president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and is a Member-at-Large of the Black Leadership Forum.

He presently serves on the boards of several non-profit and charitable organizations, many of which assist children and young people, including the Association to Benefit Children, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), and the Children’s Health Fund. In addition, he is a lifetime member of the NAACP, chairman emeritus of the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS and the Constituency for Africa, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Mayor Dinkins’ 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. In addition, a number of prominent leaders close to President Obama have called upon him to release Pollard.

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 Jonathan 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.

Former Congressman Robert Wexler of Florida, a close friend of President Obama who is regularly consulted by the President on issues relating to the Jewish community, wrote to the President and asked that he commute Pollard’s sentence to time served.

Chicago attorney Alan Solow, a key supporter, confidante, and friend of President Obama who is the former Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, has called on the President to free Pollard, as has Abraham Foxman, the National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, Rabbi David Saperstein, the Director and Counsel of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel, all of whom are close to the President.

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, called upon the President to grant clemency to Pollard.

Rabbi Capers C. Funnye, Jr. of Chicago, who is First Lady Michelle Obama’s first cousin, also wrote to President Obama and called upon him 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, well-known conservative leader Gary Bauer, Rev. Theodore Hesburgh of Notre Dame, well-known Christian leader Pat Robertson, and Pastor John Hagee.

Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu has also sent a letter to President Obama calling for Pollard’s release.

In addition, 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.

Several months ago, Jonathan Pollard 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 Mayor Dinkins’ letter to President Obama:

President Barack Obama

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

I write to join the many Americans and humanitarians worldwide who are calling upon you to exercise your power of clemency to commute Jonathan Pollard’s prison sentence to time served. I first recommended that President Clinton consider such action in 1993, and, that failing, now find it necessary to appeal to you.

Mr. Pollard is currently serving the 26th year of a life sentence – seven of the 26 served in solitary confinement. He was indicted on one count of passing classified information to an ally without intent to harm the United States – an offense that ordinarily carries a two-to-four year sentence. He pled guilty under a plea agreement with which he fully complied but that was apparently ignored by the sentencing judge.

I understand that Mr. Pollard is the only person in the history of the United States to receive a life sentence for passing classified information to an ally. While I condemn espionage and do not underestimate the gravity of Mr. Pollard’s offense, many feel that his sentence is severely disproportionate, among them former CIA Director Woolsey, former Deputy Attorney General Heymann, and former head of the Senate Intelligence Committee Senator DeConcini.

Mr. Pollard has repeatedly expressed remorse for his actions and, by all accounts, has been a model prisoner. It has been reported recently, nevertheless, that he was denied compassionate leave to attend his father’s funeral, and now, after more than two decades of confinement, Mr. Pollard’s health is said to be declining.

It is in light of the above that I ask that you consider commuting the sentence of Jonathan Pollard to time served. Thank you for your attention to this matter, Mr. President.

Sincerely,

David N. Dinkins

{Noam Amdurski-Matzav.com Newscenter}

4 COMMENTS

  1. If the President does not follow all the recommendations to finally do the right and just thing to free Pollard, he will enter history as one of the evil enemies of the Jews.

  2. Thank you Mr Mayor. The current President is currently following your lead and Parohs lead in having a hardened heart! Paroh did the same in Mitzrayim and you did the same during the crown heights riots, I’m glad you’ve done some tshuva. But I doubt the President will do tshuva before the elections. And so, well hopefully his tenure will end as quick as Dinkins did! And his soif will be like parohs

  3. did anyone see the video of when they brought dinkins to the Lubavitcher Rebbe ? The Rebbe said something very special, you should find it and see it.
    The Rebbe said “remember if you will be mayor, you would be representing all people in New York, including myself” (in Chassidus, he is a neshama klali, his neshama is connected to all Jews, and therefore, he was warning dinkins to take care of the Jews (or something like that. )

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