Former Republican Congressman To Obama: Pollard’s Life Sentence Puts Our National Security At Risk

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congressman-matthew-salmonFormer Republican Congressman Matthew Salmon of Arizona joined the bipartisan call for clemency for Jonathan Pollard when he recently wrote to President Obama and asked that he commute Pollard’s sentence to time served (the full text of the letter appears below).

In his letter to the President, Congressman Salmon made a key point when he noted that the prosecution’s improper behavior in the Pollard case puts our national security at risk, as people who may contemplate entering into a plea agreement in order to help the United States will now reconsider their willingness to enter into an agreement which may be reneged. Congressman Salmon also noted to the President that the prosecution’s actions in the Pollard case “significantly hurts the credibility and integrity of our justice system.”

Jonathan Pollard has spent more than 25 years languishing in a federal prison for passing classified information to Israel, an ally of the United States.

Matt Salmon served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995-2001. Honoring his campaign pledge to serve only three terms in Congress, Congressman Salmon did not run for re-election in 2000. Salmon recently announced that he will run for Congress in 2012 in Arizona’s 6th Congressional District, which is the seat left open by Congressman Jeff Flake, who succeeded Congressman Salmon in 2001. Flake is seeking to replace Senator Jon Kyl, who has announced that he will be retiring from the U.S. Senate.

In his letter to President Obama, Congressman Salmon noted that he has personally met with Jonathan Pollard and heard him express remorse for his actions. Salmon also made mention of the fact that the average sentence for the crime committed by Pollard is 2-4 years, yet Pollard is now in his 26th year in prison.

“Jonathan Pollard has now served longer in jail than the prosecution recommendation under their binding plea bargain arrangement with Pollard,” wrote Congressman Salmon in his letter to the President. “What message does this send to our justice system when the prosecution makes a plea bargain agreement and gets a person to cooperate and then, according to Federal Appeals Court Judge Stephen Williams, improperly convinced the Judge to ignore the plea bargain (through affidavits the Prosecutors submitted from former Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger) and give Pollard a life sentence that contradicted the pleas bargain. Williams characterized Pollard’s sentence as a fundamental miscarriage of Justice and I agree.”

“To be sure, such actions by the prosecution in the Pollard case significantly hurts the credibility and integrity of our justice system,” continued Salmon. “Moreover, it is a future deterrence to those who might now reconsider a wish to agree to a plea bargain by cooperating with the U.S. Government, an act that could thus jeopardize our national security.”

“Undeniably, Pollard deserved to be punished, but none can reasonably argue that his continued incarceration is not unjust,” concluded Congressman Salmon. “It needs to be ended. Mr. President, please give urgent consideration to the request from both sides of the political aisle to commute Jonathan Pollard’s sentence to time served. Every day of a delay further exacerbates an injustice.”

During his time in Congress, Congressman Salmon was a well-known fiscal conservative who worked diligently to reign in federal spending. He was rated in the top five among all 535 members of the House and Senate by Citizen’s Against Government Waste for all six years that he served in office. Congressman Salmon was also known as a staunch ally of the State of Israel during his time in office, and he was a leader on virtually every pro-Israel bill and letter during his tenure in Congress.

In 2002, Matt Salmon waged a spirited campaign to become Governor of Arizona. After an extremely competitive race, Salmon lost narrowly to then incumbent Janet Napolitano, who has since become the United States Secretary of Homeland Security.

Before his election to Congress, Salmon served as a member of the Arizona Senate from 1991-1995. Salmon served as Assistant Majority Leader of the Arizona Senate from 1993-1995.

Matt Salmon, who currently serves as a lobbyist, is a former Chairman of the Arizona Republican Party.

Congressman Salmon’s 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.

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.

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, Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel, well-known conservative leader Gary Bauer, Rev. Theodore Hesburgh of Notre Dame, well-known Christian leader Pat Robertson, Pastor John Hagee, and 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.

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

In addition, several months ago 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.

Jonathan Pollard recently 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 Congressman Salmon’s letter to President Obama:

June 27, 2011

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500

Mr. President:

I join the calls from both sides of the political aisle in support of the commutation of Jonathan Pollard’s sentence to time served.

Not only have I researched the facts associated with Jonathan Pollard’s sentence, I had the opportunity to meet with Jonathan Pollard and heard directly from him his remorse for his actions. I am aware that he sent you a recent personal letter of remorse as well. It is well known that the average sentence for the crime that he committed is 2-4 years. Jonathan Pollard is now in his 26th year in prison.

Jonathan Pollard has now served longer in jail than the prosecution recommendation under their binding plea bargain arrangement with Pollard. What message does this send to our justice system when the prosecution makes a plea bargain agreement and gets a person to cooperate and then, according to Federal Appeals Court Judge Stephen Williams, improperly convinced the Judge to ignore the plea bargain (through affidavits the Prosecutors submitted from former Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger) and give Pollard a life sentence that contradicted the pleas bargain. Williams characterized Pollard’s sentence as a fundamental miscarriage of Justice and I agree. To be sure, such actions by the prosecution in the Pollard case significantly hurts the credibility and integrity of our justice system. Moreover, it is a future deterrence to those who might now reconsider a wish to agree to a plea bargain by cooperating with the U.S. Government, an act that could thus jeopardize our national security. It is therefore not surprising that significant people from the intelligence community who know the classified information of the Pollard case – like former CIA Director James Woolsey and former head of Senate Intelligence Senator Dennis DeConcini – support Pollard’s release. Further, it is telling that those in Congress with military backgrounds, like Arizona Senator John McCain, and Congressmen Alan West and Michael Grimm, also favor Pollard’s release.

I note that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has publicly expressed remorse for Israel’s actions concerning Pollard and that he has committed Israel to not repeat such actions; more so, they have not done so. Israel is an ally and we need to treat them as an ally. An injustice can occur when a person who commits a crime is punished in a manner completely disproportionate to said crime as is the case with Pollard.

Undeniably, Pollard deserved to be punished, but none can reasonably argue that his continued incarceration is not unjust. It needs to be ended. Mr. President, please give urgent consideration to the request from both sides of the political aisle to commute Jonathan Pollard’s sentence to time served. Every day of a delay further exacerbates an injustice.

Matt Salmon
Former Member of Congress

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2 COMMENTS

  1. IT IS REALLY TIME TO END THIS TRAVESTY.

    HOW LONG WILL INJUSTICE PREVAIL

    HOW MUCH MORE CRUELTY WILL JONATHAN POLLARD HAVE TO ENDURE BEFORE JUSTICE IS DONE

    EIN LONU AL MI LE’HISHOEYN ELLO AL OVINU SHEBASHAMAYIM

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