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Kissinger: Release Israeli spy Pollard

March 8, 2011

SpyTalk, 7 March 2011: Saying he found the arguments of other top former U.S. national security officials “compelling,” former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger on Monday called for President Obama to commute the remainder of Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard’s life sentence.

“At first I felt I did not have enough information to render a reasoned and just opinion,” Kissinger said in his Mar. 3 letter, released today by a public relations firm that has been lobbying for the release of Pollard, sentenced to life in prison for espionage in 1987.

“But having talked with [former Secretary of State] George Shultz and read the statements of former CIA Director [R. James] Woolsey, former Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman [Dennis] DeConcini, former Defense Secretary [Caspar] Weinberger, former Attorney General [Michael] Mukasey and others whose judgments and first-hand knowledge I respect, I find their unanimous support for clemency compelling.”

Shultz was secretary at the time of Pollard’s sentencing.

“I believe justice would be served by commuting the remainder of Pollard’s sentence of life imprisonment,” Kissinger wrote.

The White House declined to comment on the Kissinger letter, referring to a statement by then spokesman Robert Gibbs on Jan. 15 in response to a question about Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s public petition for Pollard’s release.

“Look, I think the — obviously the State Department answered this a little bit yesterday in saying that they received the request; they’ll take a look at it,” Gibbs said. “I think it is important to underscore that Mr. Pollard was convicted of some of the most serious crimes that anybody can be charged with.”

 

Backed by major Jewish leaders, the campaign to free Pollard has been mobilized by David Nyer, a 25-year-old social worker in a New York health clinic.

Beginning last summer, Nyer has bagged a number of big names in his effort, including former Rep. Lee Hamilton (D-Ind.) who was chairman of the House Intelligence Committee at the time of Jonathan Pollard’s sentencing; Lawrence J. Korb, assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration; former Clinton White House Counsel Bernard Nussbaum and former Deputy Attorney General and Harvard Law Professor Philip Heymann.

Apart from Woolsey, most other intelligence officials have been adamantly opposed to the release of Pollard, a Navy intelligence analyst who provided thousands of highly classified documents to his Israeli handlers. Former CIA Director George Tenet reportedly threatened to quit when the Clinton administration considered it.

 

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