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Should Obama grant clemency to Jonathan Pollard?

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In a letter dated November 18th, 2010 addressed to US President Obama and signed by more than 30 democratic members of the House of Representatives, clemency is being sought for accused and confessed spy Jonathan Pollard. The letter arrived yesterday in an email from the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs accompanied by background information on the Pollard case.

According to the WRMEA, this letter was initiated by Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) in coordination with the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, National Council of Young Israel, B'nai B''''rith International, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, the Zionist Organization of America, Agudath Israel, and former presidential candidate Gary Bauer, a Christian Zionist whose non-profit organization "American Values" seems to be more concerned with Israel than the United States.

A copy of the final version of this letter was found on the Americans for Peace Now website, who have apparently been following this effort since it began. Not noted in the email from the WRMEA was that a previous version of this letter existed, where the focus had been the argument that Pollard had been treated unfairly, considering that his alleged spying was done on behalf of a strong US ally, Israel. It further went on to point to a recently discovered Russian spy ring who activities mirrored those of Pollard. Though I was not able to understand the reason for bringing up the Russian spy topic, I could say that the spies in the latter case were not Americans, nor were they granted Israeli citizenship, nor are they on Israel's payroll, as is the case with Pollard.

Luckily, someone in the group edited these arguments out of the letter addressed to the U.S. President.

According to American investigative reporter Seymour Hersh, Pollard sold information on nuclear targets in the Soviet Union to Israel. U.S. defense sources suggest that what caused the most bitter anger against Pollard in the Pentagon and throughout the American intelligence community was the fact that the information compromised human agents in the Soviet Union and elsewhere. U.S. intelligence sources have concluded that the Israeli government bartered this information to the Soviet Union

Pollard was granted Israeli citizenship in 1995, though Israel denied that fact until 1998.

He was sentenced in 1987 to life prison.

The email from the WRMEA also provided the following links:

Jerusalem Post, Nov. 19, 2010: www.jpost.com/home/article.aspx?id=195988>

Ian Williams, "A Tale of Two Spies," July/August 1993 Washington Report, p. 13: http://www.wrmea.org/component/content/article/149-1993-july-august/7255-a-tale-of-two-spies.html

Paul Findley, "Clinton Under Pressure to Grant Clemency to Pollard," June 1993 Washington Report, p. 15: http://www.wrmea.org/component/content/article/148-1993-june/7215-clinton-under-pressure-to-grant-clemency-to-pollard.html

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