Legal Eagles Argue for Pollard's Release

By Nathan Guttman

  • Print
  • Share Share

The call for the release of Israeli convicted spy Jonathan Pollard is gaining momentum: Now adding his name to the list of supporters is Bernard Nussbaum, who served as the White House legal counsel for President Bill Clinton from 1993 to 1994.

Nussbaum — along with Philip Heymann, who was deputy Attorney General at the time — was in charge of dealing with the requests to release Pollard during the first Clinton administration. At the time, both high-powered attorneys thought Pollard should remain in prison.

But now both have made clear they believe circumstances have changed.

Heymann, in a letter to President Obama dated January 25, wrote that “Pollard’s conviction was justified but his sentence was entirely out of line with others engaging in similar behavior and it was made less-than-legitimate by a treacherous recommendation of the then-Secretary of Defense.”

This “treacherous” letter, widely known as the Weinberger declaration, is a lengthy classified statement provided to the court by the former Secretary of Defense. According to press reports, the document details the damage done by Pollard to U.S. interests. The Weinberger declaration is viewed as the main reason for rejecting a proposed plea bargain and sentencing Pollard to life in prison.

Heymann declined to comment on his letter or on his depiction of the Weinberger document as “treacherous.”

Nussbaum’s letter, which was sent to the White House on January 28, was not yet made public. According to a copy provided to the Forward, however, Nussbaum states that he fully shares Heymann’s view of the case. “I too believe that Jonathan Pollard has been appropriately punished for his conduct and that a failure at this time to commute his sentence would not serve the course of justice,” the former White House counsel wrote.

Asked by the Forward about the reason for penning the letter now, Nussbaum said: “The points Heymann raises in his letter represent my views too, and since others have expressed their views now, it seemed appropriate for me to do so as well.”

The two former Clinton officials adding their voices to the call for the release of Pollard help the movement strengthen its credentials on the side of the Democratic establishment. Recently, several key former Republican administration officials also expressed their support for the release of Pollard. The voices of former Secretary of State George Shultz and former Attorney General Michael Mukasey are seen by activists for the Pollard case as providing President Obama with the hawkish credentials he might need — should he ever decide on clemency for Pollard.

Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Jonathan Pollard, Bernard Nussbaum, Philip Heymann

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Find us on Facebook!
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?

We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.