Durenberger's letter is significant, because he had first-hand knowledge of the full file of Pollard’s case and all of the secret documents. He served on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence from 1979-1986 and as its chair during the 1985-86 session of the Congress.
"Of course Pollard broke the law and his conviction was deserved," Durenberger wrote. "But the harshness of his sentence, in light of existing relations between our countries and the nature of our observation of implicit agreements between the countries, was uncalled for." Durenberger said he criticized Pollard's life sentence when it was given within the parameters of confidentiality imposed on him as chairman of the committee. He said Obama could use his right to grant clemency to fix the error.
"The fact that no President has chosen to take the action which I, and many of my former colleagues and associates in government, request that you take, Mr. President, does not reflect well on the office," Durenberger said. "I believe in my heart that you have the capacity to right this wrong. And I respectfully request that you do so at your early convenience." A Republican who represented Minnesota in the United States Senate from 1978-1995, Durenberger is currently a Senior Health Policy Fellow at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, Minnesota and chairs the National Institute of Health Policy.