Working behind the scenes MacLeish and Eliot had been trying to find a way for Pound to be released from St Elizabeths without the government exercising its right to press the treason charges. One of the biggest obstacles was that Pound was incapable of understanding his true position, and blind to the simplest realities, he had even written to the Secretary of State, Christian Herter. This made it very difficult, Eliot wrote to MacLeish, to persuade people that Pound was ‘neither sane nor insane’ and could safely be released without having to stand trial. MacLeish sent Pound a careful and friendly letter in which he tried to explain to him his position and the need for caution; he also drafted a letter to the Attorney-General which he sent to Eliot, Hemingway and Robert Frost for their approval. The final draft, typed on the writing-paper of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and signed by Eliot, Hemingway and Frost, was dated 14 January 1957:

It is our understanding, based on inquiries directed to the medical personnel at St Elizabeths Hospital, that Pound is now unfit for trial and, in the opinion of the doctors treating him, will continue to be unfit for trial. This opinion, we believe, has already been communicated to the Department of Justice. Under these circumstances the perpetuation of the charges against him seems to us unfortunate and, indeed, indefensible … we cannot but regret the failure of the Department thus far to take steps to nol pros the indictment and remit the case to the medical authorities for disposition on medical grounds.