life sentence with a
recommendation that he never be paroled.
What are the differences between the two cases?
The obvious ones have anti-Semitic overtones: Schwartz is not
Jewish, and Pollard was spying on behalf of Israel. Not nearly
apparent is that the U.S. Government - which had expressed
outrage at Israel's 'arrogance' in the Pollard case and
loudly (without offering any evidence) that his espionage was
worst in American history - has handled the Schwartz case with
gloves and virtual silence.
Even the Jewish War Veterans, whose lack of sympathy for
is a matter of record, was nevertheless moved to revulsion by
Schwartz affair. The JWV said that it believes 'that when
to other crimes of espionage by Navy personnel, both to enemy
friendly governments, the punishment is a farce. In each of the
other cases, harsh prison sentences, including life-time
were meted out.' The Jewish veterans also questioned what
information was passed to the Saudis, and who in the Saudi royal
family knew of the Schwartz espionage.
Other questions, as well, beg answers:
Have the Saudis been asked for a formal apology? Have they promised not to recruit any more American intelligence officers or to
close the intelligence unit responsible for the affair? Have the
Saudis agreed to allow participants in the operation to be
questioned by American counter-espionage authorities? Have they
returned all the stolen documents? What other countries may have
seen the information Schwartz gave to the Saudis? (This item
large in the Government's assessment of Pollard. Why did it lose
its relevance for Schwartz?)
Granted, the Navy's unwillingness to address any of these
may be understandable; but it's also important to recognize the
fact that a mindset like theirs, which subordinates American
interests to protecting Saudi sensitivities at all costs, can
deadly consequences. Anyone doubting this need only recall the
bombing of our Khobar Towers facility in Dhahran two years ago.
Reacting to the inadequate security precautions that allowed
outrage to occur, a Washington Post editorial of July 12, 1995
observed that 'The suggestions of American reluctance to offend
culturally delicate Saudis by demanding more attention to the
security of Saudi Arabia's American protectors amount to an
intelligence failure of a profound sort.' No doubt this same
of craven fear of ruffling Saudi Arabia's feathers was the
principal reason why Schwartz did not have to stand trial nor
suffer a jail sentence, and was not referred to by the Secretary
Defense as a 'traitor' - something which Pollard, by the way,
falsely accused of being by Caspar Weinberger.
Although the Government subsequently apologized for
groundless charge, this episode should remove any doubt as to
the Department of Defense's actual attitude towards Israel was
the time of Pollard's arrest. It also tends to confirm what
in the Jewish community have believed all along; namely that the
Pollard affair was used by certain elements within our national
security establishment as a means of tarnishing the popular
perception of Israel as both a valuable and reliable ally.
all, if Pollard was a 'traitor' as Weinberger had stated who,
was the 'enemy'? That Schwartz was never used to smear the
he served, further highlights the politically-driven distinction
our government drew between these two cases of 'friendly'
There are, of course, other aspects of the Schwartz case which
President Clinton obviously never even considered before he
down Pollard's last clemency appeal. For example, the
decision not to prosecute Schwartz calls into question CIA
arguments that Pollard cannot be released because he knows too
much. This is an absurdity. Schwartz was spying until
whereas Pollard has been in prison for more than 11 years! How
it that Schwartz is not a threat to national security but
The President also seems to have been heavily influenced by
views of Joseph DiGenova, the U.S. attorney who prosecuted
Briefly put, DiGenova feels that individuals caught spying for
close allies like Israel should actually be punished more
than those caught spying for enemies, since there is a greater
'danger' that individuals would feel more predisposed to help
friends. If there is any merit to this logic, it has been
totallylost in the government's refusal to prosecute Schwartz
rather than to have set him free.
But nobody, apparently, brought this to the President's
Lastly, our government sought to justify its decision not to
prosecute Schwartz by claiming that the information he provided
Saudi Arabia was 'less sensitive' than what Pollard gave to
One needs to recall, though, that Schwartz was indicted and
confessed to a serious crime. Clearly, some punishment was
therefore warranted beyond his mere 'less-than-honorable'
from the Navy. The fact that this did not occur demonstrates
extra-legal considerations came into play in the disparate
treatment. In other words, politics was allowed to corrupt the
U.S. judicial system. Anything, then, the national security
establishment might have to say about the relative sensitivity
Schwartz' information is simply too tainted to be believed.
the same intelligence and defense agencies who rescued Schwartz
from prosecution are the very ones who have counselled President
Clinton to adhere to a policy of 'selective prosecution' towards
Pollard. So how objective could their advice have been?
It seems, though, that nobody has seen fit to point this out
the President; and unless somebody does, Clinton will never know
why his refusal to commute Pollard's sentence threatens to
undermine one of our most important legal traditions: namely,
assurance that when a person is convicted of breaking the law,
or she will receive approximately the same punishment that any
other person would receive for a similar violation that was
committed under comparable circumstances. However, given the
Schwartz was preferentially handled, this principle of equal
justice has been grossly violated in the case of Jonathan
But Clinton not only declined to correct this situation by
Pollard clemency, he did so in a way that placed his own
on Pollard's clearly-aberrant life sentence.
What a growing number of people are slowly recognizing,
is that if our legal system does not work for Pollard because of
who and what he is, it could fail each and every one of us, as
well, both as Jews and as Americans.
In our society, justice cannot simply be a theoretical concept
- it must be seen to be done. Only in this way will our
system of checks and balances have meaning. It is critical,
therefore, that Congress investigate how a Saudi spy (Schwartz)
permitted to act with impunity while an Israeli spy (Pollard)
treated as an enemy agent. Two spies, two countries and two
different punishments cannot help but leave one with the
feeling that there is a double standard in need of challenging.
April 11, 1994 - The Jewish Press - Morton Klein
We all know what happens to an American who illegally passes classified U.S. intelligence data to Israel:
life imprisonment, repeated refusals by the President to grant clemency, leaks to the media of false allegations against the defendant and against Israel. That's what happened in the Jonathan Pollard case. He broke the law and he was, understandably, punished for doing so.
In the case of Pollard, he helped a country that is
America's closest ally in the Mideast. The information Pollard illegally gave Israel helped protect it from Arab aggression.
What happens, on the other hand, when an American illegally passes classified U.S. intelligence data to an Arab dictatorship that can hardly be described as a
reliable ally of the United States? Lieutenant-Commander Michael Schwartz was last year arrested for providing such data to Saudi Arabia. A U.S. Navy grand jury indicted him on the charge of espionage, which carries a sentence of
life imprisonment. His punishment? An
"other than honorable discharge."
Not a day in jail. Not a penny in fines. And not a word of concern from any Clinton Administration official about the fact that Saudi Arabia, which is supposed to be an ally of the United States, was using a spy to steal American intelligence secrets, just months after American soldiers were dying in defense of Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War.
U.S. officials would not even admit that the Saudis had recruited Schwartz; they told The Washington Post that Schwartz had not been hired by Saudi Arabia, but rather "was only trying to be friendly and cooperative to a U.S. ally."
The government's handling of the Schwartz case is particularly troubling in view of the many recent Saudi actions that fell far short of what one would expect from an ally:
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Jonathan Pollard by telephone, from his prison cell in Butner, North Carolina. He is now in his 12th year of incarceration, although no other individual convicted of a similar type of spying for an ally of the U.S. has ever served more than five years in prison.
- Saudi Arabia refused to let the U.S. use its territory to launch the recent missile strikes against Iraq.
- The Saudis rejected America's request to let the FBI interrogate four terrorists who were involved in last year's attack against U.S. Army personnel in Saudi Arabia.
- The Saudi authorities prevented the U.S. from capturing one of the most wanted terrorists, Imad Mughniyah, of the Syrian-supported Islamic Holy War group, who was responsible for the 1983 bombing that killed 241 American Marines in Lebanon.
Mughniyah was on an airplane that was scheduled to land in Saudi Arabia, and the U.S. informed the Saudis that they intended to arrest him during the stopover. The Saudis responded by preventing the plane from landing, so that Mughniyah could escape.
Jonathan asked: "Why am I still in jail, while Michael Schwartz is walking free?"
Good question - one that Jewish leaders should be asking the Clinton Administration at every opportunity.
President, Zionist Organization of America