All These Years & Pollard's Still Being Smeared
January 14, 199 - Sidney Zion - New York Daily News Online
Imagine Trent Lott asking Bob Barr whether the Senate should convict Bill Clinton, and you have Bill Clinton polling his national security advisers on Jonathan
We are supposed to take this "review" of Pollard's outrageous
seriously? Clinton agreed with alacrity at the Wye River summit to release Pollard,
without any threat from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
He backed off under a threat from CIA Director George Tenet, who said he'd resign if
Pollard were freed. The White House spinmeisters turned Bibi into a blackmailer; they said
he told Clinton he'd kill the deal with Yasser Arafat unless he could take Pollard back to
It was a lie, but not half the lie the Reagan Justice Department pulled off when it
violated a plea bargain with Pollard that would have given the American spy for Israel a
sentence of no more than 10 to 15 years.
The government, desperate for a deal for reasons ranging from the fact that a trial
would reveal that we were supporting Saddam Hussein and keeping Israel in the dark about
Syria's death weaponry to the reality that the case against Pollard was weak, agreed to
ask for a "substantial sentence," understood to be something like what other
American spies for American allies had received and none had gotten more than 10
An hour before sentencing, Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger delivered a secret memo
to the judge proclaiming Pollard "the worst spy in American history." So Pollard
got what no other defendant ever got for pleading guilty the maximum sentence. And
now, Clinton asks the intelligence guys to advise him on whether he should grant clemency.
The 'Intelligence' Dance
These are the very people who should be out of the question. Pollard cannot possibly be
a security risk after 13 years in prison it's a sick joke to suggest such a thing.
But Clinton invited the orchestra, and we are supposed to dance to the music. And what
an orchestra! Tommy Dorsey in his heyday couldn't do what we are witnessing now from the
great "intelligence community" that allowed Pollard through its net and will
never forgive him for the embarrassment.
The latest dance came in The New Yorker from Seymour Hersh, my old colleague on The New
York Times, who goes beyond Cappy Weinberger in defining Pollard as the spy of the
Sy Hersh assures me that he is no cat's-paw to the intelligence community, he did this
piece on his own. I believe him, not only because he's an old friend, but because the
national security crowd could never figure out a slander of Pollard like this on their
Hersh has him delivering immense secrets to the Soviet Union through Israel. Nothing in
the indictment of Pollard comes close to such an accusation, and Hersh's sources are
But what interests me most in Sy's account is his story that what upset the Americans
more than anything was that Pollard's spying informed the Israelis that we were spying on
Everybody who ever took a look at the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv knew that the joint was
honeycombed with CIA agents. But who reported it? Sy Hersh lets us know in living color.
I asked Hersh why this didn't seem to bother him. I said: "Is it because you and
our government view Israel as a client state so that it's legitimate for us to spy on
Israel but not vice versa?"
"It's a good question," Hersh said.
The more immediate question goes to Janet Reno, the attorney general, who still has not
responded to Clinton's request for advice. If the Justice Department was willing to deal
for 10 years with Pollard, how, in all justice, can you keep him on ice for the rest of