Hillary and Pollard
Rabbi Dov Fischer - Jewish World Review - December 1, 1999
An increasing number of Americans are asking why has there been no
action by the Clintons on the long, disturbing, and increasingly painful
case of Jonathan Pollard, a Jewish man who is not a terrorist and never
was accused of treason, but who has been incarcerated for life under
the harshest of conditions in an American prison?
After all, it was only a short time ago that President Clinton released
certified terrorists. The President's often expressed sense of justice
and fairness should impel him to bring closure to this case, which
stands as a shocking anomaly in the annals of our judicial system.
wife, Hillary, who recently announced Jewish family ties and who, as an
American, surely must wonder about the deeply troubling disproportion
and cruelty of Mr. Pollard's sentence, and should be taking particular
interest in seeing that in this case justice is done.
Jonathan Pollard's release should be based neither on ethnicity,
political considerations, nor on the fact that he tried to help Israel,
a country that President Clinton calls a close ally of the United
States. Mr. Pollard deserves to be judged according to the same
standards set for others who have done the same as he: no more
leniently, but no more harshly or cruelly.
No other individual who passed classified information to a friendly
nation ever has received a comparable sentence; the median term served
for spying for a friendly nation has been two to four years. Yet
Jonathan Pollard already has served 14 years - six of them in solitary
confinement - under some of the harshest conditions ever concocted in
the U.S. prison system. Even spies convicted for treason - traitors -
who spied for enemy nations have not been punished so harshly. Why,
then, Mr. Pollard?
What Jonathan Pollard did was an infraction of the law. He is not
without guilt; but he is not a traitor. He was not charged with
treason, and he was not tried for treason. His intent and motivation
were to help a beleaguered friend and fellow democracy, Israel,
America's only reliable ally in the Middle East. Mr. Pollard never was
charged with intent to harm the United States. Whereas the FALN felons
have never renounced their actions, nor have they renounced the use of
deadly force, Jonathan Pollard has expressed his contrition countless
times, and wishes only to live out the rest of his life in peace. In
view of the President's announced view that the FALN terrorists have
paid enough debt to our society for their violence and terrorism against
our people, the Pollard question burns ever more urgently. The Pollard
case presents many disturbing features:
- The government's blatant violations of the promises it made to Mr.
Pollard in its plea agreement.
- The government's use of secret evidence, which Mr. Pollard and his
lawyers never have been permitted to
challenge or refute.
- The government's incarceration of Mr. Pollard in a prison for the
criminally insane - a punishment we have not seen outside the former
Soviet bloc - to coerce him to implicate others.
- The government's use of uncorroborated "leaks" from the National
Security establishment, to mislead the American people about Mr.
Pollard's actions, Israel's handling of the information he provided to
Israel and the loyalty of the American Jewish community.
- The government's refusal even to investigate the sources of these leaks
which, in themselves, have compromised our national security.
- The government's refusal to share with Mr. Pollard's attorneys the late
Secretary of Defense Les Aspin's "secret" letter to President Clinton,
which it was nevertheless willing to share with the media.
- The government's refusal to honor promises to release Mr. Pollard,
which it made with both Mr. Rabin and Mr. Netanyahu within the context
of the Middle East process.
- The government's double standard of justice which allowed a confessed
Saudi spy - LCDR Michael Schwartz - to escape all punishment and to
escape justice merely with a less-than-honorable discharge from the
THE CASPAR WEINBERGER DIMENSION
Today, a startling development should make the Jewish community focus
even more closely on the Pollard case. In the September 1999 issue of
the Middle East Quarterly, former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger
dropped the bombshell that a key memo regarding Jonathan Pollard which
he wrote to Judge Aubrey Robinson - the judge who presided over the
Pollard case - was in fact written at the request of Judge Robinson.
Judge Robinson, according to Weinberger, "made a formal, official
request to me to supply" information about damage that may have been
caused by Mr. Pollard's actions.
The Weinberger memo violated Jonathan Pollard's constitutional right to
due process because that memo has remained classified and unavailable to
the Pollard defense team. According to Harvard Law Professor Alan
Dershowitz, judges now routinely "put everything on the record. It is
improper to secretly solicit information and then, on the record, to
imply that (U.S. Attorney Joseph) DiGenova introduced it."
Mr. Dershowitz continues: "Anything the judge asks for has to be put on
the record. For the judge to solicit a substantive memorandum and then
to use it in this way raises fundamental questions."
These are the fundamental questions the Jewish community must not allow
to remain unanswered:
An investigation into the Pollard case is necessary, and the President
must act now to commute Jonathan Pollard's sentence.
The government has used Caspar Weinberger who reportedly lied in a
sworn deposition to the court, advancing the mischaracterization of Mr.
Pollard as a "traitor", a crime for which Mr. Pollard was neither
indicted nor convicted.
According to Weinberger, Judge Robinson secretly solicited from him a
memo and then failed to give Mr. Pollard the opportunity to view and
challenge the document in court.
The secrecy and inaccessibility of the Weinberger memorandum is a
violation of Jonathan Pollard's constitutional right to due process, a
right that must be granted to every American citizen.
Caspar Weinberger himself was the beneficiary of a Presidential pardon
for alleged violation of national security laws.
This Administration has been indifferent to the broad-based call for Mr.
Pollard's release, which has been endorsed by numerous non-Jewish
leaders of note, as well as by the European Parliament, five Prime
Ministers of Israel and over 1,000 American rabbis, representing an
unprecedented interdenominational demonstration of solidarity; and most
recently by the New York City Council, and by Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Moreover, this case is a litmus test of Hillary Clinton's own stand, as
she tests the waters of her own political aspirations, on the issues of
judicial equity, fair play and due process. We can only hope that she
shares the commitment of concerned Americans to these principles and
that her resolve will be borne out by a clear and forthright call now
for Jonathan Pollard's immediate release. Mrs. Clinton should add her
voice promptly to those of so many political, civic, religious, and
human rights leaders, as well as concerned citizens who are calling on
the President to recognize the glaring injustice of the sentence imposed
on Mr. Pollard.
In light of President Clinton's deeply troubling decision to release the
convicted FALN terrorists, he should, without delay, make a decision
that truly would serve justice: Jonathan Pollard must be granted freedom
Rabbi Dov Fischer, a member of the Board of Directors of
the Jewish Community Relations Committee of Los Angeles Federation
Council, and Los Angeles Director of the Institute for Public Affairs
for the Union of Orthodox Congregations, practices complex civil litigation at
the law firm Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer and Feld. He is also on the National
Executive Board of the Zionist Organization of America.
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