Right of Reply: Not treason, not dual loyalty, but equal justice is the issue
Esther Pollard - The Jerusalem Post - February 15, 2009
My husband, Jonathan Pollard, was never accused, indicted or convicted of treason in a court of law. However, Jonathan has been repeatedly defamed in the media, falsely accused of treason and wrongly branded a "traitor" by those who, incredibly, claim to have no hostile agenda. A recent case in point: "The Pollard Affair: Was it dual loyalty?" by Eli Kavon (Jerusalem Post, February 12).
Kavon's grandiose declarations of American patriotism are no excuse for dismissing an issue that strikes at the very heart of the American system of justice: equality before the law for all Americans. His patriotic breast-beating notwithstanding, there can be no excuse for distorting facts, changing history and ignorance of American law.
The US Constitution, Article 3, Section 3 defines the crime of treason as follows: "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort." By repeatedly describing Jonathan as if he were a "traitor, his crime "treason" and his actions as "treasonous," Kavon is not only defaming Jonathan, he is implying that Israel is an enemy nation at war with the US, which is absurd.
Even a cursory glance at the facts which Kavon ignores, reveals a case which Appellate Court Justice Steven Williams described as "a fundamental miscarriage of justice." Jonathan is currently serving his 24th year of a for an offense that has a median sentence of two to four years.
JONATHAN NEVER had a trial. He received his life sentence as the result of a plea agreement which he honored and the US Government violated.
Jonathan was indicted on one charge only: one count of passing classified information to an ally without intent to harm the United States. There were no additional charges against him. Jonathan is the only person in the history of the US to receive a life sentence for spying for an ally.
The information Jonathan passed to Israel included Syrian, Iraqi, Libyan and Iranian nuclear, chemical, and biological warfare capabilities - all being developed for use against Israel. It also included information on ballistic missile development by these countries and information on planned terrorist attacks against Israeli civilian targets. When he resigned in 1994, former NSA Director Bobby Ray Inman publicly admitted that this critical information had been deliberately, illegally withheld from Israel, in retaliation for Israel's 1981 strike on Iraq's nuclear reactor.
Nevertheless and notwithstanding, Jonathan broke the law and he acknowledges his guilt. On numerous occasions he has expressed remorse for his actions, regretting that he did not find a legal means to act upon his concerns for Israel. Jonathan has long since paid his dues for the one count of disclosing classified information to Israel with intent that it be used to Israel's benefit, with which he was charged.
RATHER THAN address the facts of the case and the troubling questions it raises for American Jews, Kavon pontificates about "dual loyalty" versus "divided loyalty". He "psychoanalyzes" Jonathan, speculates on his mind-set more than two decades ago, and comes to the conclusion that while it is "disappointing" that outgoing President Bush did not pardon Jonathan, it was the victim's own fault.
When Kavon refers to George Washington's historic declaration to the Jews of Newport, Rhode Island as proof of America's inherent fairness towards all, and refers to Jonathan's actions as making him unworthy of this great gift, he is missing the point. It is precisely when an offense has been committed that this protection is so vital.
In point of fact, President Washington's promise to American Jewry, after his visit to the Touro Synagogue in 1794, was the guarantee of full equality before the law. Equal justice for all. Similar sentences for similar offenses.
It is not dual loyalty that is at the heart of the Pollard case. It is equal justice.
KAVON POINTS TO THE DREYFUS case as if to suggest that the two cases - Pollard and Dreyfus - could not be more dissimilar. This is false.
Alfred Dreyfus was a Jewish officer in the French army who was falsely convicted of treason in 1894 and spent five years on Devil's Island for a crime he did not commit. He was later exonerated.
Like Dreyfus, Jonathan is a Jew serving time for crimes he did not commit. Although he was never formally indicted, Jonathan was secretly blamed [by the prosecution and by the American intelligence community] for all the unsolved espionage crimes up to the time of his arrest. In the nearly quarter of a century that Jonathan has been in prison, the real perpetrators - Hansen, Boone, Pelton and Ames among them - have been caught and sentenced. Nevertheless, Jonathan continues to languish in jail. After 24 years in the harshest of prison conditions, Jonathan is desperately ill and his health is rapidly deteriorating.
It is unjust that Jonathan has been punished much more severely than all others who committed similar offenses on behalf of other US allies. It raises concern about why a Jew who spies for Israel is treated far more harshly than those who have spied for other allies, or even enemies, of the US.
The five years that Dreyfus spent on Devil's Island will forever be a blot on the honor of France's Third Republic. History will judge with equal disfavor, not only those directly involved in the imposition and preservation of Jonathan's life sentence, but all who have failed for more than two decades, to speak out against such a shameful and inexcusable abuse of fundamental American justice.
Former CIA Director James Woolsey and former head of the Senate Intelligence Committee US Senator (ret.) Dennis DeConcini, as well as a cross section of other notable Americans, and the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations are calling for Jonathan's release. Enough is enough, they say.
Even former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, the man who drove Jonathan's life sentence, admitted in an interview before he died, that the Pollard case was a "minor matter" which had been "made much more important than it was" in order to serve another agenda.
When President George Bush left office on January 20, 2009, he did not reject Jonathan's petition for clemency. He handed the Pollard petition on to President Barak Obama, a man who has expressed strong determination to restore honor and fairness to the American system of justice.
Commuting Jonathan Pollard's life sentence to the 24 years he has already served would be a good and honorable start.
Bio Note: Jonathan Pollard is an American-born Israeli citizen who worked for Israel's Ministry of Defense. He is currently in his 25th year of captivity in an American prison for his activities on behalf of the security of the State of Israel. Esther Pollard is his wife.
See Also: Right of Reply: Not a security risk but a bargaining chip