life sentence. For decades, Washington has sought to assure Israel of a qualitative military and strategic advantage vis--vis its Arab neighbors; Pollard's actions were, if anything, consistent with this goal.
Events of subsequent years (and especially the Kuwait war) have shown America's enormous credibility with its allies in the Arab world; Pollard's actions had no discernible impact here. Finally, intelligence sharing between the United States and Israel has only been strengthened in the past decade, culminating in a historic strategic cooperation agreement between the two states in 1996; Israel now receives real-time data throughout the day from U.S. intelligence satellites. If Pollard's actions indeed "adversely affected U.S. relations with both its Middle East Arab allies and the government of Israel," as stated in the VIS, it seems fair over a decade later to say that such adverse impact was only of short duration.
Nor, contrary to the concern expressed in Secretary Weinberger's January 1987 declaration, is there any evidence that Pollard's actions led to any loss of American life over the years. Indeed, in 1994, government sources were quoted as saying that "no one died as a result of the Pollards."12
As Pollard now serves his twelfth year in Federal prison, with no release in sight, it would be useful to recall what this case was initially about: benefit to Israel, not harm to the United States. It would also be useful to evaluate whether the allegations of harm the government made only after winning a guilty plea from Pollard can withstand the scrutiny of a decade's hindsight.
David Zwiebel, director of government affairs and general counsel of Agudath Israel of America, a national Orthodox Jewish organization, was "Of Counsel" on the amicus curiae brief submitted in support of Jonathan J. Pollard's 1991 appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
The original article can be read here.
- See United States v. Pollard, 939 F.2d 1011 (D.C. Cir. 1992).
- Indictment at para. 15.
- Telephone conversation with Jonathan Pollard, Jan. 7, 1997.
- Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, Rule 32 (c)(D).
- The document, as it appears in the pre-sentence interview report, is not dated; it was issued some time after the plea bargain in May 1986 and the first Weinberger declaration of Jan. 1987.
- Weinberger Declaration, Jan. 12, 1987, at pp. 28-29.
- Ibid., at p. 44.
- Weinberger Supplemental Declaration, Mar. 3, 1987, at paras. 2-3.
- Constitution of the United States, Article 3, Clause 1; 18 U.S.C. § 2381.
- It was inappropriate -- but not prejudicial, and not in violation of the government's plea bargain pledge not to seek a life sentence. So ruled Judge Robinson in 1990, rejecting Pollard's motion to withdraw his guilty plea, United States v. Pollard, 747 F. Supp. 797 (D.D.C. 1990); and so ruled a 2-1 majority of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in upholding Judge Robinson's decision. United States v. Pollard, 959 F.2d 1011 (D.C. Cir. 1992). Even Judge Robinson acknowledged, though, that "the Secretary may not have been neutral and detached," 747 F. Supp. at 807; and the Court of Appeals took note of the "rather polemical tone" and the "rank hyperbole" of the Weinberger Supplemental Declaration. 959 F.2d at 1017, 1025.
- "Statement by the President," Office of the Press Secretary, White House, Mar. 23, 1994, and The Forward, Aug. 2, 1996.
- The Washington Post, Apr. 23, 1994. "Pollards" in the plural because Pollard's wife Anne had a role in the case as well, for which she was sentenced to five years in jail.