The Time Is Now - Pollard Deserves to be Freed

Editorial - Palm Beach Jewish Journal - October 25, 1993

THE JEWISH JOURNAL believes that Jonathan Jay Pollard - a former civilian Navy Intelligence analyst handed a life term in prison for transferring classified U.S. military information to the State of Israel - has already served enough time behind bars.

He should either have his sentence commuted by President Bill Clinton, or he should finally be allowed a trial - a right he plea bargained away in 1987, immediately before his sentencing.

No one - least of all Mr. Pollard - denies that he broke the law.

But, in this case, the punishment appears to have far exceeded the crime.

Of course, other spies, such [as] John and Arthur Walker, have received life terms for espionage. For nearly two decades, John Walker, a retired U.S. navy chief warrant officer, operated as a full-time agent for the Soviet Union land masterminded, organized and recruited his own little spy ring. Beginning while he was in the Navy, and continuing into his retirement, Walker divulged critical U.S. intelligence information to Soviet agents in the United States and world-wide. Arthur Walker, a retired U.S. Navy Lt. Commander, gave his brother, John, military secrets while he, too, worked in the Navy and, later, as a defense contractor.

There is a major difference, however, between the case of the Walkers and the case of Pollard. The Walkers committed the crime of treason, which, according to Article III, Section 3 of the U.S. constitution, is limited to giving aid or comfort to enemies of the United States.

Israel is not, nor has it ever been, an enemy of the United States.

Pollard, therefore, did not commit treason.

Nevertheless, while many lesser known spies - even some who have helped America's enemies - have received far less severe sentences than Pollard - Pollard remains imprisoned.

As attorney Alan Dershowitz recently wrote: "If the president and Justice Department give Pollard a full and fair review, I am confident that they will conclude that he has already served far more time in prison than any other American who pleaded guilty of spying for a trusted ally and far more than justice and equality permit under the circumstances."

He adds: "Unless the Jewish leadership of this country begins to be more insistent and more assertive about the injustice of Jonathan Pollard's sentence, it will owe history and the Jewish community an explanation."