On Lies, Secrets and Sentences

The Los Angeles Jewish Journal - Week of July 7

In the Jewish tradition, the life of even one person is sufficient to summon us to action. That is why the American Jewish community has rallied behind the commutation of the life sentence imposed on Jonathan Pollard, in a virtually unprecendented manner. But beyond this, much more is at stake in Jonathan's case that "just" the life of one person.

Recent disclosures have finally confirmed Jonathan's contention that individuals in the intelligence and defense establishments

were trying to stab Israel in the back by subverting the close strategic relationship between the United States and Israel


Jonathan was, of course, fully aware of our official policy towards Israel. But he was also aware of an unofficial policy towards the Israelis that was

anything but friendly

. While this "war in the shadows" took on several forms, its most dangerous aspect may have been the attempt by Caspar Weinberger and Bobby Ray Inman to quietly

restrict the flow of critically important information to Israel


Although it has taken almost nine years to uncover this off-the-books anti-Israel agenda, recent revelations have finally confirmed long-held suspicions that Weinberger and Inman had instituted what amounted to a highly selective,

undeclared intelligence embargo

against Israel.

For example, Inman himself has acknowledged that he was so angered by Israel's destruction of Iraq's nuclear reactor in 1981 that it was he who then ordered severe limitations on the intelligence sharing with Israel. It is significant that these new restrictions were imposed while Inman's boss, CIA Director William Casey, was out of the country. Upon Casey's return, Weinberger not only defended the propriety of Inman's actions, but he also ordered his own department to participate in this coldblooded betrayal of Israel.

Regretfully, we may never learn the full extent of what Weinberger and Inman had in mind for the Jewish state. We should consider ourselves lucky, though, that they did not have their way before Israel eliminated the Iraqi nuclear threat and that their most overt attempts to destroy the U.S.-Israel special relationship were repeatedly thwarted by Congress, which fully appreciated both the strategic benefits of our alliance with Israel as well as our moral obligation to defend the only democracy in the Middle East.

But neither Weinberger nor Inman were ones to give up so easily. And so they used Jonathan's arrest to shift the political battle over Israel's status into the courts, where they were able to successfully

manipulate the criminal justice system

in such a way that Israel was legally reclassified as a



Jonathan's sentence, then, was clearly intended to be a dagger pointed at the heart of our special relationship with Israel.

Incredibly, many of those who claim to be strong supporters of the U.S.-Israel alliance have been totally oblivious to this potentially lethal threat of that relationship.

Granted, Jonathan was never indicted as a traitor, and the prosecutor never referred to him as an "enemy" agent. But Weinberger was not only allowed to mischaracterize him in open court as a traitor - a calumnious charge repeated not long ago by the late Les Aspin - he was able to persuade the judge to disregard Jonathan's plea-bargain agreement and hand him

a sentence more appropriate for someone who aided an enemy

like the former Soviet Union.

If anyone failed to understand the message behind this political show trial, a carefully orchestrated campaign of leaks and rumors drove home the point that Jonathan's actions on behalf of Israel had seriously compromised our national security.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

After all, if Jonathan had been guilty of harming the United States, it surely would have been reflected in his indictment, But in fact,

Jonathan was only charged with passing classified data to an ally

, Israel, with reason to believe it would be used to her advantage. It is very telling that Jonathan was


charged with transmitting the information either with intent or reason to believe it would be used to the injury of the United States.

The Government could not show a subjective intent on Jonathan's part to hurt his country. He had none. But more importantly, the Government could not even show that, from an objective standpoint, somebody in his position, with all the information he had at his disposal, would have any reason to believe that any of the information transmitted by Jonathan to Israel would or could cause injury to the United States.

Indeed, nine years after Jonathan's arrest, neither Caspar Weinberger, Bobby Inman, the late Les Aspin nor President Clinton has ever presented one example, let alone any shred or proof, of just how Jonathan's action caused harm to the United States.

Given these facts, one would have thought that the media would treat the disinformation campaign waged against Jonathan with the contempt it deserves. For example, we now know that the most hysterical out-of-court accusations raised against Jonathan - that he was somehow indirectly responsible for the deaths of U.S. informants - are directly attributable to the treachery of Aldridge Ames.

And even the judge who sentenced my son has admitted that Weinberger "may not have been neutral and detached" in his portrayal of Jonathan's actions. Certainly, this alone should have alerted the media to the fact that Weinberger's so-called "damage assessment" was more an instrument of

political vengeance

than it was an objective appraisal of the case.

But sadly, among certain members of the media, when it comes to Israel,

no lie is too incredible

, particularly if it is being asserted by a "patriotic" intelligence community, which can shield its dishonesty behind a wall of classifications.

Unfortunately, President Clinton's justification for rejecting Jonathan's clemency appeal put his cloak of approval, even if unwittingly, on the effort to publicly portray Israel not as a loyal ally but as a fearful adversary. This is why if the President cannot be persuaded to reverse his decision,

the long-term political impact on Israel and the America Jewish community could very well be devastating.

Morris Pollard
  • See Also: The Admiral Bobby Ray Inman Page