Caspar Weinberger Lies 1999

Middle East Quarterly - Fall 1999

Justice for JP Introduction:

In a recent interview with Middle East Quarterly, former U.S. Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger became very agitated when questioned about Jonathan Pollard. (Text of the interview follows below).

If the 1987 Weinberger memorandum were declassified and released today, in 1999, it would reveal that Caspar Weinberger is still peddling all of the same old lies that he used then to secure a life sentence for Jonathan Pollard, in spite of a plea bargain to the contrary.

The Weinberger memorandum was submitted to the sentencing judge at the last moment. Pollard and his attorney saw the document for only moments before sentencing, and were never given the opportunity to challenge the false charges it contains in court. No one on Pollard's defense team has ever been able to access the classified document again - not even attorneys who have all of the necessary security clearances. Even though denying Pollard the opportunity to challenge the document in court is a clear violation of his constitutional right to due process, the Weinberger memorandum remains secret and inaccessible to this day.

In the MEQ interview that follows, Weinberger made strong and patently false statements about Pollard in an apparent attempt to quickly dispense with the topic, and became ever more agitated when the interviewer would not retreat from the subject.

What makes Weinberger's statements below all the more stunning is that he still tries to peddle all the same old lies about Pollard, as if his audience were as gullible and uninformed now as it was when the case first broke 15 years ago. Text follows:

Interview with Caspar Weinberger
Excerpted From Middle East Quarterly - Fall 1999 Edition

[Justice for JP Facts appear in square brackets].

MEQ: You have been quoted saying that Jonathan Pollard "should have been shot." Is this accurate?

Weinberger: Any traitor who did what he did should be shot.

[FACT: Only treason - which is legally defined as spying for an enemy state in time of war- is legally punishable by death. Jonathan Pollard did not commit treason. He was never charged with treason, nor was he ever tried for treason.]

MEQ: You describe him as a traitor.

Weinberger: I thought Pollard did a very great deal of a damage to the United States.

[FACT: There was never any hard evidence produced by either Weinberger or the prosecution to support the false claims that the government made in the media that Jonathan Pollard damaged U.S. national security. Indeed Pollard was never charged with harming the U.S., its agents, codes, or war plans.]

Weinberger continues: The Walkers and others also did a very great deal of damage.

[FACT: This is a false comparison. Whereas the damage claims made against Pollard were made only in the media, never in court, the damage charges against the Walkers were made in a court of law and backed up by hard evidence. Several well-documented volumes have been written detailing the explicit damage done to U.S. national security by the Walkers.]

Weinberger continues: My views here have nothing to do with his religion or his beliefs or anything of that kind.

[FACT: MEQ did not make this accusation. Weinberger makes it himself.]

Weinberger continues: There are some lawyers who have been paid to say, "Yes, but it wasn't treason."

[FACT: The U.S. Appeals Court transcript of the 1991 Pollard appeal clearly shows the court reprimanding the government for falsely referring to Pollard using the terms "traitor " and "treason", and reminding the government that in a court of law only the legal definition of the words are relevant. The government concedes the "error" and apologizes.]

Weinberger continues: Using the term loosely and avoiding all the technical definitions, I would say he caused us a very great deal of additional problems in a difficult situation.

[FACT: Weinberger misled the court by presenting his own opinions and views as if they were a legal assessment of Jonathan Pollard's actions. This is why in a subsequent ruling the sentencing judge wrote that Caspar Weinberger "may not have been neutral and detached" in his role in the Pollard case. Unfortunately by the time that the judge came to this conclusion, Pollard had already received his life sentence and the damage had been done.]

Weinberger continues: I said everything I knew about Pollard at the request of the United States District Court.

[FACT: It is more likely that Weinberger intervened on his own initiative as there is no evidence of any request for his input by the court. In fact the prosecution has steadfastly refused to explain how it is that the Secretary of Defense came to be invited to submit a last minute secret memorandum to the judge virtually at the time of sentencing.]

Weinberger continues: I gave them an affidavit that was classified because it went into great detail about the extent of the damage that was done and the number of lives of our people that were endangered.

[FACT: Weinberger's assessment of Jonathan Pollard's activities damaging U.S. humint capabilities was based on the CIA's damage assessment which was written by the master mole himself, Aldrich Ames. Ames deflected suspicion away from himself by transferring the blame to Pollard. Even years later, when Ames was finally arrested and appropriately indicted for the crimes he had accused Pollard of, no adjustment was made to Pollard's case or to his sentence.]

Weinberger continues: That covered a lot of sources and methods at the court's request.

[FACT: Weinberger's damage claims against Pollard are largely speculation and worst-case scenario prognostications. For example, Weinberger speculated that Pollard had harmed U.S. agents, and did so based on the assumption that Israel may have traded the information provided by Pollard to the Soviet Union, which in turn endangered American agents in the Soviet Union. In point of fact, both the CIA and the Israeli national security establishment have repeatedly confirmed publicly that not one iota of the information that Pollard passed to Israel was ever officially transferred to and/or illegally obtained by the Soviet Union.]

Weinberger continues: Others seem to have seen it (the Weinberger memorandum) and talk about it very freely; I don't.

[FACT: Government officials who have leaked information to the media from the classified memorandum have in fact committed a criminal offense. Yet, the government has never investigated or charged those government sources who have done so, in spite of repeated requests by Pollard's attorney. Moreover, since the government has never allowed even those with security clearance on the Pollard defense team to see the Weinberger memorandum, there is no one in a position to rebut the vicious leaks.]

Weinberger continues: I'm sort of an anachronism because I still respect classified documents.

[FACT: There are 2 possible reasons that the government will not allow Pollard or his cleared attorneys to access and challenge the Weinberger memorandum.

Either (A) the document contains such sensitive information that releasing it would endanger American national security
or (B) the document is so full of lies that its release would not withstand public scrutiny, let alone judicial challenge.

Given that Weinberger himself is an indicted perjurer and the intelligence community's track record for honesty is at best "spotty", it is far more reasonable to assume that the government's refusal to release the Weinberger memorandum has more to do with the embarrassment that the government will suffer over its long-held intransigent position on the Pollard case, than over any threat to national security.]

MEQ: You are saying that calling Pollard a "traitor" is in the general sense, not in a lawyerly sense.

Weinberger: It's the smallest kind of footnote, if anything. The fact is he did tremendous damage and how you want to define it doesn't really make any difference.

[FACT: If Jonathan Pollard had done the kind of damage Weinberger claims he did, the government would have been obliged to charge him and try him for harming the United States. The fact that he was neither charged nor tried for this offense puts the lie to Weinberger's accusations.

Weinberger can talk all he wants, but the bottom line is that there was never any hard evidence presented in court to back up his claims. Indeed to this day, no one has ever been able to demonstrate a single example where even one agent was harmed, or any intelligence collection program was suspended or compromised as a result of Jonathan Pollard's actions.]

MEQ: Some people have become quite fixated on the word "traitor."

Weinberger: The rule is, I don't talk about this matter at all. What I had to say, I said in the classified affidavit. I have nothing else to say. Some years ago, a long, presumably scholarly, legal piece came out to the effect that treason had to consist of this and that; this is totally irrelevant.

[FACT: Caspar Weinberger's attitude reflects both contempt and a cavalier disregard for American law, and the definitions and legal distinctions contained in the espionage statutes.]

Weinberger continues: It's the damage that he did that counts.

[FACT: Weinberger still insists that Pollard be punished for a crime that he never committed and for which he was never charged - damage to the United States. Worse, Pollard has never been allowed to see the evidence and to defend himself against this lie.

The bottom line is: where are the dead agents, broken codes, ruined collection programs and compromised technology that one would expect to find littering the intelligence landscape if Jonathan Pollard were in fact responsible for all the damage that Caspar Weinberger attributes to him.]

Weinberger continues: It wasn't just him - Aldrich Ames and others also did tremendous damage. They all need to be punished.

[FACT: Weinberger's insidious symmetry equating Pollard with Ames is egregiously false. Unlike Pollard who passed classified information to an ally, Ames' actions aided and abetted an enemy of the U.S. Ames compromised American intelligence programs and was responsible for the deaths of American agents. Ames also participated in writing the damage assessment of Pollard's actions and shifted the blame for his own crimes to Pollard. Even when Ames was finally exposed, Pollard's sentence was never adjusted.]

MEQ: The Victim Impact Statement filed by the U.S. government sometime between May 1986 and January 1987 predicted that Pollard's crime would threaten U.S. relations with its Arab allies and reduce U.S. bargaining leverage over intelligence with the Israelis. A dozen years later, how do you assess the accuracy of those predictions?

Weinberger: I'm not familiar with that statement; I suppose I should be.

[FACT: The Victim Impact Statement (VIS) is a primary document used to assess the impact of a crime and to determine appropriate punishment. Weinberger's ignorance of this document and the statements it contains speaks volumes about the reliability of his own assessment.]

Weinberger continues: The whole case was a source of very considerable potential danger and damage to the United States, primarily from the vantage point of information, intelligence sources, and methods that were lost. We were impacted very severely.

[FACT: Fifteen years later, any potential damage that Weinberger speculated might eventually surface, never has. America's continuing strong relationship with both Israel and the Arab nations is reflected in its key role in the Middle East peace process. Indeed intelligence-sharing with Israel has greatly expanded since the Pollard case, which would not have occurred if Jonathan Pollard's actions had had the damaging effect that Weinberger claims.]

Weinberger continues: That was the exact subject matter of the information that the judge wanted in the case, and he made a formal, official request to me for it.

[FACT: This is a stunning and damning statement.

If Weinberger is lying, why won't the prosecution say how it was that Weinberger got to deliver a last minute secret memorandum to the sentencing judge that damned Pollard to a life sentence in spite of a plea agreement to the contrary?

Worse still, if Weinberger is telling the truth, then the sentencing judge appears to have deliberately blind-sided the defense. That is, the sentencing judge never informed the defense that he had invited a submission from the secretary of defense and he certainly made no provision for the defense to see the submission in advance. Nor did he allow the defense counsel adequate time to study the submission and prepare a legal defense to challenge to it. The sentencing judge would thus have willfully deprived Jonathan Pollard of his constitutional right to confront and challenge his accusers in a court of law.

Moreover by admitting in a subsequent ruling that Caspar Weinberger "may not have been neutral and detached" the judge may have compounded his unethical treatment of Pollard by belatedly admitting the questionable credibility of the government's key witness and yet not adjusting Pollard's sentence accordingly.]

Weinberger concludes:

I've told virtually everyone who has asked me that I have nothing further to say about Pollard, so printing comments that I've made would cause everybody to rush around and say, "Well, you talked to the MEQ, now talk to us." And I have not really talked to anybody about it.

Justice for JP Summarizes:

  • Weinberger repeatedly insists that Pollard be severely punished for crimes which he did not commit, was never charged with, and for which he was never tried, namely treason, and harm to the United States.

  • Weinberger shows a contempt and a complete disregard for American law and the notion of judicial equity.

  • Weinberger refuses to recognize that American law makes a number of clear distinctions to determine the severity of an espionage offense according to an established legal standard.

  • Weinberger ignores the principle of equal justice where legal precedent establishes the usual punishment meted out for each offense.

  • Weinberger makes numerous accusations against Pollard without a shred of hard evidence to support these charges.

  • Either Weinberger is lying about how he came to submit his infamous secret memorandum to the sentencing judge at the last moment before sentencing, or

  • Weinberger reveals his participation in the sentencing of Jonathan Pollard as a deeply unethical move on the part of the sentencing judge to deprive Pollard of his constitutional right to due process.

  • Weinberger claims that he is not driven by any personal animus towards Pollard, Israel or the Jewish people. The absence of any legal explanation for Jonathan Pollard's excessive sentence and harsh treatment - unchallenged secret evidence notwithstanding- does not support this claim.

The following points should also be noted:

  • The plea bargain that Jonathan Pollard entered into with the government dealt with the only offense with which he was charged: one count of passing classified information to an ally. This offense carries a median sentence of 2 to 4 years.

  • There were no other charges against Pollard other than the one count of passing classified information to an ally, and no additional charges were dropped as a result of the plea agreement.

  • In complete violation of his plea agreement, Jonathan Pollard received a life sentence on the basis of false and misleading secret evidence - Weinberger's still classified memorandum - which Pollard, to this day, has never been allowed to challenge in a court of law.

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