U.S. Breaks Promise to Israel; Pollard Pays

Yated Ne'eman - August 4, 2000 - Alan G. Hevesi, New York City Comptroller

Information has just come to light that proves the decades long allegations that the U.S. government violated the principles of due process and fairness in the case of Jonathan Pollard, the former U.S. Navy Intelligence officer who is serving a life sentence for spying for Israel.

According to a 1987 Knesset Committee Report, made public this month, Israel agreed to return all the documents passed to it by Pollard. In exchange, the U.S. promised it would not use those papers as evidence to prosecute Pollard. Israel conditioned its cooperation "on the consent of the Americans to the fact that the documents returned would not be used to convict Pollard."

Israel handed over the documents, but we now know that the U.S. broke its promise and used the information against Pollard. In fact, the documents were the linchpin in the U.S. government's case against him and were ultimately used to condemn him to life behind bars.

When Israel turned over the documents, U.S. prosecutors quickly confronted Pollard with them. Not knowing about the agreement between the two nations, he eventually agreed to plead guilty. He was convinced that he would receive a typical sentence for his crime. No spy for an allied nation had ever received a prison term of more than four years.

Pollard was sadly mistaken. The U.S. failed to honor the plea agreement. Just prior to sentencing, then-Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger delivered a secret memorandum to the sentencing judge. In it, he apparently accused Pollard of harming the U.S. and treason -- a charge never made by the prosecution. In fact, that charge should never have been made since treason is spying for an enemy and Israel is our ally.

Weinberger's unsubstantiated allegations persuaded the judge to imprison Pollard for the rest of his life, making him the only person in U.S. history given a life sentence for spying for an ally.

I recently visited Pollard in a North Carolina prison, where he is serving his 15th year. He is remorseful. He regrets having broken the law and is sorry that he didn't find a legal way to act on his concern for Israel. What Pollard did was wrong and he should have been given an appropriate prison term. However, his case is an example of excess and injustice. He and his attorney should have been notified about the agreement between Israel and the U.S. By keeping him in the dark, the U.S. denied him the opportunity to mount an adequate defense -- a violation of every principle of due process and fairness.

Some people have argued that the U.S was justified in violating its agreement with Israel by using the documents against Pollard. They say that Israel itself failed to live up to its end of the bargain by not returning to the U.S. all the papers received from him.

This claim has no merit. Why hadn't the serious allegation that Israel withheld documents been made when the U.S. was pursuing its case against Pollard? What proof exists that the accusation is true? What specific documents does Israel still have? The U.S. refuses to say.

The U.S. Defense establishment also refuses to substantiate the "irreparable harm" Pollard is alleged to have caused this country. It is 15 years since the secret Weinberger memo was written and no evidence exists that Pollard damaged the U.S.

Recently, the CIA allowed Senator Chuck Schumer to view Pollard's classified file to see firsthand some of the supposed damage. Schumer said that there was nothing in the file to justify Pollard's harsh sentence and that he should be freed.

I agree. Two broken promises and 15 years is enough.

See Also:
  • Finally The Truth About The Pollard Affair
  • Israel Betrayed Pollard,Too
  • Did the US Violate Its Legal Commitment to Israel?
  • Camp David: Barak, Pollard and the Steel Trap