Mrs. Clinton Takes Action On Behalf of Imprisoned Spy

Elisabeth Bumiller - New York Times - September 2, 2000

Hillary Rodham Clinton quietly intervened last week to save Jonathan Pollard, the American convicted of spying for Israel, from a transfer to a more dangerous unit of the federal prison where he is serving a life sentence.

Although Mrs. Clinton's action falls short of calling upon President Clinton to grant Mr. Pollard clemency, her Senate campaign is hoping that the intervention will make clear her sympathies and strengthen the first lady's sluggish support among Jews.

A number of New York Jewish leaders, who consider Mr. Pollard's sentence too harsh, are increasing pressure on Mrs. Clinton to call for his release. Such a move would be a dramatic break from her husband and from the positions of his administration's foreign policy and defense establishments.

Clinton campaign officials said yesterday that Mrs. Clinton's action, which was first reported in yesterday's New York Post, was not necessarily a precursor to calling for clemency. "She did it because the issue was brought to her attention, and she was concerned on humanitarian grounds," said Howard Wolfson, a Clinton campaign spokesman.

Mr. Wolfson added that Mrs. Clinton was "continuing to study" the issue. In June, Mrs. Clinton said that she would "work on" forming an opinion before the November election.

Representative Rick A. Lazio, Mrs. Clinton's opponent, has said that he had not had the kind of "secured briefing" he needed to make a judgment in the case.

Mr. Pollard is imprisoned in a special unit of the Federal Correctional institution in Butner, N.C. The unit, used primarily to house nonviolent sex offenders, is considered safer than another unit to which Mr. Pollard was to have been transferred last week. Mr. Pollard's supporters said yesterday that they worried he might have been exposed to rapes, stabbings and other violence there.

Mrs. Clinton intervened after meeting in Manhattan Wednesday with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Assemblyman Dov Hikind of Brooklyn, an Orthodox Jew whose endorsement she seeks. Although both men asked her during the hour- and-a-half meeting to call for clemency for Mr. Pollard, It was not until the next day that they received word of Mr. Pollard's impending transfer.

Mr. Hikind immediately talked Mrs. Clinton, who quickly contacted what her campaign described as "White House officials." Those officials, Mr. Wolfson said, contacted the appropriate authorities. He would not specify more. But by the following day, yesterday, Mr. Hikind was informed by Mrs. Clinton's campaign that the problem had been taken care of and that Mr. Pollard would stay where he was. It was not clear yesterday why prison officials wanted to move Mr. Pollard.

I'm thrilled that she acted in this particular instance," said Mr. Hikind, a Democrat who frequently supports Republicans. "A lot of people are gratified by what she did. People see this as positive stuff.''

Mr. Hikind added that although he is considering endorsing Mrs. Clinton he has not made his support contingent upon her support for Mr. Pollard's release. No such deal was offered at the meeting, he said, adding that even if the first lady did call for Mr. Pollard's release, that would not be enough for him, "There are other issues she needs to address."

In any case, Democrats who support Mrs. Clinton are divided over how much Mr. Hikind's endorsement matters, and how many votes it would attract even within his own constituency. The campaign's attitude, for now, is that his support could not hurt.

Mr. Pollard pleaded guilty to espionage in 1986 for selling [

Not true!

See notes 1a & 1b below] some of America's most sensitive intelligence information [

Not true!

See note 2 below.]
to Israel. His supporters say that Mr. Pollard, who was a civilian intelligence analyst for the Navy, simply passed long information to an ally that was already ready receiving United States intelligence through official channels. Military officials say he passed along highly sensitive material about Soviet weapon designs, among other things, that jeopardized agents working inside Russia. [

Not true!

See note 3 below.]

His case has been the subject of intense political debate for years, and almost derailed the Wye peace agreement in 1998. Since then the Clinton administration has been reviewing Israel's request that Mr. Pollard be released. Support of Mr. Pollard, who has been championed by Jews on the right, has been growing among mainstream and liberal groups.

Justice4JP Notes:

  1. a) Jonathan Pollard did not sell secrets to Israel. He was a bona fide Israeli agent who acted out of an ideological concern for the safety and security of Israel. For further information, see The Facts Page: point 6 and the Addendum to the Mercenary Issue See Also: The Big Lie Still Tainting Jonathan Pollard

    b) Jonathan Pollard was indicted on only one charge: one count of passing classified information to an ally, without intent to harm the United States. [See The Facts Page.]

  2. The information that Jonathan Pollard passed to Israel was information vital to Israel's security which Israel had previously received routinely through legal channels but which was being withheld because of an illegal, undeclared intelligence embargo implemented by Admiral Bobby Ray Inman and Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger for their own personal political motives.

    For details see:

  3. The Intelligence community continues to blame Jonathan Pollard in the media for the crimes of Aldrich Ames, a high-ranking Soviet mole in the CIA who participated in the damage assessment of the Pollard case.

    There is no evidence at all that any of the information that Jonathan Pollard passed to Israel was compromised to a third party, and least of all to the Soviet Union. Moreover, Pollard was never accused, indicted or tried in a court of law for endangering the lives of American agents in the Soviet Union.

    There is not a shred of evidence to support such allegations which explains why these false charges against Pollard are routinely leaked to the media but never made in a court of law where they would be dismissed as baseless.


    The Ames Case Articles

  • The Senate Race page