Call for Review of Pollard's Case Gathers Momentum

M. Langsam - Hamodia - September 29, 2000

Advocates for Jonathan Pollard say they are encouraged by Hillary Clinton's recent remarks expressing concern about the "due process issues concerning the way [Pollard] was sentenced." Mrs. Clinton also said she believed "that fair-minded people should ask similar questions" about the U.S. Navy analyst convicted in 1987 of spying for Israel.

In addressing the due process issue, Mrs, Clinton endorsed the key challenges lodged in federal court this week by Pollard's attorneys. In a 75-page motion calling for new hearings, Pollard's attorneys contend that Pollard's rights to due process were violated in the following serious ways, justifying a complete review of his case:

  1. Devastating secret testimony authored by then Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger was submitted to the judge in a 46-page memo one day prior to sentencing, leaving Pollard no time to acquaint himself with the charges and respond to them.

  2. Largely on the basis of the Weinberger memo, which accused Pollard of treason a charge of which he was never indicted in court the U.S. government broke its plea-bargain pledges to Pollard, especially its agreement not to seek life imprisonment.

  3. The government went out of its way to falsely paint Pollard as an incorrigible criminal who had to be silenced by incarceration to prevent him from repeatedly leaking classified information. This severe character assassination based on unfounded allegations contravened the government's agreement to restrict its recommendations to the clear-cut espionage offenses with which Pollard had been charged.

    In essence, this perfidious profiling of Pollard as an arrogant, dangerous enemy agent, determined to flout the court's authority, doomed him.

The latest motion forcefully demonstrates that Pollard's attorney, Dick Hibey, was so inept that Pollard was deprived of competent counsel. This by itself would be sufficient grounds to call for a new hearing of his case, under terms compatible with the plaintiff's Sixth and Seventh Amendment rights.

The Whole Issue of Wen Ho Lee Shows the Justice Department Going Amok'
- Brooklyn Democratic State Senator Seymour Lachman

Lee Case Favorable for Pollard Review

Longtime Pollard advocate Rabbi Pesach Lemer of the National Council of Young Israel, told Hamodia that the timing of Mrs. Clinton's remarks could be very favorable for Pollard, coming as it does in the wake of the miscarriage of justice in the Wen Ho Lee case, the Chinese-American scientist cleared earlier this month of charges of passing nuclear secrets to China.

"The Lee case exposed the abuses that can take place when either prejudice or sheer ineptitude in government quarters violate a citizen's constitutional rights," said Rabbi Lerner.

"We're hoping that Mrs. Clinton's comments will finally give Jonathan a chance at justice," Rabbi Lerner said. "Mrs. Clinton is to be applauded for taking the courageous step [of calling for the declassification of the Weinberger secret memos], something that no one in the Clinton administration has ever done."

Opinions are divided as to whether Mrs. Clinton's remarks would help her decisively at the polls. She has been eager to win over elements of the Orthodox Jewish community, in which support for Pollard runs deep.

In contrast to her supportive remarks, Mr. Lazio repeatedly dodged the Pollard question in the debate, arguing that the responsibility lies exclusively with President Clinton, who has failed to come through with a decision after countless promises to do so.

Some observers see Mrs. Clinton's statement as paving the way for her to come out in favor of clemency for Pollard. They cite another pro-Pollard move earlier this month, when she intervened to prevent Pollard from being moved from a protected cell in North Carolina to more dangerous quarters in another maximum security prison.

Others doubt Mrs. Clinton will take the next step and call for Pollard's release, noting that such a move would antagonize many in the defense establishment, vehemently committed to seeing Pollard behind bars for life.

Weighing Conflicting Advice

In the debate, the first lady acknowledged her own lack of clarity on the clemency issue. "Two men I respect have different views" on Pollard, Mrs. Clinton said, referring to Sen. Joseph Lieberman, who is against his release, and Sen. Charles Schumer, who is for it. Both senators claim to be acquainted with the classified documents in the Pollard case, although sources say the senators' knowledge is secondhand, coming from CIA reports many believe to be slanted against Pollard.

In a July 26 letter from Lieberman to President Clinton, Lieberman requested the public disclosure of appropriate classified material after a government review.

This move seemed to counter his participation in a letter signed by 60 Congressman opposing the release of Jonathan Pollard as part of the Wye Accords.

Key Clinton campaign officials have recently held discussions with some of New York's Democratic elected officials who are also Pollard supporters, about the ramifications of declassifying the Weinberger memo. Included in the talks were New York Democratic Reps. Jerrold Nadler and Anthony Weiner, Brooklyn Democratic State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, New York City Comptroller Alan Hevesi and Public Advocate Mark Green. Most of these men, along with Assemblyman Sheldon Silver and Rep. Benjamin Oilman, have visited Pollard in prison and gone on record calling for his release.

A wide range of public statesmen have voiced their conviction that Pollard's constitutional rights were compromised by the shabby way his case was handled.

"The whole issue of Wen Ho Lee shows the Justice Department going amok," said Brooklyn Democratic State Sen. Seymour Lachman. who last February called for President Clinton to release the Weinberger memo.

"I think 16 years after the fact the president has to be equally concerned about what a secretary of defense, who himself was under investigation, wrote in his classified memorandum to the federal judges reviewing the Pollard case," Lachman wrote in a letter to the White House.

Broken Promises

Clinton's potential actions on Pollard coincide with some recent disturbing disclosures from Israel, noted Rabbi Lerner.

An article in the Jerusalem Post by the director of Independent Media Review & Analysis, claims that a 1987 Israeli government commission report on Pollard reveal a serious breach of a clear U.S.-Israeli understanding not to use returned stolen documents against Pollard.

Nonetheless, the stolen documents were introduced as evidence against Pollard without the defendant ever being made aware of the deal. Thus, he could not object to their acceptance in court nor use the fact of their being cited against him in his appeal of his life sentence.

Pollard's wife, who has lobbied tirelessly for his release, is bitter about her husband's treatment by the Israeli government. "You have to remember that not only did Israel throw him out of the embassy and abandon him, Israel also betrayed him. Israel handed over to the Americans all of the documents with Jonathan's fingerprints on them in order to incriminate him. In the history of espionage no other nation has done that."

Pollard's staunchest advocates say he would welcome the declassification and publication of the secret memo that for 16 years has effectively throttled any attempt at self-defense.

"Let's put a little sunlight on [the secret documents] so that we can see that the contain nothing more than the kind of hyperbole used by the FBI agent to describe Dr. Lee," said Nancy Luque, a former Pollard attorney and his supporter. #


The injustice of the Pollard case is so penetrating, observers say, that it has become a major blot on the American system of justice. The information Pollard transmitted to Israel is information America was obligated to share with Israel according to a 1983 Treaty of Understanding. Moreover, it caused the United States no harm and dealt only with countries hostile to Israel.

Yet Pollard was accused in the Weinberger memo of treason and of being one of the worst spies in recent U.S. history. In 16 years of incarceration, he has not been permitted to challenge the contents of that secret memo.

Pollard's information alerted the Israeli government about developments posing critical threats to its security such as Iraqi chemical manufacturing plants; terrorist projects against Israel; satellite pictures of hostile neighboring countries such as Lebanon, Syria and Libya; and technical information about Soviet armaments sold to these same countries. This information helped Israel to protect itself against the Iraqi Scud attacks during the 1991 Gulf War.

"Do you imagine for one minute that Israel would have been galvanized to produce millions of gas masks almost overnight if not for [Pollard's] advance warning of Iraq's gas capabilities?" asks Rabbi Lerner.

Lerner noted that in some quarters in Israel Pollard has been gratefully dubbed "the ghost of the sealed rooms" for his critical role in arming Israel's citizens with the life-protecting masks.