Hillary in Pollard Push

Wants release of info on spy for Israel

WILLIAM GOLDSCHLAG - NY Daily News - October 6, 2000

Hillary Rodham Clinton said yesterday she has asked her husband to declassify reports that could help settle the question of whether Jonathan Pollard, an American who spied for Israel, should receive clemency from his life sentence.

Clinton also voiced her strongest regret yet over the Suha Arafat incident as she fielded questions from reporters for the newspaper Jewish Week and looked to reinforce her standing with Jewish voters, about an eighth of the state's electorate.

Asked what she would do differently on that diplomatic mission-turned-political fiasco last year, she said, "I wouldn't have gone," drawing appreciative laughter from

Clinton had sat silently on a West Bank visit while the wife of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat accused Israel of using poison gas against Arab children. Clinton condemned the accusations only after the ensuing uproar — and later gave various reasons for the delay.

Political advisers had warned Clinton against the official First Lady visit. Images of Clinton hugging and kissing Arafat's wife shook some Jewish New Yorkers and still haunts the campaign.

Clinton said that as a senator from New York, "I would never be in a situation like that."

As she has before, Clinton took a sympathetic position toward those who have advocated freedom for Pollard, but stopped short of signing on to their cause.

Pollard, a U.S. Navy analyst, pleaded guilty in 1987 to giving Israel thousands of secret documents. Secret damage-assessment reports from then-Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger and others helped spur the judge to sentence Pollard to life in prison.

Clinton said, as she has before, that the secret material raised "troubling" questions of "due process." She said, "I would call on the administration to release that material" — with necessary omissions on national security grounds — "so we can ... have a foundation on which to make judgments."

Asked, "Have you discussed it with the President?" she replied, "I have made my views known, yes." The White House had no immediate comment.

Awaiting such material also gives Clinton cover to postpone a decision. She has steadily improved her standing with Jewish voters without declaring herself on the Pollard issue.

Jews are divided on the case. Clinton noted, "Two people whom I deeply respect have read the same material and reached opposite conclusions." Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) favors clemency, and vice presidential candidate Sen. Joseph Lieberman opposes it.

Pollard's supporters — most doggedly Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) — argue Pollard was singled out for harsh treatment. Hikind praised Clinton for a "step in the right direction."

Spokesman Michael Marr said GOP Senate candidate Rep. Rick Lazio, who has no position on clemency, also "supports the release of the Weinberger memo." He rapped the Clinton administration for having "promised over 600 days ago" to come to "a speedy resolution" on clemency.

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