No Pardon For Pollard

Jewish Week (N.Y.) - January 25, 2001

During her Senate campaign last fall, Hillary Rodham Clinton made several public comments about her newfound concern for justice in the Jonathan Pollard case.

But in the end, the convicted spy, whose case has been championed in recent weeks by a diverse set of Jewish organizations, received no last-minute pardon or commutation of his life sentence from her husband, former President Bill Clinton.

Pollard, in his 16th year behind bars, joined other notable exceptions to the president's pardon list, including junk bond trader Michael Milken, and Webster Hubbell, a former law partner of Hillary Clinton.

But supporters of Pollard, a former Navy analyst who pleaded guilty to spying for Israel, are furious.

"To be harsh, I think it reflects a lack of guts," said Seymour Reich, former chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

"(President) Clinton has lied about Jonathan and exploited him for the last eight years," said Pollard's wife, Esther.

"There was no reason for (Clinton) to do it," said Pollard's Israeli lawyer, Larry Dub. "(Clinton) got everything he wanted from the Israelis, and never had to turn over the Pollard card," referring to peace negotiations between the Israeli and Palestinians at Wye River, Md., where it is believed the Pollard issue was raised.

Now, Pollard's best chance for freedom may lie with the federal court system. His New York attorneys have filed a federal motion seeking a new trial, claiming he was incompetently represented at his first trial, and that the government used extralegal secret evidence against him.

In what would be an unlikely scenario, Dub said that he has some hope in President George W. Bush, because he trusts "that if Bush says he will release Pollard, Bush will live up to his word." However it was Bush's father's defense secretary, Caspar Weinberger, who apparently sealed Pollard's fate 16 years ago by writing a secret memo to the sentencing judge detailing charges against Pollard that has never been made public.

Rabbi Pesach Lerner, executive vice president of the National Council of Young Israel, called on the Jewish community to redouble its efforts to "demand basic justice" for Pollard.

"If you don't want to come out for Jonathan Pollard, fine," he said. "But come out for fair play."

  • See Also: The Clemency Page