Anger Over the Pardon Clinton Didn't Hand Out

Uri Dan - The New York Post - January 28, 2001

JERUSALEM - EHUD Barak's failure to persuade Bill Clinton to pardon Jonathan Pollard, the U.S.Navy official who has spent 14 years in jail [J4JP Note: 15 years] for spying, seriously disturbs the Israelis.

Most of them, who admire Pollard because he supplied top intelligence data to the Jewish state about weapons of mass destruction produced in Syria and Iraq, understand he had to be punished.

But at the same time, they don't understand why he has never been granted clemency or a pardon.

Moreover, Barak's failure isn't helping him with the Israeli voters he faces on election day, nine days from now.

The Post learned, however, that Barak raised the Pollard issue in a personal appeal sent through a "mutual friend" shortly before Clinton left office.

The Jerusalem Post disclosed a second effort when it reported last Thursday that Barak intervened on behalf of exiled commodities trader Marc Rich.

As a matter of fact, three prime ministers have tried to free Pollard, and each failed.

Pollard was arrested by the FBI in the fall of 1985, while Shimon Peres was prime minister and Yitzhak Rabin was defense minister.

Both men tried to blame the Pollard scandal on a previous defense minister, Ariel Sharon.

But, to their regret, they discovered that Pollard began spying in 1984 - and Sharon left the defense ministry in February 1983. [J4JP Note: Sharon's involvement in the affair was as a Cabinet Minister, not as an official in the Ministry of Defense]

Sharon, who was trade and industry minister in 1985, confronted Peres and Rabin in a dramatic Cabinet meeting in which he told them, "You have to tell the truth to the United States. Tell them it's the Israeli government that's responsible.

"Apologize, express regret, and promise Israel will not do it again."

But Peres and Rabin didn't want to hurt their relations with President Reagan or Secretary of State George Shultz - so they lied, and claimed Pollard was part of a "rogue operation."

Barak, then chief of military intelligence, denied during an internal probe that he knew the source of the vital information flowing to his service from the United States.

Only when Rabin became prime minister in 1992 did he change his mind.

He rose in Clinton's standing by shaking Yasser Arafat's hand on the South Lawn of the White House in 1993 and making peace with Jordan in 1994. But when Rabin tried to raise the pardon issue, he failed.

Then came Benjamin Netanyahu, who had no ties to the Pollard scandal, and openly admitted he was trying for his release.

He won a promise from Clinton at the Wye Summit in October 1998 that if he agreed to turn over another 13 percent of the West Bank to Yasser Arafat, the United States would mollify Israeli public opinion by freeing Pollard.

But at the last minute at Wye, Clinton reneged, telling Netanyahu that CIA director George Tenet had threatened to resign if Pollard got out. [J4JP Note: The lie was put to this lame excuse a short time later when Clinton freed 14 unrepentant FALN terrorists in spite of a solid wall of opposition from all of his government agencies and advisors, including George Tenet. See the FALN Page and Clemency Page.]

As prime minister, Barak got his own promises from Clinton, an aide told The Post.

If Barak signed a peace accord with either the Syrians or Arafat, the president promised three bonuses:

  • The United States would grant Israel $750 million to compensate for the retreat from Lebanon and additional money to defend against long-range missiles from Iran.

  • The United States would upgrade the strategic relationship with Israel.

  • The United States would free Pollard.
Barak's enthusiasm for peace led to two summits, both in vain.

And none of the three bonuses have come about.

See Also:
  • The Facts Page

  • The Clemency Page