In Search of a Legacy
Jonathan Pollard: Clinton's book lies about me
Calls on Israeli leaders to speak out against ex-president's memoirs
Aaron Klein - WorldNetDaily.com - June 24, 2004
In his memoirs released this week, former President Bill Clinton lies about his promised release of Jonathan Pollard, who was sentenced to life in prison for spying on behalf of Israel, Pollard told WND yesterday.
In his book, "My Life," Clinton reflects on the 1998 Wye River Accords, in which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was told Pollard would be released as part of a deal that would also free 750 Palestinian terrorists from Israeli prisons.
Clinton says Netanyahu brought up the Pollard issue at the last minute, and that he had to renege on the release after CIA Director George Tenet threatened to resign if Pollard's sentence was commuted.
But Pollard, relying on personal reports he says he received from the Israeli team at Wye including Netanyahu and former Cabinet Secretary Dan Naveh, as well as public on-record statements of key participants, maintains his release was promised by Clinton as an integral part of the Wye Accords.
He says Clinton waited until the last minute, after Netanyahu settled on key elements of the accords, to take the offer back, and then pinned the blame on Tenet.
Pollard's version of events has been corroborated by the Israeli delegation at Wye including Netanyahu and Naveh, and by prominent Jewish leaders.
Speaking to the Knesset in 2001, Naveh stated, "The former president of the United States, Bill Clinton, made an explicit commitment to the then-prime minister of Israel, Binyamin Netanyahu, to release Jonathan Pollard. This promise was made prior to the Wye Summit and [again] during the course of the negotiations at Wye ..."
Malcolm Hoenline, executive vice-chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, recently said he received a phone call from Tenet immediately after the Wye Summit, in which Tenet denied that he had ever threatened to resign if Pollard were freed.
"He truly was very emotional and very upset about it," Hoenline said. "He said that was not the way he did things, and from our experience, that was not the way he did things."
Pollard told WND: "It is too late to stop the new round of lies in Clinton's book. There is now a moral imperative which demands that the key participants at Wye - all eyewitnesses to the deal - including Prime Minister Sharon, Foreign Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Minister of Diaspora Affairs Natan Sharansky - speak out in a united front to challenge Clinton's lies."
Pollard, a former U.S. Navy intelligence analyst, was convicted of one count of passing classified information to an ally, Israel, and sentenced to life imprisonment in spite of a plea agreement that was to spare Pollard a life sentence.
Pollard's sentence is considered by many to be disproportionate to the crime for which he was convicted - he is the only person in the history of the United States to receive a life sentence for spying for an ally. The median sentence for this particular offense is two to four years.
Pollard's sentence was largely thought to have been driven by a last-minute secret memorandum from Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, in which he accused Pollard of treason - a crime for which he was never indicted - and claimed Pollard harmed America's national security.
But even Weinberger now says the sentence may be about something else. Weinberger said in a recent interview that the Pollard issue "is a very minor matter, but made very important. ... It was made far bigger than its actual importance."
Pollard told WND the information he passed to Israel forewarned the Jewish state about the build-up of unconventional weapons of war in neighboring Arab countries, including the build-up of arms by Saddam Hussein for use against Israel. He says Israel was legally entitled to this vital security information according to a 1983 Memorandum of Understanding between the two countries, "but certain elements within the American administration had imposed an embargo on this information."
Many Jewish leaders thought Clinton was going to pardon Pollard in his final days in office, but instead he pardoned Marc Rich, a billionaire fugitive wanted for tax evasion.
A new lawsuit filed on behalf of Pollard by New York attorneys Jacques Semmelman and Elliot Lauer seeks to reopen the Pollard case. The suit charges that Pollard's original lawyer Richard Hibey inadequately represented Pollard, failed to deal effectively with the government's rescinding of his plea agreement in spite of Pollard's cooperation, failed to respond to Weinberger's last-minute claims, failed to appeal the life sentence - standard practice in most criminal cases - and failed even to notify Pollard that he had the right to appeal, thus ensuring Pollard could not challenge his conviction.
Pollard's wife, Esther, expressed mixed feelings about the court case, and said that Pollard's best chance of release is through a presidential pardon.
"As a Pollard advocate, I am always hopeful that by taking the case up the chain within the judicial system we will eventually reach a level that has not been tainted by its predecessors. Jonathan has a very strong case, and as we go to appeal once again, we again hope for the best," Esther Pollard told WND.
"But As Jonathan's wife," she said, "I see the American judicial system has failed Jonathan repeatedly for nearly two decades, and we are out of time.
"Jonathan is now in his 19th year of a life sentence . ... It is precisely for cases like this the president is granted the powers of executive clemency. His direct intervention is essential not only to grant Jonathan relief from an unjust and excessive sentence, but also to restore the integrity of the American justice system which has been badly tainted by its handling of this case."
Aaron Klein is WorldNetDaily's special Middle East correspondent, whose past interview subjects have included Yasser Arafat, Ehud Barak, Shlomo Ben Ami and leaders of the Taliban.