Israel points finger at U.S. on Pollard

Comptroller report slammed as 'whitewash' of Israel's handling of case

Seth Mandel - The Jewish State (N.J.) - September 11, 2009

An official Israeli report partially declassified last week has reignited the debate over Israel's treatment of Jonathan Pollard, the convicted spy still serving in an American federal prison.

Retired Israeli judge Micha Lindenstrauss, now serving as Israel's comptroller, released part of his latest report, which found that the state did not abandon Pollard -- as Pollard's supporters believe -- but that Pollard's due process rights were "likely" violated by the U.S. Justice Department during his trial.

In response, Pollard's wife, Esther Pollard, called the report "a sham".

"The American government has successfully blocked Jonathan from ever bringing his case back to court in the U.S., so announcing that he has been deprived of due process is a nonstarter," Pollard said. "Moreover, this issue has no place in a report that purports to be investigating efforts by the government of Israel to bring about Jonathan's release."

"The Pollard issue challenged the prime ministers of Israel," the report stated, as reported by the Israeli press. "Their actions were continual and consistent, and the issue was brought up in their meetings and conversations with U.S. presidents."

The report's timing -- its release during the administration of Binyamin Netanyahu while Netanyahu is negotiating with an American administration with which he is often at odds -- is a reminder of the closest an Israeli administration has come to gaining Pollard's release: the last Netanyahu administration, in 1998.

But Esther Pollard told The Jewish State that this gives Netanyahu too much credibility on the issue.

"Mr. Netanyahu has profited greatly over the years from the public perception that he has done more for Jonathan than any other prime minister, but this too is a sham," Pollard said. "This is the prime minister that abandoned Jonathan at Wye 11 years ago, and in the 11 years that have passed, he has never once voluntarily mentioned Jonathan's name publicly, or done anything at all to help Jonathan."

But Israeli officials dispute Pollard's claim.

"Israel has made many efforts, and continues in its efforts, to ensure the release of Jonathan Pollard," Consul Joel Lion, spokesman for the Consulate General of Israel in New York, told The Jewish State. "The matter has been, and continues to be, discussed in Israel's official meetings with the United States."

Pollard was referring to the negotiations at Wye River in 1998 between Netanyahu's administration, the Clinton administration, and that of Yasser Arafat over the implementation of interim agreements that were to jumpstart the peace process.

Netanyahu believes Clinton promised Pollard's release as part of the agreement, while Clinton claims he promised only to review Pollard's case.

"The deal to secure Jonathan's freedom, as it were, was intended as a rubber stamp for the release of 750 Arab terrorists and murderers," Pollard told The Jewish State. "The murderers went free, but Jonathan remains in prison."

The issue last received this much attention in 2007, when former CIA Director George Tenet released his autobiographical account of his time at the CIA. In it, Tenet gave more credence to the rumors that he scuttled the Pollard deal by stridently taking credit for preventing Pollard's release.

According to Tenet's account, Netanyahu demanded Pollard as part of the deal, and Tenet threatened to resign if Clinton released Pollard. Clinton's top negotiator, Dennis Ross, told Clinton that if he promised Pollard to Netanyahu he had no choice but to release him. Clinton said he didn't, but Ross, according to Tenet, didn't seem convinced the president was telling him the truth. Tenet's threat gave Clinton a new option.

As word spread that Pollard would be released, Clinton's chief of staff, John Podesta, called Tenet to ask him not to endanger the deal. Tenet responded that he refused to budge, and that the Israelis would sign the agreement even without Pollard included. It was a game of "chicken," Tenet said.

[J4JP CLARIFICATION: Tenet's book rewrites history so that it almost resembles what occurred, but not quite Jonathan's release (which Israel has yet to collect) was negotiated as an integral part of the Wye as the quid pro quo for the release of 750 murderers and terrorists with Jewish blood on their hands. In 1998 Netanyahu's government was the first government ever to agree to release terrorists who murdered Jews. Tenet was the excuse, not the reason that Jonathan did not go free. Dennis Ross describes the real reason that Clinton reneged on the deal - Pollard was simply too valuable as a bargaining chip! See Excerpts from "The Missing Peace" by Dennis Ross: Farrar Straus Giroux, N.Y., 2004

Tenet's threatened resignation was never an issue for Clinton. Indeed, Tenet also threatened to quit if Clinton freed the FALN terrorists. In that instance, Clinton told Tenet to stand down and Clinton freed the terrorists. See details on the Wye Double-Cross Page.

Moreover, years later it was revealed that, Tenet never threatened to quit if Pollard were released! The claim that he did threaten to resign is creative fiction after the fact, because it makes Tenet sound good and it backs Clinton's excuse for reneging on the deal. How do we know that he never made the threat? In a June 3, 2004 interview with Matthew E. Berger "CIA Chief George Tenet Quits", JTA, 06/04/04, Malcolm Hoenlein, executive VP of the Conference of Presidents describes a phone call he received from CIA Director, George Tenet, immediately after the Wye Summit in 1998. According to Hoenlein, Tenet called him because was genuinely upset about what had happened at Wye; and he denied that he had ever threatened to resign if Jonathan Pollard were freed. Hoenlien says that Tenet was practically in tears! For the full story see: "Malcolm Hoenlein's Dirty Little Secret Revealed: Tenet No Obstacle to Pollard Release" - Source:JTA - June 4, 2004]

The next time Tenet saw Clinton, he said it was clear the president had made up his mind not to release Pollard, since Clinton made a joke about swapping CIA officer Stan Moskowitz for Pollard.

"We had hoped that when Bibi took office again, he would keep the personal promises he made to us when he visited Jonathan in prison some years ago," Pollard said. "Instead, from the moment that Bibi built his new coalition, he allied himself with those people who have made a career of keeping Jonathan in prison -- people like Ehud Barak, Shimon Peres, and Rafi Eitan. He has adopted their callous indifference to Jonathan and ensured that Jonathan is totally cut off from all government contact and support."

Pollard has served almost 24 years of a

life sentence

-- the only life sentence ever handed down for spying for an American ally. In addition, as noted by Alan Dershowitz, Pollard was convinced to take a plea deal because his then-wife, Anne, was being threatened with prosecution if Pollard didn't talk. Anne's health problems made it unlikely she could survive a long prison term, which meant Pollard's decision was life-or-death for his wife. [J4JP CLARIFICATION: While it is true that Jonathan was all but coerced into signing a plea agreement (which he honored and the US violated) both Jonathan and his former wife were prosecuted, the latter was convicted and served 36 months of a 5 year sentence. Please note as well for purposes of clarification: Alan Dershowitz is not, nor was he ever, Jonathan's attorney. In the early years he was "of counsel" to the Pollard attorneys in the early years and he has often commented on the case.]

In the plea deal, the U.S. government agreed to recommend a reduced sentence. However, then-Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger encouraged the judge to renege on the plea deal, and the judge did so, imposing the life sentence.[J4JP CLARIFICATION: For a more accurate description of what occurred see "The VIS: Why Jonathan Pollard Got Life" by David Zwiebel, Esq ; See also: The US Court Case Page documents.]

Esther Pollard said that since Jonathan is an Israeli agent, the Israeli government has clear responsibilities to him -- responsibilities they have repeatedly abrogated. The Lindenstrauss report, she said, gives the Israeli government's behavior toward Pollard an official stamp of approval.

"Lindenstrauss and his ilk are simply one more branch of the Israeli government doing a whitewash of the government's failure to take the most minimal steps to bring Jonathan home," she said. "The report -- what little of it has been made public -- shifts responsibility for Jonathan -- an Israeli agent -- away from the government of Israel and on to Jonathan himself, as a private American citizen. It is an ugly piece of propaganda."


The above article can also be read here.

See Also: