Grapevine: A misconception about Pollard

Greer Fay Cashman - The Jerusalem Post - March 7, 2013

One of the reasons for a certain degree of complacency about the eventual release from prison of convicted spy Jonathan Pollard is that many believe that his freedom will be automatic once he has served 30 years. (Pollard began his 28th year in jail on November 21, 2012.) But that is not the case, former US secretary of defense Dr. Lawrence J. Korb, who has been one of the leading activists on Pollard's behalf, said when asked about this at the Jerusalem Press Club this week. Pollard has to apply for parole, but his lawyers are not being given access to all the government files pertaining to his case.

Korb became interested in the Pollard affair after receiving a letter from Pollard's father. He subsequently visited Pollard in prison and all the things that Pollard told him were later corroborated by the CIA.

Korb said that Pollard had been treated very harshly and had been placed in solitary confinement. If Pollard's release could still be harmful to the US after 28 years in prison, said Korb, it would signify that America hasn't progressed much in 28 years. "What information could he possibly have that's still of use?" Korb also noted America's double standards.

When Shakil Afridi, the Pakistani doctor who helped the CIA track down Osama bin Laden, received a 33-year sentence on a trumped up charge of being an Islamist militant, the White House was critical and raised the issue with the Pakistani government.

Korb doesn't see that much difference between Pollard and Afridi.

There has been rumor to the effect that if Israel resumes negotiations with the Palestinians and gives in to some of their demands, this could lead to Pollard's release. Korb said that making the release contingent on anything would be wrong.

The CIA debriefing is now in the public domain, and influential American figures who supported Pollard's continued incarceration have now changed their minds with the realization that he did not do nearly as much damage as he was alleged to have done.

"He's a human being. He's a person.

Release him for the right reasons," said Korb, suggesting that intelligence agencies had not done their job properly and that Pollard was the fall-guy for their incompetence.

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