Editorial: Pollard's fate

Former CIA director James Woolsey says he would tell US President Obama to forget that Pollard is a Jew and just release him. Indeed.

The Jerusalem Post - November 10, 2013

Recent revelations of unbridled American espionage against its Western allies have exposed the hypocrisy and injustice that have kept Jonathan Pollard in prison for nearly three decades.

Washington has always presented Pollard's unprecedented life sentence, including seven years in solitary confinement, as a reasonable response to Israel's unmitigated gall for running a spy in the US. Successive American administrations have consistently maintained a morally superior posture, posing as the injured party, insisting on perpetuating the excessive punishment of Israel's agent.

Although Israeli officials have been aware of American agents operating in Israel for decades, they have never openly confronted the US.

Israel's inexplicable cooperation notwithstanding, recent revelations of the US's massive spy operations against 35 friendly nations (including Israel) have blown America's cover and brought to light an egregious double standard and a stunning example of American hypocrisy. Nowhere is this hypocrisy more blatant than in America's treatment of Jonathan Pollard. This has prompted many who have never done so before to begin calling for his release.

Next week, Pollard begins his 29th year in prison for the crime of spying in the United States for the benefit of Israel.

He never passed a single secret about America to Israel - only information about Israel's enemies and their plans to destroy the Jewish state.

Although the US judiciary is presumed to be independent of the political echelon, in reality it is not that simple.

Pollard long ago used up all of his legal remedies pursuing justice, but the American justice system failed to provide any relief. This is incomprehensible, since the conduct of the case blatantly violated every concept of justice America holds dear. This includes:

  • A grossly disproportionate sentence,
  • A broken plea agreement,
  • The use of secret evidence,
  • A false charge of treason,
  • Ineffective assistance of counsel,
  • Ex parte communication between prosecutors and judge,
  • A lack of due process, and
  • A sentencing procedure infected by false allegations and lies.

Cal Thomas, whose column is syndicated in 550 American newspapers and whose voice is heard on more than 300 American talk shows, wrote in USA Today last week: "President Obama should order the release of Jonathan Pollard, who is serving a life sentence for spying in the US on behalf of Israel."

"If everyone who spied on us and we on them went to prison, no one would have any spies left," he wrote.

Thomas's argument seems to suggest that two wrongs can make a right: The US did wrong. Pollard did wrong. If the US can be forgiven, then Pollard must be forgiven.

Normally this kind of logic does not apply, but this time it must. Pollard's life sentence is the longest, harshest sentence in the history of the United States for the one count of passing classified information to an ally with which he was charged. The usual sentence is two to four years.

The US government's own damage assessments, now declassified, put the lie to allegations of damage against Pollard. Even Caspar Weinberger, the former US defense secretary who drove Pollard's life sentence, recanted before he died, admitting that the case against Pollard was greatly exaggerated.

Nevertheless, Pollard has not been able to receive justice in the United States for nearly three decades. All indications are that he never will. Nor has any humane consideration ever been extended to him because of his failing health.

Perhaps righteous indignation will be effective where justice and humanity have failed. If enough of a ruckus to free Pollard is raised now by all those who, like Cal Thomas, find the American administration's hypocrisy hard to stomach, then indeed, there may be enough momentum created to motivate Pollard's release.

Pollard's petition for executive clemency - his final hope - has been sitting on Obama's desk since October 2010. All it requires is a stroke of the president's pen.

Speaking at a security conference in New York last week, former CIA director James Woolsey renewed his long-standing call for Pollard's release. Asked if he had a message to send to Obama, Woolsey responded that he would tell the president to forget that Pollard is a Jew and just release him. Indeed.

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