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Dr. Lawrence Korb, former assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration, charged in a letter to President Obama dated September 27, 2010 that “Pollard’s life sentence does not fit the crime.” Dr. Korb “called on Obama to grant Pollard clemency.” Korb wrote:
Jonathan Pollard is the only person in the history of the United States to receive a life sentence for passing classified information to an American ally. Based on my first-hand knowledge, I can say with confidence that the severity of Pollard’s sentence is a result of an almost visceral dislike of Israel and the special place it occupies in our foreign policy on the part of my boss at the time, Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger. Secretary Weinberger submitted two affidavits to the court in order to convince the judge to give Pollard a harsher sentence than the one requested by the government, despite Pollard admitting guilt, plea bargaining and cooperating with the government. The government committed to not seeking a life sentence but due to the Weinberger Affidavits, the redacted version of which I have read, Mr. Pollard received a disproportionate life sentence. Secretary Weinberger omitted his crucial involvement in the Pollard case from his memoirs and when asked by the famed investigative journalist Edwin Black, about the omission, Weinberger indifferently responded, “Because it was, in a sense, a very minor matter, but made very important.” Asked to explain, Weinberger continued, “As I say, the Pollard matter was comparatively minor. It was made far bigger than its actual importance.” When asked why this was so, Weinberger replied “I don’t know why – it just was.” Mr. Pollard was not charged with harming America and has repeatedly expressed remorse for his actions. Furthermore, the average sentence for his offense is 2-4 years and today the maximum sentence is 10 years. Justice would best be served by commuting Pollard’s sentence to the time he has already spent in prison.
The double-standard applied in Pollard’s case smacks of nothing less than unadulterated anti-Semitism. Pollard was given a maximum sentence because he passed information to Israel, information that the U.S. as an ally, friend, and protector should have passed on to Israel anyway. Israel has never done the same to American or Israelis recruited by Washington to spy on Israel.
Washington used Pollard to punish Israel. For comparison, a former U.S. Navy sailor who provided secret information about planned ship movements to al-Qaeda received a maximum 10-year prison sentence. The former sailor, Hassan Abu-Jihaad, was convicted in 2008 of disclosing secrets on ship movements to potentially enable an attack similar to the one carried out against the USS Cole, which killed 17 U.S. sailors. Hassan Abu-Jihaad will be eligible for parole in six years while Pollard is rotting in prison, his life destroyed. Pollard will probably never have children, his family is gone, and his state of health is in shambles.
Pollard’s actions were illegal, but not treasonous, and his punishment should have reflected this difference. The information he passed on to the Israelis did not endanger American lives or damage American interests. He and his former wife, Anne, acted upon what they considered “the right thing to do.” They were not motivated by greed, and Pollard maintained all along that he loved his country. The U.S. government should demonstrate its humanitarianism by releasing Pollard immediately, and end its bullying of its most trusted ally in the Middle East — Israel — through the person of Jonathan Pollard.
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