Jonathan Pollard: A Tale of Injustice

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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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  • g_jochnowitz

    Israel is the most hated country on earth.
    If Pollard were released from jail, the world would scream, "It's the power of the Israeli lobby!"
    Think of the many Presidents, Democrats and Republicans, who could have shortened his sentence but didn't dare to–or didn't want to.

  • TimN

    - Who says the information he passed on should have been given to Israel anyway? What information? How did he know what Israel was getting through proper channels? Since when does Pollard get to make that decision?
    – He was entrusted with sensitive government information. He sold, not gave, sold information to a foreign power.
    – The information he was in possession of, passed or attempted to pass included radio signals information, information regarding China- of what use is this to Israel except to trade? He also apparently sold information to South Africa and attempted to sell to Pakistan- barely an ally.
    – Israel may be an ally but they are a foreign power and once they have information they can use it or trade wherever they like as they find useful to them, not to us.
    – Are Jews allowed to have dual loyalties- when it means handling sensitive information- or are they expected to be loyal American citizens?
    – If Israel is so upset about what happens to Pollard then maybe they shouldn't recruit or use American citizens.
    Personally I've always been a strong supporter of Israel. I'm hardly an Israel basher. I am left cold by their whining on this issue though.

    • Sioux-san

      One word for you, Tim: Proportionality….
      Punishment fitting the crime is not whining….Pollard went into prison for life because a murderous traitor (Ames) lied to authorities about Pollard. This has all been proven. Have you no mercy in your heart?

    • Justin Kaisse

      Do you think that former CIA CHIEF James Woosley and Former AG Michael Mukasey, and former Head of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee are whining when they join a slew of top American officials and sitting Congressmen and Senators to release Jonathan Pollard because his sentence is "severely disproportionate". Pollard is the only person in the history of the USA to receive a life sentence for the one count of espionage for the benefit of an ally that he was charged with. The median sentence is 2 to 4 years. Pollard has served 26 years!!!!!

    • Maxie

      And why is it that when anything bad happens to a Jew it's automatically considered to be an act of anti-Semitism?

  • Amused

    And WHY is that ? Pollards job was tracking ship movements , and he NAILED the arms for Iran deal . As far as reloeasing him or even let him finish his sentence in Israel ? That'll NEVER happen , and it's got NOTHING AT ALL TO DO with the "world screaming about the Israel Lobby " that's a B.S. red herring .It's the old Reagan .H.Bush crew , Cap Wiemberger , Baker and all their freinds in the Intelligence Community that will ensure Pollard dies in a US prison . Spies who have done far worse than Pollard , got off with lighter sentences or were traded etc.

  • Threshhold

    "Jonathan Pollard was tried and convicted in November 1985…"

    "Tried"? — What in blazes are you talking about?!!

    Pollard was NEVER tried — that's just it:

    He was CHEATED out of his 6th Amendment right to a trial

    — cheated by govt prosecutors — who reneged on the plea bargain whereby Pollard gave up his right to trial, and told the FBI everything he knew (verified by multiple polygraphs) in return for a govt promise to seek a reduced sentence

    — whereupon the govt broke its word.

    There was NO trial and Pollard is still entitled to one.

    • Justin Kaisse

      Indeed, Pollard never had a trial. He got his life sentence as the result of a plea bargain which he honored and the USA violated.
      Let me also add that before he died, Cap Weinberger admitted that the Pollard case was a "minor matter" that was blown out of all proportion to serve another agenda. See Cap Weinberger, Reagan and Bush are gone. But it appears that their agenda to use Pollard against Israel and the Jews lives on. Otherwise, given the massive support for his release by American officials who want to end a clear injustice, why is Pollard still in prison after 26 years?!!!

    • USSLiberty

      Look at the list of attorneys who have represented Pollard from the start. They include Harvard Univ. Law Prof. Alan Dershowitz. Mr. Pollard pleaded guilty and was sentenced. Why is he still in jail? Well, look a the comments of his supporters for the answer. Neither he or any of them admit wrongdoing nor apologize tot he United States. That would be the one approach not tried. And, as for not being released to attend his father's funeral, the next time someone wishes to spy against the U.S. perhaps they should think about the loss of freedom.

  • MAS

    Not proud to be an American regarding this situation. Very sad and very shameful that America would do this to an American citizen. All his rights have been violated but where are all the liberal screamers to help him? To help his wife? Sad and disappointing; actually, shameful!

    • mike

      Very sad an American citizen would do this to his own country. Israel has the most active spy campaign against the U.S. on any American ally. And it has been shown they are willing to use that info in bartering with the Chinese or Russians. In spite of 3 billion a year in aid, security council resolutions vetoed, loan guarantees, and weapons, America has to still constantly watch its back. Freeing Pollard would just be more incentive for those thinking about spying for Israel, that maybe if they do it and get caught, an effective lobbying effort might free them. Pollard will and should spend the rest of his life in prison. I think the only way we should free him is if Israel makes a permanent peace with the Palestinians. Then at the end we might could free him. But not for a stop gap like Oslo. A true conflict ending peace. otherwise he should rot in prison.

  • Flipside

    ITAI supports espionage against the United States. This article is proof.

    • ObamaYoMoma

      You are a ubiquitous anti-Semite.

      • Flipside

        You’re just plain wrong. I am not against Jews, just because some very detestable activity is done by certain Jews and I revile it. I’m just being fair.

  • allen

    This conflict reinforces stereotypes that could be seen as anti-Semitic. Israel and some of its supporters actions mimic old Jewish canards. And while committing those stereotypes argue that no criticism is valid because it is antisemitism. It is a fool proof way to do whatever they want. They do have a lobby named AIPAC. They do keep expanding more settlements and demolishing Palestinian homes while claiming that it is for (security) in what looks like manipulation. It does appear that many (not all or not even necessarily most) but many U.S. Jews care more about Israel than the U.S. (How else could you write an article supporting a spy against the country you reside in.) They do seem greedy. (How many more billion do they want of from broke U.S. tax payers to put up some more settlements so we can borrow from the Chinese while insult American leaders: e.g. George H. W. Bush or Obama) The actions of Israel fit all these criteria. They have become their own stereotype to a tee! And enjoy every minute of it. While saying that is just an old Jewish canard you anti-Semite.

  • Shawn

    You left out a few things:

    Pollard was paid a lot of money by the spies for Israel.
    He SOLD the information for his OWN enrichment.
    The notion of Pollard's loyalty to Israel is a rotten lie.

    He was arrested in front of the Israeli embassy.
    The embassy locked him out, because he made them pay.
    He used them for money. And they bribed him to violate
    his security clearance.

    If Pollard had not been extremely greedy, the embassy might
    have taken him and and offered him asylum.

    When Israel catches a spy, they throw away the key,
    if they let the spy live at all.

    Pollard is lucky he didn't get executed like the Rosenbergs.