America’s perfidious plastering of Jonathan Pollard

Jonathan Pollard

Not only the British are masters at perfidy. The Americans have matched British treachery in their outrageous treatment of Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard who is now entering his 30th year of imprisonment, and who just had his request for parole turned down – on patently false claims:

Gil Hoffman in the Jerusalem Post explains Pollard’s parole plastering:

Today, Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard enters the 30th year of his life sentence for the crime of passing classified information to an ally. As he does so, he is aware that yet another possible door to his long-awaited freedom has just slammed shut.

Many have questioned why Pollard never even tried the parole path and focused instead on seeking clemency – asking presidents of the United States to commute his life sentence to the time he had already served.

But after so many years of failure, that strategy was secretly reconsidered and replaced last year, according to documents and information revealed exclusively to The Jerusalem Post.

Pollard finally applied for parole in December 2013. The person who persuaded him to take that step was the man in whose hands his fate lies: US President Barack Obama.

Obama’s statements when he came to Israel in March 2013 left no doubt about what approach Pollard should take. The president ended hopes that he would announce clemency for Pollard during the visit as part of a so-called charm offensive.

But he hinted that if Pollard were to apply for parole, he would be treated like any other prisoner.

Peres’s message to Obama was to be the following: You don’t have to grant clemency. In fact, you can distance yourself from the matter completely. Just privately let the US Justice Department know that you don’t oppose paroling Pollard and letting him leave for Israel.

Obama would not need to get his hands dirty, just keep the commitment he had made to Israelis 15 months earlier to treat Pollard fairly, like any other prisoner, and let his parole be assessed naturally on the merits of his case.

Following the meeting, Peres’s diplomatic adviser Nadav Tamir reported back to the lawyers with good news: The message had indeed been delivered.

Peres’s office leaked to the press that Obama had personally referred the matter to his attorney-general and close confidant Eric Holder – the head of the American Justice Department and the chief law-enforcement officer of the US government.

“The entire nation is interested in releasing Pollard, and I am the emissary of the nation,” Peres told reporters after the meeting. “I don’t think of myself as Shimon. I am the representative of the State of Israel, and I speak in the name of its people.”

But he added a realistic yet disheartening caveat when he vowed to “continue to work for Pollard’s release after I finish my term.”

Pollard entered the room skeptical but cautiously optimistic, ready to see what his first parole hearing would be like.

But all hopes that the hearing would be fair were dashed immediately. The government’s representatives spoke menacingly, treated Pollard with contempt, prevented Lauer from making his case, and made it clear that the Israeli agent would not see the Jewish state any time soon, if ever. Those present described the hearing as a “kangaroo court” and even “a lynching.”

The rejection letter that the parole commission sent Pollard in August, which the Post exclusively obtained, was also harsh in tone.

“The breadth and scope of the classified information that you sold to the Israelis was the greatest compromise of US security to that date,” the letter said.

“You passed thousands of Top Secret documents to Israeli agents, threatening US relations in the Middle East among the Arab countries.”

The parole commission complained that had it not been for Pollard, the US could have received intelligence from Israel in return for the information he had provided.

THE MAIN grounds for the appeal were that the commission had rejected parole on the basis of a 1987 classified memorandum written by then-US defense secretary Caspar Weinberger, which was false at the time and has proven grossly inaccurate in hindsight.

A federal grand jury indicted Weinberger in June 1992 on two counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice in the Iran-Contra Affair. But president George H.W. Bush pardoned him six months later, before the case went to trial.

The defense secretary and other top US officials at the time were angry at Israel for the June 1981 bombing of Saddam Hussein’s Osirak nuclear reactor. Boston University international relations professor emeritus Angelo Codevilla, who had access to intelligence information as a staff member of the Senate’s Select Committee on Intelligence, told the Post in a phone interview that the officials were upset because they were building up Hussein as an ally and a counterweight to Iran.

That was why the US was not giving Israel information it had agreed to give the Jewish state. Pollard supplied Israel with some of the most vital information to its security – which was being withheld – further angering the US.

Despite his many years in prison, Pollard never had an actual trial. At the request of both the US and Israeli governments, he entered into a plea bargain, which spared both governments a long, difficult, expensive and potentially embarrassing trial.

Pollard fulfilled his end of the bargain, cooperating with the prosecution. Nevertheless, he received a life sentence and a recommendation that he never receive parole – in complete violation of the plea agreement he had reached with the government.

A form in Pollard’s parole file that the prosecution compiled in 1987 says it was the Weinberger memo that persuaded the judge to seek a life sentence. Pollard’s lawyers say that if a memo to which they cannot receive access is being used to deny their client parole, Pollard is not receiving fair or equitable treatment as Obama promised Israelis he would.

That was the premise of a letter to Obama this week from former senior US officials with firsthand knowledge of the classified files in the Pollard case. In the letter, they renewed their past calls for Obama to commute Pollard’s sentence, due to the parole process failing.

“We write to protest the unjust parole process,” they wrote. “Our review of the parole commission decision compels our strongest objections to the conclusions of the commission and our dismay with the deeply flawed process.”

The officials said the commission had written falsely that Pollard’s espionage “was the greatest compromise of US security to that date,” a charge they said was not supported by any evidence in the public record or the classified file.

Korb notes that while he has never seen any concrete damage Pollard caused the US, there were spies like John Walker, who gave the Soviets the information to help track American submarines, and Robert Hanssen, who gave the Soviets a complete list of American double agents and told them about an FBI tunnel beneath the Soviet embassy in Washington.

Over the years, Pollard was falsely accused of compromising American agents in Eastern Europe, when it was actually the head of the CIA’s Soviet/Eastern Europe Division, Aldrich Ames, who had committed the crime and then blamed Pollard. Information Ames gave the USSR is estimated to have led to compromising at least 100 US intelligence operations and to the execution of at least 10 American sources.

Codevilla says it should have been obvious that Pollard could not have relayed such information, because his access was limited.

Malcolm Hoenlein, who has headed the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations since shortly after Pollard’s arrest, tells the Post in a phone interview that getting Pollard free means persuading not only Obama, but also five US government agencies. Yet he is up to the task.

“It is an outrageous situation, a tragedy that has got to end,” he says.

Read the whole thing if you have the stomach for it. There is no possible crime that pollard might have committed that could possibly justify the outrageous sentence that he has been handed and the disgusting treatment that he has received.

The only hope remaining for Pollard’s release now is some activism on the part of the newly elected Republican congress, as Jerusalem Online reports:

Pollard’s sole remaining hope is a Presidential pardon. As long as Obama is in the White house, this is unlikely to happen. The current administration regards Pollard as a bargaining chip, and any pardon would only happen if it was part of a US brokered agreement Israel-Palestinian agreement. Another possibility is that he could be used as a chip to get Israel to release Marwan Barghouti, arguably the only Palestinian leader with the potential to be the Palestinian Mandela.

A third possibility is that the new Congressional Republican leadership, most of whom are close to Netanyahu (and Republican hyper-donor Sheldon Adelson) make Pollard’s release part of a budgetary deal with the White House. It is believed Adelson has already begun discreet preparing the ground in this regard.                  

When Pollard’s treatment is taken together with the sentences of spies who committed much worse crimes against America, Pollard’s sentence smacks of antisemitism.

It is decades long past time that Jonathan Pollard should have been released.

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8 Responses to America’s perfidious plastering of Jonathan Pollard

  1. Bernard Ross says:

    ask george bush and shimon peres the real story

    • anneinpt says:

      The original event took place in 1985, back in Ronnie Reagan’s time. Israel’s behaviour was unforgivable – not the espionage which every ally does against each other, no matter what they say – but the way Israeli leaders rejected Pollard at first and denied all connection.

      But no matter how treacherous Israel’s behaviour was, the Americans’ behaviour has gone above and beyond all reason. Even former CIA chiefs, senators and cabinet members are saying his punishment has gone beyond anything reasonable and that he should be released.

      Considering that Ames and other Russian spies, who caused real damage to America, as opposed to Pollard who only harmed American pride, only received 5-10 years in prison, Pollard’s life without parole EVER is unreasonable, unfair, unjust and antisemitic.

      Besides which, America reneged on the plea bargain which is also illegal.

  2. peteca1 says:

    Pollard is trapped in the “Twilight Zone” of US-Israel realations. Unfortunately for him, that zone is getting darker, not lighter. I’m not sure how he gets out – if at all.

    Pete, USA

  3. Reality says:

    the various US administrations have always been some sort or danger to Israel be it with witholding impt. information,stopping us from selling or recieving arms etc..No one should be surprised.Just a shame that we haven’t played the same game.At various times we’ve caught Americans spying or witholding info,drug dealing etc.Why haven’t those individuals been thrown into jail forever?Mind you if murderous terrorists can be released then what can I hope for?I actually think perhaps a civil suit of criminality should be brought agaisr the current administration.We wont win butat least it”ll make them think

    • anneinpt says:

      Yep, you’re right. I was furious a few years ago when we caught some American spies and just sent them home on the next plane. why didn’t we hold them as “hostages” in exchange for Pollard?

      The idea of suing the Administration is a good one. They reneged on the plea bargain which is surely illegal. I wonder if anyone has ever thought of doing that.

  4. Aridog says:

    Donning my tinfoil hat now: Is it possible that Pollard was set up and then made a stooge to politics? For the record, I think he should have been released and allowed to go free long ago.

    • anneinpt says:

      I don’t think it started out like that. I think the Americans were absolutely furious and were determined to punish Israel. Israel realised this and I think that’s why we didn’t fight hard enough for his release.

      BUT – as the years have gone by and:

      a) it has become increasingly obvious that the damage that US officials claimed was caused by Pollard either didn’t happen at all, or was caused by other spies; and
      b) those other (Russian) spies who caused so much damage to US security and endangered the lives of American agents didn’t receive sentences anywhere near as severe as Pollard’s;
      c) it has emerged that the State Dept. reneged on the plea bargain,

      it has become hard to ignore that Pollard has indeed become the fall guy being held hostage by the Americans to pressurise Israel into suicidal pacts with the Arabs.

      Also the fact that Pollard has not been allowed to seek parole, or was denied it even after 30 years in prison, is way way way beyond anything ever seen unless for the most heinous murderer.

      The fact that US officials, including the original prosecutors are now calling for his release speaks volumes.

      So keep your tinfoil hat and make a few more, to distribute around these parts.

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