The Jonathan Pollard case, one of the worst miscarriages of so-called American justice, is finally due to end in November, 2015, with the release of Pollard after serving his full thirty-year federal prison sentence for what has been inaccurately termed spying for Israel. No other American has ever been sentenced to anything like thirty years in prison for allegedly spying for a close American ally. There was considerable doubt about the appropriateness of that interminable sentence when it was imposed in 1985, after a federal judge violated the plea agreement with Pollard that he would plead guilty in exchange for a sentence of not more than twenty years in prison. It seems that some very powerful people really had it in for Jonathan Pollard, the State of Israel, and the American Jewish community.
This is a most appropriate time to examine thoroughly, and critique, the reasons for this awful injustice.
The facts of the Jonathan Pollard case are summarized accurately and effectively on the Justice for Jonathan Pollard website:
- Jonathan Pollard was a civilian American Naval intelligence analyst. In the mid 1980's (circa 1983-1984), Pollard discovered that information vital to Israel's security was being deliberately withheld by certain elements within the U.S. national security establishment.
- Israel was legally entitled to this vital security information according to a 1983 Memorandum of Understanding between the two countries.
- The information being withheld from Israel included Syrian, Iraqi, Libyan and Iranian nuclear, chemical, and biological warfare capabilities - being developed for use against Israel. It also included information on ballistic missile development by these countries and information on planned terrorist attacks against Israeli civilian targets.
- When Pollard discovered this suppression of information and asked his superiors about it, he was told to "mind his own business", and that "Jews get nervous talking about poison gas; they don't need to know." He also learned that the objective of cutting off the flow of information to Israel was to severely curtail Israel's ability to act independently in defense of her own interests.
- Pollard was painfully aware that Israeli lives were being put in jeopardy as a result of this undeclared intelligence embargo. He did everything he possibly could to stop this covert policy and to have the legal flow of information to Israel restored. When his efforts met no success, he began to give the information to Israel directly.
- Jonathan Pollard was an ideologue, not a mercenary. The FBI concluded after nine months of polygraphing that Pollard acted for ideological reasons only, not for profit. This fact was recognized by the sentencing judge who declined to fine Pollard. Furthermore, on May 11, 1998, Israel formally acknowledged Jonathan Pollard had been a bona fide Israeli agent. This fact wiped out any remaining doubt about Jonathan Pollard's motives. Being an official agent is, by definition, the polar opposite of being a mercenary.
- In 1985, his actions were discovered by the U.S. government. His instructions from Israel were to seek refuge in the Israeli embassy in Washington. When Pollard and his former wife sought refuge there, they were at first received and then summarily thrown out into the waiting arms of the FBI.
- Jonathan Pollard never had a trial. At the request of both the U.S. and Israeli governments, he entered into a plea agreement, which spared both governments a long, difficult, expensive and potentially embarrassing trial.
- Jonathan Pollard fulfilled his end of the plea agreement, cooperating fully with the prosecution.
- Nevertheless, Pollard received a life sentence and a recommendation that he never be paroled - in complete violation of the plea agreement he had reached with the government.
- Jonathan Pollard was never indicted for harming the United States.
- Jonathan Pollard was never indicted for compromising codes, agents, or war plans.
- Jonathan Pollard was never charged with treason. [Legally, treason is a charge that is only applicable when one spies for an enemy state in time of war.]
- Jonathan Pollard was indicted on only one charge: one count of passing classified information to an ally, without intent to harm the United States.
- Prior to sentencing, then-Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger delivered a 46-page classified memorandum to the sentencing judge. Since then, neither Pollard nor any of his cleared attorneys have ever been allowed to access the memorandum to challenge the false charges it contains--a clear violation of Pollard's constitutional rights.
The final point in this amazing list of injustices done to Jonathan Pollard for giving our close ally, Israel, information to which Israel was fully entitled under its memorandum of understanding with the U.S., is particularly interesting, as it points to the major reason behind the excessive sentence given Pollard.
Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, or Cap the Knife as he was un-affectionately known for his role as both a corporate and government cost cutter and budget destroyer, had made clear his intense dislike for Jews in general, and Israel and Pollard in particular, eminently clear. It was made personally clear to me when my office of the Development Corporation for Israel tried to sell Israeli securities to United Technologies in the 1980s, when Cap the Knife held key posts there. We were totally unable to even get a meeting with either him or any associate or deputy, our appeals were rejected out of hand. One top official of UT commented on Weinberger s own Jewish roots stemming from his father and paternal grandparents by saying that Cap lost his circumcision on the way to Hartford from New York.
Caspar Weinberger carried his dislike for Jews and Israel forward when he took over the Defense Department, pointedly blocking the previous flow of vital information on Israeli security matters from the United States, pursuant to that memorandum of understanding. Challenging these violations may have been bad judgment by Pollard, but it was not espionage. It should be noted that Israel did not reciprocate against America, and indeed warned the United States that its Marine Barracks in Beirut, Lebanon was at risk of a terror attack, but President Reagan and Cap the Knife took not action on that information, resulting in the death of over 270 of our Marines, an avoidable tragedy due to Reagan Administration negligence, as outlined in my own book Turning the Tides.
It will take many more decades before we find out the contents of that super-secret memo delivered to the sentencing judge in the Pollard case by Cap the Knife. Indeed, we may never know just what the false charges and despicable lies are hidden in the document. Cap the Knife died of old age years ago, and in any event refused to even acknowledge that secret document let alone reveal its contents. But, here is my take, which comes from someone closely involved in the Pollard Case after his own sister invited me to participate, while serving as director of the Development Corporation for Israel office in Hartford, Connecticut not far from where she was living at the time: Jonathan Pollard was severely and excessively punished for giving Israel information to which that nation was fully entitled under its memorandum of understanding with the United States -- and, beyond that, for being a practicing Jew. His punishment was engineered by a practicing anti-semite with Jewish roots. This is far from the first time for such a scenario -- think: Adolf Hitler -- nor is it likely to be the last.