Today, November 21st 2014, Jonathan Pollard begins his thirtieth year in prison.
The day before yesterday, the US Department of Justice once again torpedoed his request for conditional release and made it clear they would continue to do so.
How can one explain the fact that although Pollard was NEVER convicted of treason, but merely of passing classified information to a friendly state, he received a life sentence, with a recommendation that he never be paroled – in contravention of the plea bargain without which it is by no means certain he would have been convicted?
How can one explain the fact that then incumbent Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger delivered a secret memorandum to the judge prior to sentencing – to which neither Pollard nor any of the lawyers who represented him then or later have ever been allowed access, apparently containing false charges which led to Pollard being sentenced as if he had been convicted of treason? In other words, Pollard was sentenced, not for the crime of which he was charged, but for other crimes, against which he had no opportunity to defend himself. If this is not denial of due process, I don’t know what is!
The excuse for the US administration’s opposition to any clemency for Pollard, who, today, will have been twenty nine years behind bars and who is suffering from severe health problems, is that his release would “constitute contempt for the severity of the offense and promote a lack of respect for the law.”
“Severity of the offense“???
Just to remind you, the information Pollard passed to Israel was not information concerning American troop movements or American spies, not information which endangered American lives, but information on WMD capabilities of Israel’s Arab neighbours – information vital to Israel’s security, which the US was supposed to share with Israel under the terms of a 1983 Memorandum of Understanding between the two nations, but which certain elements within the US security and political establishment deliberately withheld from Israel, in order to weaken the Jewish State and make her more malleable and vulnerable to US pressure to make dangerous concessions to the Arabs. For this, he received a life sentence with a recommendation that he never be paroled, as if he had actually committed treason by passing classified information to an enemy country in time of war. In comparison, Russian spies who most definitely caused harm to the US, received far more lenient sentences. Anna Chapman, was deported without serving any jail time at all. Moreover, the usual sentence for passing classified information to a friendly country – the crime of which Pollard was convicted – is between six to eight years in prison, with actual jail time prior to release averaging between two and four years.
Jonathan Pollard has already served twenty nine years of his sentence – far more than any other person convicted of passing classified information to a friendly country. In his secret memorandum (small parts of which have now been made public), Caspar Weinberger contended that Pollard’s actions had damaged US relations with “friendly Arab countries”.
It is hard to see how. The only possible damage of that sort could come from the revelation that the US had been spying on “friendly” countries and Israel would hardly be likely to reveal this as such a revelation would, of necessity, reveal to those “friendly (though not to Israel) countries” the extent of the intelligence Israel had on them.
“ a lack of respect for the law.”
Whereas illegally spying on millions of one’s own citizens, as the US government has done, promotes respect for the law, I suppose!
It is hard to escape the suspicion that it is Israel, as much as Pollard, that the US is seeking to punish. Now, admittedly, for Israel to spy on a friendly nation such as the US is – well, not very nice.
No, seriously. It is not nice to spy on one’s friends. It’s even worse to use a friend’s own citizens for that purpose.
I am sure Chancellor Angela Merkel would agree with me.
But it goes beyond that. How can one explain the treatment of Pollard in prison? What reason could there possibly be for the refusal of the prison authorities to allow him compassionate leave to visit his 97-year-old, terminally ill father one last time? His request to do so was denied, without any explanation. Nor was this piece of spite enough for them. Pollard wasn’t even allowed to attend his father’s funeral – just as he had been denied permission to attend his mother’s funeral, when she passed away ten years earlier.
Could such systematic vindictiveness possibly be – because Jonathan Pollard is a Jew?