Jonathan Pollard: It’s Time to Let Him Go

by Jerrold L. Sobel

Having been convicted of multiple murders in 1998, one of which the body still has not been found, Loren Herzog was released from Prison in Stockton California this past July, having served less than 10 years for his crimes.

Dec. 7, 1968 Pontiac, Michigan. Having been a suspect in the murders of several women in the Wolverine state, Nolan Ray George was convicted of second degree murder of a woman, Frances Ann Brown. After several mistrials, in 1973 he began serving 17 1/2-25 years in prison. Credited with 8 years, he was released 7 years later…. No, this isn’t a transition into a “Law and Order” or a “CSI” police story. It’s just a circuitous way of making a point.

Jonathan Pollard, on March 4, 1987 began serving a life sentence at the Federal Prison in Butler, North Carolina for the crime of espionage. To this date, 25 years later, he still languishes at that facility. Please be certain of one thing, this isn’t going to be some tear jerk, sugar coated, die for Jonathan Pollard story. What he did was dastardly. To betray a country whose constitution you’ve sworn to uphold is nothing short of despicable, no matter how righteous the cause. Sanctimonious motivations aside, allegedly he also admitted to receiving $10,000 in cash and a $1500.00 a month stipend for additional classified material to be given to his Israeli handler, an air force colonel. So let there be no doubt, Pollard is not a choir boy. However, the plea agreement that was offered by the prosecution and signed onto by Pollard was not recognized by the presiding judge.

The terms of the agreement Pollard signed onto allowed him to plead guilty to: “One count of conspiracy to deliver national defense information to a foreign government.” By doing so, his wife Anne also was allowed to plead out for her complicity in the crime. She served 3 years of a 5 year term and was released. In accordance with the plea, and to avoid life imprisonment, Pollard agreed to cooperate fully with a government espionage assessment team and pledged non-disclosure of sensitive material he had privy to. The judge, Aubrey Robinson Jr. wasn’t having any of it, threw out the plea, and sentenced him to life imprisonment. So where are the mitigating factors?

From a legal standpoint, I’m not a lawyer, there might not be any. What is quite clear, from the time Pollard entered his plea in May 1986 to his sentencing ten months later, the government continually upped the ante on him. No longer content with the second tier of the espionage statute to which he plead guilty: “to the advantage of a foreign nation,” they went after him on the more severe first: “to the injury of the United States.” The judge simply failed to honor the deal brokered between the defense and the prosecution. Following this harsh sentence, Pollard did file one of several appeals that dealt with this issue but was denied in a two to one ruling for failure of his original attorneys to file the appeal in a timely manner. On a technicality, Pollard has effectively been denied his day in court. Other than pure vindictiveness, it makes you wonder why all these years he’s been held back from withdrawing his plea and allowed to take his chances with a jury trial. From the outset, the whole idea behind the plea was to avoid the life term which he nevertheless received.

Most reports from credible sources claim then Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger, in a 46 page supplemental report contained in a pre-sentencing “Victims Impact Statement,” excoriated Pollard and exaggerated the harm caused by his crime. The judge then decreed the maximum sentence. Is this justice? Maybe in Iran, but not in this wonderful country. What’s worse, by their own admission in 1994, government sources acknowledge, “no one died as a result of the Pollards.” Think of where you were and all the things you’ve done over the past 25 years, Pollard has been rotting in jail all this time. Did he deserve a stiff sentence? No doubt. But life in prison for selling information to a friendly government. By any enlightened standards, that’s Draconian, it’s overkill. it’s time to set him free. Most disturbing, his incarceration almost from the beginning became more about politics than justice.

For years, rumors have swirled that Arafat, during the laughable “final status” talks told Clinton that Pollard should not be released unless the Israelis acquiesce to a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. It sounds silly, no actually ludicrous until you read last week’s news reports.

There have been reports, denied by the Israeli government that Netanyahu has offered a 3 month extension of the construction moratorium in exchange for Pollard’s release. According to Israeli Army Radio, such a deal is on the table but is rightfully shunned in other areas. Israeli Minister of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs, Yuli Edelstein dismisses this notion as a “cheap spin” and “trafficking in Pollard’s suffering.” Danny Dayan, the head of The Council of Jewish Communities in Judea Samaria and Gaza was even more pointed characterizing the idea as nothing short of paying blackmail. A sentiment, including this writer, few can argue with.

So the wrap up of this sad saga comes down to this, murderers, rapists, and repeat offenders of the worst order are routinely released well before 15 years in Prison. Jonathan Pollard has languished in jail for the past 25 years for selling secrets to a friendly power which caused no loss of life or political adversity to the interests of the United States. With no excuse for his criminality, he gave the Israelis intelligence what arguably should have been shared with the them to begin with: The information the U.S. was withholding from Israel included Syrian, Iraqi, Libyan and Iranian nuclear, chemical, and biological warfare capabilities which were being developed for use against, guess who? If you picked Israel you’re right. It also included information on ballistic missile development by these countries and information on planned terrorist attacks against Israeli civilian targets.

In any event:

    * Pollard has been serving a life sentence for crime he did not plead to.
    * Having spent 25 years in prison, it’s the harshest penalty anyone has served for espionage since the execution of the Rosenbergs.
    * Starting with Yitzhak Rabin successive Israeli governments have requested his release.
    * He requested and was granted Israeli citizenship in 1995; he should be immediately freed and allowed to emigrate there.
    * For justice to finally prevail in this case, Pollard should be immediately released from prison on legal, humanitarian, and compassionate grounds, not as a political pawn.

For those interested in efforts to free Jonathan Pollard, please (see attachment).

November 5, 2010 | 5 Comments »

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5 Comments / 5 Comments

  1. Pollard is threatening to reveal a lot of details embarrassing to Israeli intelligence personnel upon his release . Israel would more likely prefer him to remain where he is.

    Source: The War on the Jews-Loftus, Aaron- page 191

  2. No, Ira. The problem is even from an American’s point of view, Pollard’s sentence is disproportionate to far worse US espionage case sentences. That in addition to the US government shirking it’s plea bargain agreement with Pollard makes this entire case one big anti-Semitic stench. What we call in Ivirt “Eifah ve’Eifah” – essentially different measures for different people. You need to read the article again.

  3. We, Israeli Jews and citizens, are correct in doing everything in out power to release him. He did it for us, for the state of Israel.
    All those Americans who believe in the American Justice system are correct in demanding he serves his time in full.He did it against the United States of America.
    Now, who’s right?
    It’s the “To be or not to be” question: To be an American Jew, Or Jewish American, Your final judgment should be in agreement to who you believe are you.
    Personally I would be a much stronger supporter if he would openly Plea. If he didn’t do anything for Israel Why would I defend him?. But I don’t really believe it’s the case.
    But I do find the comparison between Psychopathic killers such as Nolan Ray George or loren Herzog a deep insalt to Jonathan pollard. Igor Sutygain would be a much better comparison.

  4. Interesting note…I happened to meet former Senator Norm Coleman last year as he was stumping for Mayor Giulani. I inquired about the possible release of Pollard and he responded that mine was the first time he had heard a concern. Speaks volumes for the professional Jewish establishment.

  5. I don’t disagree conclusions that he should be immediately released. Any or no reason will serve as long as he is out of there.

    That he took a few bucks makes him in your view “So let there be no doubt, Pollard is not a choir boy”

    Question: Where have you been for the last 25 years?

    Pollard is antisemitic Americas club over the Jewish community and a reminder to Israel who is boss.

    I would take a not so choir boy Pollard over 99% of all American Jews. He should be defended and when necessary emulated not your apologetic plea for his release. That said, I support your call for his release.