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January 6, 2014

Why Jonathan Pollard will die in prison

By David Turner

I have chosen a provocative title for this article because nearing his fourth decade in prison for a crime all others similarly charged see freedom within four years, Jonathan Pollard is no more likely to be freed under Barak Obama than under George W. Bush before him or Bill Clinton before him. From today it seems no exaggeration that, barring a miracle, a young and idealistic American Jew who chose to spy for Israel will be forced to pay the ultimate price for his decision.

Jonathan Pollard had serious medical conditions at the time of his arrest in his twenties. He remains seriously ill in his fifties. And, as I suggested above, barring Divine Intervention or Israel agreeing to some extreme presidential demands bordering on extortion, Jonathan Pollard will die in prison.

Why Jonathan Pollard will die in prison

“The punishment imposed,” wrote Weinberger, “should reflect the perfidy of the individual’s actions, the magnitude of the treason committed…”

“As I say, the Pollard matter was comparatively minor. It was made far bigger than its actual importance.” Pressed on why the case was made far bigger than its actual importance, Weinberger replied, “I don’t know why-it just was.” (Weinberger interview with Edwin Black, 2002)

I. The Legend begins

In a recent article appearing on-line Prof. Angelo Codevilla, a staff member of the Senate Intelligence Committee at the time Jonathan Pollard was arrested is quoted:

“Having been intimately acquainted with the materials that Pollard passed and with the sources and methods by which they were gathered, I would be willing to give expert testimony that Pollard is guilty of neither more nor less than what the indictment alleges.”

The allegation of “treason” which is represented as having influenced DC Circuit Judge Robinson to impose the life sentence was included in Weinberger’s unclassified “supplemental” memo:

“The punishment imposed should reflect the perfidy of the individual’s actions, the magnitude of the treason committed…” (emphasis added)

Prior to entering “government service” the defense secretary was a lawyer which suggest he might have known that he was using hyperbole and not “law” in describing Pollard guilty of “treason.” Just to make sure the slur would do maximal damage Weinberger repeated the charge to the press immediately leaving the judge’s chambers. Even a decade later, in a 1999 interview with Middle East Quarterly:

MEQ: You have been quoted saying that Jonathan Pollard “should have been shot.” Is this accurate?

Weinberger: Any traitor who did what he did should be shot.

Not Weinberger or any other high ranking Reagan Administration official involved in Irangate was ever called to answer for their crimes against the United States. And today as the consequence of a matter even its principle perpetrator Weinberger called, “comparatively minor,” Pollard’s “perfidy” appearing occasionally in the press the work of “unnamed administration officials” a tool distancing American Jews from Israel. And, after nearly thirty years in prison Jonathan Pollard, sentenced to life seems increasingly likely to serve out his life sentence in full.

II. Pollard violated the plea agreement

One week before the CIA released those documents described by Professor Codevilla the Agency asserted that Pollard was solely responsible for his harsh sentence:

“Pollard’s willingness to grant an interview to journalist Wolf Blitzer for The Jerusalem Post without obtaining advance approval of the resulting text from the Justice Department violated the terms of his plea bargain.”

At the time of the Blitzer interview Pollard was in a high security federal prison in Petersburg, Virginia. The only way Blitzer could possibly have met with the prisoner was with Justice Department approval! Certainly no lowly federal warden would have taken it upon himself to allow a journalist for an Israeli publication access to a high profile prisoner charged with espionage on behalf of Israel!

Put directly the meeting would have had to be accepted by the prisoner. But in order for the reporter actually enter the prison and meet with Pollard he would have first required the approval of the US Government. I, for example, might want to visit Pollard, and he might agree to the meeting. But only the prison could approve me for his visitor’s list. In simple words, Pollard’s “violation of the terms of his plea agreement” was a red herring, a setup to justify the “violation.” As the CIA statement makes clear, without a technical excuse, and without foreknowledge of the staged and dramatic “last minute” appearance in the courtroom by Weinberger, the judge would likely have had to go along with the government’s assurances to Pollard.

III. A spy in Naval Intelligence

Of all the military services the US Navy was reputed, still is considered, “least friendly” to minorities. So it is interesting that, having first been turned down by the CIA that Pollard the Zionist would find employment with Naval Intelligence. According to the Blitzer interviews Pollard raised red flags to co-workers and superiors almost immediately, and within months sought to have him fired. In an interview with the Washington Post then directory of Naval Intelligence Admiral Sumner Shapiro,

“dismissed Pollard as a “kook” and reduced his clearance. Later Pollard’s clearance was reinstated… ‘I wish the hell I’d fired him.’”

Inexplicably the rear admiral head of NIS was unable to fire or even enforce his own order reducing Pollard’s security clearance.

Not only did Pollard keep his job and his security clearance but he was serially increased in responsibilities and clearance, coincidentally finding himself responsible for intelligence regarding Israel’s enemy Arab states and terrorist organizations: precisely the information that the young romantic Zionist placed in a position to evaluate danger to Israel, would see was being withheld from Israel.

IV. The strange co-incidence of Irangate and the Pollard Affair

An interesting and overlooked piece of the Pollard “spy scandal” is that it hit the headlines at about the same time the Reagan Administration’s Iran-Contra Affair was coming unraveled.

In brief, Irangate was a Reagan Administration initiative involving the sale of arms to Iran (banned by Congress), and transferring funds to right-wing death squads attempting to overthrow Nicaragua’s left-wing Sandinista government (also banned by Congress). The administration had attempted to cover its involvement by using the Saudis and Israelis as cutouts. The Saudis served as administration bankers by launder monies involved in the transactions. At Reagan’s personal request Israel served as gun dealer intermediary between the administration and the Iranians. When the operation began to unravel administration insiders scrambled to provide a cover of deniability. At first the operation was described as an Israeli arms deal and the US as innocently involved. But in the end that was not credible. In a private note of December, 1985 Weinberger wrote:

“The disastrous November HAWK shipment prompted US officials to take direct control of the arms deals with Iran. Until then, Israel had been responsible for making the deliveries, for which the US agreed to replenish their stocks of American weapons.”

With Israel still in the crosshairs the Pollard Affair exploded in the media and eclipsing Irangate for the next two years, Congressional investigations and all.

V. The mysterious “Mr. X”

For a period of one and a half years, from the time of his arrest until his conviction, the Pollard Affair was daily front page, television news. Pollard was accused of an array of “harms” committed against the United States from selling information to China and South Africa, to exposing CIA agents to the Soviets. In fact American spies really were disappearing and turning up dead across East Europe and Russia. Since Pollard was recognized as an “amateur” he must have been directed in his espionage by someone higher up in US intelligence. That person was designated “Mr. X.”

“U.S. prosecutors and investigators believed that Pollard and his Israeli handlers were helped by another American, referred to as Mr. X, who probably was a senior administration official. Mr. X provided the reference numbers that helped Pollard pull out requested files from America’s most-secret intelligence computers.”

Since Pollard failed to name his US “handler” the Justice Department hinted he was obstructing the investigation, another “violation” of his “plea agreement” (over the entire pre-trial phase prosecutors repeatedly and publicly warned that Pollard was non-compliant one way or another and that this endangered his plea agreement). In the end there was no “Mr. X,” at least no mysterious “senior administration official” aiding Pollard’s activities. But there was in fact a Mr. X, a senior CIA officer feeding information to the administration in order to cover his own espionage for Russia. The Soviet Union’s mole in the CIA was Aldrich Ames, thirty-one year veteran and head of the clandestine operations in Eastern Europe. According to the FBI report on Ames,

“During the summer of 1985, Ames met several times with a Russian diplomat to whom he passed classified information about CIA and FBI human sources, as well as technical operations targeting the Soviet Union.”

Once Pollard was sentenced no amount of evidence contradicting the charges would move the administration to admit its error and reconsider the sentence. In 2010 Rafi Eitan, head of the Israeli spy agency that ran the Pollard said,

“at the time of Pollard’s sentencing in 1987, secret charges were laid against Pollard blaming him for the crimes of a Russian mole within American intelligence, Aldrich Ames. Pollard was neither informed of these charges nor given a chance to challenge them in a court of law.

“Eitan said the US steadfastly refused to release Pollard even after Ames was exposed and arrested in 1994, “for their own reasons.”

VI. Pollard and “the Jews”

As a regional director for Jewish National Fund in 1988 in Brooklyn and Queens I approached community leaders regarding how best to assist Jonathan Pollard. Uniformly the response was, “it’s being taken care of back-channel;” Pollard was expected to be quietly released to Israel. Reflecting rumor or faith, that response, “sha, shtil” reflects the age-old and realistic fear of our neighbors. And today, twenty-six years later, Pollard remains in prison no closer to release.

As the years, then decades passed it became increasingly obvious that Pollard is the victim of “special” treatment by the US Government.

His sentence is so harsh, so far outside norms that support for his release has come from previous supporters of his conviction. Among these are two men who were directly involved in events surrounding the Affair: Lawrence Korb was assistant defense secretary under Weinberger, and Dennis DeConcini headed the Senate intelligence committee. Other prominent and politically connected persons today supportive of a presidential decision to release Pollard include former CIA director, James Woolsey:

“When I was director, I looked into it carefully, and I opposed clemency then. But now some 20 years have passed and the whole point is to link sentence and comparable sentences. Anyone who thinks what he did is comparable to Ames and Hanssen has no understanding of what they did. If you are hung up on Pollard having spied for Israel, then pretend he is Filipino-American, Korean-American, or Greek-American spy (we have had all three) and the facts are otherwise the same, you’d conclude he ought to be released.”

(Ames and Hanssen both worked for the Soviet Union. Ames provided the names of CIA operatives working behind the Iron Curtain knowing their fate. Ames pointed the finger of blame on Pollard to direct suspicion from himself. That Pollard neither provided Russia with information, was not involved in those deaths; that Ames had diverted attention from himself and onto Pollard has had no impact on his sentence.)

Among political personalities now supporting Pollard’s release are two former Secretaries of State, Henry Kissinger and George Schultz. And recently thirty members of Congress signed a petition to President Obama in favor of Pollard’s release.

Over the years American Jews have also grown less threatened and self-conscious by the Pollard Affair and today most major Jewish organizations publicly support Pollard’s release.

VII. “In the opinion of this Italian-American Catholic”

Professor Codevilla introduced this discussion. As I noted he was a staff member of Senator DiConcini’s Intelligence Committee during the period of the Pollard Affair and so was well-positioned to evaluate the case from within.

“Pollard was an analyst. He is alleged to have given away information to which no analyst had any access. All of what has been said about what he did, including the secret memorandum that Caspar Weinberger wrote to the court in order to influence the judge’s sentence, is nonsense… the sentencing of Pollard was conformant with Weinberger’s memorandum to the court. He was sentenced to life on the basis of rumors.”

“The story of the Pollard case is a blot on American justice. It makes you ashamed to be an American.”

Postscript: “Let the sentence fit the crime” (The Mikado)

On March 4, 1987 federal judge Aubrey Robinson chose to ignore the Justice Department plea agreement and, charged with a single count of espionage on behalf of America’s ally, Israel, imposed the harshest sentence allowable even for an Aldrich Ames. That sentence, fully endorsed by the justice department, resulted from Reagan’s defense secretary Weinberger’s dramatic last moment appearance before the judge. Reportedly one charge contained in the “secret memorandum” involved Pollard aiding South Africa, bogus but a red flag for Afro-American judge.

In a 1990 letter to Morris Pollard, Jonathan’s father, Laurence Kolb, deputy defense secretary at the time of the Pollard Affair described his boss:

“Weinberger had an almost visceral dislike of Israel and the special place it occupies in our foreign policy. In my opinion, the severity of the sentence that Jonathan received was out of proportion to his alleged offense.”

Joseph DeGenova, lead Justice Department prosecutor fully supported the sentence, and this would become the mantra for successive generations of government bureaucrats, including the FBI and CIA. Of course no reference was made regarding manipulation of the judge’s political prejudices, all settled on Pollard’s violating the agreement based on the Blitzer interview. But considering the multiplicity of questionable behaviors. But why would Jonathan, otherwise a highly intelligent and aware person, have provided the US prosecutors that rope?

The government expressed concern that a public jury trial would disclose information that could harm US intelligence methods and personnel and asked Pollard to agree to a private, in camera hearing before the judge instead. If Pollard agreed to that, and to fully cooperate with the prosecution that the government, in exchange, would ask for consideration in sentencing. Pollard agreed and fully cooperated.

So why might Pollard have taken the step he did? As Blitzer suggested in his post-interviews book, Territory of Lies, having sat in solitary confinement for a year, himself and his wife demonized in the media, he and Anne concluded the plea agreement was already abandoned.

Abandoned also by Israel not providing refuge in the embassy as promised. And hadn’t Israel also been cooperating with the prosecution leading to his conviction? With nothing to lose they decided to get their side of the story to the public. Perhaps then at least the Jewish community would rally to their support.

As this is written on-line commenters are expressing outrage that Israel is clearly coerced by the US to release Palestinian terrorists convicted of murder as gesture to Palestinian leader abu Mazen. Israel’s weak position, its dependency on the United States may be difficult to accept, but nonetheless is the reason. And to a far greater extent in the 1980’s. Anyone remembering the 1973 Yom Kippur War that Israel might well have lost without the last minute airlift of parts and munitions (what threats were made; what demands accepted) may appreciate just how weak Israel is in her “special relationship” with the superpower.

At bottom the Pollards realized they were damned either way! I have several times been told that Jonathan would have been better served by quietly going along, challenging the government’s plea agreement violation later in court,

“[an] action that should have been subject to litigation and appeals, not unilateral pretext for reneging on a court-approved deal.”

In fact several generations of Pollard pro bono attorneys sought to do so, and ran into the same legal wall: Pollard’s original lawyer and ex DC prosecutor Richard Hibey inexplicably “forgot” to file the routine appeal within the allotted time! It was this “technicality” that foreclosed the possibility of future legal challenges.

With so much evidence of blatant governmental abuse, including suborning the sentencing judge; with so much evidence of presidential “disinterest” most recently evidenced by the Obama White House rejection of Pollards appeal (Bush left the White House without even responding to the request to release Pollard), the inescapable conclusion remains that, barring an unlikely miracle (or Israel caving to some outrageous coercive demand by this or some future president) the title of this article frighteningly conforms to reality: Why Jonathan Pollard will die in prison.


David Turner was the first director of the organization Justice for the Pollards; he created Jews United to Defend the Auschwitz Cemetery (JUDAC) in 1988; and served in the past as the JNF Regional Director.

Posted by Ted Belman @ 7:06 am | 83 Comments »

83 Responses to Why Jonathan Pollard will die in prison

  1. honeybee says:

    @ yamit82:

    Don’t mess wit me Yamit82, I have been “modified” twice trying to inform both you and dweller about the troubles in Central America and Mexico. I wanted to tell you both,your both wrong,wrong, wrong. I know alot and I am more then just a “pretty face” with a flirty nature,Darlin.

  2. yamit82 says:

    honeybee Said:

    Don’t mess wit me Yamit82, I have been “modified” twice trying to inform both you and dweller about the troubles in Central America and Mexico

    Modified only twice? Don’t see what your gripe is, twice is not so bad.

  3. honeybee says:

    yamit82 Said:

    is, twice is not so bad.

    Iam a Jewish Texas Princess and people just do not block or modified me!!!!!!!!!!!!Darlin [now th drawl is really thick]

    yamit82 Said:

    Don’t see what your gripe

    I don’t gripe or complain, I demand yawl.

  4. dweller says:

    @ yamit82:

    “Hard for dweller to believe anything other than what his Idols lied about..”

    Hogwash. I don’t have idols. Never did.

    You like to accuse me of it because I give every man a fair hearing, and because — unlike yourself — I take seriously the injunction against bearing false witness against my neighbor. But that’s not idolatry.

    — That’s simply plain dealing. (You should give it a try sometime.)

    “He is a true believer. Erich Hoffer wrote a whole book on the dwellers of the world.”

    Oh? — Hmm. I thought The True Believer was about the Yamits. No?

    “He will ask what is the proof.”

    “Proof” is your bag, dingbat, not mine.

    What I asked for, above, was simple fact-checking, basic corroboration of the claims, and the names of individuals who could be questioned & consulted on followup — basic Journalistic Ethics 101

    — because ANYBODY with an elementary command of the English language and a well-oiled imagination can write a hit piece on anything or anybody that they’re already predisposed to dislike. Doesn’t make the writing reliable.

    I used to see all SORTS of unsubstantiated garbage like that Sam Dillon piece you excerpted — throughout the 80′s. But whenever one would try to followup with questions, he always hit a dead end. This was before the advent of syndicated Talk Radio, before the Web, etc., before the end of the “Fairness Doctrine” — at a time when the only nation-wide media were the 3 networks.

    BTW, “America’s Watch” is the original name for HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH, whose primary funder is — and has always been — George Soros. If that ALONE doesn’t make you suspicious, then you’re dumber than dirt.

    I ran into the same dead ends when I tried to follow up on bullshit stories over the ’82 Lebanon invasion & war. THOSE tales ALSO were generously larded with the rankest swill, courtesy of PLO stringers, whom the Western media (and much of the Israeli media) took for honest reporters too. I didn’t ask for ‘proof’ then either — just reliability. Never got it.

    “[H]is claims of being a good actor is not proof but only his opinion, again he gives no proof of his claims to have been critically acclaimed as an actor.”

    Of course I gave you no ‘proof.’ Proof was never part of the discussion

    — which makes your OWN prior assertions of my purported artistic inadequacies all-the-more suspicious, as there was no ‘proof’ of that either. Your intellectual dishonesty is colossal, boychik.

    I never felt a need (and still don’t) to establish my competence in your eyes. I’ll say this much, however: Nobody stays at it for 30 years if they aren’t any good.

  5. dove says:

    @ Ted Belman:

    Shabbat Shalom!

  6. honeybee says:

    dweller Said:

    Oh? — Hmm. I thought The True Believer was about the Yamits. No?

    That fits the both of you

  7. dweller says:

    @ honeybee:

    “He is a true believer. Erich Hoffer wrote a whole book on the dwellers of the world.”

    “Oh? — Hmm. I thought The True Believer was about the Yamits. No?”

    “That fits the both of you”

    Obviously written by somebody who hasn’t read Hoffer’s book.

  8. honeybee says:

    dweller Said:

    Obviously written by somebody who hasn’t read Hoffer’s book

    I have, you are!!!!!

  9. dweller says:

    @ honeybee:

    “Obviously written by somebody who hasn’t read Hoffer’s book”

    “I have”

    I doubt that you have. Certainly not recently.

  10. honeybee says:

    @ dweller:

    Go argue with Dove tonight,you both seem lonely and bored!!!! Adios

  11. dweller says:

    @ honeybee:

    “Go argue with Dove tonight,you both seem lonely and bored!”

    Am never bored, and I welcome solitude. (I enjoy the company.)

    Why don’t YOU argue with her? — I’m on the clock.

  12. honeybee says:

    dweller Said:

    Why don’t YOU argue with her?

    , If I must argue I’ll argue with you,at leat your not boring and repetative.

  13. dweller says:

    @ honeybee:

    “Go argue with Dove tonight,you both seem lonely and bored!”

    “Am never bored, and I welcome solitude. (I enjoy the company.) Why don’t YOU argue with her? — I’m on the clock.”

    “If I must argue I’ll argue with you,at leat your not boring and repetative.”

    Ooh! — meowwww. . . .!

  14. honeybee says:

    dweller Said:

    Ooh! — meowwww. . . .!

    Probably why you prefere solitute:

  15. dove says:

    @ honeybee:

    If I must argue I’ll argue with you,at leat your not boring and repetitive

    So sorry for the boring lingo dahling……Did you expect me to flirt with you??

  16. honeybee says:

    To the Israeli People, my condolences on the passing of Ariel Sharon.

  17. Shy Guy says:

    honeybee Said:

    To the Israeli People, my condolences on the passing of Ariel Sharon.

    Spare us. Good riddance!

  18. the phoenix says:

    @ honeybee:

    my condolences

    Are you sure that was the correct word, hb?
    Hint: gush katif
    Will you offer similar sentiments when Peres kicks the bucket?

  19. honeybee says:

    @ Shy Guy:
    @ the phoenix:

    As is said in Texas,” He may a SOB, but he’s our SOB”. It is the end of an era. AS for Peres,I don’t care for him.

  20. Shy Guy says:

    @ honeybee:
    He was a destroyer.

  21. honeybee says:

    Shy Guy Said:

    He was a destroyer.

    If you mean the settlers in Gaza,then you are corredt, he was a destroyer.

  22. honeybee says:

    the phoenix Said:

    Hint: gush katif

    Please explain,Thank You??

  23. yamit82 says:

    Shy Guy Said:

    He was a destroyer.

    He was more than that:

    Weissglass Represents P.A. Firm With Casino Interests in South Gaza

    Dov Weissglass, who recently resigned as head of Prime Minister Sharon’s Office, is still listed as part-owner of a law firm representing PA business interests who wish to build a casino in southern Gaza. So reports investigative journalist David Bedein of Israel Resource News Agency in the most recent edition of the Makor Rishon weekly.

    According to the P.A. tourist publication This Week in Palestine, plans are well underway to build a new casino and tourist resort in Southern Gaza. “Is it a coincidence,” Bedein asks, “that this is where the Jewish communities of Katif now reside?” PA sources say that the new casino will be owned by the same as those who own the Jericho casino: the PA, an Austrian casino company, the Austrian Bank BAWAG and Martin Schlaff – all of them clients of Weissglass’ office. When working for Sharon, Weissglass was engaged in high-level negotiations with PA figures. He also met with American officials regarding preparations for the “disengagement” from Gaza and the evacuation of Jewish towns in Katif.

    In January 2003, the Israel Civil Service Commission spokesman affirmed Bedein’s finding that Weissglass was still registered in the Israel Corporate Register as part of his law firm, Weissglass-Almagor. The spokesman dismissed its importance, however, saying that Weissglass had divested himself from all financial interests in that firm. The Commission asked him to formally remove his name from the firm, however, and indeed, in April 2003, he did so.

    But, Bedein now reports, it has been confirmed by the Israel Corporate Authority that Weissglass is still registered as the lawyer of record for two other firms that are located at the same addresses and with the same lawyers. One of them, in fact, has the very same name: Weissglass-Almagor.

    On May 11, 2004, the spokesman for the Israel Civil Service Commission wrote that Weissglass had divested himself of his law firm and had sold the shares of his business. Upon examination of the publicly available Israel Corporate Authority records of the Weissglass business, Bedein reports, there is no record of any Weissglass activity to divest neither from this second law firm nor from his business.

    “Two weeks ago,” Bedein wrote in Makor Rishon, “Weissglass was asked if he still has contacts with the casino company. His answer: ‘No comment.’”

    Read the entire article at: Israel National News

  24. honeybee says:

    @ the phoenix:

    Now I understand! So many many of my neighbors saw and were horrified by Sharons action. They are farmers and ranchers and understand how one loves the land and what one has built throught their own labor. Tx’s famility has lived on their for over 160 years.

  25. honeybee says:

    @ yamit82:

    So sad! Does no one act with honor anymore.

  26. the phoenix says:

    @ honeybee:

    So sad! Does no one act with honor anymore.

    I have been asking myself the very same question hb. In fact, in my case, it was more of a scream of rage!!!!
    The more I read, the more disillusioned I become…
    I guess the cats keep me sane … ;-)

  27. honeybee says:

    the phoenix Said:

    guess the cats keep me sane

    with me it is little children. Today at the mall a small girls opened the door for Tx and I,so sweet. Remember when life get tough, the tough eat chocolate!!!

  28. honeybee says:

    @ yamit82:

    Is there a new war with Lebenon?

  29. honeybee says:

    @ yamit82:

    A bowl of porridge!!!!!!!!

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