Jonathan Pollard: Clemency Long Overdue
By Jerrold L. Sobel
Back on New Years Day of this year, the Tea Party Tribune published, “Jonathan Pollard: Revisited Again and again,” the third of three articles I had written about Jonathan Pollard and the wrongful sentence he received for the crime he plead to. Some of my dear readers wrote to me “he’s a traitor,” “he should rot in hell,” and so on. Interestingly, I was accused of being a leftist for stating Pollard had engaged in criminal behavior; me being accused of being a leftist, that’s a new one, others on the right called for my head because I advocated for his release. In all my years of writing I can’t remember another situation having to defend my position to both sides of the political spectrum. What castigators on both sides fail to recognize, this is not about left or right, it’s not about Pollard being Jewish; although the veracity of this statement could come into question, it’s not even about Pollard. It’s about a modern day injustice which has kept a man incarcerated for an inordinate amount of time despite protestations from those most closely related to this action.
For those interested in the facts of this case and not just gut feelings, you may wish to read the article.
Jonathan Pollard: Revisited Again and again
However, mitigating circumstances aside; and there are many, the question begs, why after 26 long years; many of which served in solitary confinement hasn’t Pollard been granted clemency? Many, many people have done far worse and in times of war but have been either pardoned or granted clemency, why not Pollard? Let’s review some of them.
Without a doubt the most harmful espionage ever committed against the United States in the 20th century was that of the Rosenbergs, Julius and his wife Ethel. Both devout American communists, they were executed in 1953 for passing critical secrets to the Soviets allowing them to construct their first atom bomb. The Rosenbergs, amidst a great deal of controversy in the ensuing decades, were the first civilians to be executed in U.S. history for espionage. Despite the uproar over guilt or innocence, decoded Soviet cables in recent years corroborated courtroom testimony that Julius indeed passed information and recruited others to do so against the United States. These same documents indicate that Ethel knew of her husband’s activities but her only guilt was being married to Julius. Germane to our discussion are the other actors Julius recruited for his spy ring.
Ethel’s brother, David Greenglass had supplied documents to Julius from Los Alamos. For his role he served 10 years of a 15 year sentence and was released; Klaus Fuchs, another conspiritor was arrested in 1950 and admitted to passing Atomic secrets to a courier named Harry Gold, also a stealth Soviet spy. Gold in turn confessed to transferring this information to Ethel’s brother, David.
In 1951 Gold was sentenced to 30 years in prison but was later paroled in 1965 after serving 19 years. Klaus Fuchs, considered by many to be a much more damaging Soviet agent than Julius Rosenberg only served 9 years of a 14 sentence and returned to East Germany upon his release. Ethel’s brother David, a major figure in this subversion served only 10 years for his role.
Other members of this nefarious cabal, Jack Soble (no relation to me, thank you) received a 7 year sentence and his wife Myra 5 years, reduced to 4 and eventually received a presidential pardon from President George H.W. Bush in 1991 for her conviction; (conspiracy to receive and obtain national defense information and transmit same to a foreign government.) Keep in mind, these lenient sentences were meted out for transference of vital atomic secrets to a hostile foreign government, the Soviet Union. They had a direct effect upon the security and vital interests of the United States. As you will read later, according to the Assistant Attorney General at the time, this was not the case with Pollard. In lieu of the deeds of the aforementioned and those to follow, it’s ludicrous and a gross miscarriage of justice that Pollard has not been granted clemency after all these years.
Myra and Jack Soble
Gerald Ford at the conclusion of his term in office pardoned Iva Toguri D’Aquino, the only U.S. citizen convicted of treason up to that point. Never heard of her? If you still have any living relatives that served in the South Pacific during World War II, they’ll surely remember her as “Tokyo Rose.” She was the child of Japanese immigrants that went back to Japan to undermine the morale of U.S. troops by broadcasting daily propaganda messages on radio broadcasts.
Likewise Ford, a Conservative Republican offered conditional amnesty to no less than 50,000 draft dodgers from the Vietnam War era. As did his successor, Jimmy Carter who actually granted them an unconditional amnesty in the form of a pardon.
Ford also posthumously restored full citizenship to someone that actively sought the downfall of the United States, Robert E. Lee, the Commanding General of the Confederacy.
Carter carried his magnanimity even further by posthumously pardoning what some might consider the most treasonous person in American history, Jefferson Davis the President of the Confederacy. However, upon leaving office in 1979, Carter’s most controversial clemency was bestowed upon incarcerated members of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party.
Seeking independence for Puerto Rico; in what today would be considered an act of terrorism, FALN members, Lolita Lebron, Rafael Cancel Miranda, and Irving Flores Rodriguez were convicted for opening fire in the House of Representative chamber and seriously wounding 5 Congressmen. After serving 25 years in prison Carter granted them clemency in 1979. Juxtapose this act with what Pollard did as he enters his 27th year of incarceration. It just doesn’t add up.
On This Day: Puerto Rican Nationalists Launch Assault on U.S. Congress
Bill Clinton who came within a hair of needing clemency for himself made a farce of the system. He further exemplified the injustice of Pollard’s continued incarceration by granting clemency to 14 FALN terrorists on August 13, 1999. The following are some of the despicable acts these sweethearts committed.
Over a six year period of time they took responsibility for 100 bombings which took the lives of six people while injuring 130 others. For many of us living in New York in 1975 the memory still lingers over the bombing of Fraunces Tavern. Likewise, they also took responsibility for the bombing Police Headquarters in 1983 in which three police officers were maimed for life attempting to diffuse the bombs.
Amongst other violent terrorists covered by this unjustified clemency was Dylcia Pagan the wife of FALN leader Hector Morales who was convicted of conspiracy to blow up no less than 48 buildings in Chicago. Along with her, 11 others members were convicted of conspiracy to bomb federal buildings and for planning to kidnap government and private citizens. The Clinton White House ludicrously justified the release of these terrorists, the forerunners of Al-Qaeda by stating, “they never killed anyone,” well neither did Pollard and unlike them, neither did anyone else he was associated with.
Clinton Pardons Terror
For a real bit of irony, lets fall back in time to the Reagan Administration and a rogue operation known as the Iran-Contra Affair. Although a supporter of the Contra cause, no evidence ever linked Reagan to any authorization of wrong doing; at least none which ever came out. However, the scandal occurred right on under his very nose.
In a move to subterfuge a law specifically enacted by Congress to prevent it, elements within Administration schemed to sell weapons to Iran through Israel and use the money received to fund anti-Communist and anti-Sandinista rebels; known as Contras, in Nicaragua.
The impetus for this sordid affair was to secure the release of 6 American hostages being held by Islamic terrorists with links to Iran, known as the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution. Before long the entire arrangement was outed and a myriad of investigations ensued. Reagan himself went before the nation in a televised address and accepted personal responsibility for the scandal and for those of his Administration.
As a result of these investigations 14 members of the Administration were indicted, 11 were convicted for their roles in the scandal, and 3 were preparing for trial just prior to being pardoned by Reagan’s former Vice President, outgoing President George Herbert Bush.
So where’s the irony? Of the 3 preparing for trial, the most prominent was former Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger. That’s right, the same Casper Weinberger that excoriated Jonathan Pollard in a 46 page supplemental, pre-sentencing “Victims Impact Statement.” A memorandum which exaggerated the harm caused by his crime, but so damning it convinced the presiding Judge, Aubrey Robinson, to throw out the plea deal the government and Pollard had agreed upon. A deal Pollard signed onto to avoid a life sentence, a punishment he received nonetheless. Justice? Maybe in Iran or Syria, but not what we expect here in the United States.
Phillip B. Heymann, former U.S. Assistant Attorney General concurs. In a letter written this past January, Heymann requested President Obama commute Pollard’s sentence. He stated, the sentence was “entirely out of line with others engaging in similar behavior.” He went on to say that after reviewing Pollard’s complete record, he found no evidence that he helped America’s enemies.
Pollard Didn’t Harm U.S: Says Former U.S. Deputy Assistant Attorney General
He’s far from alone, countless notables in and out of government both in the United States and around the world have petitioned President Obama for Pollard’s release.
Notable Quotes in Support of Jonathan Pollard’s Release
Is there any hope for Pollard? If there is it will have to be during this election year but Obama, ever the politician better do it quickly. According to a published report in the April 6th edition of the Jerusalem Post, Pollard now 57 is in ill health. He was rushed to the hospital this week and may need emergency kidney surgery. According to some sources his condition may be life threatening.
He is also reported to suffer from a long list of other ailments which include: Diabetes, nausea, dizziness, sinusitis, gall bladder problems, and Meniere’s disease.
The article further states that recently released Israeli soldier Gilead Schalit and his family signed a petition that Shimon Peres, slated to receive a life time peace award from President Obama not accept the honorarium. The petition states, “Due to the superior values the medal represents, we feel we cannot reconcile you receiving it when the United States is still holding Pollard in prison.” It goes on to say, “We ask you to take advantage of your unprecedented diplomatic standing in order to work for Jonathan’s immediate release before you are given the medal. Otherwise receiving the medal would make a mockery of Israel.”
In my last article I wrote, “Oh cynical me, more so now than ever, if he can only hold out until November, I do believe Pollard will finally be freed this year. Following an indisputably anti-Israel bias the past three and a half years and losing Jewish voters and supporters of Israel in droves; ever the Chicago politician, President Obama is almost certain to make a magnanimous gesture to his formerly faithful voting block and finally release this broken man from his incarceration.” Since Pollard may not make it to November, let’s hope the President, whatever his motives may be, finally heeds the admonitions of so many and grants Pollard clemency.