WASHINGTON – A formal appeal by the Israeli government on Jonathan Pollard’s
behalf could help bring needed attention to the issue, former US assistant
secretary of defense Lawrence Korb told The Jerusalem Post on
Korb, who was defense secretary Caspar Weinberger’s deputy at the
time of Pollard’s arrest in 1985, spoke to the Post before departing for Israel
to participate in Monday’s Knesset event aimed at pushing Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu to work publicly for Pollard’s release.
“If he makes
that statement, it will get people to focus more on the issue,” Korb said. “I
think it’s fallen through the cracks.”
Korb said he intends to make the
case for releasing Pollard, a one-time US Navy intelligence analyst who gave secrets to Israel and is now serving a life sentence, when he visits the
“Yes, he deserved to be punished,” Korb said, but added that the
25 years he’s already been in prison is sufficient considering the average
sentence for passing classified material to an ally is seven
Pollard’s continued incarceration is a “miscarriage of justice” in
To bolster his case, Korb intends to point to Weinberger’s
own admission before his death in 2006 that the Pollard incident was “a minor
matter” rather than as he had described in his impact statement on the damage
Pollard did, which influenced Pollard’s sentence.
“Weinberger had almost
a visceral dislike of Israel’s impact on our policy,” Korb recalled in trying to
explain his former boss’s motives.
But Korb, who is himself not Jewish,
rejected the notion that Weinberger was anti-Semitic, saying instead that
Weinberger’s attitude stemmed from the feeling that Israel was simply too
“influential” on American policy.
Weinberger’s paternal grandparents had
left Judaism because of a dispute at a Czech synagogue.
His mother was
Korb also plans to call on Israel to do more to spell out the
information it obtained from Pollard.
“I’m going to urge the Israelis to
be more forthcoming – to admit they were wrong and won’t do it
Korb speculated that part of the reason a previous deal between
Netanyahu and then-president Bill Clinton to release Pollard never happened was
American concerns that Pollard still possessed valuable information.
also said detailing the information could remove lingering doubts about whether
Pollard sold or enabled information to reach third parties not friendly to the
United States, most importantly Russia. Years after Pollard’s arrest, CIA
officer Aldrich Ames was convicted of spying for the Soviet Union and giving the
Russians the information that Pollard had been accused of leaking.
US Navy lawyer M.E. “Spike” Bowman, alarmed at the recent lobbying of Korb and
several members of Congress on Pollard’s behalf, made that charge in a
blog last week. Bowman also said that Pollard deserved a heavier
sentence because the scope of his information-sharing was beyond that of others
arrested for spying for allies.
Korb, however, pointed out that former
CIA director R. James Woolsey reviewed Pollard’s file and found that none of the
information reached Russia and has himself said that Pollard has paid
sufficiently for his crimes.
“Enough is enough,” Korb said. “Let’s do the
Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.