JPOST EDITORIAL: Pollard claptrap

It behooves Obama to do for Israel what he has done for so many others.

April 20, 2016 21:26
3 minute read.

US President Barack Obama delivers a statement . (photo credit: REUTERS)


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US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper’s recent letter to the US Parole Commission hyping the enormous threat to America’s national security which he claims Jonathan Pollard still poses is so much claptrap.

So is Clapper’s contrived contention that Pollard spied “against the US.” Pollard was indicted for spying for “the benefit of an ally” – Israel – not against the US.

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Clapper’s lame attempt to inflame public sentiment against an aging and very ill Pollard who spent 30 years in prison paying for an offense whose median sentence is two to four years, is at best laughable.

Like his predecessors, Clapper hides behind a veil of secrecy and relies upon hyperbole and ad hominem to obscure the absence of evidence against Pollard. This, despite the now-public knowledge that former defense secretary Caspar Weinberger (the man who drove Pollard’s life sentence) admitted before he died that the Pollard case was “a minor mater” which had been exaggerated to serve another agenda. Clapper continues the hyperbolic spin, regardless.

Here is the real scoop.

Jonathan Pollard, who spent an unprecedented 30 years of a 45-year life sentence in prison for the one count of spying for an ally, Israel, with which he was charged, while working as a civilian intelligence analyst for US Navy, was released from prison last November.

Because he was released on parole, not pardoned, Pollard still has the balance of his life sentence – 15 years – hanging like a sword of Damocles over his head. Any violation of his parole conditions – which are unusually harsh and restrictive – could send him back to prison for what could well be the rest of his life.

Pollard’s unprecedented life sentence was shrouded for years by a veil of secrecy and lies, which have been discredited recently with the declassification of most of the key documents that served as evidence against him.

A series of exclusive articles and editorials in The Jerusalem Post first detailed these new revelations, calling into question the entire judicial process and its blatant politicization. For decades the case has been used by US officials to promote and sustain tension in the otherwise close relationship between the US and Israel.

Although it was known that Pollard did not commit treason (which is defined by the US Constitution as aiding and abetting an enemy in time of war) US officials have often branded Pollard a “traitor” to politically redefine the nature of the US-Israel alliance whenever desired.

Successive Israeli governments generally demanded Pollard’s freedom in Jerusalem before a domestic audience, but were timid and pro forma in their demands in Washington.

Washington regards Pollard, to this day, as a high value hostage to keep Israel off balance, and as a bargaining chip for any number of future Israeli concessions.

When he was finally freed at the age of 61, Pollard was welcomed by his wife, Esther, with whom he is now living in New York. There, Pollard is battling Draconian parole conditions in court and fighting to come home to Israel. His parole conditions prevent him from being gainfully employed and from observing his religious beliefs, and make it impossible for him to reintegrate into normative society.

His attorneys, Eliot Lauer and Jacques Semmelman, state there is absolutely no justification for these conditions, which are in their words, ”onerous, punitive, vindictive, cruel and unlawful.”

When he last met with President Barack Obama in Washington, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu requested the return of Pollard, an Israeli agent, and gave Washington guarantees for his supervision.

It behooves Obama to cut the claptrap and to do for Israel what he has done for Iran, for the Taliban, for Cuba, for Russia , for China and for numerous Guantanamo prisoners when he signed orders to simply send them home to other countries unconditionally.

In addition to the 100 holiday commutations that Obama just signed this past year, he also recently cut the sentences and released thousands of hard-core drug offenders – who are untrained for any lawful profession and will likely reoffend.

In that light, Israel’s request for one elderly, ill, harshly punished Israeli agent to be sent home for Passover after 30 years in US jails is not much to ask.

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