Pollard protest 311.
(photo credit: Reuters)
During the past 22 years, I had the privilege of knowing Dr. Morris Pollard, the
father of Jonathan Pollard. Earlier this year, Dr. Pollard passed away at the
age of 95. One of the little known aspects of Jonathan Pollard’s case is how
much his father contributed to the United States.
Dr. Pollard was a world
class scientist and cancer researcher who continued his work until just a few
weeks prior to his death. For nearly 50 years, Pollard oversaw Notre Dame
University’s longestrunning medical research program that resulted in major
discoveries in the battle against cancer. He developed bone marrow transplants
to treat leukemia and sarcomas, for which he was honored with the Hope Award
from the American Cancer Society, pioneered discoveries for the suppression of
colon carcinoma and related metastases and methods for dissolving blood clots,
developed groundbreaking tests for Hepatitis A and discovered treatments for
trachoma, a major cause of blindness around the world.
In World War II
while a member of the US Army, and under the orders of Gen.
Marshall, Pollard investigated and tested vaccines for exotic viruses then
afflicting American soldiers in the Pacific. Working with these vaccines and
viruses was fraught with potentially fatal health risks. Pollard was honored for
his work with three presidential citations and an Army Commendation
Pollard published more than 300 scientific articles, and was world
renowned in his field for developing a unique breed of germ-free “Lobund-Wistar”
rats to study the mechanisms of disease. Even at age 95, he was in his lab
almost every day. During our frequent phone conversations, I would often ask Dr.
Pollard how his rats were doing. And he would typically give an update with the
excitement and enthusiasm of a young researcher.
ONLY AFTER Jonathan’s
arrest did Dr.
Pollard fully understand some of the conversations he had
had with Jonathan, who had seemed to be extremely troubled by things he had
learned at work as a civilian analyst in Naval Intelligence. In private
conversations, Dr. Pollard told me he regretted not having been more receptive
to Jonathan’s veiled approaches for advice about how to deal with the fact that
information was being withheld from Israel.
restrictions were imposed in response to Israel’s destruction of Iraq’s Osirak
Bobby Ray Inman, deputy CIA director at the time, has
acknowledged that he was so disconcerted that American-supplied satellite
photography had been used to carry out Israel’s operation that he ordered all
intelligence data covering areas more than 400 km. from Israel’s borders to be
withheld from Jerusalem.
Thus, Israel was not provided with surveillance
photographs of the eastern sections of Syria and Iraq, including chemical
weapons plants in eastern Iraq.
One of the questions that haunted
Pollard was why Jonathan was singled out for punishment far beyond
that meted to every other American caught spying for US allies or neutral
countries and even exceeded the sentence imposed on over 90 percent of spies for
US adversaries. That mistreatment started immediately after Pollard was
arrested, when he was thrown into a hospital for the criminally insane for ten
months, despite the fact that there was no indication he needed medical
Only as a result of Dr. Pollard’s appeal to Congressman Lee
Hamilton was the younger Pollard ultimately released from the psychiatric ward,
where he was placed as a form of punishment, a practice associated with
totalitarian regimes, not with the US government.
Another aspect of
Jonathan's punishment that gave Dr. Pollard no rest was the influence on the
sentencing judge of Caspar Weinberger’s still-classified memorandum and the
ongoing reliance upon it as grounds for Jonathan’s continued imprisonment after
a quarter of a century.
Dr. Pollard strongly felt that the use of secret
testimony in situations where, as in Jonathan’s case, neither the accused nor
his counsel is afforded an adequate opportunity to challenge it, was anathema to
core American values.
That indefensible procedural defect was magnified,
in Dr. Pollard’s eyes, by questions about Weinberger’s general credibility.
During the Iran Contra investigation just a few years after Pollard’s arrest,
Weinberger was indicted by a federal grand jury for perjury and obstruction of
justice and was spared a trial and possible jail time only by a pardon granted
by President George H.W. Bush.
The suspicion that the memorandum largely
consisted of speculative hypotheticals about possible future damage that in fact
never materialized is strengthened by the fact that Weinberger himself described
the Pollard case in a 2002 interview as “comparatively minor... made far bigger
than its actual importance.”
Today, a large and growing cadre of former
intelligence, congressional, White House and cabinet-level personnel who are
familiar with the classified documents are calling for Pollard’s release. These
include Henry Kissinger, George Shulz, Dan Quayle, John McCain, former
attorney-general Michael Mukasey and a bipartisan group of 18 former US
senators, including four who served as chairman of the Senate Select Committee
Their calls are yet another indication that Pollard’s
crime did not warrant the punishment he has served. In light of
that fact, the holiday season - a traditional time for presidential pardons - is
an appropriate time to honor his father’s memory. It is time for mercy. It is
time at long last to free Jonathan Pollard.