PM’s ignoble failure to free Pollard is Obama’s obligation

Pollard's wife says dramatic “revelations” in 'Post' that “high level discussions in Israel are under way” to secure his release are nothing but smoke and mirrors to deceive public.

By ESTHER POLLARD
October 18, 2010 23:05
4 minute read.
Jonathan Pollard

Jonathan Pollard 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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Dramatic “revelations” in The Jerusalem Post by a high-ranking Israeli minister that “high level discussions in Israel are under way” to secure the release of my husband Jonathan Pollard are nothing but smoke and mirrors to deceive the public.

These revelations confirm that the Israelis are still talking only to themselves about Pollard, not to the Americans. Once again there is a nefarious move afoot, according to the Post, to bury the Pollard case in committee.

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Unprecedented charges of US government malfeasance recently made by two senior officials with first-hand involvement in the case, former US assistant secretary of defense Lawrence Korb, and former minister Rafi Eitan, underscore the injustice of the life sentence Jonathan is serving and the urgency of securing his immediate release. Their statements also provide Israel with the golden key to open Jonathan’s jail cell.

Incredibly, Israel apparently plans to toss the golden key away, once again.

But no matter how morally bereft the behavior of successive governments toward Jonathan may be, this does not absolve President Barack Obama of his responsibility to exercise his powers of presidential clemency to right a 25-year injustice in a case where no other avenue of relief exists.

The unlimited powers of clemency the US Constitution grants to the president are his solemn responsibility.

The Constitution grants these powers as part of the president’s duty to safeguard the rights of all American citizens in those cases where the judicial system either cannot or will not correct itself.



In the case of Jonathan Pollard, where the ends of justice have been ill-served, where the judicial system has been subverted to prosecute one American citizen excessively and where there is now clear evidence of government malfeasance, it is imperative that the president intervene.

THE MEDIAN sentence for the offense Jonathan committed is two to four years. Jonathan is now in his 25th year of a life sentence with no end in sight.

In addition to Korb and Eitan, after numerous security briefings on the issue, Rep. Anthony Weiner recently wrote in a letter to the president: “The life sentence which Jonathan Pollard is now serving is not a reflection of the severity of the crimes he committed, but rather the result of... a damage assessment report written by an intelligence community that was badly shaken by unrelated espionage cases...”

Even former secretary of defense Caspar Weinberger who drove Jonathan’s grossly disproportionate sentence, admitted in a 2002 interview that the Pollard case was in fact “a minor matter” that had been exaggerated to serve other ends.

Nor is parole an option, as Jonathan’s attorneys have explained: “Applying for parole is not an option for Mr. Pollard, because of a severe impediment which has been unilaterally imposed by the Department of Justice (DOJ)... The DOJ has refused to allow Pollard’s security- cleared attorneys to see their client’s entire court file, which is partly under seal. Without access to that file, persons opposed to parole know that they have free rein to say absolutely anything about Mr. Pollard without any risk that they will be contradicted by the documents.”

This impediment has hamstrung all of Jonathan’s efforts to bring his case back to court, and in the process all legal remedies have been exhausted.

Whether it is ineptitude, calculation or expedience that prevents the government from discharging its responsibility to seek Jonathan’s immediate release on the compelling legal and moral grounds that now exist is irrelevant. Whatever the reason, clearly no initiative is forthcoming from the Netanyahu government, and no effort is likely to ever be made to bring Jonathan home alive.

Having served 25 years in the harshest conditions the American penal system has to offer, Jonathan is ill, his immune system depleted and his very survival is at stake.

The petition for executive clemency, filed last week by Jonathan’s American attorneys, Eliot Lauer and Jacques Semmelman, is my husband’s avenue of last resort to resolve a travesty of justice that now threatens to end his life in prison.

At a time when the people of Israel are being asked to believe Obama’s claims about America’s strong ties to Israel and of the US’s special friendship with the Jewish state, it is too great a leap of faith to rely on words alone.

With one stroke of his pen, President Obama can restore honor to the American system of justice, regain the confidence of the American Jewish community, and reassure the people of Israel, that in spite of the Netanyahu government’s failure, America can be relied upon to do what is right.

Netanyahu’s ignoble failure to act to rescue Jonathan Pollard is now Obama’s supreme obligation.

The writer is the wife of Jonathan Pollard, an American-born Israeli citizen who is currently serving his 25th year of a life sentence in an American prison for espionage charges. He worked for Israel’s Ministry of Defense.

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