Justice Department’s double standard toward Pollard

The Pollard case has been a litany of improper conduct by the Justice Department prosecutors magnifying the previous venomous attitude towards Israel of Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger.

Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard leaves a federal courthouse in New York (photo credit: AFP PHOTO)
Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard leaves a federal courthouse in New York
(photo credit: AFP PHOTO)
Despite his release from prison last November, Jonathan Pollard is still suffering under outrageous, virtually unprecedented, parole conditions.
Subject to heavily restrictive curfews during the week, restricted to a small geographic area, Pollard must wear a GPS bracelet that tracks his movement (using a subway is not allowed).
Wherever he works, the government has imposed conditions to monitor not only his computer but the computers for all employees for any company he works.
Pollard’s lawyers are currently challenging these conditions in US Federal District Court. Illustrative of their objections, they have cited a probation officer who stated that in thousands of parole cases he knew of only two other cases (a pedophile and a person who violated less conditions) where someone was saddled with anywhere near the onerous rules put on Pollard. A hearing is set for July.
The Justice Department argues that these parole conditions are necessary because Pollard allegedly remains a security threat citing an affidavit by Director of Intelligence James Clapper that some of the documents Pollard gave are still classified today. However, former U.S.
National Security Advisor Bud McFarlane and former head of Senate Intelligence, Dennis DeConcini submitted affidavit’s on Pollard’s behalf stating that Pollard was not a security threat as the last information he had was outdated thirty year old information.
The Justice Department’s double standard toward Pollard is readily seen when one reviews the conditions and actions by the same Justice Department in the case of Ronald Pelton. Pelton was convicted of providing (for $35,000) the Soviet Union with National Security Agency defense and intelligence secrets, including US efforts on tapping Soviet communications. Pelton’s actions, led to his receiving three life terms from the sentencing judge. Pelton, however, served the same years in prison as Pollard, 30 years and was released one week after Pollard.
Pelton was put in a halfway house and home confinement before serving 30 years in prison and he now has none of the additional parole conditions that Pollard received. There is little doubt that Director of Intelligence Clapper would affirm that the information Pelton gave is still classified. Further, Pelton was known for his photographic memory therefore the danger of Pelton disclosing classified information while released is far greater than Pollard.
Attorney General Mukasey wrote that Pollard’s only intent was to help Israel without any intent to harm the US.
That Pelton had very different intentions is quite telling.
As it relates to Pollard, the Justice Department agreed to a plea bargain to not seek a life sentence as opposed to Pelton whose 3 life sentences did not contradict a plea bargain. In Pollard’s case, the prosecutors filed two affidavits from Secretary of Defense Weinberger which claimed that in the so-called “year of the spy,” no one (not even Pelton) did anything worse than Pollard.
The prosecutors’ own Victim Impact Statement presenting their best case against Pollard to the court contradicted the Weinberger affidavit. They wrote that “Mr. Pollard’s unauthorized disclosures have threatened the US [sic] relations with numerous Middle East Arab allies… The obvious result of Mr.
Pollard’s largesse is that US bargaining leverage with the Israeli government in any further intelligence exchanges has been undermined. In short, Mr. Pollard’s activities have adversely affected US relations with both its Middle East Arab allies and the government of Israel.”
The National Security Adviser at the time of Pollard’s arrest, Bud McFarlane, recently wrote that the life sentence given Pollard was a result of Weinberger’s “unbalanced reasoning” regarding Israel, and was a “great injustice.” The head of Senate Intelligence at the time, Senator David Durenberger, wrote the he objected at the time to the life sentence given to Pollard and disagreed with Weinberger’s “vehemence” against Pollard. Assistant Secretary of Defense Lawrence Korb wrote that Pollard’s life sentence was wrong and blamed it on Weinberger’s “visceral dislike” of Israel.
In other words, they all viewed Weinberger’s actions with the help of the Justice Department prosecutors as contrary to US national interests.
It is noteworthy that virtually every major US official at the time of Pollard’s arrest who knew best the ramifications of his actions have written or commented that they supported Pollard’s release from prison. They include Secretary of State George Schultz, head of House Intelligence Congressman Lee Hamilton, and head of the FBI and subsequent head of the CIA, William Webster.
In December, Judge Katherine Forrest stated in open court that the Justice Department had not shown that the parole conditions imposed upon Pollard were substantiated by the evidence.
Sadly, Judge Forrest gave the government what turned out to be six months to substantiate its actions while Pollard continues to suffer under these unprecedented restrictions.
Judge Forrest further appears to no longer require that Pollard actually remember any confidential document.
Instead, Judge Forrest changed the standard from what Pollard had in his head to “what information he was able to access and may carry in his head.”
The Pollard case has been a litany of improper conduct by the Justice Department prosecutors magnifying the previous venomous attitude towards Israel of Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger.
However, in our checks and balances system, such actions could have been prevented by the sentencing judge.
We are therefore watching with great concern the much-awaited final decision by Judge Forrest as to whether she will make the right and just decision and throw out the outrageous parole conditions given to Jonathan Pollard and have him be given the same parole conditions given to Ronald Pelton.
The author is President of the National Council of Young Israel.