Free Pollard now, in the name of his late father!

Pollard’s crime did not warrant the punishment he has served.

Pollard protest 311 (photo credit: Reuters)
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.
George 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 Medal.
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.
Ironically, those restrictions were imposed in response to Israel’s destruction of Iraq’s Osirak nuclear facility.
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 Dr.
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 treatment.
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 on Intelligence.
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.