How generous: Obama wants to release Pollard 3 months before parole date but tie him to US
Having served nearly 30 years in an American jail for far less serious crimes than others who served far less time
, Jonathan Pollard is up for parole in November. Now, the Obama administration wants to release Pollard
(who has been held for ransom
for years) three months early in the hope of mollifying Israel in the face of its sellout to a nuclear Iran. There's just one small catch: Fearful of Pollard receiving a hero's welcome in Israel, the Obama administration wants to confine him to the United States
A senior Israeli diplomatic source revealed on Monday that if
Jonathan Pollard is released in November as has been reported, he won't
be allowed to come to Israel for fear he will receive a hero's welcome.
"The Americans are very worried of a situation in which Pollard will
be received as a hero in Israel, and therefore they likely will prevent
Pollard from leaving American territory," the source told Yedioth Aharonoth.
US Attorney General Loretta Lynch said on Saturday that she won't
interfere in the possible release of Pollard, and denied that the move
was timed to assuage Israeli concerns over the Iran nuclear deal.
I don't know what makes them think Pollard will be any more interested in being released in exchange for Israel accepting a nuclear Iran than he was in being released in exchange for terrorists
. And some of the people who generally oppose Pollard's release point out that there's no connection between Pollard and Iran
"Releasing Pollard was a bad idea in 1998 and 2001. It is not a better
idea today," [Former US Secertary of Defense Donald] Rumsfeld posted on Twitter, along with a copy of letters
stating his opposition to the move, which he sent to former US
presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush while serving as secretary of
In another tweet Rumsfeld wrote, "Releasing spy Jonathan Pollard doesn't
make the #IranDeal any less of a disaster for Israel and the free
world," suggesting that Pollard's possible release and the Iran deal are
I disagree with Rumsfeld and think Pollard ought to be released. But I agree with him that Pollard's release ought not to be connected with Iran. Seth Lipsky reminds us why
It’s not that Pollard’s breach of our
Espionage Act wasn’t serious. It certainly was. But the charge to which
he pled guilty comprised a single count of passing classified secrets to
a friendly nation. In exchange for his plea, which saved the government
the risk of losing in court or being forced to drop its case rather
than disclose the secrets, the government made promises it failed to
This came to a head in the early 1990s.
Pollard was arrested in 1985. He pled guilty in 1986. He drew life in
1987. He sought to withdraw his plea in 1990. And the Appeals Court
judges who ride circuit in the District of Columbia disposed of his
claims in 1992. It was an incredibly distinguished panel, including
Laurence Silberman, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Stephen Fain Williams.
Yet two of the three judges took what can
only be described as a powder, casting Pollard into prison for what the
law calls life (30 years) on the grounds that he didn’t appeal the life
sentence in a timely manner. The memorable opinion in the case was the
dissent of Judge Williams, who concluded that the government that put
Pollard away had broken the promises it had made in return for his plea.
The promises were that it would bring to
the court’s attention the value of Pollard’s cooperation, refrain from
seeking a life sentence, and limit its allocution — its statements —
regarding “the facts and circumstances” of Pollard’s crimes. Williams
concluded that the government “complied in spirit with none of its
promises” and, in respect of the third promise, “it complied in neither
letter nor spirit.”
One of the points Williams marked was the
government’s suggestion that Pollard had committed treason. That came
in a memo to the court from the defense secretary at the time, Caspar
Weinberger, who asked the Court to mete out a punishment reflecting the
“magnitude of the treason committed.” Yet Weinberg and the Court knew
that whatever Pollard did was not treason.
Read the whole thing
That’s because the Constitution prohibits
Congress from defining treason as anything other than levying war
against the U.S. or adhering to its enemies, giving them aid and
comfort. Treason, Williams noted, carries the death penalty. It can be
committed only with an enemy. The espionage statute to which Pollard
pled encompassed aid to friendly nations and carried a maximum of life.
Labels: Barack Hussein Obama, Donald Rumsfeld, Iran Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Iranian nuclear threat, Jonathan Pollard, spying