The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has renewed its call for President Barack Obama to release from captivity Jonathan Pollard, who, after 25 years behind bars, has more than served any reasonable term for violating U.S. law by passing classified material to an American ally. Last month, the ZOA worked with other Jewish groups to produce a Congressional letter to President Barack Obama, initiated by Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) and signed by 39 Democratic Members of Congress.
The ZOA is renewing its call for Pollards release, now that the Israeli government has publicly called for Mr. Pollards release, as have past U.S. government officials, including Lawrence Korb, a former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense, who recently said that Pollards continued incarceration is a miscarriage of justice. Korb also observed that the late Defense Secretary, Caspar Weinberger, admitted before his death in 2006 that the Pollard incident was a minor matter rather than the catastrophic breach in U.S. security that he portrayed it as being at the time in his impact statement, which influenced the unprecedentedly harsh sentence meted out to Mr. Pollard. Korb also said that Weinberger had almost a visceral dislike of Israels impact on our policy (Hilary Leila Krieger, Ex-US defense official tells Knesset to appeal for Pollard, Jerusalem Post, December 19, 2010).
Also, former Democratic Senator and Chairman of the U.S. Senate Select Intelligence Committee, Dennis DeConcini, recently petitioned President Obama for the second time in five months, calling upon him to commute Pollards life sentence, saying I was on the Senate Intelligence Committee when Pollard was arrested, and subsequently became its chairman I am well aware of the classified information concerning the damage he caused. Pollard was charged with one count of giving classified information to an ally, Israel. He was never charged with nor to my knowledge did he ever give any information to a third country (Gil Hoffman, Ex-senator DeConcini pleads to Obama for Pollard, Jerusalem Post, December 9, 2010). This is the first time a government official with knowledge of the relevant classified information has definitively stated in their own words that the Israeli agent did not give any information to a third country, a charge that has been suggested for many years.
ZOA National Chairman of the Board Dr. Michael Goldblatt said, The ZOA has long argued that Jonathan Pollard has more than served his sentence for passing on classified information to Israel, a U.S. ally, not a U.S. enemy. Jonathan Pollard has expressed in writing deep remorse for breaking the law. No one ever charged with espionage, even those who spied for U.S. enemies like the Soviet Union, and whose activities resulted in the death of American agents, has served a comparable amount of time behind bars to Jonathan Pollard, whose activities involved no such detrimental results. This is clearly an injustice.
Jonathan Pollard pled guilty as part of a plea bargain, but he was shown no leniency and was given the maximum sentence, comparable to that of Aldrich Ames, the chief of CIA counterintelligence in Eastern Europe, who passed critical defense secrets to the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and who was found responsible for the deaths of at least 11 U.S. agents. Much of the harm to American security alleged to have been caused by Jonathan Pollards actions may well have been caused by the espionage activities of Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen, whose actions came to light only after the Pollard sentencing.
We commend the forthright and principled stands taken by Mr. Korb and former Senator DeConcini and renew our call to President Obama for the release without delay of Jonathan Pollard, who is additionally very ill a present and should be reunited at long last with his family.