The Spy Who Didn’t Walk
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  • WigWag

    Professor Mead is right; no one knows if Jonathan Pollard will ever “walk.” So far Obama has refused to grant clemency to Pollard and Romney suggested that while he was open to the possibility of releasing Pollard on humanitarian grounds he couldn’t offer any guarantees. Speaking to a Jewish audience, Vice President Biden said that Obama would grant clemency to the convicted spy over “my dead body.”

    On the other hand many of Romney’s foreign policy advisors have expressed sympathy about the idea of freeing Pollard including one of Romney’s key advisors on Israel, Dan Senor.

    My guess is that Romney is far more likely to release Pollard than any of his predecessors of either political party. It’s just one more reason I plan to vote for him.

  • Why does the Israeli government care so much to get him out?

  • Government Drone

    @Luke: Because it seems to be the Israelis’ policy never to leave one of their boys behind. They will trade 500 Palestinian terrorists for one Israeli soldier, with little if any complaint about such a deal. There’s something to recommend that attitude, though it doesn’t always mean the best policy. In the case of the soldier-for-terrorists swap, they often get renewed attacks by the just-released prisoners, & in the case of Pollard, their petitions become one of the few genuinely universal irritants in US-Israeli relations.

  • Jeffrey Marsh

    I am disappointed that in your post on Jonathan Pollard case you have failed to display the admirably tough minded and realistic approach that makes your usual work so refreshing and stimulating. Your summary of the Pollard case quotes a number of vague and unduly alarmist accusations about his actions 27 years ago: “American officials believe [the actions] did grave harm to U.S. security interests. The documents he stole revealed sensitive US intelligence concerning a number of countries from Tunisia to Pakistan, as well as China. He has also been accused of selling information to Pakistan and South Africa, and some believe that information he sold may have lead (sic) to the deaths of CIA agents in Eastern Europe.” (my emphasis added)

    You also state “In the view of the American security establishment, Pollard deserved what he got, and more.” Nobody to my knowledge is arguing that Pollard did not deserve a serious sentence for espionage, there is a widespread consensus — including many members of the security establishment – that the life sentence he received was disproportionate compared with other, more serious, cases and that he has already been punished more than he deserved.

    Those who have issued calls for clemency include senior officials who were familiar with the case from its inception, most notably Secretary of State George Shultz, National Security Adviser Robert “Bud” McFarlane, David Durenberger and Lee Hamilton, who were respective Chairmen of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees. More recent appointees who share this view include former CIA Director James Woolsey and former Attorney General Michael Mukasey.

    Lawrence Korb, another former senior defense official, later the CFR’s Director of National Security Studies, has written that the unprecedented sentence handed out to Pollard, which was more severe that the pleas bargain previously agreed to by government prosecutors, was a result of intervention by then-Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger. In Korb’s opinion, Weinbeger’s still publicly unrevealed hysterical assertions of the damage caused by Pollard’s actions, were a product of Weinberger’s “visceral dislike for Israel and its impact on US policy.”

    Perhaps you might consider revising your opinion of the Pollard case.

  • Frank Berger

    It’s interesting and revealing that so many of those writing in an outraged manner about Pollard being released simply ignore the one fact that justifies it after 26 years – that no one convicted of spying against the U.S. for an ally has *ever* been sentenced nearly as harshly as Pollard. An honest journalist couldn’t possibly ignore that issue altogether.

    Nor would a competent and honest journalist repeat unsubstantiated charges against Pollard for which he was not convicted as if they were facts.

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