Poetic Justice

Caspar Weinberger, the man who persecuted Pollard, now faces trial

Prof. Sol Modell - Heritage S.W. Jewish Press (Flordia) - August 14, 1992

Former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger has been indicted for lying to Congress and attempting to cover up these lies regarding America's secret sales of arms and high technology equipment during the 1980s. This couldn't have happened to a "nicer guy." We don't know how his case will turn out, but I do know that Mr. Weinberger is a scoundrel, and that he fully deserves to have the book thrown at him.

During his term in office, he became known, almost uniquely in the Reagan cabinet, for his visceral hatred of Israel. Whatever the reasons - and there were doubtless some that had to do with the fact, which he was determined to mentally reject, that his paternal grandfather was Jewish - he did everything in his power to weaken and undermine Israel.

As early as 1982 in Lebanon, he cited for unique bravery in "confronting the enemy" (Israel, our ally) a drunken American soldier who stepped in front of an advancing Israeli tank column waving his pistol in the air. Israel was a friend, not an enemy and the soldier was drunk, not brave, but by Weinberger it was seen as an opportunity to denigrate and humiliate the Jewish state. This was typical Weinberger.

In 1983, the United States and Israel signed a document called an executive agreement, and it was endorsed by Congress, this assuming a status equal to that of a treaty, which is the law of the land. It provided that Israel and the United States were obligated to transfer to each other all intelligence information related to their national security interests. To the best of my knowledge, Israel meticulously met its obligations under this agreement. In fact, Gen. George Keegan, former chief of Air Force Intelligence, said that Israel had been worth five CIAs to the United States.

But this was not true of the U.S. government. While working in the office of U.S. Naval Intelligence, Jonathan Pollard, an employee, found a mass of intelligence information regarding efforts that were being made by Iran, Iraq, Syria and other Arab countries to develop chemical, biological and nuclear weapons of mass destruction, and even plans by the PLO and other Arab terrorists to attack Israel. None of this information had been given to Israel, even though the law mandated that this be done. When Pollard asked his superiors why the information was being withheld from Israel he was told, as if it were a huge joke (with Auschwitz in mind), that Jews had become too sensitive about gas.

There is not the slightest doubt in the world that it was Weinberger, then Secretary of Defense, who had issued the order for such intelligence information to be withheld from Israel. As he later said, when questioned about his decision to violate the agreement with Israel, he wanted to prevent Israel from becoming too strong, particularly in comparison with its Arab neighbors. His breaking of the law did not bother him.

As far as I am concerned, despite what the indictment against Pollard may have said, and despite what Pollard himself said when he admitted being a spy, he was not a spy and he did not violate the law. All he did was to execute or administer an executive agreement - a law of the United States - which his superiors (the U.S. government) had violated.

As I've said, it was Weinberger and those who carried out his orders who violated the law. If this were a sane and rational world, that would be the only rational way to look at the matter.

Weinberger told the court, under oath, that the damage done by Pollard to the American national interest was greater than that done by any other contemporary spies, including the Walkers, who had sold, over a period of 18 years, information of the most vital nature to the Soviet Union, with which we were at that time in a state of "cold war."

Weinberger actually said: "It is difficult for me, even in the so-called year of the spy, to conceive of a greater harm to our national security than that caused by Pollard." This was a flat-out lie!

Weinberger also accused Jonathan Pollard of treason and said that he deserves to be hanged. Unfortunately, most Americans do not know that the crime of treason is defined in the U.S. Constitution. In Article III, Section 3, it says: "Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort."

But Pollard did not levy war against the United States. In fact, nothing he sent to Israel harmed the security interest of the United States in any way. Moreover, he was not (illegible word) to America's enemies, since President Reagan and the U.S. Congress had proclaimed by official resolution that the Jewish state was to be considered a "major non-NATO strategic ally of the United States."

There is not the slightest doubt that Weinberger was fully aware of this constitutional provision when he uttered that terrible lie about Pollard having committed treason. It was this statement and other damnable ones like it that helped convince Judge Aubrey Robinson, who was already prejudiced against Pollard because of his (Robinson's) antagonism toward Israel, to commit Jonathan to prison for life.

It would therefore constitute the worst possible travesty of justice for Weinberger to escape prosecution and commitment to a federal prison while Pollard rots in the most forbidding penal institution in the United States. And it would be a true example of "poetic justice" if the Pollard case, now being prepared for presentation to the United States Supreme Court, ends with Jonathan being freed and Weinberger going to jail.

One of the saddest aspects of the Pollard case has been the refusal of the national leadership of the Anti-Defamation League, B'nai Brith, the American Jewish Committee, the American Jewish Congress and the National Association of Jewish Community relations Councils to see a "Jewish issue" in the way Jonathan Pollard was convicted and sentenced to prison.

I challenge anyone of these so-called leaders to say, with a straight face, that if Pollard's name had been Jones or Smith, and if the country involved had been England or Canada instead of Israel, that he would have been given a life sentence without parole. In fact, given what has happened in the past, I dare say that this hypothetical person wouldn't even have been indicted, and that the matter would have been quickly and quietly hushed up and forgotten.

It comes back to what we have seen before. These so-called leaders are in deadly fear of being charged with defending a "traitor," of "dual loyalty," and even of anti-Americanism. They dread this above all else, a truth that emerged in September 1991, when President bush, with savage condemnation (written, I am told, by one of the Jewish gang of four in the State Department and national Security Council), made such an accusation against the timid Jewish leadership supporting the $10 billion loan guarantee and routed them.

If, at some future time, an objective history of this period of American history is written, Jonathan Pollard will be remembered as a young American who may or may not be called a spy, but who, as a patriot, did all he could to uphold the honor of his country when other, highly-placed officials, most prominent among whom was Caspar Weinberger, did all they could to besmirch and denigrate that honor.

Even if Pollard is to be considered a spy, the question to be asked and answered is why he did what he did. Spies are not condemned simply because of what they do. During the American Revolution, a young man who spied against the British on behalf of the American revolutionary forces was caught and hanged. His name was Nathan Hale. I am not sure how he is treated in our public schools today, but in my day he was depicted as a great American hero. Before being executed, he said, "I regret only that I have but one life to give for my country." Many others, unnamed and unsung, sacrificed their lives for America in this fashion.

In a letter to a rabbi, Pollard tells about his discovery of the intelligence information concerning the efforts being made by the terrorist Arab states to produce weapons of mass destruction and describes how such weapons could be used to utterly devastate the Jewish state and slaughter much of its population. He then asks: "What was I supposed to do? Close my eyes and remain silent while the Arabs intent on destroying Israel continued to develop the instruments with which they planned to achieve this hellish goal?"

He then adds: "I knew that in a technical sense I was violating the law. But what I did could not, in any way, injure the United States and, possibly, could help prevent the destruction of Israel, I felt I had to do what appeared to be, under the circumstances, the right thing to do.

Jonathan Pollard can be criticized, but it is not really possible to question his motive. That, in a fundamental sense, was positive and just. One may also believe that Pollard should have been jailed. But no one can rationally deny that the U.S. government was guilty of violating its solemn commitments to him, no one can deny that Jonathan was subjected over a period of years to cruel and unusual punishment, no one can challenge the fact that not a person in our history, under similar circumstances, has received such a harsh sentence, and that Pollard's rights under the Fifth and Eighth Amendments to the Constitution were grossly violated.

Jonathan Pollard should not have to spend another day in prison.


: Weinberger was later pardoned by President Bush in the final days of his term.