Clemency for Pollard

Editorial - The Forward (NY) - January 15, 1993

President Bush has only a few days left to his presidency, but it is enough time to resolve one of the most painful episodes of the past 12 years, the case of Jonathan Pollard. The former Navy intelligence specialist has been in jail for more than seven years now, under a life sentence for spying for Israel. Mr. Bush has asserted that he would keep an open on whether to use his powers of clemency in the case of Pollard, so long as the matter came to him through channels. In fact, the appeals process has been exhausted, and the matter has now reached the president's desk through the correct course. No one is arguing that Pollard is a Dreyfus, for Pollard is not innocent. But neither did Pollard spy for an American enemy, though he drew a sentence far harsher than was drawn by a number of spies who operated on behalf of our worst enemies, such as the Soviet Union. Pollard himself, in a statement of remorse from his cell at Marion, Ill., has acknowledged that his actions were criminal and were profoundly wrong. It is hard to imagine that Israel's government, in working with Mr. Bush, would shy from an acknowledgement of its own share of responsibility. Mr. Bush himself has exceptional credibility in this matter. He was our director of central intelligence when the satellites were lofted that sent down the evidence that panicked Pollard. This included data showing that the Iraqi regime was assembling poison-gas weapons. No one doubts these weapons were intended for use against a Jewish state harboring the survivors of the Nazi's attempt to exterminate the Jews. Mr. Bush was the commander in chief who led the world against the Iraqi host. He has shown he can wield the president's constitutional powers of pardon and clemency in cases where more is involved than the letter of the law. Mr. Bush is therefore uniquely qualified to unravel this knot with an act of clemency. Mr. Bush would not want to, nor can anyone ever, erase Pollard's guilt. But he could do justice by indicating that the Pollard case involves issues that are larger than Pollard himself. The act would remove a canker in elations between Israel and America. It would bring honor to Mr. Bush himself as a man who has the statecraft to administer justice even in those extraordinary cases when law becomes entangled with history.

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