When Justice Judges Itself

Editorial - The Jewish Press - May 13, 1994

The words used by the President in denying clemency to Jonathan Pollard were not his own. Nor do they appear to have been those of Janet Reno. Ms. Reno apparently took the official statement of the Justice Department in asserting Pollard's guilt, and passed it along to the White House. So much for Reno and Clinton "studying" the case.

One may properly ask why Clinton had his Attorney General study the case and report to him. Was not the Justice Department itself guilty of a "breach of the plea agreement [with Pollard, thereby creating] a fundamental miscarriage of justice requiring relief under 28 USC 2255" (Opinion of dissenting Appellate Judge Stephen Williams 3/20/92).

Asking Justice to review its own case is like asking the fox in charge of the chicken coop to submit an official decision on the disappearance of chickens. The President might as well have asked Pollard's attorneys to submit an official decision on the case.

Not only was the Justice Department far from blameless in the case: so were the Intelligence agencies, Defense Department, Caspar Weinberger, and others.

Just last week, an FBI agent convicted of spying was released after nine years in a minimum security prison. But then, he had been spying only for the USSR, a former enemy of the U.S. Obviously it is a far more serious crime to spy for Israel, an ally - if the spy is a Jew.

Mr. President, is it moral and just for the Justice department, whose hands were certainly not clean in the Pollard case, to render a deciding opinion on Pollard's release?