Pollard And The Transfer of Military Technology To China

June 6, 1998 - The Jewish Press - Comment and Opinion - Editorial

President Clinton's transfer of missile technology to China, which is being widely blamed for triggering the current round of nuclear testing in the Indian sub-continent, and the threat of further such actions around the globe are properly the subject of Congressional scrutiny. It is in everyone's interests that there be a determination as to whether Chinese contributions to President Clinton's reelection campaign played any role in the Clinton Administration's aiding Chinese military technology while China has missiles aimed at the United States.

But there is also an interesting side-bar issue relating to the continuing incarceration of Jonathan Pollard. To be sure Pollard's transfer of secrets to Israel was an illegal act of espionage, even though the recipient was and is a staunch ally of the US. Pollard certainly could not properly determine on his own whether our nation's military secrets should be shared with anyone! And of course, absent any corrupt motive, even if one were to substantively question the wisdom of transferring information to China, President Clinton could certainly determine that such action was in the best interests of the US. But what intrigues us is the ineluctable disproportionality and banality that emerge from a comparison of the two matters.

By any measure, the risks to American security posed by the enhancement of Chinese missile technology are unquestionably far greater than those posed by any information Pollard gave Israel, even if one accepts that President Clinton acted properly. Yet Pollard continues to languish in solitary confinement in a federal prison where he has been held for 12 years!

We have long shared the view that the Draconian sentence meted out to Pollard was the perverse result of his spying for Israel. It was precisely because Israel was the beneficiary of his espionage - which because of political, military and social ties with the US, would ordinarily be seen as a mitigating circumstance - that then Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger and his crowd sought to make a point to American Jews.

There really remains no rhyme or reason for Pollard's continued imprisonment. It is time to put what he did in perspective.

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