Good News and Bad News: New Pollard Review Underway

The New York Jewish Week - December 11, 1998 - James D. Besser

President Bill Clinton latest review of the Jonathan Pollard matter - promised in the last frenzied hours of the Wye River summit in October, when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threatened to walk away from the talks if the convicted spy wasn't released - could be completed by January 11th the White House said this week.

For Pollard supporters, Clinton's decision to review requests for commutation - which he has rejected twice in recent years- may be good news.

But there is also bad news: Clinton also said he would be consulting with some of the same forces in the Government that have been most vociferous in opposing Pollard's release. That includes law enforcement and intelligence officials such as George Tenet, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, who threatened to resign if Pollard's release was part of the Wye agreement.

The apparent make up of the presidential review incensed Pollard's attorney, Larry Dub, who requested the right to review material submitted to the White House on the case - a request sources here say is unlikely to be heeded. In a letter to Clinton, Dub wrote that "I note with dismay that, in reviewing the Jonathan Pollard case, you have sought only the opinion of those authorities with vested interests, and whose public opposition to my client's release has been rife with slander, false allegations, and gross distortions of the facts."

Specifically, he pointed to Tenet's threat to resign, and charged that the CIA has "initiated a witch-hunt to rid the agency of Jews holding security clearances."