Clearing The Air On Pollard

The New Jersey Jewish News - Editorial - January 28, 1999

A Monday, Jan. 25, Washington Post editorial finally clears some of the fog that has descended over the Jonathan Pollard case. Not that the Post has gone soft on Pollard. No way. The editorial reiterates a view of the convicted spy as "a contemptible and duplicitous mercenary" who "has earned no favor, nomercy, no benefit of any doubt."

What is remarkable about the editorial, nevertheless, is its conclusion that "as a defendant in an American courtroom, [Pollard] should have the protections available to others on trial." Pollard does not have those protections, writes the Post, because "he is in the position of having his fate determined in part by materials to which he had no access and proceedings of which he was not a part."

How can the intelligence community leak the damage assessment of Pollard's espionage to journalists and members of Congress, while at the same time continue to withhold them from Pollard and his attorneys? Pollard deserves an opportunity to refute the evidence against him.

"The requirement here is not for relief for a...spy but for some degree of greater openness for the American people," writes the Post.

"Especially with the passage of time, cannot a way be found to pierce some of the secrecy and provide the public with a better means of judging whether fairness was achieved in this case?" Just so.

The Post is quite right that all Americans have a stake in the answer to the lingering question of whether justice was done. All the recent leaks undermine the government's case for continued secrecy. If the "facts" can be shared with readers of The New Yorker, why not with the accused?

The Justice Department should share all damage assessment materials with Pollard's attorneys, allowing the give-and-take of the judicial process to arrive at the truth of whether Pollard is guilty of such crimes that he should not be pardoned or granted clemency until he leaves jail in a coffin.