The Banality of Evil

More on Chinagate And Jonathan Pollard

Jewish Press New York - Editorial - March 19, 1999

Last week we noted in this space that the scandal over China's surreptitious acquisition of American missile technology is upon us and appears to be a story with "legs". That is, in the jargon of the newspaper world, it is a story that will not go away. And we also said that the initial reaction to the revelations of lax Clinton Administration attention to the problem, once it surfaced three years ago, reflected both a culture of viewing this sort of problem through a prism of foreign policy initiatives and drawing the wagons defensively around the President. What we had directly in mind were reports of efforts to cultivate better relations with China and also to avoid uncovering connections with China officialdom forged through China's contributions to President Clinton's reelection campaign. And ultimately we opined that as distinguished from the narrowly absolutist approach that has characterized Beltway discussion of the crimes of Jonathan Pollard similar actions [in other cases] have been typically discussed in far broader context.

Since last week's edition of the Jewish Press, there has been a revealing series of reportages in The New York Times, long a willing vehicle for Clinton Administration spinmeistering.

In a recent front page piece in the Sunday New York Times (Week In Review) entitled, "Seeing Beyond Spies is The Hard Part," the question was posed: " What effect will this [the Chinese Spying Episode] have on America's diplomacy, with a summit coming between the world's most powerful and most populous nations?"

"Practically zero," said Donald Gregg, a former Central Intelligence Agency station chief and ambassador in South Korea, and deputy

national security adviser to President George Bush. James Lille, a former CIA station chief and ambassador in Beijing, was quoted as saying, "Espionage is largely separate from the mainstream of foreign policy. You compartment it, you keep demagoguery out of it, you investigate, you nail the spy and you punish him, and you move on."

Henry Kissinger, the former Secretary of State and doyen of American diplomacy in China, made a similar point: "We should be adult enough to understand that major countries are going to spy on us. I'm assuming that we are spying on China. That should not in itself affect diplomatic relations."

And in a recent Op-ed in the same edition of The New York Times, entitled "The ABC's of Spying", former CIA Director Robert M. Gates asks: "Is anyone really surprised that China spies on us, trying to steal military, economic, technological and intelligence secrets? Does anyone believe this is new?"

To similar effect are weekend talk-show comments by National Security Advisor Sandy Berger, who tells anyone who will listen to him that, "other countries, including friendly countries," spied on us.

Finally, this past Monday, The New York Times published an Op-ed article entitled "Los Alamos Spies Then and Now" authored by David Holloway, the Director of Stanford's Institute for International Studies. Holloway concedes that "the current scandal conjures up memories of Soviet atomic espionage. There are similarities between the cases, but the differences between them are more significant." Holloway concludes, "Even as the United States strives to tighten its security and its export controls, it is fanciful to believe that the disseminating of science and technology can be controlled completely by one country. American politicians should keep this in mind before they strain relations with China and other countries."...

Yet for all of the concerted effort to trivialize the Chinese pilferage, serious commentators are saying that within 10 to 20 years China will become a potent force for the rekindling of the cold war. And they say, China's modernization could accelerate its ability to threaten its neighbors.

We note all of this, in addition to endeavoring to share our concerns about the Clinton Administration's cavalier - perhaps worse - attitude towards this most serious issue, with a view to put the case of Jonathan Pollard in perspective. Trust us, the aforementioned sentiments reflect the view of the American foreign policy establishment. The evil of espionage is viewed as just one factor in the overall mix. Yet when it comes to Jonathan Pollard, the Jew who spied for the Jewish State, the rules change. Countervailing factors have no place. He spied, therefore he rots.

It is time for the high muck-a-mucks in the Jewish community to recognize this anomaly for what it is. It is nothing less than special rules

[a double standard]

for a Jew and the Jewish State.

Nor can we forget that there has never been a public disclosure of exactly what damage Jonathan Pollard did to American security. Essentially, all we have is a secret "trust me" accusatory letter from then Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger to the judge presiding over Pollard's case- [filed moments before sentencing, and ever since then neither Pollard nor his attorneys have ever been allowed to see the document in order to challenge it]. Yet Weinberger was an accused perjurer who escaped prosecution only because of a pardon by President George Bush...

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