Caspar Weinberger has dropped a bombshell that could dramatically affect the fate of Jonathan Pollard.
In an interview in the September 1999 issue of the Middle East Quarterly, the former defense secretary says that his still-secret memo to Judge Aubrey Robinson was written at the request of the presiding judge, who "made a formal, official request to me to supply" an assessment of the damage caused by Pollard's espionage. The Weinberger memorandum, which is still classified, has been withheld from the Pollard defense team.
The revelation is important because the Weinberger memo remains central to Robinson's decision to overturn Pollard's plea bargain agreement with the United States Justice Department, and it is routinely cited as evidence of the severity of Pollard's crime in passing classified information to Israel.
"The judge is allowed to read stuff from a relative saying 'this is a good guy,'" Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz told the New Jersey Jewish News. But now judges routinely "put everything on the record. It is improper to secretly solicit information and then, on the record, imply that [U.S. Attorney Joseph] de Genova introduced it."
Although Dershowitz allowed that not all information is shared, "Anything the judge asks for has to be put on the record. For the judge to solicit a substantive memorandum and then to use it in this way raises fundamental questions."
In the interview with MEQ's Daniel Pipes, Weinberger repeats his statement about the involvement of Robinson five times:
Robinson did not inform the defense that he had invited a submission from the secretary of defense and made no provision for the defense to see the submission in advance. Nor did he allow the defense counsel adequate time to study the submission and prepare a legal defense to challenge it, [since the submission was only introduced in court in the last moments before sentencing. Since then, neither Pollard nor his cleared attorneys have ever been allowed to access the document again to challenge it in court.]
In a Tuesday, Sept. 28, letter to the NJJN, Pollard spelled out what he saw as the consequences for his case. "If Weinberger is lying about the judge having solicited his memorandum, then this seriously calls into question his credibility as an 'assessor' of my actions," Pollard writes. "On the other hand, if he's telling the truth and the judge did, in fact, engage in such ex parte behavior, then somebody's going to have to stand up and call for a full-scale investigation of the judge's behavior. His apparent unethical actions in this matter were later compounded by his decision to uphold the government's refusal to share Weinberger's memorandum with my lawyers during the...appeal over which he presided."
In making the new revelation Weinberger does not back away from his assessment that Pollard caused significant damage to the United States, [even though no hard evidence was ever produced in court to support his claims, nor have any examples of potential damage that Weinberger predicted ever been reallized over the last 15 years.]
"The whole case was a source of very considerable potential and actual danger and damage to the United States, primarily from the vantage point of information, intelligence sources, and methods that were lost," Weinberger told Pipes. "We were impacted very severely." [Again, no hard evidence was ever produced in court not has any ever surfaced in the intervening years to support Weinberger's claims of damage against Pollard . See "Fact" sections of "Caspar Weinberger Lies 1999" for details.]
Curiously, Weinberger professed ignorance of the Victim Impact Statement filed by the U.S. government sometime between May 1986 and January 1987 [- a document which he should have become intimately familiar with while writing his own assessment.] In detailing the government's view of the damage caused by Pollard's espionage, the VIS predicted that Pollard's crime would threaten U.S. relations with its Arab allies and reduce U.S. bargaining leverage over intelligence with the Israelis [- something that obviously has not occurred, particularly in the light of America's current key role in the Middle East peace process.]
"I'm not familiar with that statement; I suppose I should be," said the former defense secretary.