Nice Try Mr. Gore, But Clintonisms Won't Work
Source: NY Jewish Week - December 17, 1999
"My position on the Jonathan Pollard case is that it
should be handled through the appropriate legal channels
and that only the president of the United States can act
upon a petition for clemency, and should do so only upon a
recommendation from the Justice Department."
VP Al Gore, The NY JEWISH WEEK
Nice try, Mr. Gore. During his two terms in office, President Clinton repeatedly denied clemency to Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard using the spurious excuse that he was acting on the "recommendations of the Justice Department".
Now you want Mr. Clinton's job and you try to convince us to give it to you by saying the same things Mr. Clinton once said, and promising to do just what he did.
Sorry Mr. Gore, it won't work any more. Here are all the reasons why:
These blatant judicial equities that have festered for 15 years in the Pollard case - exacerbated by the egregious behavior of the Justice Department towards Mr. Pollard and his attorneys - aren't going away.
- A broken plea agreement
- A false charge of treason
- Gross procedural errors
- Secret evidence
- Blatantly inaccurate evidence
- A grossly disproportionate sentence
- Ineffective legal counsel
- Ex parte communication between the judge and the prosecution
The very agency that you would rely on for a recommendation as to whether to grant clemency to Jonathan Pollard - the Justice Department- is a major part of the problem, and in no way any part of the solution.
This, Mr. Gore, is precisely the reason that the American Constitution grants the President of the United States not only the right of executive clemency, but also the responsibility to invoke this power in order to assure equal justice for all Americans - in spite of the vested interests of any other government agency.
What is more, Mr. Gore, now that Mr. Clinton has shown us how easy it is for the president to invoke his constitutional powers - he recently defied negative recommendations from virtually all of his government advisers and invoked his right to grant executive clemency to 14 unrepentant FALN Puerto Rican terrorists - the excuse that "it's up to Justice" is now dead in the water. You'd better think of a new one, or learn to swim.
Remember, Mr. Gore, Israel and the Jewish Community are no longer as naive as they once were about the Pollard case. It's an open secret that Mr. Clinton committed to release Jonathan Pollard as an integral part of the Wye Accords over a year ago, and then reneged at the last minute.
No matter how hard you try to emulate Mr. Clinton, you can no longer ignore the complete lack of due process in this case nor how unfairly the current Administration has handled the whole affair.
The Jewish Week quotes you Mr. Gore, as you insisting "you will find no stronger friend of Israel in the United States of America than [me]."
Mr. Gore, honest responsible action towards Israel and her agent Jonathan Pollard is the litmus test of any "friend of Israel".
[NY Jewish Week Article Follows]
Gore On Pollard: It's Justice's Call
NY JEWISH WEEK - December 17, 1999
Eric J. Greenberg , Staff Writer
Vice president in Brooklyn says clemency up to Justice Department; renews anti-voucher
Vice President Al Gore, making his first campaign trip to Brooklyn's Orthodox community, found himself at odds with supporters on several key issues - including private school vouchers and freedom for convicted spy Jonathan Pollard.
Gore said Pollard should be granted clemency by the president only if the Justice Department recommends it.
It apparently was the first time Gore has addressed the issue as he raises campaign funds for his 2000 Democratic presidential nomination bid.
"My position on the Jonathan Pollard case is that it should be handled through the appropriate legal channels and that only the president of the United States can act upon a petition for clemency, and should do so only upon a recommendation from the Justice Department," Gore said.
He was responding to a question from one of about 60 people at a private fund-raiser Dec. 8
at the Borough Park home of Democrat Orthodox power broker Abraham Biderman.
Gore said that when a clemency application is submitted by Pollard and "appropriately
reviewed, then the decision should be made in that context and not a political context."
Because the Justice Department has several times rejected recommending clemency since
Pollard was sentenced to a life term for spying for Israel in 1986, some observers say Gore
seemed to be signaling he would not commute Pollard's sentence as president.
"Some people were not thrilled to hear that," said one attendee of Gore's response.
Seymour Reich, who heads a committee on Pollard for the Conference of Presidents of Major
American Jewish Organizations, accused Gore of "ducking the issue."
"He knows that the Justice Department has already recommended to the president that
commutation be denied," said Reich, who did not attend the Brooklyn event.
"Regardless of what recommendation this Justice Department might make in the Pollard
matter, it's the president who makes that decision, and therefore Gore should be able to
share with us his views as a candidate for the presidency as to how he would react to the
application for clemency."
President Bill Clinton, who twice has denied Pollard clemency, promised in October 1998 to
have five national security agencies review the case again as part of a deal to conclude the
Wye peace accords between Israel and the Palestinians.
Clinton's initiative sparked a near mutiny in America's intelligence community, which claimed
that Pollard is one of the worst spies in U.S. history and should never be freed.
Reich said four federal agencies, including the CIA, have recommended against commutation,
while it is not known how the fifth, Justice, has ruled. Clinton's decision is still pending.
Asked to clarify Gore's statement, a New York Gore campaign spokesperson referred
questions to Gore's vice presidential press staff. A Gore spokesperson in Washington said
that "I think the critical points are that it is the president's decision, and he makes it in
consultation with the relevant authorities."
His Brooklyn host, Biderman, a former finance commissioner under Mayor Ed Koch, said that
"obviously most people would like to see Pollard free" but added that Gore should not be
judged on one issue.
However, Gore is also at odds with the Orthodox community for his staunch opposition to
private school vouchers.
"I'm confident that I disagree with many of you here on the question," Gore told the crowd. "I
understand the feeling that payment of taxes in support of public schools and simultaneously
paying tuition at private schools creates the feeling that this is a problem that must be
But citing the principle of church-state separation, he said, "If the national government begins
to put taxpayer funding into religious schools in response to political desires of this
community or that community, then the line which is crossed is a line that was originally put in
place to protect religious freedom and to guard against religious intolerance."
One participant said that Gore's stance should not dissuade the Orthodox community from
voting for him over Democrat rival Bill Bradley because Gore has a long and positive history
with the Orthodox.
"I think the recognition of people in the room was that for years he has been a friend of Israel
and the Jewish people and that friendship buys you a little leeway," this participant said.
Asked about whether as president he would move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to
Jerusalem - as stipulated by congressional legislation - Gore implied that Israel itself had
asked the U.S. not to take actions that would damage America's role as a peace facilitator.
"We have respected the request of Israel therefore to play a role in facilitating that dialogue,
and that means showing forbearance in what would otherwise be our wish to move quickly to
do exactly as you suggest," the vice president said.
One Orthodox leader backed Gore's contention about Israel's request. In 1995 Congress
enacted legislation directing the embassy be relocated to Jerusalem this year.
But Clinton, citing "national security" reasons, has delayed the action, inviting criticism from
Republicans and right-wing Jewish sources.
Regarding the future status of Jerusalem, Gore said it must be resolved only by the
negotiating parties, Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
"I will fight against any effort by the United Nations, or anybody else, or any other institution
to take away from Israel the right to reach peace with security on terms that Israel drafts with
its negotiating partners."
On Israel, Gore said "you will find no stronger friend of Israel in the United States of America
He declared that Israel should not be pushed into conditions for a peace agreement by
unnamed outside forces, speaking to a claim made by some politically conservative Orthodox
Gore, looking fit in a dark blue suit, schmoozed with the audience, talking about family and
his own strong religious convictions. (He's a Southern Baptist.)
Gore noted that he became a grandfather for the first time on July 4, and was astonished to
discover one woman in the audience who claimed more than 31 grandchildren. "I'm just a
rookie," he joked.
Biderman's home was the second stop of two fund-raisers in the city. Earlier, Gore attended
a Greenwich Village event sponsored by state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a
Manhattan Democrat. The events raised a total of $250,000.
Gore's visit included a stop at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan, where he helped light a
Chanukah menorah and gave children plastic dreidels.