Ackerman Presses Pollard Case
The NY Jewish Week - May 12, 2000 - Stewart Ain
*See Justice4JP Note: "What's Wrong with this Picture?" following article.
Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Queens/L.I.) said President Bill Clinton asked to meet with him to discuss the Pollard case after Ackerman made a plea for a commutation of Pollard's life sentence for spying for Israel and told
him how contrite Pollard was.
"He said it was his understanding that Pollard had not expressed any remorse," said Ackerman of their conversation, which took place aboard Air Force One Monday following the funeral of John Cardinal O'Connor.
"The president was genuinely surprised to hear that."*
Attempts to reach the White House for comment were unsuccessful.
Pollard, 45, pleaded guilty in 1987 to passing classified American intelligence secrets to Israel. At the time of his arrest in November 1985, he was a civilian U.S. Navy intelligence officer. Clinton has consistently rebuffed requests for Pollard's release on humanitarian grounds. "I told the president that I had met with Pollard and that he was extremely remorseful," Ackerman said of their prison meeting three years ago. "He said he believed that what he did was wrong and illegal and deserving of punishment. I asked Pollard that if, knowing what he knew now and believing that his actions were important for the survival of Israel and the Jewish people, what would he do if he had to do it over again. He thought for a moment and said he would have spoken with someone much wiser than himself - his father."
The congressman told Clinton that Pollard said he was not seeking a pardon because no one could excuse what he did. But what Pollard wanted, "and what so many of us want, is to see justice done. When you view his
sentence in the context of other sentences of those who spied for our enemies, this punishment is more severe - even though he acted as an agent for a friend and ally of the U.S."
Ackerman said Clinton asked him to set up a meeting in the next two weeks to discuss the case. "I'm bringing the passion I feel about this particular sentencing," he said.
President Clinton began reviewing the Pollard case when he entered office 8 years ago - it was one of his election campaign promises. He has been reviewing it ever since.
In all of his 8 years of reviewing, the President insists that he has never come across any of Jonathan Pollard's expressions of remorse - not even the one that was personally obtained for him by former Prime Minister Shimon Peres in 1996.
Two years ago, at the signing of the Wye Accords, Mr. Clinton again promised that he would personally do a "swift", thorough review of the Pollard case. He promised to invite submissions from "both sides." This was after he reneged on his promise to then-Prime Minister Netanyahu to free Jonathan Pollard as an integral part of the Wye Accords.
Mr. Clinton then invited all of those agencies who have historically been viciously opposed to Pollard's release to submit their views for his new review. He did not invite any of the proponents of clemency for Pollard to submit their views. Both the President and and his legal counsel refused to meet with Pollard's attorney or his wife, or anyone who could speak knowledgeably on the case, in support of clemency. Indeed, Mr. Clinton also refused to meet with a delegation of Jewish leaders including Edgar Bronfman, Alan Dershowitz and Eli Wiesel, who requested the meeting in order to express their views for his new review. Neither were they permitted to submit their position in writing.
In short, the only voices Mr. Clinton was willing to hear, and the only submissions he was willing to receive were those with vested interests in keeping Pollard locked up forever. Is it anyone wonder that he has never heard about Jonathan Pollard's expressions of remorse?
Jonathan Pollard has now served 3 times as long as anyone in the history of the US for a similar offense. In his fifteenth year of a life sentence with no end, Jonathan Pollard has expressed remorse so often that the Justice4JP web site has devoted an entire subpage to his expression of remorse.
Justice4JP wonders why it is that remorse was no obstacle for President Clinton in freeing 13 unrepentant Puerto Rican FALN terrorists . These terrorists, whose organization is responsible for bombings, bank robberies, death and destruction in the US, refused to express remorse. But President Clinton freed them anyway - in spite of the strong objections of all of his agencies and advisors including the CIA the FBI and Congress. So why is it that remorse is an issue for the President only in the case of Jonathan Pollard. More importantly why is it that only when it is Jonathan Pollard, the President just can't seem to hear or see remorse at all no matter how often it is expressed...
In a recent NY radio interview, Esther Pollard, Jonathan's wife, made the following statement: "Jewish leaders repeatedly state that Jonathan Pollard deserves to be punished, but not more harshly than any one else in America sentenced for a similar crime. How long will they go on saying this without doing anything about it? Jonathan has already served three times as long as anyone in the US sentenced for a similar crime. How much longer before the Jewish community is willing to act in search of equal justice, not just talk about it?"
... And the ADL and the Jewish Federations are still asleep at the wheel.
Letter of Remorse secured by PM Shimon Peres