Pollard vs. Vanunu: A Double Standard At Work

Howard Silbiger - The Suburban (Montreal, Canada) - January 9, 2002

How's this for a double standard? Worldwide pressure is growing on Israel to release Mordechai Vanunu, a former Israeli scientist serving an 18-year sentence in Ashkelon Prison for selling information about Israel's secret nuclear weapons program to a British newspaper. Vanunu was arrested in Rome on Sept. 30, 1986 and held in solitary confinement until March 12, 1998, when Israel bowed to world opinion and released Vanunu into the general prison population.

Driven by a U.S. lobby group, the campaign to release Vanunu claims it has the support of 36 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, plus some of the biggest names in the leftist peace movement.

Isn't it strange these same American rights activists are silent as to the fate of Jonathan Pollard?

Jonathan Pollard was a civilian analyst working for U.S. Naval Intelligence. In the early 1980s, he leaked classified information to Israel regarding Iraq's potential for waging nuclear and biological warfare. It is believed that the information supplied by Pollard was the catalyst for Israel's 1981 air attack on Iraq's newly-completed nuclear facility; and responsible for the fact that during the 1991 Gulf War, Israelis were provided with protection against biological weaponry. As a result of the information Pollard passed to Israel then, Israel continues to this day to provide gas masks to its civilian population and requires the construction of a sealed room in every home.

There's not the slightest doubt in the Western intelligence community that Pollard saved lives, perhaps the State of Israel and possibly even the world from a nuclear holocaust.

For his actions on behalf of a U.S. ally, Pollard received a life sentence with virtually no chance of parole (in complete violation of a plea agreement he honored and the US violated) - the harshest sentence ever handed out in the U.S. for a similar offence. Much of Pollard's sentence has been served in solitary confinement and in some of the harshest conditions that the US penal system can mete out. A succession of U.S. presidents have refused to commute Pollard's sentence on the ground that he allegedly caused extreme harm to national security. Yet, to date no US official has been able to point to a single example of such harm, nor has any evidence ever been offered to support this claim.

Now that world suspicion is growing that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein played a role in the anthrax attacks on American media and politicians, it's time the American State Department reopened the Pollard file.

The Pollard stonewall may stem from the realization by American investigators that the U.S. was complicit in the creation of Iraq's biological program. It's now widely speculated the weapons-grade Ames-strain anthrax was bred by U.S. laboratories. Pollard informed Israel that Iraq's program was financially and intellectually aided by the U.S. government to offset the spread of radical Islamism, primarily from Iran.

If this is true, Pollard's release could undermine the credibility of administrations from Ronald Reagan to George Bush Sr.

When Iraq turned on the U.S. in 1990, Bush Sr. was quick in declaring war and his armies were instructed to specifically target biological warfare plants. After the war, the U.S. was the only country insisting that the United Nations send in weapons inspectors to disarm Iraq's biological factories.

In 1998, U.S. weapons inspectors discovered evidence that Iraq at one time possessed nearly 200 missiles and bombs with various biochemical warheads, including botulinum toxin, aflatoxin and anthrax.

The Pollard case is also believed to be the reason that the FBI is not putting credence into the theory that the current strain of anthrax may have been imported by Bin Laden terrorist Mohammed Atta, the alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S.

The hypothesis comes from the authoritative Jane's Security Report , which theorized that Atta obtained the anthrax from Iraqi secret service agents during a visit to Prague in the months preceding the attacks. "It is highly possible," reports Jane's "that the spores were passed to Atta by Iraqi agents with the clear intention of infecting the American infidels."

Jane's also believes that Atta may have instructed sleeper terror cells into he U.S. to mail the anthrax to media and high-level U.S. government officials once the Sept. 11 attacks were complete.

Atta died on Sept. 11 after piloting American Airlines flight 11 into one of the World Trade Center towers.

It's easy for US activists and officials to pressure Israel to release Vanunu. It's far harder to admit a grave injustice at home. Jonathan Pollard's release is a matter of justice and it is long overdue.

Justice4JP Note

: Mordecai Vanunu, an Israeli national, sold Israel's nuclear secrets to the highest bidder, a British newspaper, which then published them. Vanunu spied against Israel and his actions jeopardized Israeli lives and the very existence of the Jewish State. Pollard,


Vanunu, was not charged with spying against the US, only with spying on behalf of an ally, Israel. Although Vanunu's crime was far more serious, he received only an 18 year sentence. Pollard got life.

See Also: