James D. Besser - Jewish Week (NY) - January 17, 2003
Overlooked in the recent end-of-year pardons by
President George W. Bush was what they revealed about
the prospects for convicted spy Jonathan Pollard.
It doesn’t look good, say observers.
president pardoned only seven small-time criminals and
stayed away from high-profile, controversial cases that
could stir up the kind of furor that marred Bill
Clinton’s last days in office.
140 during his last days in office, many of them
involving high-profile, controversial cases — like the
case of fugitive financier Marc Rich.
contrast, Bush offered presidential pardons to a petty
mail thief, an odometer tinkerer and a moonshiner.
The message was obvious.
pardons revealed the president’s desire to have a very
low profile on pardons — which is not inconsistent with
his service as governor of Texas,” said Seymour Reich, a
New York attorney and longtime supporter of clemency for
Pollard. “To my knowledge he never engaged in a single
high-profile act of clemency.”
If Bush does
choose to take on some controversial cases, Reich said
“I would expect that would happen only at the end of his
The way things are going, that could be
2008, when Pollard will have been in jail for almost a
Pollard’s only hope for
executive clemency, Reich said, is “if the Israeli
government gives it a high priority — and gives the U.S.
something in return.”
But all indications are
that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, focusing mostly on
preserving his strong relationship with the Bush
administration even as he intensifies the fight against
Palestinian terror, is not doing that.