Sad Changing Of The Guard In Pollard Lobby

Arutz7 - January 6, 2004

Veteran MK Michael Eitan of the Likud (since 1984), has asked his party colleague MK Gilad Erdan to replace him as head of the Knesset Lobby for Jonathan Pollard. The switch will take place at the lobby's meeting this afternoon.

Eitan, who also heads the Knesset Law Committee, says that the demands upon his time are now too great - but Army Radio's Amit Segal reports that the real reason is something else. "He has simply despaired of the government taking action," Segal said today. "When asked if he is happy with Prime Minister Sharon's performance regarding Pollard, Eitan simply said, 'I don't think that having me publicly squabble with the Prime Minister will advance the cause.' That seems to indicate Eitan's true feelings."

Pollard's attorney Larry Dub, asked today if the government is not doing enough to free Pollard, said, "That is self-evident... It is simply hard to accept that we cannot attain the freedom of an agent from a friendly country such as the United States, whereas in recent years we have retrieved our agents from Jordan, Switzerland, and Cyprus."

Asked what could be done, Dub said, "First of all, Sharon could simply raise the issue. Our information is that in his eight trips to the United States since becoming Prime Minister, he has not once raised the issue with President Bush. He can simply demand that Bush fulfill the commitment given to Binyamin Netanyahu by Bill Clinton." The reference was to the negotiations at Wye Plantation outside Washington in late 1998, at which then-Pres. Clinton promised then-Prime Minister Netanyahu that Pollard's release would be part of the agreement. A few hours later, however, CIA head George Tenet forced Clinton to renege on his commitment. Ariel Sharon took part in the Wye negotiations.

Pollard's U.S. lawyers Jacques Semmelman and Eliot Lauer, in a letter to U.S. Attorney-General John Ashcroft, summed up the injustice originally done to their client. They wrote, "In 1986 Mr. Pollard entered into a plea agreement, as part of which Mr. Pollard pled guilty to a single count, conspiracy to commit espionage... Mr. Pollard was not charged with intending to harm the United States. As part of the plea agreement, the U.S. government agreed not to seek a sentence of life in prison (the maximum sentence under the statute). On March 4, 1987, Mr. Pollard was sentenced to life in prison. The circumstances surrounding Mr. Pollard's sentencing were replete with government misconduct that went unchecked by an ineffective defense counsel."

A secret memo from then-Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger to the court, detailing the supposedly-tremendous damage Pollard caused the U.S., is what led to the life sentence without parole. Although Weinberger's memo labeled Pollard "the worst spy in American history," in Weinberger's auto-biography, Pollard is not so much as mentioned. J4JP adds: When asked in a recent interview why he omitted Pollard's story from his memoirs, "Weinberger casually replied: 'Because it was, in a sense, a very minor matter but made very important.' Asked to elaborate, Weinberger repeated, 'As I say, the Pollard matter was comparatively minor. It was made far bigger than its actual importance.' Pressed on why the case was made far bigger than its actual importance, Weinberger answered, 'I don't know why - it just was' " [Excerpted from Caspar's Ghost: Weinberger memoir omits key involvement by Edwin Black - The Jewish Week (NY) - June 14, 2002]

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