Will Bush pardon imprisoned Israeli agent?
Esther Pollard - Worldnetdaily - April 28, 2008
WND Exclusive: Esther Pollard reveals reality behind headlines of 'new' old spy arrest
Now that the dust has settled, and it is clear that there is no damage to U.S. - Israel relations and no diplomatic crisis as a result of the arrest of an aging grandfather, Ben-Ami Kadish, who is accused of spying for Israel a quarter of a century ago, some troubling questions remain.
First of all, why now?
The timing of this "breaking news story" (which is obviously neither news, nor new) is an issue that has not been lost on news analysts in Israel or the U.S. There are various opinions as to what specific political agenda is being advanced by this timing. However, what all of the theories also have in common is the conclusion that yet another politically driven attempt has been made to tie the president's hands with regard to releasing Jonathan Pollard.
Pollard, an Israeli agent who worked as a civilian intelligence analyst for the U.S. Navy, was arrested in 1985 and indicted on one count of passing classified information to an ally, Israel. He was sentenced to in spite of a plea agreement that was to spare him a life term.
Jonathan Pollard is the only person in the history of the U.S. to receive a life sentence for spying for an ally. The median sentence for the offense is two to four years.
The timing of the Kadish story would suggest that there are ongoing efforts on the part of the Israeli government to secure the release of Pollard after nearly a quarter of a century in prison. That is not the case. The government of Israel has yet to make an official request for Jonathan's release or a serious effort to secure it.
Nevertheless, even those American officials whose animus toward Israel and the American Jewish community demands Jonathan's continued incarceration, are concerned that Jonathan's release may be in the offing anyway. They are fearful that Israel may not need to ask for Pollard. Involved in all phases of negotiations in the Middle East, it is reported that they suspect that Bush is planning to use Jonathan in a deal to spring Palestinian terrorist Marwan Barghouti, who is serving five consecutive life sentences plus 40 years in an Israeli prison, for the murder of Israeli citizens.
Terrorist mastermind, Barghouti, is being touted as the next great Palestinian leader who is strong enough to lead the Palestinians to a final settlement with Israel and realization of "a two state solution," thereby assuring Bush's place in the history books in a more favorable light than is currently shining.
Although PM Ehud Olmert is willing to release Barghouti, it is understood that unless a serious quid pro quo is obtained for his release, Barghouti would be viewed by the Palestinian street as a collaborator and a stooge for the Americans. As well, some sense of equity has to be suggested to appease the families of Barghouti's murder victims in Israel.
Jonathan is deeply opposed to being swapped for murderers or terrorists and has made his view known repeatedly. Jonathan's objections notwithstanding, the only available high-value chip large enough to weigh in against the release of Barghouti, is the release of Jonathan Pollard. This fact is well known to the American intelligence community, which is also involved in the negotiations for Barghouti's release.
This is not the first time the intelligence community has tried to scuttle Jonathan's release, by creating a media frenzy to tie the president's hands. Each time, over the last 2 decades that there has been some sense that a commutation or a pardon might be in the offing, there have been official leaks to the media, creating such devastating press about Jonathan that it made it difficult for the president to proceed with commutation.
Amongst these episodes of bad press to tie the president's hands, one finds the ludicrous allegations that Jonathan was still divulging classified information from a jail cell in isolation three stories underground in the early '90s, the Defense Memo Scandal in the mid '90s, the Mega Spy Scandal in the late '90s, the repeated press hype about a search for Mr. X, the recent sensationalized release of routine surveillance videos claiming to have caught Jonathan in the act of removing classified documents, as well as the never-ending accusations that Israel is still spying in Washington.
The latest accusations against Ben-Ami Kadish of New Jersey, an 84-year-old former employee of the U.S. Army, is just one more round. It is not clear for how many years the National Security Agency has been sitting on this "breaking news" story about Kadish waiting for the right moment to hurl new accusations against Israel to target Jonathan.
Will this latest round of anti-Pollard media hype scuttle Jonathan's release? The American intelligence community is counting on it. But it could be dead wrong.
Just ask Bill Clinton.
Clinton unequivocally demonstrated the extent of the president's powers of executive clemency, and imperviousness to pressure from the media, when he pardoned 14 unrepentant FALN terrorists in September 1999.
These pardons put the lie to the excuse that it was the threat of CIA Chief George Tenet to resign and the opposition of the American intelligence community which prevented Clinton from honoring the U.S. commitment to free Jonathan Pollard which was made as an integral part of the 1998 Wye Accords.
It was less than a year after the Wye Summit that Clinton blatantly ignored a repeated threat of resignation by CIA Chief George Tenet and the bad press produced by a solid wall of opposition from the Justice, Intelligence and Defense Departments and Congress, when he invoked his powers of executive clemency to free a group of unrepentant FALN terrorists in an apparent attempt to gain Hispanic support for his wife in her N.Y. Senate bid.
In doing so, Clinton effectively laid to rest the claim that any government agency, or any amount of media pressure, might tie his hands or influence the president's decision in matters of clemency.
He also thus demonstrated, unequivocally, that CIA Chief Tenet's alleged threat to resign if Pollard were freed was, all along, just an excuse and never the reason for keeping Pollard in prison. In his book, "Excerpts from The Missing Peace," Dennis Ross, clarifies that the real reason Clinton reneged at Wye was to keep Pollard as a high value "bargaining chip" against Israel.
In short, when there is a presidential will, there is a presidential way. If President Bush is determined to finally resolve the injustice of the Pollard case by setting Jonathan free, either as a gesture to Israel or as part of a political deal, nothing can or will tie his hands. Not even the hyper-sensationalized arrest of an aging, alleged spy for Israel splashed across the pages of the New York Times and the Washington Post combined. The president's powers of executive clemency, as Clinton so well demonstrated in his release of the FALN terrorists, are unlimited.
Unlike other espionage cases in the U.S., which are dealt with on a case-by-case basis, every accusation against Israel is wielded like a club against Jonathan Pollard - as if the 23 years he has served is somehow not enough to make up for all of the sins of Israel.
The median sentence for the offense Jonathan committed is two to four years. Jonathan has served more than five times the usual sentence for passing classified information to Israel. He is ill, and his release would be a fitting gesture to Israel for its 60th anniversary.
It is incumbent upon the prime minister of Israel, Ehud Olmert, to officially make the request to President Bush for Jonathan's release, which to date he has not done. The president is wise enough to understand that regardless of the outcome of the Kadish case, Jonathan deserves to be free. No excuse trumps the 23 years of hard time that Jonathan has already served in American prisons.
Olmert has been trying to duck testifying before Judge Micha Lindenstrauss, the Israel state comptroller, who is looking into Olmert's mishandling of the Pollard case. Among other things, Lindenstrauss is investigating possible Israeli government financial malfeasance in the case. At last count, Lindenstrauss was reported to have issued a court order to force Olmert to testify. Olmert was still balking when saved by the breaking news of the Kadish arrest, and the Israeli media changed their focus. For the moment, Olmert is safe.
If PM Olmert will use this respite to convey a serious request for Jonathan's release to the president, it is conceivable that Lindenstrauss may no longer have any reason to pursue his investigation.