OpEd: Kadish won't be the reason Pollard stays in prison
Esther Pollard - The Jerusalem Post - April 28, 2008
Jewish opinion makers in Israel and America unanimously agree that as a result of the media frenzy surrounding the arrest of 84-year old Ben-Ami Kadish in the US, who is accused of spying for Israel a quarter of a century ago, President Bush will certainly not consider releasing Jonathan Pollard before he leaves office.
This consensus of "informed" opinion appears to absolve Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and the American Jewish community of their moral obligation to press for Jonathan's release, or to even ask. The glaring injustice of the case - the Jonathan has already served in prison for passing classified information to Israel - apparently do not figure at all in anyone's equation. Jewish opinion makers may otherwise be politically astute, but not in this case.
Just ask Bill Clinton.
Clinton unequivocally demonstrated the extent of the President's powers of executive clemency and imperviousness to media pressure when he pardoned 14 unrepentant FALN terrorists in September 1999.
These pardons put to lie the excuse that it was CIA Chief George Tenet's threat to resign and the opposition of the American intelligence community which prevented Clinton from honoring the US commitment to free Jonathan Pollard that was an integral part of the 1998 Wye accords.
It was less than a year after the Wye Summit that Clinton ignored a repeated threat of resignation by Tenet and the bad press produced by a solid wall of opposition from the Justice, Intelligence and Defense Departments, as well as from Congress, and 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 NY Senate bid.
Clinton thereby 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 Tenet's supposed threat to resign if Pollard were freed was just an excuse all along for keeping him in prison. In his book Excerpts from The Missing Peace, Dennis Ross reveals that the real reason Clinton reneged on the Wye accords 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. The president's powers of executive clemency, as Clinton so well demonstrated in his release of the FALN terrorists, are unlimited.
In contrast to other espionage cases in the US, which are dealt with on a case by case basis, every accusation against Israel is wielded like a club against 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 offence Jonathan committed is two to four years. Jonathan has served more than five times that. He is ill, and his release would be a fitting gesture to Israel for its 60th anniversary.
It is incumbent upon Olmert to officially make the request to Bush for Jonathan's release, which to date he has not done. It is incumbent upon American Jewish leaders to support an official request and to help make a strong case to the president. 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, as the Israeli media changed its focus. For the moment, Olmert is safe.
If 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.
The writer is the wife of Jonathan Pollard.
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