Former US assistant secretary of defense seeks clemency for Pollard

October 20, 2010 - Jewish Tribune (Canada)

In a Sept. 27 letter, Dr. Lawrence J. Korb, former assistant secretary of defense, wrote a letter to US President Barack Obama. The following is the text of that letter:

As Assistant Secretary of Defense at the time of Jonathan Pollard's arrest I respectfully request that you exercise your power of clemency on behalf of Mr. Pollard who has now been in prison for 25 years.

Jonathan Pollard is the only person in the history of the United States to receive a life sentence for passing classified information to an American ally.

Based on my first-hand knowledge, I can say with confidence that the severity of Pollard's sentence is a result of an almost visceral dislike of Israel and the special place it occupies in our foreign policy on the part of my boss at the time, Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger.

Secretary Weinberger submitted two affidavits to the court in order to convince the judge to give Pollard a harsher sentence than the one requested by the government, despite Pollard admitting guilt, plea bargaining and cooperating with the government. The government committed to not seeking a life sentence but due to the Weinberger Affidavits, the redacted version of which I have read, Mr. Pollard received a disproportionate life sentence.

Secretary Weinberger omitted his crucial involvement in the Pollard case from his memoirs and when asked by famed investigative journalist Edwin Black about the omission, Weinberger indifferently responded, "Because it was, in a sense, a very minor matter, but made very important." Asked to explain, Weinberger continued, "As 1 say, the Pollard matter was comparatively minor. It was made far bigger than its actual importance." When asked why this was so, Weinberger replied "I don't know why - it just was."

Mr. Pollard was not charged with harming America and has repeatedly expressed remorse for his actions. Furthermore, the average sentence for his offence is 2-4 years and today the maximum sentence is 10 years.

Justice would best be served by commuting Pollard's sentence to the time he has already spent in prison.

Lawrence J. Korb
Alexandria, VA