Pollard deserves clemency

Kenneth Lasson and Lawrence Korb - The Baltimore Sun - January 18, 2011

With momentum building for clemency on behalf of Jonathan Pollard, those involved in his conviction are again coming out of the woodwork with fabrications of fact and misleading statements.

Last week Joseph DiGenova, the former U.S. attorney who prosecuted the case, was quoted in the Washington Times as alleging it had cost the Defense Department between $3 billion and $5 billion to fix the damage Mr. Pollard caused. Haviland Smith, a retired CIA station chief, charged in The Baltimore Sun ("Freeing Pollard would be a terrible mistake," Jan. 12) that Mr. Pollard attempted to sell information to South Africa and Pakistan.

Both are entitled to their opinions, but not to their own facts.

There is no credible evidence Mr. Pollard ever passed information to a third country. The government's own official Victim Impact Statement (designed to state the harshest provable case against the defendant) did not allege, much less prove, any permanent, irreversible and overwhelming damage to U.S. national security. Mr. DiGenova's numbers are likewise fanciful. There is nothing in the public record to lend any credence to the multi-billion dollar damage assessment Mr. DiGenova alleges.

On the other hand, there is ample evidence that the harm Mr. Pollard was alleged to have done was actually committed by two others: Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen, both of whom were later caught and convicted.

To date Mr. Pollard has served 25 years in prison - much longer than anyone else ever convicted of the same offense. Federal Judge Stephen Williams called the case a gross miscarriage of justice. Many other prominent American citizens familiar with the facts - including George Schultz (secretary of state when Mr. Pollard was convicted), James Woolsey (director of the Central Intelligence Agency at the time), Dennis DeConcini (former chairman of the Senate's Select Intelligence Committee) and Michael Mukasey (attorney general under President George W. Bush) have all come out publicly in support of clemency.

So have many members of the faith community, including Pastor John Hagee and the Rev. Theodore Hesburgh.

President Obama would be doing the right thing to follow their advice.

Mr. Lasson is a professor of law at the University of Baltimore. Mr. Korb, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, was US Assistant Secretary of Defense (1981-85)

View original article.