Israel Betrayed Pollard, Too

Sidney Zion - NY Daily News -June 22, 2000

A sensational revelation about the Jonathan Pollard case surfaced this week. When the Israeli government agreed to return the purloined papers obtained through its American spy, the United States government agreed that it would not use the stuff to convict Pollard.

But as soon as the documents got to Washington, the FBI slammed them in Pollard's face, forcing a guilty plea that resulted in a life sentence .

Until the other day, Pollard didn't know about the deal brokered by then-Prime Minister Shimon Peres and Secretary of State George Shultz in 1985, right after Pollard's arrest. But now, a 1987 report by a Knesset committee chaired by Abba Eban has finally seen the light of day. And it shows a dark picture of denial and deceit — a virtual triple-cross — that has doomed Pollard for 15 years, with no end in sight.

Without the documents, our government had no real case against Pollard. When he was caught trying to get into the Israeli Embassy in Washington, he had only those few papers he could hold. The U.S. interest was to retrieve the mass of documents that had been passed, and Israel was more than willing to give them back. Shultz wanted to keep this terribly embarrassing situation between allies as limited as possible.

But Israel needed certain conditions: Pollard's handlers must be granted immunity from prosecution in America, and Pollard would not be convicted based on the purloined papers. Immunity was granted to the three Israeli agents who had brought Pollard, a Navy intelligence officer, into the deal. There would not be immunity for Pollard, but the documents returned to America would not be used against him.

When the FBI, against this agreement, hit Pollard with the papers, which had his fingerprints all over them, he felt he had no choice but to plead guilty.

The Justice Department offered him a "substantial sentence," which was understood to be no more than 10 years in prison. No other spy for an allied government had received more than four years.

But an hour before sentencing, then-Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger delivered a memo to the trial judge proclaiming Pollard "the worst spy in American history." He accused him of treason, a charge never made by the prosecution because it couldn't be made, since Israel is an ally of America.

Thus, Pollard became the first defendant in history to receive the maximum after pleading guilty. And on a secret affidavit the public has not yet seen. And against an American guarantee that what he stole would not be used against him. If this be due process. ...

Where were the Israelis while this was going on? They never advised Pollard that America had agreed to keep the documents out of the case. He pleaded guilty without knowing this, and when his appeal came up, he still didn't know.

Indeed, until two years ago, the Israeli government refused to confirm that he was their agent. They protected his handlers but left him out in the cold.

And all the while, until this day, the CIA has been spreading stories that make him a danger to America — without a scintilla of evidence to support it. "If you only knew what we know" — that's the mantra.

Well, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) finally got access to these files. "I saw nothing new," Schumer said. "They ought to let him go."

What's new is that they knew it all the time, America and Israel.

See Also: