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By mid-afternoon on Friday the reports were everywhere, Jonathan Pollard was about to be released to cheer up Israel after the US put them in existential danger with the P5+1 agreement with Iran.  Folks don’t start baking the welcome home cake, because unfortunately it will be stale by the the time he is released. 

Jonathan Pollard will be released in November when he is up for parole, not a day earlier, if he was going to be released earlier he would be out already, after all he has spent more time in prison for spying for an ally Israel, than others have spent spying for enemies.

In April 2014 the rumor was that Pollard was going to be released before Passover.  At the time I wrote in Hot Air, that I would be very surprised if he was released until Nov. 2015 when he is up for parole. Nothing’s changed since then.

A release of Pollard, who was arrested in November 1985 after passing secret documents to Israel while working as a civilian analyst working for U.S. Navy, would mark a reversal of almost three decades of official U.S. policy.

A Pollard release has much support in the United States; former White House counsel Bernard Nussbaum, former Secretary of State George Schultz, former Undersecretary of State Elliot Abrams, former CIA Director James Woolsey, former Congressman Allen West and former V.P. Dan Quayle have all written letters to President Obama calling for clemency.

Pollard’s supporters will say the information he passed to Israel was supposed to go to Israel anyway, that the U.S. had already agreed to pass that data to Israel according to a 1983 Memorandum of Understanding between the two countries. Which is 100% true. But before one thinks of him as some sort of martyr, understand he got well paid to pass the documents along. The bottom line is he was not authorized to pass along the information and deserved to go to prison. However, one can argue that he has served long enough.

There are two reasons Pollard is still in prison: Caspar Weinberger and Jonathan Pollard.

Prior to sentencing, then-Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger delivered a 46-page classified memorandum to the sentencing judge. Since then, neither Pollard nor any of his cleared attorneys have ever been allowed to access the memorandum to challenge the memorandum, a clear violation of Pollard’s constitutional rights.

The day before sentencing, Weinberger delivered a four-page supplemental memorandum to the sentencing judge. In it, he falsely accused Pollard of treason, which by definition is passing along information to an enemy in time of war. Also in the supplemental memorandum, Weinberger advocated a life sentence in clear violation of Pollard’s plea agreement.

Weinberger’s motivation may very well have been his personal bias: He was afraid that people would think he was Jewish. Weinberger had a Jewish grandfather, but given his surname was always quick to stress to people that he was not Jewish, according to “Jewish Power,” a book on the relationship between American Jews and the U.S. government by J.J. Goldberg.

When Weinberger became secretary of defense, a position he held from 1981 to 1987, he visited Israel for the first time. At Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial museum, his guide, who was a prosecutor in the trial against Adolf Eichmann, told him, “If you were in Germany at that time, this would have happened to you, too.”

“Weinberger said in a loud voice, ‘I am not a Jew,’” Rothman said, adding, “His ambivalence on his Jewish identity had a huge impact on him.”

Even close aides agree that Weinberger’s apparent discomfort may have played a role in his occasional tilt against Israel in debates within the Reagan administration.

Pollard was given life in prison not by the suggestion of the prosecutor, but after the presiding judge read the Weinberger documents. No one else in the history of the United States has ever received a life sentence for passing classified information to an ally, only Jonathan Pollard.
To put it in perspective, Bradley Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison for passing hundreds of thousands of classified military documents to WikiLeaks. It is believed that some of Manning’s revelations led to deaths of American sources across the world. There has never been evidence that the secrets Pollard handed to Israel were ever made public or used against the United States in any manner.

Beyond Weinberger, Pollard may be his own worst enemy. The Washington Post once described him as smug, patronizing, and alternating between feeling guilty and being completely unrepentant — not exactly the behavior of someone who wants to get out of prison.


Despite the rumors of the past 12 hours, my belief has not change, Pollard will get out in November.  Perhaps the rumors were a leak by a desperate administration trying to soften a Jewish community angry about a horrible Iran deal. But think about it for a moment. It would be nice for Pollard to get out, however given the choice between Pollard getting out a little early or killing a deal which will allow Iran to get a nuclear bomb, most supporters of Israel would pick the option that kills the crap sandwich known as the P5+1 agreement.

Tonight the NY Times is reporting that Pollard will not get out early but there will be no objections if he is granted parole. Any parole would have no connection to any efforts to calm tensions with Israel over the recent nuclear deal with Iran.

“Mr. Pollard’s status will be determined by the United States Parole Commission according to standard procedures,” said Alistair Baskey, a spokesman for the National Security Council. “There is absolutely zero linkage between Mr. Pollard’s status and foreign policy considerations.”

This is one of those rare cases when I believe someone in the Obama administration is telling the truth.

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