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|November 1, 2010|
The case of Jonathan Pollard is a tragic one both for US-Israeli relations and the American justice system. Pollard was unfairly sentenced to life imprisonment, unfairly prevented from appeal, and his subsequent lawyers have been unfairly prevented from proper access to the secret 46-page memorandum concocted by then-secretary of defense Caspar Weinberger to convince the judge to send Pollard to jail and throw away the key. Weinberger later told journalist Edwin Black, "It was, in a sense, a very minor matter but made very important," adding "the Pollard matter was comparatively minor. It was made far bigger than its actual importance." When Black asked Weinberger why this had happened, Weinberger obliquely answered, "I don't know why — it just was."
Comparing Pollard's 25 years already served to the terms of other spies, one sees extreme inequality. For example, Michael Walker, a member of the infamous Walker family spy ring that worked for the Soviet Union, was released to a halfway house after just after serving 15 years of a 25-year prison sentence. That espionage ring functioned for 17 years, resulting in major damage to national security. Korean-American Robert Kim, who spied for South Korea, was released from prison in 2004, after serving just seven years of his nine-year sentence. Many others convicted of espionage have served just a few years. Yet Pollard is serving a life sentence.
What possible threat can Pollard be today? His secret information was gathered in the mid-1980s, before home computers and cell phones came into usage. What is Pollard going to do--reveal the secrets of carbon paper? The man is no threat to anyone if released. But his continued incarceration is a threat to the American notion of equal justice. His release should be fast-tracked.