- Jonathan Pollard was a civilian American Naval intelligence analyst. In the mid 1980’s (circa 1983-1984), Pollard discovered that information vital to Israel’s security was being deliberately withheld by certain elements within the U.S. national security establishment.
- Israel was legally entitled to this vital security information according to a 1983 Memorandum of Understanding between the two countries.
- The information being withheld from Israel included Syrian, Iraqi, Libyan and Iranian nuclear, chemical, and biological warfare capabilities – being developed for use against Israel. It also included information on ballistic missile development by these countries and information on planned terrorist attacks against Israeli civilian targets.
- When Pollard discovered this suppression of information and asked his superiors about it, he was told to “mind his own business”, and that “Jews get nervous talking about poison gas; they don’t need to know.”He also learned that the objective of cutting off the flow of information to Israel was to severely curtail Israel’s ability to act independently in defense of her own interests.
- Pollard was painfully aware that Israeli lives were being put in jeopardy as a result of this undeclared intelligence embargo. He did everything he possibly could to stop this covert policy and to have the legal flow of information to Israel restored. When his efforts met no success, he began to give the information to Israel directly.
- Jonathan Pollard was an ideologue, not a mercenary. The FBI concluded after nine months of polygraphing that Pollard acted for ideological reasons only, not for profit. This fact was recognized by the sentencing judge who declined to fine Pollard. (See theaddendum for further details.)Furthermore, on May 11, 1998, Israel formally acknowledged Jonathan Pollard had been a bona fide Israeli agent. This fact wiped out any remaining doubt about Jonathan Pollard’s motives. Being an official agent is, by definition, the polar opposite of being a mercenary.
- In 1985, his actions were discovered by the U.S. government. His instructions from Israel were to seek refuge in the Israeli embassy in Washington. When Pollard and his former wife sought refuge there, they were at first received and then summarily thrown out into the waiting arms of the FBI.
- Jonathan Pollard never had a trial. At the request of both the U.S. and Israeli governments, he entered into a plea agreement, which spared both governments a long, difficult, expensive and potentially embarrassing trial.
- Jonathan Pollard fulfilled his end of the plea agreement, cooperating fully with the prosecution.
- Nevertheless, Pollard received a life sentence and a recommendation that he never be paroled – in complete violation of the plea agreement he had reached with the government.
- Jonathan Pollard was never indicted for harming the United States.
- Jonathan Pollard was never indicted for compromising codes, agents, or war plans.
- Jonathan Pollard was never charged with treason. [Legally, treason is a charge that is only applicable when one spies for an enemy state in time of war.]
- Jonathan Pollard was indicted on only one charge: one count of passing classified information to an ally, without intent to harm the United States.
- 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 false charges it contains-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. Also in the supplemental memorandum, Weinberger advocated a life sentence in clear violation of Pollard’s plea agreement. The implication that follows from Weinberger’s false characterization of Pollard’s offense as “treason” is that the country Pollard served, Israel, is an enemy state.
- Pollard was shown the supplemental Weinberger memorandum only once, just moments before sentencing – hardly adequate time to prepare an appropriate defense to rebut the false accusations in it.
- 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. The median sentence for this offense is two to four years. Even agents who have committed far more serious offenses on behalf of hostile nations have not received such a harsh sentence.
- Pollard’s attorney never appealed from the life sentence. The time to file for such an appeal was within ten days of sentencing. Years later, with a different attorney, Pollard filed a habeas corpus challenge to the sentence.The Court of Appeals, in a two-to-one decision, rejected the challenge, largely on procedural grounds.
The majority placed heavy emphasis on the failure to appeal from the life sentence in a timely manner, and on the resulting far heavier burden faced by Pollard in seeking to challenge the sentence via habeas corpus. [Note: “Habeas corpus” is a procedure by which an incarcerated person may bring a court challenge to the legality of his or her incarceration – often long after the underlying case has been concluded.]
In a dissenting opinion, Court of Appeals Judge Stephen Williams called the case “a fundamental miscarriage of justice,” and wrote that he would have ordered that Pollard’s sentence be vacated.
- In November 1995, Israel granted Jonathan Pollard Israeli citizenship. The official presentation took place in January of 1996. This publicly signaled to the U.S. Israel’s willingness to accept full responsibility for Pollard.
- U.S. government sources falsely accuse Pollard in the media of passing “rooms full of classified information” and “hundreds of thousands of documents” to Israel. This volume of information is an absurdity! Pollard would have needed to make numerous “drops” using a moving van to have transferred such a large volume of information. In actual fact, Jonathan Pollard made a grand total of eleven “drops” to the Israelis, using only a small briefcase to hold the documents.
- The government used an insidious formula to exaggerate the volume of information that Jonathan Pollard passed to Israel. The formula was: if only one page or a single sentence of a document was passed to the Israelis, it was counted as if the whole document had been transmitted. Even referenced documents and sources were counted as having been transmitted in toto. Using this calculation, a single page could be counted as 50 hard-bound 500 page volumes!
- There is no Mr. “X”.
The CIA claim that another highly-placed spy in the U.S. had to exist in order to give Jonathan Pollard his highly specific tasking orders is a complete fabrication. To understand how Pollard was tasked by Israel to secure specific documents, see: Was there another U.S. spy tasking Pollard? – Mr. ‘X’ Exposed.
- On May 12, 1998 , in the same statement in which the Government of Israel publicly acknowledged Jonathan Pollard as an Israeli agent, it accepted full responsibility for him, and indicated its commitment to securing his release and repatriation to Israel.
- Jonathan Pollard has repeatedly expressed his remorse publicly and in private letters to the President and others. He regrets having broken the law, and is sorry he did not find a legal means to act upon his concerns for Israel. (See Remorse Page.)
- Jonathan Pollard has been openly linked to the Middle East Peace Process since 1995.The Israeli government recognized long ago that Jonathan’s sentence was unjust, that the documents he delivered to Israel did not remotely cause the damage that the prosecution claimed but never proved. As a result of this recognition, various Israeli administrations have negotiated, as a matter of basic fairness, to secure Jonathan’s release.
Since 1995, within the context of the peace process, the US has repeatedly exploited the plight of Jonathan Pollard to extract heavy concessions from Israel.
However despite express promises made by the United States to Israel, Jonathan Pollard remains in jail.
- It was the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin who, in 1995, first began openly to negotiate for Jonathan’s release as part of the peace process.Although President Clinton promised Prime Minister Rabin that he would release Jonathan as part of a Middle East peace settlement, the President refused to honor his promise after Rabin was assassinated.
- Rabin’s successor, Prime Minister Shimon Peres, continued to link Jonathan to the peace process, and even went so far as to include a spy swap proposal as part of the deal for Pollard’s release.
- The Wye Plantation summit is a prime example of U.S. exploitation of Jonathan Pollard.Both before and again during the Wye summit negotiations in the fall of 1998, President Clinton promised to release Jonathan Pollard. Pollard was the deal-maker at Wye which enabled the accords to be completed.
- At the last minute, with the eyes of the world focused on the Wye Accords signing ceremony which was about to take place in Washington, Clinton reneged on Pollard’s release, creating a storm of negative publicity for Israel.
- How the Wye fiasco came about:In September, 1998, just before the mid-term Congressional elections, President Clinton (who at the time was facing impeachment hearings and in need of a foreign policy PR victory) asked Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to attend a three-way summit with the Palestinians at Wye River, Maryland.
Clinton knew that a successful summit at Wye just before the Congressional elections would be good not only for his image, but would also reap great political benefits for the Democrats in their bid to regain control of Congress. As an inducement to Netanyahu, Clinton promised to release Jonathan Pollard within the context of the summit.
Understanding the value of Jonathan Pollard for his own re-election bid, and needing him as a sweetener to sell any kind of “peace” deal to the Israeli people, Netanyahu ignored the entreaties of Republican friends like Newt Gingrich and agreed to attend the summit. (Gingrich would later repay Netanyahu by leading the Republican charge of slander and lies against Jonathan Pollard.)
- Once the Wye summit was underway, Clinton quickly “forgot” his promise to free Jonathan Pollard and there was little Netanyahu could do.
- Talks at Wye broke down over the release of Palestinian murderers with Jewish blood on their hands and over Israel’s request for the extradition of Ghazi Jabali, the chief of Police in Gaza who was wanted for his role in planning and executing terrorist attacks in Israel.
- To break the stalemate, the Palestinians suggested Jonathan Pollard as the solution. They proposed that Pollard be sold to Netanyahu once again: the US would give Jonathan to Israel in return for Israel’s freeing of hundreds of Palestinian terrorists and immunity for Ghazi Jabali.
- The US and Israel agreed to the Palestinian plan to swap Pollard for terrorists and murderers.President Clinton personally worked out the details of the deal in a late-night private session with a Palestinian and an Israeli representative.
- According to the deal, Prime Minister Netanyahu was to receive a side letter from President Clinton the next morning (one of approximately 30 side letters the Americans had promised) guaranteeing Pollard’s release for November 11, 1998, one week after the US House elections.The Pollard negotiation was the deal-maker at Wye which allowed the summit to be successfully wrapped up and a signing ceremony to be planned for the next morning in Washington, on Friday October 23, 1998.
- Only hours before the signing ceremony, P.M. Netanyahu received all of the American side-letters that had been promised to him, except one – the one guaranteeing the release of Jonathan Pollard.Netanyahu threatened not to attend the signing ceremony unless he got the Pollard side letter. Clinton said, “Trust me.” Netanyahu, knowing he was about to be double-crossed by Clinton over Pollard for the second time, refused.
Netanyahu demanded that in the absence of a side letter of guarantee, Pollard should be freed into his custody immediately, or no signing ceremony. Arik Sharon supported Netanyahu and they threatened to leave Wye without signing the accords.
- In order to take the pressure off of President Clinton, CIA chief George Tenet quickly leaked the news of Pollard’s imminent release to the media in a deliberate – and ultimately successful – attempt to torpedo the deal.He sent emissaries to Capitol Hill to hold emergency meetings with leading Senators and Congressmen to enlist their support in publicly denouncing Pollard’s release. Many lies were told by the CIA emissaries about Jonathan Pollard to convince the legislators to act swiftly and in unison. Believing the lies, the legislators complied and began an unprecedented series of public actions to prevent the release of Jonathan Pollard.
- Meanwhile at Wye, under heavy pressure and still fearful that Netanyahu would not back down, Clinton quickly negotiated a private fall-back position with Netanyahu: Clinton would publicly promise to do a “speedy review”of the Pollard Case and he would use that review to free Pollard a few months later, parallel to the release of the 750 Palestinian terrorists who were part of the price Israel had agreed to pay for Pollard.Under heavy public pressure and betrayed by his own Minister of Defense, Yitzhak Mordecai*, who closed ranks with Clinton, Netanyahu folded and accepted this private deal. The signing ceremony was held in Washington as scheduled. *(Mordecai himself is now on trial in Israel in 2001 for sexual assault.)
- Netanyahu’s capitulation at Wye, the public spectacle of his being brought to heel by the Americans, and the lopsided deal he brought home from Wye now that Pollard was no longer perceived to be a part of it, would shortly cost him his premiership.
- After Wye, the White House falsely accused Netanyahu of having injected Pollard into the Wye summit at the last moment.However, eye witnesses to the Pollard deal at Wye, including the Israeli and the Palestinian who had negotiated the deal with Clinton and the former Israeli Cabinet Secretary, all later contradicted the White House version of events and affirmed that President Clinton had committed himself to the release of Jonathan Pollard as an integral part of the Wye Accords.
Note: Prime Minister Netanyahu was the first prime minster of Israel to agree to free Palestinian terrorists with Jewish blood on their hands. That is the price the Americans demanded for Pollard at Wye. To this day, this represents a keen embarrassment for Netanyahu and his party, even more so since he did not receive Pollard but the Palestinian murders were released nonetheless. That is why no official source from the Netanyahu government ever wants to publicly admit to it. They keep the details to a minimum, but all concur that Pollard’s freedom was bought and paid for by “concessions”at Wye.
- When Netanyahu returned to Israel after Wye, he created a firestorm of publicity by releasing 200 Palestinian common criminals from Israeli prisons.The Palestinians were outraged, and insisted that these common criminals were not the prisoners that they had bargained for at Wye. The Americans angrily protested. Netanyahu reminded the Americans that the Wye Accords do not specify exactly which prisoners Israel must release. Critics wondered if the Prime Minister had lost his mind to antagonize the Americans this way.
Only those close to Prime Minister Netanyahu understood that this was Netanyahu’s private, pointed reminder to Bill Clinton that if he was thinking of double-crossing him yet a third time over Pollard, he should think again. No Pollard, no release for the Palestinian murderers and terrorists.
Unfortunately for Jonathan Pollard, Netanyahu’s government fell before he was able to act on this.
- In a meeting with Netanyahu right after his electoral defeat in the Spring of 1999, Jonathan Pollard’s wife, Esther, received assurances from the former prime minister that the new prime minister, Ehud Barak, had been fully briefed about what had been agreed to at Wye and about the fall-back position; that is to say, Israel had yet to free the 750 terrorists with blood on their hands and was still supposed to receive Pollard home in a “parallel gesture” from President Clinton.
- Not long after Barak took office, the 750 Palestinian murderers and terrorists walked out of prison as free men. Jonathan Pollard remained in his American jail cell.
- In an attempt to justify Clinton’s reneging at Wye, a story was leaked to the press that George Tenet, a Clinton appointee, had threatened to resign as head of the CIA if Pollard were released.The story, though not logical, sounded plausible and it became popular to cite the opposition of the American Intelligence community as the reason Clinton did not honor his commitment at Wye to free Pollard.
This was soon exposed as the lame excuse it was when Clinton freed a group of unrepentant FALN terrorists in the fall of 1999, in an attempt to improve his wife’s popularity with New York State’s Hispanic community in her election bid for the Senate. (See Senate Race Page.)
To this day, the same lame excuse continues to be used to justify the unjustifiable failure of Clinton to honor his commitment.
- In September of 1999, despite strenuous opposition from all of his government advisors and agencies, President Clinton freed 14 unrepentant Puerto Rican terrorists, members of the FALN, charged with bank robbery and various acts of terrorism, including over 130 bombings in the US, and the deaths of American police officers.Clinton ignored a solid wall of opposition from the Justice, Intelligence and Defense departments and Congress, invoked his powers of executive clemency and set the FALN terrorists free. In doing so, he unequivocally put the lie to the notion that any government agency might tie his hands or influence his decision in matters of clemency. (See FALN Page and Clemency Page.)
- More than two years elapsed after Wye. President Clinton did no review. Jonathan Pollard remained in prison while the US continued to extract Israeli concessions for his release.
- Those who still believed the myth that it was the American Intelligence Community that was tying the hands of President Clinton, also clung to the belief he would finally honor his many promises to release Jonathan Pollard – including the commitment he had made at Wye – at the end of his term, when he could do so without fear of political reprisal.
- Beginning in 1991 Rabbi Mordecai Eliyahu, the former Chief Rabbi of Israel, and Jonathan’s rabbi, offered himself to the U.S. Justice Department as Jonathan’s guarantor. The offer was ignored.Rabbi Eliyahu repeated the same offer every year after that in private letters to President Clinton.
Every offer went unacknowledged until the fall of 2000, when Esther Pollard received a letter from the White House indicating that the President was aware of the former chief Rabbi’s offer and that it would be part of the President’s consideration in reaching a final decision on her husband’s case.
- President Clinton never kept his promises.When he left office in January 2001, Jonathan Pollard was not included among those that to whom Clinton granted clemency:
- in spite of his repeated express commitments to Israel to free Pollard in return for numerous heavy concessions
- in spite of his commitment to free Pollard as an integral part if the Wye Accords
- in spite of the appeals of the Jewish community, and
- in spite of the gross injustices of the Pollard case which include:
- a grossly disproportionate sentence
- a broken plea agreement
- use of secret evidence
- a false charge of treason
- ineffective assistance of counsel
- ex parte communication between prosecutors and judge
- a lack of due process
- a sentencing procedure infected by false allegations and lies
On his last day in office, Clinton granted clemency to 140 people. Many who received executive clemency had been convicted of very serious offenses, including murder, robbery and drug dealing. Some of those pardoned had served no prison time at all before being pardoned. Among those pardoned were Clinton’s brother, and a former head of the CIA. (See Clemency Page.)
- In September of 2000, Jonathan Pollard’s attorneys, Eliot Lauer and Jacques Semmelman, filed a motion in the US District Court of Columbia to vacate his sentence.The motion, supported by documentation, presents a compelling and very disturbing picture of serious government misconduct that went unchecked by Mr. Pollard’s then-counsel. As a result of that misconduct, and as a result of his attorney’s ineffectiveness Jonathan Pollard was sentenced to life in prison on the basis of false allegations, and under circumstances that violated his plea agreement. (See Legal Doc: Declaration of Jonathan Jay Pollard In Support of Motion for Resentencing. See also Legal Doc: Memorandum of Law in Support of Jonathan Jay Pollard’s § 2255 Motion for Resentencing.)
- Since he was sentenced in 1987, none of Jonathan Pollard’s security-cleared attorneys have been able to see the classified portions of the docket in order to challenge them in a court of law or to defend him in a clemency proceeding.In September of 2000, Jonathan Pollard’s attorneys filed a separate motion requesting that attorney Eliot Lauer be allowed access to the secret portions of the Pollard court docket. (See Legal Doc: Motion to Unseal the Pollard Record.)
- On January 12, 2001, Chief Judge Norma Holloway Johnson denied the attorneys’ request to allow Eliot Lauer access to the complete Pollard docket, upholding the government’s claim that Lauer’s seeing the secret portion of the record poses a risk to American national security.Both Lauer and Semmelman hold TOP SECRET level security clearances, which they obtained from the Justice Department in order to be eligible to see their client’s full record.
A motion for reconsideration was filed January 18, 2001. (See Legal Doc: Motion for Reconsideration of Court Order.)
- Amicus briefs supporting Jonathan’s new legal cases have been filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, as well as by top American legal authorities. (See Amici Briefs on the Court Case Page.)
- Five Prime Ministers of Israel and three Presidents of Israel have requested Jonathan Pollard’s release from the United States. Israel has pledged to be responsible for its agent who has served many years in prison under harsh conditions, and who has fully and repeatedly expressed his remorse. (See Remorse Page.)Between close friends and strong allies, that ought to be enough.
- On November 21, 2012, Jonathan Pollard entered the 28th year of his life sentence, with no end in sight.