Keep Pollard in jail

February 09, 1999

The Providence Journal said in an editorial Friday:

JONATHAN Pollard, who spied for Israel in the United States, is serving a life sentence for espionage at a federal prison in North Carolina.

As part of the Wye River Agreement, President Clinton promised Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he would "review" the Pollard case, which has become a celebrated cause in Israel and among some American Jews. Mr. Clinton has the power to reduce Pollard's sentence, or to free him altogether. But all of the president's national security advisers have strongly advised against releasing Pollard. Mr. Clinton should heed the advice of his foreign policy team.

There are several reasons for this. First, Pollard, as a Naval Intelligence analyst, sold huge amounts of his country's most important military secrets to Israel for money.

Pollard expressed qualified remorse for his crimes when he was sentenced, but since then has made it clear he is proud of betraying his country: "I am as much a loyal son to [Israel] as anybody has ever seen," he says.

Pollard's defenders argue that selling military secrets to Israel is not a serious transgression, since Israel is a U.S. ally. But the fact is that no one really knows for certain what use Israel made of Pollard's information, and since 1987, Israel has steadfastly refused to cooperate with the United States on the matter.

Last May, lobbying for Pollard's release, the Netanyahu government grudgingly acknowledged that "Jonathan Pollard . . . acted as an Israeli agent," but beyond that has had nothing to say.

Mr. Pollard betrayed his oath of loyalty to America, did untold damage to national security and remains proudly unrepentant. Mr. Clinton's Cabinet and senior advisers are correct: To release him from prison would send a dangerous message to people who might be tempted to sell out their country. That is why Mr. Pollard should remain in "enemy territory."

Pub Date: 2/09/99

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