(JNi.media) Some words really do work best in Yiddish, and “Rishus,” which roughly means nastiness mixed with hate (the Hebrew original is a pale “wickedness”), and the NY Times radiated that special kind of mix in a Nov. 22 editorial titled, “No Exception for Jonathan Pollard.”
Written by the Times editorial board, the piece combats the popular notion that recently released convicted spy Jonathan Pollard was some kind of hero, a “cause célèbre in Israel.” They argue that “the narrative of the selfless spy is unfounded. In the charges against him, Mr. Pollard was portrayed as a flaky operator who tried to peddle secrets to Israel but also to Pakistan, South Africa and other countries for the money, of which Israel paid him a lot. … the known facts do not warrant special consideration.”
But Pollard did receive “special consideration.” On June 4, 1986, Pollard pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to deliver national defense information to a foreign government. The prosecutor, in compliance with the plea agreement, recommended that Pollard receive “only a substantial number of years in prison.” But Judge Aubrey Robinson, Jr., who received a personal note from Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger—without the defense’s knowledge—imposed a life sentence.
It is commonly agreed that what irked Sec. Weinberger so much about Pollard, then and in years to come, when he continued to thwart every presidential attempt to pardon the Israeli spy, was the Wolf Blitzer interview. Three weeks before his sentencing, Pollard gave Wolf Blitzer, the Jerusalem Post Washington correspondent, a jail-cell interview which also ran in The Washington Post (February 15, 1987), crowing him “Israel’s Master Spy.” Pollard told Blitzer about the information he provided Israel: reconnaissance satellite photography of the PLO headquarters in Tunisia; specific capabilities of Libya’s air defenses; and “the pick of US intelligence about Arab and Islamic conventional and unconventional military activity, from Morocco to Pakistan and every country in between. This included both ‘friendly’ and ‘unfriendly’ Arab countries.”
The stated reason for Pollard’s harsh sentence, which ignored his plea bargain was violating his plea agreement, which came down to the Blitzer story, which made the Reagan Administration look bad, for holding back vital information from its ally, Israel, which stung Caspar Weinberger.
One wonders how the NY Times editorial board would have opined this week had Blitzer peddled his interview on 41st Street instead of to the Post.
The other “special treatment” Pollard received was in being kept behind bars for the duration of his sentence, which had never been done to any other spy working for a friendly country. Dennis Ross said in 2004: “Pollard received a harsher sentence than others who committed comparable crimes.” Stephen Fain Williams, a Senior Circuit Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit stated: “Jonathan Pollard’s life sentence represents a fundamental miscarriage of justice.” Former US assistant Secretary of Defense Lawrence Korb wrote: “We believe that his continued incarceration constitutes a travesty of justice and a stain on the American system of justice.”
What did the NY Times have to say about this “stain on the American system of justice?” There was this April 1, 2014 editorial board piece titled, “Bad Move on Jonathan Pollard,” which opened: “The emergence of the convicted spy Jonathan Pollard as a bargaining chip in Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations is a lamentable sign of America’s desperation to keep both sides talking.”
In other words, when choosing between peace talks and keeping Pollard in — for the Times it’s Pollard all the way down.
On Jan. 14, 2014, in “Don’t Trust This Spy,” by M. E. Bowman, a former deputy general counsel for national security law at the F.B.I. and a former deputy of the US Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive He wrote: “At the time of Mr. Pollard’s sentencing, federal law did not permit the death penalty, and a life sentence meant a maximum of 30 years. As such, Mr. Pollard is close to release, counting time off for good behavior. That release, however, should occur when his sentence expires and not, as four former directors of naval intelligence have put it, as a result of a ‘clever public relations campaign.’”