Jonathan Pollard (60), an inmate of a federal penitenciary, lost consciousness on December  5. He had just recently begun his thirtieth year in prison on charges that he had spied for Israel while in the employ of the U.S. government. In October, he was again denied parole.
 
His wife, Esther, has been informed of his hospitalization outside of the prison walls. Pollard, who is also known as Yonasan ben Malka, has been suffering with deteriorating health during his decades of incarceration. However, media reports have not revealed the proximate cause of his recent loss of consciousness.
 
According to Arutz news service, Effie Lahav, of the Committee to Free Jonathan Pollard, expressed concern over Pollard’s health, adding that previously he had been hospitalized under “very dangerous conditions."
 
A former U.S. Navy analyst, Pollard was granted Israeli citizenship in 1995. Israeli Housing Minister Uri Ariel called for prayers on behalf of Pollard, saying "I demand the U.S. administration to stop the cruel abuse of Pollard and release him immediately, as former U.S. officials recommend as well." 

('We Want Pollard Home')
 
In September, Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu asked President Barack Obama to release Pollard. In a press briefing, "I raised the issue of Pollard during my conversation…I told the president that we are on the eve of Yom Kippur, a time during which we ask for forgiveness and we give forgiveness. I told the president that I hoped that might be a basis for advancing the release of Pollard." During the peace negotiations sponsored by Secretary of State John Kerry in early 2014, the possibility of swapping Pollard for Palestinian prisoners was raised. However, this initiative was abortive.
 
Pollard is a U.S. citizen and a member of the Jewish faith. In 1987, he was sentenced to life in prison for providing classified information to Israel. Pollard is expected to be released on November 21, 2015, exactly 30 years after his incarceration. He spent eight years in solitary confinement. During his decades in prison, Pollard has been hospitalized several times for various medical issues. Israel has been numerous appeals on his behalf, even while the U.S. has denied clemency. During his imprisonment, Pollard has suffered from medical problems and was hospitalized several times. Israel has made numerous approaches for his release during his 29 years of incarceration, but the U.S. has consistently refused to release him. Pollard is currently incarcerated a federal prison in Butner, North Carolina.
 
A group of senior former federal officials signed a November 14 letter to President Obama that argued that the decision to keep Pollard in prison was "deeply flawed." The letter quotes the Parole Commission’s allegation that Pollard’s espionage “was the greatest compromise of US security to that date.” This assertion, said the signatories, is false and “not supported by any evidence in the public record or the classified file. Yet it was this fiction that the Parole Commission cited to deny parole.”
 
The officials who signed the letter were fully familiar with the classified files on Pollard. They include former CIA director James Woolsey, former Assistant U.S. Secretary of Defense Lawrence Korb, and former National Security Advisor Robert MacFarlane.
 
In November, Rafi Eitan – who led Israel’s Bureau of Scientific Relations in 1985 at the time of the arrest and was the head of the allegedly rogue clandestine organization that supervised Pollard – confirmed that Israel’s prime minister and defense minister knew that Israel had an agent within the U.S. military. Pollard was a civilian analyst at the time. When asked whether Shimon Peres, who was then Israel’s prime minister and a later recipient of the U.S. Medal of Freedom, knew about the operation, Eitan said “of course.”
 
According to The Times of Israel, Pollard was recruited by an Israeli Air Force officer who was in turn supervised by Eitan. Now in his 80s, Eitan was once a member of Shin Bet and Israel’s Mossad spy agency. He was a member of the Mossad team that captured the Nazi fugitive, Adolph Eichmann.
 
In a televised interview, Eitan recalled the day that Pollard fled to the Israeli embassy in Washington DC with the FBI in pursuit. When Eitan was asked what his reaction was when he received word that Pollard was seeking refuge, he responded “I said right away: throw him out,” adding “I don’t regret it.”
 
Eitan knew about Pollard’s arrest three days in advance, and told Prime Minister Peres and Defense Minister Yitzak Rabin about the coming arrest. “I said in advance, I take all of the responsibility on me. I gave the order. Only I gave the order. No one authorized me.” His decision, Eitan said, “solved the problem for the people of Israel.”
 
Full text of letter to President Obama:
 
President Barack H. Obama
 
The White House
 
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
 
Washington, D.C. 20500
 
November 14, 2014
 
Dear Mr. President:
 
Re: Unjust Denial of Parole for Jonathan Pollard
 
We, the undersigned, in our official US government capacities, at the time of and subsequent to Jonathan Pollard’s arrest, are fully familiar with the Pollard file and with its classified contents.
 
We write to protest the unjust parole process which on August 4, 2014 denied parole to Jonathan Pollard after 29 years in prison. Our review of the Parole Commission decision compels our strongest objections to the conclusions of the Commission and our dismay with the deeply flawed process.
 
The Parole Commission decision document mischaracterizes Mr. Pollard’s actions and makes a patently false claim upon which it bases its denial of parole.
 
The Commission’s allegation that Mr. Pollard’s espionage “was the greatest compromise of US security to that date” is false; and not supported by any evidence in the public record or the classified file. Yet it was this fiction that the Parole Commission cited to deny parole.
 
We have learned that at the parole hearing, the government relied heavily on a stale, largely discredited, 28-year old classified memorandum written by former Secretary of Defense, Casper Weinberger, without any scrutiny or rebuttal since Pollard’s security-cleared attorneys were denied access to the document and the Parole Commission is not cleared to review it. Mr. Weinberger himself discounted his original damage assessment of the Pollard case in a 2002 interview when he stated that the Pollard case had been exaggerated out of all proportion and that it was in fact “a very minor matter but made very important.”
 
The unreliability of the 1987 Weinberger document was known to and ignored by the Parole Commission. Worse, the Parole Commission ignored all other documentary evidence that mitigates in favor of Mr. Pollard’s immediate release.
 
As we have indicated in previous communications to you, Mr. President, Jonathan Pollard’s sentence is grossly disproportionate. All factors considered, including his comportment as a model prisoner for nearly three decades, Mr. Pollard’s unconditional release (let alone his release on parole, which does not address the disproportionality of his sentence) is long overdue. Copies of our previous letters to you, urging Mr. Pollard’s release were included in his parole submission and ignored.
 
We would like to point out as well, that the Parole decision document notes Mr. Pollard’s Salient Factor Score, indicating his suitability for release as “10” which is the highest score possible. This too was ignored.
 
We, the undersigned, in our official US government capacities, at the time of and subsequent to Jonathan Pollard’s arrest, are fully familiar with the Pollard file and with its classified contents.
 
We write to protest the unjust parole process which on August 4, 2014 denied parole to Jonathan Pollard after 29 years in prison. Our review of the Parole Commission decision compels our strongest objections to the conclusions of the Commission and our dismay with the deeply flawed process.
 
The Parole Commission decision document mischaracterizes Mr. Pollard’s actions and makes a patently false claim upon which it bases its denial of parole.
 
The Commission’s allegation that Mr. Pollard’s espionage “was the greatest compromise of US security to that date” is false; and not supported by any evidence in the public record or the classified file. Yet it was this fiction that the Parole Commission cited to deny parole.
 
We have learned that at the parole hearing, the government relied heavily on a stale, largely discredited, 28-year old classified memorandum written by former Secretary of Defense, Casper Weinberger, without any scrutiny or rebuttal since Pollard’s security-cleared attorneys were denied access to the document and the Parole Commission is not cleared to review it. Mr. Weinberger himself discounted his original damage assessment of the Pollard case in a 2002 interview when he stated that the Pollard case had been exaggerated out of all proportion and that it was in fact “a very minor matter but made very important.”
 
The unreliability of the 1987 Weinberger document was known to and ignored by the Parole Commission. Worse, the Parole Commission ignored all other documentary evidence that mitigates in favor of Mr. Pollard’s immediate release.
 
As we have indicated in previous communications to you, Mr. President, Jonathan Pollard’s sentence is grossly disproportionate. All factors considered, including his comportment as a model prisoner for nearly three decades, Mr. Pollard’s unconditional release (let alone his release on parole, which does not address the disproportionality of his sentence) is long overdue. Copies of our previous letters to you, urging Mr. Pollard’s release were included in his parole submission and ignored.
 
We would like to point out as well, that the Parole decision document notes Mr. Pollard’s Salient Factor Score, indicating his suitability for release as “10” which is the highest score possible. This too was ignored.
 
The Parole Commission also ignored compassionate factors, such as Mr. Pollard’s age (he has spent half of his life in prison) and his poor state of health; and his family situation (his wife has had two bouts with cancer and had to manage without her husband’s presence or assistance).
 
As former officials of the US government who served our country with pride, we take no pride in the ongoing miscarriage of justice which has deprived Mr. Pollard of his right to fair and equal treatment before the law. Mr. Pollard committed a serious offense and justifiably received a severe sentence. Efforts to secure commutation of Mr. Pollard’s life sentence began in earnest only after Mr. Pollard had served 20 years as a model prisoner and adequately expressed remorse. It is clear that his sentence is far more severe than others in the US convicted of the same offense. We are deeply troubled that his grossly disproportionate sentence is now continuing into a 30th year of incarceration with no end in sight.
 
Denying a man his freedom based on a claim of damage that is patently false while ignoring exculpatory documentary evidence and hiding behind a veil of secret evidence is neither fair nor just, and it simply is not the American way. It is precisely for cases like this which clearly deviate from the standard of American justice – and compassion – that our nation prides itself on, that the Constitution grants the president of the United States virtually unlimited powers of executive clemency.
 
We therefore strongly urge you, Mr. President, to tolerate no further delay in rectifying an injustice that has gone on for far too long. We urge you to act expeditiously to commute Mr. Pollard’s life sentence to the 29 years which he has already served.
 
Respectfully,
 
Amb. R. James Woolsey
 
Former Director of the CIA
 
Senator Dennis DeConcini
 
Former Chair of Senate Intelligence Committee
 
Senator David F. Durenburger
 
Former Chair of Senate Intelligence Committee
 
Robert C. MacFarlane
 
Former US National Security Advisor
 
Lawrence J. Korb
 
Former Assistant US Secretary of Defense
 
Angelo Codevilla, Prof. emeritus Boston Univ.
 
Former Senate Intelligence Committee Staff
 
Congressman Lee Hamilton
 
Homeland Security Advisor to Pres. Obama and Former Chair of the Select Committee on Intelligence
 
Bernard W. Nussbaum
 
Former White House Counsel
 
 


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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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