Friday, March 28, 2008

A twist of the screw?

The case of Jonathan Pollard is certainly a strange one. The 2 cent uncontroversial recap for those whom the name Jonathan Pollard means nothing is this - he was a Jewish American naval intelligence analyst who pleaded guilty to passing sensitive information to the Israeli government. This is just one of the areas where is gets murky. Pollard justifies his action by saying as an American ally, Israel was legally entitled to all the information he passed to his Israeli handlers. For some strange inexplicable reason, the American government failed to live up to its own security agreements with the Israelis, so Pollard felt compelled to what the American government should have done but didn’t.

Pollard worked out a plea deal but after he entered his plea of guilty, in waltzes the Director of the CIA for a private chat with the judge and the plea agreement is then torpedoed. No one knows what was said to the judge. It’s all under wraps citing National Security. The government contends the deal was off the table when Pollard and his wife went public and talked shortly before sentencing. This really is the 2 cent version. This case has more twists and unexpected bends than I have every really got my head around.

It was while serving his sentence Pollard was granted Israeli citizenship and various Prime Minister’s of Israel have tried (or not) to have him released into Israel’s care. One thing to keep in mind though; Jonathan Pollard has been incarcerated longer for passing information to a friendly ally than the Taliban American was sentenced for actively taking up arms against the US government. Jonathan Pollard’s case just took another of those weird curves or twists and suggests Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert just got caught in a big fib. Ynet News:
"As you are well aware, in the 23 years that I have been in captivity, I have never received one cent from the Government of Israel. Even though, as an officially recognized Israeli agent, I am entitled to full government support and financial compensation, I have received nothing,' Jonathan Pollard said this week in a letter addressed to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

"Similarly, my wife Esther has never received a single cent from the Government of Israel, nor any kind of support, even when she was seriously ill with cancer," wrote Pollard who has been jailed in the US since 1987 after being convicted of spying for Israel.

"Yet your office continues to lie and to disseminate official government statements declaring that my wife and I and my 'close associates' are receiving 'full support in every possible respect' from the Government of Israel," Pollard said in the letter, which was sent to Israel via certified mail.

"If, as you insist, your Government is allocating resources for me and my wife, but we are not receiving them, then who is getting the money? Are the funds (which you claim are intended for us) being misappropriated by your office and used illegally elsewhere? While we do not know for certain what kind of corruption is going on, we do know that something smells very bad."

A few months ago Pollard's attorney, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, sent Olmert a letter demanding that the PM substantiate the government's claims that it was supporting the Pollards financially.

Olmert's legal counsel, Shulamit Barnea Fargo, wrote in response that "the claims in your letter are for the most part, baseless, and the style in which they are written is offensive. I do not see any place for providing the information which you requested, out of fear that this will damage Mr. Pollard’s welfare and the efforts of the State of Israel to assist him.

Fargo continued to say that "the government has acted in the past and is currently working to assist Jonathan Pollard and his associates." Similar responses were provided by the government to several letters sent by Israeli citizens asking why the State refused to support Esther Pollard, whose financial situation, according to them, was dire. Pollard for his part said in his letter "Mr. Prime Minister, that if the Government had any proof to substantiate the lies your office is disseminating about support for me and my wife, you would have no need to evade the questions my attorney asked."
The case is not ending there. Pollard has been lobbying to have the Israeli comptroller investigate where the ‘alleged’ funds have gone and now the Israeli Knesset State Control Committee has ordered the Comptroller to investigate reports Ynet News:
Lindenstrauss was recently ordered by the Knesset's State Control Committee to investigate actions taken by Israel's governments over the years to release Pollard, but senior defense officials and politicians have claimed that such an inquiry may compromise efforts to release Pollard, who has been jailed in the US since 1985 after being convicted of spying for the Jewish State.

"Allow me to reassure you one more time: your investigation of the Israeli Government’s handling of the Pollard case can not torpedo efforts to secure my release. There are no efforts to secure my release," Pollard said in the letter.

"If your investigation will carefully investigate the money issues I have raised, it is my strong conviction that when the truth is finally revealed, it will cause a virtual earthquake in Israel," he said, "perhaps we will finally understand the real reason that the Israeli establishment did not want me home."

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