posted Nov. 28, 2006
Don't be fooled by Ronald Olive
by ELIOT LAUER & JACQUES SEMMELMAN
In Ronald Olive's Post op-ed, "I busted Pollard" (November 20),
Olive promotes his book Capturing Jonathan Pollard: How One of
the Most Notorious Spies in American History Was Brought to
Justice. Olive proclaims that his book "tells the true documented
story of Pollard," "set[s] the record straight," and dispels
"speculation, rumor, myths and lies surrounding the Pollard case."
As pro bono counsel for Jonathan Pollard since 2000, we have
comprehensive knowledge of the public court record in Pollard's
case. Olive's book and op-ed piece are fanciful concoctions that
are utterly incompatible with the US government's own carefully
crafted submissions to the court in Pollard's case.
Jonathan Pollard was arrested in 1985. The US government
conducted an overwhelmingly thorough investigation into his
conduct and character, and into the harm his conduct had caused.
Pollard pleaded guilty in 1986 to a charge of conspiracy to
deliver classified information to Israel. He was not charged with
intent to harm the US, although such a charge existed in the US Code.
On March 4, 1987, Pollard was sentenced to life in prison. Prior
to his sentencing, the government - the United States Attorney
and secretary of defense Caspar Weinberger -submitted over 130
pages of pre-sentencing memoranda to the sentencing judge. Those
memoranda set forth in detail what the government claimed it had
uncovered about Pollard's conduct and character, and about the
harm he had caused.
SUBSTANTIAL portions of the memoranda were designated
"classified" and were placed under seal. No one representing
Pollard, including us - his security-cleared attorneys - has been
permitted to see the classified portions of the docket since the
sentencing in 1987.
In his book, Olive specifically disclaims ever having seen the
classified sentencing materials. Yet he makes allegations against
Pollard that appear nowhere in the unclassified, public portion
of the sentencing materials. Since it is fair to assume that
neither Olive nor any of his purported "sources" would violate US
criminal law and disclose classified information, the inevitable
conclusion is that these allegations do not appear anywhere in
the government's pre-sentencing memoranda.
For example, Olive claims that Pollard delivered classified
information to Pakistan in the hope that Pakistan would retain
him as a paid spy. Undoubtedly, Olive wants to poison the mind of
the ordinary Israeli (or Israel supporter) into believing that
Pollard was a mercenary who would just as readily have spied for
Pakistan as he did for Israel.
In assessing the credibility of this allegation, it is important
to know that no such allegation appears anywhere in the public
record docket materials. And since we have to assume neither
Olive nor any of his "sources" would risk going to prison by
disclosing something that appears in the classified docket
materials, it is apparent that this allegation is not found
anywhere in the government's voluminous pre-sentencing memoranda.
It therefore has no credibility whatsoever.
IF THE government believed this and other allegations made by
Olive, it would have included them in the pre-sentencing
memoranda. The government took an extremely aggressive approach
toward Pollard, and would have relished the opportunity to inform
the sentencing judge that Pollard had violated the law by
delivering classified information to Pakistan - and with
mercenary motives, to boot.
The book and op-ed piece contain numerous accusations that are
nowhere to be found in the public sentencing docket, and that
could not be disclosed if they were in the classified sentencing
docket. They are therefore in neither place, and cannot be
considered even remotely reliable.
In his book, Olive asserts that Pollard's conduct caused
"irreparable damage" and "incalculable" harm to the US. However,
the Victim Impact Statement submitted to the court by the
Department of Justice in 1987 (and now a matter of public record)
portrays a very different effect on the US.
After preliminarily noting the substantial "breadth and scope" of
the information provided, as well as the fact that "thousands of
pages" of documents were delivered by Pollard to Israel, the
statement goes on to describe the actual damage to the US as follows:
Mr. Pollard's unauthorized disclosures have threatened the US
[sic] relations with numerous Middle East Arab allies, many of
whom question the extent to which Mr. Pollard's disclosures of
classified information have skewed the balance of power in the
Middle East. Moreover, because Mr. Pollard provided the Israelis
virtually any classified document requested by Mr. Pollard's
coconspirators, the US has been deprived of the quid pro quo
routinely received during authorized and official intelligence
exchanges with Israel, and Israel has received information
classified at a level far in excess of that ever contemplated by
the National Security Council. The obvious result of Mr.
Pollard's largesse is that US bargaining leverage with the
Israeli government in any further intelligence exchanges has been
undermined. In short, Mr. Pollard's activities have adversely
affected US relations with both its Middle East Arab allies and
the government of Israel.
WHILE WE cannot condone any unauthorized disclosure of classified
information, the government's own words in the Victim Impact
Statement, carefully scripted to present the most compelling case
for the maximum sentence (life in prison), reflect - at worst -
short-term friction between the US and unnamed Arab countries,
and temporary reduction in bargaining leverage by the US rather
than permanent, irreversible, and overwhelming damage to US
national security, as claimed by Olive. Nowhere does Olive see
fit even to mention the comparatively modest damage described in
the Victim Impact Statement, which is how the US government
itself has chosen to describe the harm caused by Pollard's
conduct in the court document designed precisely for that purpose.
In sum, while Olive describes his book as a "true documented
story," it is nothing of the sort. To use Olive's own words, his
book is an exercise in "speculation, rumor, myths and lies."
The writers are Jonathan Pollard's attorneys in the US.
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