Key portions of a critical classified document on which the US government has cited as justification for keeping Jonathan Pollard in jail have been declassified – and his lawyers say the government has been "dishonest" in "hiding behind the mask of 'classified information' to materially mischaracterize the nature and extent of the harm caused by Mr. Pollard."
Lawyers Eliot Lauer and Jacques Semmelman, who have represented Pollard for 25 years pro-bono, say the newly disclosed material shows that any harm possibly caused by Pollard was only "in the form of short-term disruption in foreign relations between the United States and certain Arab countries."
"That is not at all the same thing as harm to U.S. national security," they write in a World Net Daily op-ed, "and it was dishonest for the government to pretend that it is."
The government position for 30 years has been that Pollard must remain in prison because a secret note from then-Secretary of State Caspar Weinberger stated that Pollard caused greater harm to U.S. national security than had ever occurred previously.
"The government has been able to present this harsh characterization of the Weinberger declaration without fear of contradiction," Semmelman and Lauer write, because "no one representing Mr. Pollard [was ever] allowed to see the Weinberger declaration since the day Mr. Pollard was sentenced" – until now.
Pollard was arrested in 1985 after imparting classified information to Israel – a U.S. ally that in any event was supposed to be shown the information. He was sentenced to life in prison, largely on the basis of the Weinberger memo. The average sentence for similar crimes is 2-4 years.
About 20% of the memo is still classified, although the headings of the secret sections have been declassified.
The lawyers state that the U.S. government's "deception had its most blatant and prejudicial impact at Mr. Pollard's parole hearing held in July 2014, during which the government invoked the Weinberger declaration and – without showing it to the parole commission – urged the commission to accept its representation that the document substantiated more harm to the national security of the United States than had ever occurred previously."
"In its decision denying parole, the commission took the government at its word and essentially parroted the government's characterization of the Weinberger declaration when it wrote that Mr. Pollard had caused 'the greatest compromise of U.S. security to that date,'" noted the lawyers.
"That is an outright falsehood," the lawyers write, "and the recent revelations prove it… [It] is now revealed that Mr. Pollard provided Israel with information concerning the 'political-economic affairs of Middle Eastern nations,' various 'Middle Eastern orders of battle,' and the 'technology of Soviet weapons and radar systems' used by various Arab governments."
"The potential consequence [thereof] is described by Mr. Weinberger as 'a high probability of harm to the foreign relations of the U.S. with friendly Arab nations'" – and nothing more than that.
The op-ed details the type of information Pollard gave Israel, and the modest and temporary damage it caused to U.S. relations with some countries – but not to U.S. security.
"The government's unconscionable deception has deprived Mr. Pollard of his freedom for too many years," conclude Lauer and Semmelman. "The document brandished by the government to implement its scheme, hidden from scrutiny until now, has finally been exposed for what it is: a description of a brief, long-forgotten blip in foreign relations, not a frightening exposition of unprecedented harm to U.S. national security. "
"After nearly three decades, in light of the government's perfidy, the only conceivable way to provide a belated measure of justice is to end Mr. Pollard's incarceration immediately. President (Barack) Obama has the solemn duty to uphold the law of the land by finally putting a stop to this ongoing travesty," they concluded.