By Eliot Lauer and Jacques Semmelman
As pro bono lawyers for Jonathan Pollard for 12 years, we continue to be amazed at how people opposed to executive clemency for our client invariably withhold, distort, and even fabricate facts to justify their position. The most recent manifestation of this phenomenon is the June 16 opinion piece by Roland Martin, “Israel wrong to demand release of American traitor.”
Mr. Pollard is serving his 27th year of an unprecedented sentence of life in prison for delivering classified information to the state of Israel, a close ally of the United States.
Martin does a disservice to his readers by fabricating facts. For example, Martin refers confidently to Pollard’s “trial,” and says that during his “trial,” Pollard was accused of attempting to pass classified information to Pakistan and other countries.
Perhaps Martin doesn’t know that Pollard never had a trial. This fact could have easily been found through a Google search. And Pollard was never charged by the United States with passing (or attempting to pass) classified information to any country other than Israel, for the very simple reason that he never attempted to do so. Martin invents putative facts to support his opinion.
Likewise, Martin writes of Pollard’s purported “treason.” But he was never charged with (much less convicted of) treason. Nor could he have been, as treason requires aid to an enemy of the United States.
Martin notes gravely that “treason” is addressed in the U.S. Constitution. If Martin had bothered to read that document, he would have seen that the Constitution says that “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.” Israel is not an enemy of the United States. Once again, a basic check of the facts would have revealed that Pollard did not commit treason.
What should be equally disturbing to Martin’s readers are the critical facts he withholds. Martin makes it seem as if it is mostly the people and leaders of Israel who want Pollard to receive clemency. Martin fails to mention that George Shultz, the U.S. secretary of state at the time of Pollard’s activities, has come out publicly in favor of clemency. Similarly, Robert “Bud” McFarlane, who was U.S. national security adviser at that time, has also come out publicly in favor of clemency.
It is safe to say that these gentlemen know more than anyone about Pollard’s conduct. The fact that they have come out in favor of clemency speaks volumes. But Martin chooses not to mention this. Nor does he mention that numerous distinguished Americans have come out publicly in favor of clemency, including former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, former Vice President Dan Quayle, former CIA Director James Woolsey, former Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dennis DeConcini, dozens of members of Congress and many others.
Perhaps Martin claims to know more than they do about the Pollard case. Then again, Martin claims Mr. Pollard had a trial and committed treason.
Martin is entitled to hold any opinion he wishes. But his readers are entitled to an honest presentation of the facts, not a series of falsehoods buttressed by material omissions.
Eliot Lauer and Jacques Semmelman, partners at the law firm of Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP, represent Jonathan Pollard.