Grant Smith writes: The US Department of Justice has released new files about convicted spy Jonathan Pollard’s bid for presidential clemency. Pollard was sentenced to life in prison in 1987 after passing more than a million highly classified documents to Israel while working as an intelligence analyst for the US Navy. Documents in the Freedom of Information Act response (PDF) reference 32 pages of government agency deliberative communications and 37 pages of new communications between Pardon Attorney Ronald Rogers and Pollard’s legal team — all produced since July of 2011. While the contents have been withheld, their existence signals that the Pollard commutation request may be nearing a conclusion within the Obama administration. June 18 could mark the culmination of a massive lobbying campaign for release. Obama’s dismal record on Israeli accountability suggests Pollard will soon walk free.
Released documents reveal that the Rabbinical Assembly — claiming to represent “1.5 million Jews worldwide” — passed a formal resolution asking Obama to commute Pollard’s sentence. Rabbi David Zwiebel of Agudath Israel of America and Moshe Kantor of the European Jewish Congress also urged Pollard’s release. Letters demanding release also continue to flood in from former and current members of the US Congress. Steve Symms, Matt Salmon, Alan Simpson, Robert Wexler, Barney Frank, and Gary Ackerman joined the ranks of fellow representatives already demanding release. Moshe Kahalon, Israel’s Minister of Communications, gushed to Obama “I have no doubt that your decision to release Jonathan Pollard now as a humanitarian expression of justice and compassion will bring great relief to many, and will remove this impediment to the friendship between our nations.” Former New York City Mayor David Dinkins is also now rooting for Pollard’s release. Upping the ante, Israeli President Shimon Peres has explicitly linked his receipt of a US Presidential Medal of Freedom during a special June 18 White House dinner to Pollard’s freedom gambit — channeling even more intense pressure on Obama to take action in a specific context, place and time.
The linkage to Obama’s reelection bid is obvious. Israel’s Chief Rabbi Yonah Metzger brashly stated that releasing Pollard would be good for Obama’s reelection campaign. But what makes Pollard worth expending such formidable lobbying and political capital? Why have Israel and its Western lobbying organizations made Pollard a key issue, almost on the same footing as massive US taxpayer-funded aid packages and confronting Iran? The Israel lobby effort is trying to achieve much more than simply putting Congress and a sitting president through their paces. [Continue reading…]