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News Opinion

Don't free Jonathan Pollard

In Kenneth Lasson's commentary, "Freeing Pollard benefits all" (Feb. 27), who is "all?" Jonathan Pollard passed classified information to Israel to circumvent U.S. policy. Is "all" the thousands of Americans with security clearance who do not betray that confidence, or does it refer to the country Mr. Pollard betrayed? He is serving a life sentence because of a plea bargain. His cooperation was in no way exculpatory. Mr. Lasson writes, "It is now more clear than ever that he is being severely punished for deeds he never did." Mr. Pollard confessed, and Israel acknowledged his espionage years later. That's why he's in prison.

Is this "Perhaps the administration's most egregious failure to correct a clear miscarriage of American justice?" The Innocence Project works to free prisoners wrongly convicted for crimes they didn't commit. Surely that's more egregious.

Mr. Lasson wonders why President Barack Obama doesn't use the presidential pardon as often as his predecessors did. Is there a quota?

The suggestion that pardoning Mr. Pollard would "mend political fences" begs the question: Does the special relationship with our "staunchest ally in the Middle East" need mending? As President Obama said on March 5 of last year, "Our commitment to the security of Israel is rock solid ... the [U.S.] will always have Israel's back when it comes to Israel's security." Yet the mention that the two states have different interests is often met with outrage. If there's anything to worry about, it's the permanent entangling alliances that our forefathers warned us about.

Would pardoning Mr. Pollard "… guarantee [Mr. Obama] a warm popular reception in [Israel]?" If our foreign policy courts popularity overseas, why do we repeatedly defy world opinion? The U.S. is sometimes the only U.N. vote on Israel's side against international consensus — because this is not a popularity contest.

Israel receives more annual U.S. aid than any other country, in absolute terms, and on a per capita basis. Perhaps "our staunchest ally" will refuse our generosity in these times of economic distress. Or perhaps Israel will refuse to accept the money to express disapproval of our judicial handing of Mr. Pollard. Don't hold your breath.

W.N. Howell, III, Ellicott City

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