Declassified Statement on Jonathan Pollard by Caspar W. Weinberger

Editor’s note: The following statement (original format [.pdf]) was submitted to the District Court of the District of Columbia on March 3, 1987, by the former secretary of defense one day before Judge Aubry E. Robinson Jr. sentenced Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard to life in prison. Weinberger submitted a 46-page classified declaration (“in camera”) of damage caused by Pollard in January 1987 (upon which this unclassified declaration was based). It has never been fully declassified. Explanatory links provided by Grant F. Smith.

I am Caspar W. Weinberger, Secretary of Defense. I offer this declaration to supplement my in camera submission, which detailed the nature and extent of the harm defendant has caused to our national security, and to make known to the Court additional facts which have been brought to my attention. I also wish to address the defendant’s self-serving contentions [.pdf] that his espionage activities were intended only to aid Israel, and the suggestion that his actions should be viewed as mere technical violations of laws intended to keep sensitive information from actual or potential enemies.

It is difficult for me, even in the so-called “year of the spy,” to conceive of a greater harm to national security than that caused by the defendant in view of the breadth, the critical importance to the U.S., and the high sensitivity of the information he sold to Israel. That information was intentionally reserved by the United States for its own use, because to disclose it, to anyone or any nation, would cause the greatest harm to our national security. Our decisions to withhold and preserve certain intelligence information, and the sources and methods of its acquisition, either in total or in part, are taken with great care, as part of a plan for national defense and foreign policy which has been consistently applied throughout many administrations. The defendant took it upon himself unilaterally to reverse those policies. In so doing, he both damaged and destroyed policies and national assets which have taken many years, great effort and enormous national resources to secure. Moreover, in light of the defendant’s continued disclosures of sensitive information for publication by the press, there is ample cause to believe that Pollard will continue to divulge classified national defense information without restraint.

I respectfully submit that any U.S. citizen, and in particular a trusted government official, who sells U.S. secrets to any foreign nation should not be punished merely as a common criminal. Rather, the punishment imposed should reflect the perfidy of the individual’s actions, the magnitude of the treason committed, and the needs of national security. Here, although the defendant had executed an oath to protect and safeguard classified information, he betrayed the public trust and the security of the United States in exchange for money. I believe these facts should be weighed heavily in fashioning the sentence to be imposed in order to protect the public confidence in our law, and restore the public’s confidence in our ability and commitment to protect U.S. security.

It is also relevant that Pollard has recently analogized himself to an Israeli pilot shot down behind enemy lines, and has stated his hope that he will yet be able to immigrate to Israel. Whatever else his analogy suggests, it clearly indicates that his loyalty to Israel transcends his loyalty to the United States. Nor, apparently, does any residual loyalty to the United States persuade him that he should protect U.S. national defense information at all. Only a few days ago, on February 15, 1987, the Washington Post published an article about Pollard. That article contained information purporting to reflect U.S. intelligence efforts. While I do not intend publicly to confirm or deny the accuracy of those statements, it is beyond cavil that, if true, such information should never be made publicly available. The defendant initially denied having been the source of the information, but when confronted with a polygraph examination on February 25, he acknowledged that he had either provided or confirmed certain of the information contained in that article by talking to a journalist. I have no way of knowing whether he provided additional information not published in that article, but I believe that there can be no doubt that he can, and will, continue to disclose U.S. secrets without regard to the impact it may have on U.S. national defense or foreign policy. Only a period of incarceration commensurate with the enduring quality of the national defense information he can yet impart, will provide a measure of protection against further damage to the national security.

Author: Caspar W. Weinberger

Caspar W. Weinberger (Aug. 18, 1917-March 28, 2006) was secretary of defense under President Ronald Reagan from Jan. 21, 1981, until Nov. 23, 1987.