The Bintel Brief

Bintel Brief: Alan Dershowitz on ‘Scooter’ Libby and Jonathan Pollard

By Alan Dershowitz

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Alan Dershowitz

Prof. Dershowitz,

I was very interested to see that you argued for the commutation of the prison sentence of Scooter Libby. You see, I know this guy who is 20 years into a life sentence. He was a Navy analyst and got caught spying for another country. Did he deserve to go to jail? Sure, but not for life. The country in question was an ally of the United States, the prosecution reneged on its plea agreement, the judge let in some questionable testimony during the sentencing stage, and by now this fellow has suffered enough. What should he do? Do you think you could get Scooter to put in a good word for him?


Alan Dershowitz replies:

I did not argue for commutation of the prison sentence of Scooter Libby. I joined a brief written by 12 professors arguing that the legal issues in Libby’s appeal were serious and substantial, and that he should be given bail pending appeal. I would join the same brief for any appellant who had significant issues on appeal, since I am appalled by the trend toward locking people up while their appeals are pending. I have seen innocent defendants languish in prison only to see their convictions reversed, but they can’t get back the year they unjustly spent behind bars.

As for Jonathan Pollard, I have devoted enormous energy to try to get his sentence commuted. I petitioned President Clinton repeatedly to commute his sentence, and I have publicly railed against the excessiveness of the Pollard sentence and the fact that the government reneged on its plea agreement. We must continue to fight for justice for Jonathan Pollard.

Alan Dershowitz is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. He is the author of numerous books, including “Chutzpah,” “The Vanishing American Jew,” “The Genesis of Justice,” “The Case for Israel,” “The Case for Peace” and, most recently, “Blasphemy: How the Religious Right is Hijacking the Declaration of Independence.”

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Meyer J. Levin Thu. Aug 2, 2007

Alan Dershowitz should know better. The prosecution agreed,(in the plea agreement)not to ask for a life sentence for Jonathan Pollard. They did not. They asked for a substantial sentence. The Judge (at the sentencing) asked Pollard if he understood he could get life with a guilty plea. Pollard, with his attorney at his side, said "Yes". Judges are not bound by a plea agreement.

Sephardiman Thu. Aug 2, 2007

<p>Jonathon Pollard committed espionage against his country. He should count himself lucky that he didn't end up like the Rosenbergs did in 1953. The Jewish community should have no sympathy for someone convicted of such odious crimes. Espionage and treason, whether committed on behalf of San Marino, Equatorial Guinea, and even Israel are horrendous crimes. </p> <p>Mr. Pollard has disgraced our Jewish community and he should spend the rest of his days in prison contemplating on his unsavory deeds! </p>

Lou Thu. Aug 2, 2007

Sephardiman, You don't know what you are talking about. I do not have the space here to defend Jonathan Pollard. Just go to his website and you will see numerous articles from independent sources defending his position. If you are not the ignoramus that you are implying in your posting, then you are the one thats a disgrace to the Jewish community.

Sephardiman Fri. Aug 3, 2007

It is a very sad day for the American Jewish community, if you are called an ignoramus and a disgrace for upholding the government's decision to punish a traitor while his defenders feel they are upholding Jewish values. There was a time when American Jews understood the importance of showing proper respect to this country for all it has given us but not any more. Pollard is viewed as a hero to misguided souls like Lou. Mr. Pollard can plead his case all he wants on his website. That doesn't negate the fact that he is a scoundrel and is where he should be.

Sephardiman Mon. Aug 6, 2007

Nolan-I don't think it does our community any good to be advocating for Pollard. Had Pollard been facing execution, I would readily see your point. All of this attraction for Pollard just sets our community up for charges of dual loyalism and ultimate disloyalty. Jews in other generations understood that. We don't today.

Nolan Mon. Aug 6, 2007

Sephadiman, Please read the constitution to see how it defines a traitor then see if it applies to Pollard. What makes me sad is the fact that other who have committed similar crimes has received far less punishment. This includes those who have spied for Saudi Arabia and Americans who have spied for Russia excluding the Rosenbergs. Should the Jews be timid in appealing for justice for Pollard?

Lou Wed. Aug 8, 2007

Sephardiman, Unfortunately, you are the misguided soul, because you have not even attempted to read the independent defense of Jonathan Pollard. Nobody is saying that Pollard is not guilty of treason, but he has more than done his time. As Nolan said, others who have committed similar crimes for our ENEMIES have received far less punishment, like two or three years. Pollard has been in jail over 21 years for information that was given to our closest ally and information that should have been given to Israel by the US under a treaty. BTW, one of the pieces of information was about the Iraqi nuclear reactor which was destroyed by Israel and saved millions of Jewish lives. Pollard is a hero to me and to thousands of other Jews. Pollard was used as a scapegoat by Hanson and other high level moles inside the CIA and FBI to cover their own tracks. Read the John Loftus article that gives the details. Sephardiman, you are bending over trying to please the non-Jewish community, which is the root of the problem of most of the Jewish community for hundreds of years. There is no dual loyalism here, only justice for a fellow Jew.

Harold Koch Sat. Aug 4, 2007

A new generation of Jews has grown since Pollard was convicted. They no nothing of his travails.

Mr. Anonymous Sun. Oct 21, 2007

Yes, Mr. Pollard should be freed. But also kick out of the country, too. What do you say of that Mr. Dershowitz?

Mr. Anonymous Sun. Oct 21, 2007

So us non-Jews are the cause of your problems? Excuse me, but I haven't done anything against you. If anti-semitism is bad, I agree, then "philo-semitism" is bad also. Let us be fair.

Dr Eagle Sperm-Cannon, LSD Tue. Jan 29, 2008

Despite a last minute showing by Sarah Marshak, the GW university student busted for drawing a swastika on her own dorm room door and early contention by Paul Wolfowitz, Irv "Scooter" Libby has been awarded the 2007 Jew of the Year Award. It is true that Scooter is guilty of lying and false testimony is punishable by death according to the Torah but the Talmud states that Jews can lie in order to further the cause of Israel to which end Scooter did lie to sustain a war that protected Israel. This makes Scooter a Jew's Jew and gives an easy victory in the Jew of the Year Award contest.

Estelle Price Tue. Jul 8, 2008

Dear Prof. Dershowitz, I'm so glad you fought for Jonathan Pollard. I, too, am appalled by his treatment and the miscarriage of justice in his case. Is there still a movement to help free him, or is he forgotten? Is Israel still interested in taking some responsibility for him? Or should we give up now that Clinton is no longer in office?

Harold Schainberg Wed. Aug 5, 2009

It was FBI agent Robert Hanssen not Jonathon Pollard who sold secrets to Russia causing our Spies to be killed. Hanssen received life in prison and his wife received his $60,000 a year retirement.

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