Monday, April 23, 2007


I have now proven that nobody reads links. Even the person who posts the link. Buried at the bottom of the clemency regulations I have linked to twice is this:

"§ 1.11 Advisory nature of regulations.
The regulations contained in this part are advisory only and for the internal guidance of Department of Justice personnel. They create no enforceable rights in persons applying for executive clemency, nor do they restrict the authority granted to the President under Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution."

The strong implication is that a President could indeed ignore the regulations even though the Justice Department could not. This invalidates my point in an earlier post. I regret the error. (It does not invalidate my major points in the most recent post.)

Nevertheless it is still unclear to me why Jonathan Pollard continues to refuse to apply for either pardon or clemency.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Jonathan Pollard and the American Criminal Justice System

First, before reading the rest of this post, I recommend reading the following article which I believe is the most comprehensive and objective essay about Jonathan Pollard's situation to date:

It is now five years old, but little has changed since its publication.

Now, for the meat of this post:

Periodically, Jewish organizations make some noise about getting Jonathan Pollard released from prison. Here is a recent example:

I've alread posted as to why that won't happen without Pollard himself taking some action:

(UPDATE: The above post is based on my inaccurate understanding. See my next post for a correction.)

What I want to discuss is the alleged unfairness of Pollard's treatment. The fact is, he is indeed being treated unfairly in that the fact that his attorney made a serious screwup that has cost Pollard any chance for a review of his original conviction, ever. That is indeed unjust.

But in that, Pollard is being treated no better and no worse than anyone else in the American criminal justice system. Overworked public defenders can easily make the same kind of mistake that cost Pollard his right to appeal -- and there is utterly no interest from any part of the political spectrum to change that. The conservatives want to prove how tough they are on criminals, and the liberals are so terrified about being called soft on crime they are cowed into submission. As a result, people receive poor legal representation, and thanks to an almost 40 year packing of courts at all levels with law and order judges, the American legal system is now better at producing order than justice.

President Bush has continued this trend, which brings me to the latest outrage which has been getting shockingly little press: The Bush adminstration wants to try former AIPAC lobbyists Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman IN SECRET! The problem with that is that it directly violates the sixth amendment to the US Constitution, which reads:

"In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence. "

It doesn't say, "public trial unless the government doesn't want to". It is pretty absolute, as it should be.

This is even worse than the miscarraige of justice in Jonathan Pollard's case. At least he had a chance for a public trial, which he waived at the (bad?) advise of his attorney in his plea bargain. Where is the National Council of Young Israel in the Rosen/Weissman case? Only one Jewish organization, Rabbi Avi Weiss's Amcha-Coalition for Jewish Concerns, is concerned enough about the case to take any action:

You don't have to agree with the somewhat inflammatory accusations of anti-Semitism to believe that it is absolutely outrageous that the United States government is attempting to deny two United States citizens their basic constitutional rights.

I support parole or clemency for Jonathan Pollard, and I also urge all Jews to support the right of Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman to a fair trial. It is important for the public to know the evidence against them (if there is any).

And it is important that we finally start to turn around the curtailment of civil liberties in the United States. It will be an uphill struggle, as voters have valued "law and order" far more than justice over the past four decades. But it is precisely that lack of justice that keeps people like Jonathan Pollard from having any ability to appeal their convictions. And I don't want to have to see a National Council of Young Israel campaign to free Rosen and Weissman a decade or two from now.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Really, REALLY stupid pro-Israel argument

Aaron Klein, in a recent Jewish Press article, claims to cite recent evidence of Arab construction on Jewish-owned land in East Jerusalem:

Now, I have no doubt that the facts that Mr. Klein reports are correct in that the land was probably owned by Jews before the Israeli War of Independence in 1948. That land and the buildings on it were expropriated by Jordan during the 19 years it controlled that part of Eretz Yisrael. Indeed Jordan annexed that area, placing it under Jordanian law, just as Israel annexed East Jerusalem in 1967; neither annexation receieved recognition from the international community. A similar situation exists with sections of Hebron that were once Jewish-owned.

But if Jews can rightfully reclaim such area, Arabs have the right to reclaim areas in Israel that were once Arab owned, including Jerusalem neighborhoods such as Old Katamon and Har Nof, along with large sections of Tel Aviv, Haifa, Tsfat, and other mostly-Jewish cities. WE DON'T WANT TO GO THERE! By arguing for the redress of land expropriations, Mr. Klein is essentially arguing for the expulsion of Jews from their homes in areas such as I have just mentioned because an expropriation is an expropriation, no matter who does it. And it gives additional ammunition to the enemies of Israel who correctly point out that the expropriations have been entirely Israeli over the past 39+ years.

With friends like this....

Ann Coulter screws up again

Ann Coulter has never allowed facts to get in the way of a good slander. And she does it again this week in an interview published in the Jewish Press:

The lie is toward the end of the article, when she argues that President Bush's low popularity shouldn't prevent him from ordering military action against Iran:

"Harry Truman’s approval rating was in the low 20’s when he ordered U.S. troops into Korea."

The Korean War started June 25, 1950; American troops were in action within a few weeks. Here is a link to the Gallup approval ratings during President Truman's adminstration:

The relevant polling data are from June 4-9 and indicate 37% approval.

And if you want to say that the real move was MacArthur's landing at Inchon that turned the tide of the war (temporarily), the landing was on September 15, and the relevant polling data from August 20-25 indicate 43% approval.