Pot. Kettle. Black.

I’ve been seeing some chatter go by on the subject of Jonathan Pollard, convicted in 1987 of passing classified information to Israel.

Mr. Pollard is serving a life sentence; his health is reportedly failing (even though at 58 he’s still fairly young), so there is clamor for his release. Unsurprisingly, much of this clamor comes from Israel.

There is also clamor to keep him behind bars.

(What do I think? I prefer to believe in the possibility of redemption. And I note that Christopher Boyce was released after serving twenty-four years for espionage and armed robbery.)

CNN recently published two opinion pieces: Israel wrong to demand Jonathan Pollard’s release, by Roland Martin; and The truth about Jonathan Pollard, by Eliot Lauer and Jacques Semmelman. Lauer & Semmelman are lawyers, working the Pollard case pro bono (which is Latin for ‘free advertising’). They conclude:

Martin is entitled to hold any opinion he wishes. But his readers are entitled to an honest presentation of the facts, not a series of falsehoods buttressed by material omissions.

Lawyers are paid persuaders; telling the full, unmanipulated truth is seldom the best way to change anyone’s mind, so it’s naïve to expect ‘an honest presentation of the facts’.

(I note in passing that in the average criminal trial, only the witnesses are sworn to tell the truth. The lawyers are under no such obligation.)

Lauer & Semmelman waste valuable column-inches on whether Pollard had a ‘trial’ (he didn’t – it was a plea bargain), and on the Constitutional definition of ‘treason’ (as if Martin were using the term in its precise, legal meaning). All of it was quite irrelevant.

I might’ve expected some discussion of their client’s remorse for his actions, of his reformed nature, of some specific reason he deserves parole. Alas, no: all I got was a list of government bigwigs (past & present), who favor parole.

I suspect there’s a legal principle at work here – argue the points you can win; ignore the ones you’d lose. (How do you say that in Latin?)

One thought on “Pot. Kettle. Black.

  1. Pat Post author

    Using ‘classified information’ as synonymous with ‘secrets’ is actually a bit sloppy. ‘Classified’ just means somebody has tagged the information in question as Confidential, Secret, Top Secret, etc.

    One of the tags is – of course – ‘Not Secret’.

    On the other hand, everybody agrees that ‘Unclassified’ means ‘Not Secret’. So perhaps the inverse is less sloppy than it might appear.

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