Chutzph Dershowitz

In Alan Dershowitz\'s novel Chutzpah, he devotes an entire section to
the issue of, and his personal feelings about James Pollard. He begins this
section with a description of the way in which this man was caught selling
classified government documents to the nation of Israel. Basically this man was
a Jewish American spy for the Israeli government because of a duty he felt
stemming from a secret loyalty he felt toward the nation of Israel. Over an
extended period of time this man sold thousand of secret documents which in the
eyes of Weinberger, the Secretary of Defense for the United States was a
“serious breech in national security.”
Dershowitz emphasizes in great detail how in order to avoid a trial in
which the declassification of these documents would be required, Pollard was
pressured to accept a plea bargain in which he would plead guilty, give full
disclosure pertaining to the information he handed over, and release all rights
to any of his future published material that pertained to the case. In exchange
for these things he would be granted a formal request by the US government to
the judge of the case which would call for a restricted sentence for him and
his wife. Pollard agreed to this deal and was satisfied with it until he
received a sentence of life in a maximum security prison and his wife received
5 years in prison. The evidence that Dershowitz presents suggests that Pollard
did get an unfair deal, and a much harsher sentence than others in the past
have received for similar crimes.
Dershowitz stated in no uncertain terms that in his opinion the reason
for for this discrepancy in the sentencing process has to do with the fact that
Pollard is a Jewish man who betrayed America for Israel. He states:
I am convinced that if Pollard were a non-Jew who had spied for a non-Jewish
country, he would not be in prison today.”
Dershowitz finds fault in the way Pollard’s lawyers handled the case. He claims
that if Pollard had used his constitutional right to remain silent that the
government would have been hard pressed to to make a case against him because
it would have required declassification of highly sensitive intelligence
documents. His choice to accept the plea bargain and submit himself to the
mercy of the government was in Dershowitz’s eyes a terrible mistake and a
partial reason for imprisonment.
There is no doubt that in Dershowitz’s eyes that this case is an issue
of race and not so much an issue of foul play. He reiterates over and over that
Pollard’s actions were not in conflict with American national security and that
Israel was some how entitled to the documents because in many ways they
pertained to Israeli national security. Dershowitz does his best to downplay
Pollard’s acts of treason and at the same hammers home his point that Pollard
is being unfairly held. He repeatedly emphasizes that Israel is an American
ally, and that Pollard could have easily commanded much greater sums of money
than he received from Israel if he had sold the information to more hostile
nations. His description of the situation lacks legal substance, and tends to
suggest a theory of widespread anti Semitism.
Dershowitz makes a convincing argument that Pollard received a sentence
that was inconsistent both with past cases as well as what he was actually
promised in return for his guilty plea. It does seem that if Pollard had fought
to the end that his worst case scenario would not be much different from what
he got out of the plea bargain. Dershowitz blames poor legal advice and failure
for the government to hold up its end of the deal for Pollard’s present
It is not exactly clear to the general public exactly what information
Pollard turned over to the Israelis. All of these documents are still
classified and it is likely that they will be for many years to come. However,
the fact is that this man had an extremely high security clearance and that he
broke a sworn oath to protect the interests of the American people. This is a
very serious crime, and in my opinion should not