Wednesday, May 25, 2005

On Treason

91      We passed beyond, where frozen water wraps
92      a rugged covering still other sinners,
93      who were not bent, but flat upon their backs.
94      Their very weeping there won't let them weep,
95      and grief that finds a barrier in their eyes
96      turns inward to increase their agony;
97      because their first tears freeze into a cluster,
98      and, like a crystal visor, fill up all
99      the hollow that is underneath the eyebrow.
100      And though, because of cold, my every sense
101      had left its dwelling in my face, just as
102      a callus has no feeling, nonetheless,

As for their demand that Jonathan Pollard be freed from US prison, where he is serving a life sentence for delivering mountains of classified information to Israel (and thence to the Soviet Union), it is monstrous. Pollard inflicted incalculable damage on the United States and is one of its most dastardly traitors. High-ranking US officers with an intimate knowledge of the case told Seymour Hersh that there is no doubt that documents he provided to the Israelis ended up in the hands of the Soviets. This happened either because Israeli intelligence peddled them to Moscow or because Israeli intelligence itself was penetrated by the KGB. By sending highly classified material out of the United States (for tens of thousands of dollars in a private account), Pollard initiated its transfer to Moscow as surely as if he had just dropped it off at the Soviet embassy. Pollard should never be released, and anyone who demands his release is no friend of the United States. Giving the signal that it is all right to spy intensively on the United States would be the worst possible move in these parlous times.

I do not agree with Dante on a lot of things. To begin I do not agree that eternal damnation is a good thing. I do not agree with the anti-semetism of naming the innermost circle of hell "Judecca". Most importantly, I disagree with him classifying "treason to masters" as more heinous a crime than "treason to their kindred". In reality, it is often the masters that betray first. I would put Stalin's crimes above that of a Pollard. He signed many papers that betrayed estwhile comrades to the NKVD. Worse still, despite many warnings, he denied that the Nazi government had hostile intentions towards the Soviet Union. This incompetence cost his countrymen more than 20 million lives. In this instance, I would evacuate Judas Iscariot from the mouth of the devil, and put Uncle Joe in his place.

But I do understand and emphasize with Dante when he classifies treason as the worse crime possible. And his depiction of this part of hell is fitting, in a way. Betrayal may freeze the man inside, even if the extremity is breathing. And in hell, wracked with guilt and shame, the traitors try to shed the tears they were not willing to do so when alive. But they cannot: the cold freezes the teardrops to their eyes.

Jonathan Pollard may be a better man than Aldrich Ames or Kim Philby. But that isn't saying much. A life sentence is justice enough. 

(More on this from Steve Gilliard. Justin Raimondo also brings up the disgusting spectacle of Larry Franklin, "a Jonathan Pollard for our Times".)