Tuesday, April 01, 2014

A Few Words About Jonathan Pollard...

Jonathan Pollard has surfaced as part of the imploding peace talks, with a great deal of speculation about him being released as a bargaining chip by the Obama Administration to wrest further concessions out of Israel.

This is Pollard's 29th year in prison on charges of spying for Israel, and the Obama Administration is essentially offering a hostage swap, Pollard for a boatload of Palestinian murderers convicted in Israeli courts.

I doubt the deal would happen, and Pollard himself - with a great deal more of a sense of right and wrong than the people holding him - has refused to be swapped for terrorists. He actually boycotted his own parole hearing today in protest.

So what did Jonathan Pollard do, and why is he serving a life sentence? Pollard spied for Israel, specifically passing on information related to artillery developments in several Arab countries and other secrets directly related to Israeli security, including Arab and Pakistani nuclear secrets and capabilities of the Soviet weapons in Arab hands. Normally, this is stuff one ally would share with another, but somehow that's not how it happened.According to the CIA's 1987 damage assessment of Pollard's crimes, declassified on December 14, 2012, Pollard was specifically not asked by his Israeli handlers to gather information on U.S. military activities, but rather to collect U.S. intelligence on Arab states, Pakistan and the Soviet Union, and their weapons systems.

Pollard's no angel. He did what he did for money and apparently had delusions of grandeur,trying to shop intel to other countries on his own, although all of them were U.S. allies. But one also can't say he really hurt the United States, although there are some intel sources that differ on that.Allies routinely spy on allies.We do it to them and they do it to us, not that it makes any difference. Pollard was a spy,and he was caught.

It's the way he was treated after that that's curious.

Pollard was arrested with his wife Anne in 1985, and agreed to a plea bargain that would have allowed his wife to go free. The U.S. prosecutor in charge of the case was willing to comply with the plea agreement and asked for "only a substantial sentence" rather than life imprisonment, which was unprecedented for what Pollard actually did. At that point, Secretary of defense Casper Weinberger intervened personally with the judge, Aubrey Robinson, Jr., showing him a memorandum that was not shred with the defense, in violation of discovery. The judge subsequently reneged on the plea bargain and sentenced Pollard to life imprisonment. In the end, Anne Pollard ended up serving three years and Pollard is still there. He remains the only person in US history to receive a life sentence for spying for an ally, and the only American citizen convicted of this kind of crime to be sentenced to more than 10 years in prison. The usual sentence for what Pollard did is 2-4 years.Even some spies working for governments that were definitely not U.S. allies, like Iran, got off much lighter than Pollard.

The closest Pollard came to being released was in 1998, when his release was supposed to be part of the Wye River agreement then Israeli PM Netanyahu signed with President Bill Clinton making concessions to Arafat and the Palestinians. Once the agreement was signed, Pollard stayed behind bars anyway.

Should Pollard be freed? Well, that's another curious thing. At the time of Pollard's sentencing there was a law that mandated parole eligibility for Federal inmates who had served 30 years out of a life sentence provided they had maintained a clean record in prison. Pollard is currently scheduled to be released anyway on November 21, 2015.

So what this smacks of is the Obama Administration attempting to get something for a man they appear to be holding hostage while they still can.

Netanyahu is unlikely to go along with it,however, simply because he already had the experience with Bill Clinton of being promised Pollard would be a part of a deal concerning the Palestinians and then having that part 'canceled' at the last moment.

Should Pollard be freed? Perhaps, perhaps not. But there's no way he should be used in what amounts to human trafficking just to get some Palestinian murderers released.


Geoffrey Britain said...

Thanks for the background. IMO he should be freed. He did no harm to America. The 'message', to Americans that spying for a foreign state carries a heavy price has been sent. Israel got the political message as well. Pollard has certainly paid his debt to society and will never be in such a position again. This is about geopolitical politics, not justice.

louielouie said...

considering the reputation of the mossad, why would the joos want second hand intel?

B.Poster said...

Very good point Louie. This is especially the case given that US intelligence is the polar opposite of the Mossad. In other words, US intelligence services are as incompetent as the Mossad is competent. As such, US intelligence would have no real value to the Israelis. This whole thing has never made much sense to me from the time I first learned of it a few years ago.