Monday, June 18, 2012

Jonathan Pollard: Let Him Stay in Prison

The US and Israel are and should be close allies. We have common values, common interests, and common enemies. The United States is and should be Israel's best friend and vice-versa.

I hope Israelis appreciate that at least since the Nixon administration the United States has had Israel's back. The much despised Nixon, let us not forget, ensured Israel would survive the 1973 Yom Kippur war.  At that time Israel was alone and under attack from far superior forces which had the initial advantage of surprise. The Nixon administration set up an amazing resupply effort that kept the ammo and aircraft replacements flowing to Israel. The US was ripping frontline equipment out of our own forces and shipping it to Israel in a matter of hours. Since then, of course, with the possible exception of the current US misadministration, the US has remained a faithful ally. We have taken heat in the UN and around the world, including having our people killed, because of our support for Israel.  When I worked at the UN it was not unusual to have votes of 180-2, with the US and Israel the "2." That was fine. We knew we were right,

All this makes the Pollard issue painful for those of us who are strong supporters of Israel. Pollard was an intel analyst at the Pentagon who apparently decided that we were not sharing everything we should with Israel, and set out to provide it.  He apparently provided information we had on Syrian air defense capabilities, information that we had not shared with the Israelis. We apparently did not want anybody to know how we could detect and presumably defeat those air defense capabilities. Should we have shared the intel with our ally, Israel? Perhaps that is a legitimate question, but it was not within Pollard's authority to answer the question on his own and act upon it. He had no right to defy the policy set by the U.S. government, and he knew it.  He knew that what he was doing was against the law, and against the oath he took.

There is no evidence I know of that Israel went out to recruit Pollard; he seems to have been a "walk-in." That said, Israel can be accused of not acting like a true ally when Pollard walked in. The Israelis should have ratted him out to the US. They didn't.

Pollard was rightfully convicted and sentenced to prison. Did he do as much damage as the Walkers, Hanssen, or Agee? I do not know, but have my doubts. Did he do as much damage as the leakers in the current White House who apparently have leaked critical information on ongoing operations? No, he most likely did not. He, however, violated the law, showed he could not be trusted with America's secrets, and he knew the risks involved.

Israeli officials and others should stop asking to have Pollard released.


  1. I have always assumed that Pollard is a pawn. Israel does not want to be perceived as abandoning someone who gave them information (even as a walk in) and it serves as push back on the issue of Israel's treatment of Mordechai Vanunu.

  2. I'm with you on this: he knew he was breaking the law and he should pay the penalty. I presume Israel is merely making the gesture whenever the subject can be raised. Agreeing to release him would not prove we are a better ally; rather that we are weak and feckless.

  3. The big problem with Pollard is that the information he provided to Israel didn't stay with them. They shopped it around.

  4. I was there, almost: about 100 nautical miles south of Crete during the Yom Kippur War. Most people have totally forgotten or perhaps never knew or cared what an extraordinary logistical commitment was undertaken by the U.S. in order to re-supply Israel during the Yom Kippur War. "[R]ripping frontline equipment out of our own forces" is exactly what happened. That I saw and heard about. A unique and good book on the logistical side of this (if I may suggest it), and at least a decent Kindle price:

    About Pollard, well, I'd be glad to "trade" him if some of the current crop were to receieve their just reward. Not going to happen, of course. We need an Official Secrets Act in the worst way.

  5. OT, like the new view. Easier to follow, so far.

  6. Whatever Pollard passed on was enough that CIA Director Tenent said he would resign if Clinton pardoned him. It is rumored that the Israelis traded this information to the Soviets in exchange for the release of Jews living there. And it is rumored that the information he passed on could be sourced back to assets we had in the USSR which cost them their lives.

    Pollard pled guilty, likely to avoid a death sentence -- a common practice. That saved the government from exposing the details of our intelligence efforts.

    Thanks for the article.

  7. A former DCI told me personally that Pollard is not the sole reason the US will not release him from prison to go to Israel. Pollard during the Cold War sent Israel the position stations info on US nuclear subs which Israel in turn traded to the USSR like baseball cards in return for Soviet intelligence on their Middle East allies like Syria and Iran.

    So the US will let Pollard rot in prison for the rest of his life to punish Israel, not Pollard himself.