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Friday, April 4, 2014

On Jonathan Pollard

Convicted spy Jonathan Pollard has been in the news lately. There are some odd stories (here, for example) about Pollard being a pawn in the current round of Kerry-brokered Israel-PLO talks. Some accounts mention his being released to the Israelis in exchange for a deal with the PLO. I find this supposed proposal so idiotic, absurd, and irrelevant that, given we have the Obama misadministration, it must be true. It is the kind of nonsense that Kerry would see as creative "outside the box" thinking.

I have stated before that the Palestinian issue is a complete fraud. Why anybody would think that creating ONE MORE corrupt, authoritarian Arab state in the Middle East would solve anything is beyond me. The Middle East "mess" has little to nothing to do with a "Palestinian homeland." There already are AT LEAST two such homelands: one is Jordan and the other is Israel (over 1.6 million Arabs have Israeli citizenship). It makes no sense for our Secretary of State to spend the amount of time he does on this, and for his issuing false deadlines for a "deal" (must have borrowed that from the Obamacare geniuses). The problems in the Middle East arise from failed Muslim states, Muslim extremism, and the real possibility that Iran will get a nuclear weapon very soon.

From the US perspective, the Middle East is quite manageable: 1) make sure Israel has a military capability second to none in the region; 2) let Tehran know in no uncertain terms that any use of a nuclear weapon would put into doubt the continued existence of the Islamic Republic of Iran; and 3) Frack! Drill! Frack! Drill!

That said, let's turn to the sorry topic of Jonathan Pollard.

Pollard has sat in the Federal hoosegow nearly three decades for passing classified information to the Israelis. He, apparently, is eligible for parole next year. Various groups seek Pollard's release, and Pollard and his wife have a web site making that case, too. You can read the arguments, most of which revolve around that Pollard passed info to an ally, not an enemy; that this info did not present a danger to US security; that others who have done worse have gotten lesser sentences; and that nearly thirty years in jail and prison are enough punishment. Here, I part company with Netanyahu, a man I admire greatly; I think he's been dead wrong on the Pollard case, and has used it for political points at home to the detriment of the US-Israel alliance.

I vividly remember the Pollard case. I was working in New York at the US Mission to the UN when Pollard was arrested for passing Israel's air force US-gathered intel on Syrian air defenses. For a Reagan-voting, conservative Jewish American diplomat such as myself, the case was horrifying. Pollard had not only betrayed his country, but, in the words of my late grandmother in Morocco, had done something "bad for the Jews." It brought up all the arguments that Jews could not be trusted with America's secrets, and that Jews, as Pollard loudly proclaimed himself, were dual citizens with split loyalties, at best.

Pollard was a lowly analyst in Naval intel. His boss, the late Admiral Sumner Shapiro, also Jewish, considered Pollard a kook, demoted him, and recommended that he lose his security clearances. The bureaucracy, however, did not follow up, and Pollard continued to gain access to classified information. He apparently became enraged that the Reagan administration decided against sharing certain intelligence with Israel. This particular intel involved a topic of great concern to Israel: Syria's air defenses. We, apparently, did not want to share our assessment of those defenses as that could reveal the capabilities we had to collect on those (and other) air defenses. It was a question of protecting means and methods. Valid? Not valid? I don't know, but certainly it wasn't Pollard's call to make.

I have seen no evidence that the Israeli intel services, and apparently there was more than one involved in this case, went looking for Pollard or actively recruited him. He walked in, and gave them a "bunch of stuff." Given the alliance with the USA, the right thing for the Israelis to have done was to report Pollard to the FBI, the DIA, or the CIA, but they didn't. They took the "stuff," and gave Pollard several thousand dollars. Pollard, apparently, also had approached other foreign officials in Washington, including an Australian naval officer, offering classified info--the Aussie reported the approach up his chain of command, and the Aussies told Pollard to get stuffed.

Pollard got snagged and sentenced to life in prison. Several Jewish organizations in the US and Israel launched campaigns--to the chagrin of Admiral Shapiro--arguing that the sentence was unfair, and motivated by anti-semitism. For those of us who were and are strong supporters of the US-Israel alliance, this was a nightmare. I had many arguments with American and Israeli Jews that this was not an issue for people to fall on their swords. Pollard was an unstable creep with a Walter Mitty complex who never should have had access to classified information.

Are twenty-eight years in the slammer enough? Don't know. I hope, however, the decision on whether to give him parole gets taken independently of any nonsense re an Israel-PLO deal, a deal that will never hold, anyhow. I certainly won't shed any tears if the decision is to keep Pollard in the pen.

Pollard committed treason. He should pay for it.

43 comments:

  1. Thanks for this post. It told me more than any other I've read on this subject. Your informed views are really appreciated.

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  2. " It makes no sense for our Secretary of State to spend the amount of time he does on this"

    Sure it does. The end result of his efforts would be the destruction of Israel and the death of any Jews who would not leave it. That is exactly the result desired by Jew haters.

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  3. All true. But he has served longer for less than many. And there is this idea that he--or *something*, goddammit!--can lure the Israelis into concessions they consider suicidal.

    Because our leaders *cannot believe* that the Israelis consider suicidal measures that they, our leaders, do not think are suicidal for the Israelis. The latter must be angling for something. Must be.

    Sigh.


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    1. And that is this issue at this time. Legal theory takes into account intent and even the CIA acknowledged Pollard had no intent to harm the US. Whatever Pollard's failings as a human being he has served far more time than equivalent transgressors.

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  4. Excellent analysis.

    There is one thing I was hearing about the Pollard case that you did not include in this analysis: there has been a very long history of Israeli pressure on the USG to release Pollard. I can understand their wanting to do so: it makes Pollard's treason appear less serious and it demonstrates to future spies that Israel takes care of its agents. But it feels to me like this pressure only compounds their apparent perfidy in the first place. They should have dropped this a long time ago.

    As for whether or not Kerry could really be thinking of doing this, I can well imagine Kerry will offer to hand Pollard over to the Israelis "in exchange for flexibility on their part." What better way to prove how good a S/S he is, especially compared to his predecessor? And maybe gain a leg up on her in the next presidential race?

    Not that it will work on either side, but I can imagine Kerr believing it will.

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  5. I defend English against such assaults as "Different than", which I first heard on NPR, who probably thought it was something proletarian.

    I also defend legal terms, because throwing them carelessly about causes great damage. TREASON is, come on, everybody, say it with me, "the only crime defined in the Constitution, and consists of 'Giving aid and comfort the the enemy in time of war, or making war on the United States.' " We are not and were not at war with Israel. Someone in Israel owes us, and especially American Jews, an apology. Not treason, though. Everything else you said is perfectly true and correct. Pollard certainly sounds like a self-important twit. That is not treason, nor is it worthy of life in prison, unless he is celled with my mother in law. (Sorry, going all medieval there. Symbolic and therefore appropriate punishments ).

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    1. You're right, but treason in the sense I used was meant to convey that he betrayed his country's trust. The Rosenbergs, for example, were executed although we were not at war with the USSR. They were convicted of espionage but they could just as easily be considered traitors.

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    2. I.e., you changed the definition of treason to suit your thesis. Your argument is stretching at best. We may not have been in a declared war at the time but the USSR was considered an enemy at the time. Additionally the Rosenbergs provided the Soviets with information critical to their atomic weapons program, a far cry in magnitude from the secrets Pollard divulged. Pollard gave Israel information about Arab and Soviet capabilities and intentions. He provided no information about US defenses, codes o agents. Then you blithely bow through the accusation that Pollard attempted to sell secret to the Aussies. I'm surprised you didn't include the accusations of trying to sell secrets to South Africa and China. All of those accusations have never been substantiated. But all is that is irrelevant. The fact is he has served far more time than warranted by charges. Without Weinberger's interference he would have received a far lighter sentence.

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  6. I'm not going to address the Pollard thing.

    However I'd observe having Kerry mucking about in the ME foo[l]faraw does keep him from mucking about in a diceyer (if possible) place - Ukraine.

    (Maybe even, the Israelis recognized our flailing about and tossed us a life-ring.)

    Arkie

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  7. What an absolute mess this misadministration has made of our beautiful world.

    Throw ALL the "traitors" out! Go 2014!!

    LibertyGrace'sGrandma

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  8. I usually find your posts to be accurate and sensible but you missed the mark on this one. By definition you are incorrect. Whatever crime Pollard did commit he did not commit treason. US code defines treason as "Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason..."

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    1. I have explained above that I used treason in the common use of the word. He betrayed his country's trust and provided information to a foreign power that was not authorized to receive it. The Rosenbergs were executed for such action; we were not at war with the USSR and in common parlance it would be accurate to describe them and others such as Philby, Walker, etc., as traitors.

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    2. This might be of some small service Dplomad Sir;

      http://www.fas.org/irp/crs/RS20001.pdf

      (And perhaps since this "she" went on to become a Sec/State herself and presently ... )

      Elisabeth Bumiller, “Mrs. Clinton Intervenes on Spy’s Behalf,”New York Times, September 2,
      2000, p. B5

      Ark

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    3. I'm sure there was no intent to distort the facts but It makes it rather difficult to engage in debate if there isn't a common definition of word between the parties involved. I have never have never heard of betrayal of trust as the common definiton of treason. If you wish to use then there isn't much to discuss. Treason is defined by Webster's as "the crime of trying to overthrow your country's government or of helping your country's enemies during war." The OED defines it as "The crime of betraying one’s country, especially by attempting to kill the sovereign or overthrow the government:" He was certainly guilty of passing classified information but unless we have fallen through the looking glass Pollard did not commit treason. Betrayal of trust is not a definition of treason nor is providing information to a foreign power. The fact is that Pollard has been a political football from the beginning. He is the only person in US history to receive a life sentence for spying for an ally, and the only American citizen convicted of such a crime to be sentenced to more than 10 years in prison. Currently, the punishment for such a crime is set at a maximum of ten years. As an aside I wonder what level of clearance he had. I have no idea about the Navy or the FS but in the Army my TS/NATO COSMIC clearance certainly did not give me carte blanche to access our nation's secrets so i wonder how critical the information he passed really was. Certainly what we have been told of the CIA damage report indicates the level of damage did no lasting damage to US security.

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    4. http://www.irmep.org/ILA/pollard/01061987govt_memo_aid_sentence.pdf

      Ark

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    5. "As an aside I wonder what level of clearance he had."

      Top Secret, cleared for SCI Access & ATAC

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    6. It's been a long time, I'm not familiar with SCI and ATAC.
      James the Lessor

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    7. Not to worry James, Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI) and Anti Terrorist Alert Center (ATAC ... since become West Point's CTC) in Pollard's case specifically, within ATAC, Threat Analysis Division of the Naval Investigative Service.

      Arkie

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    8. ATAC has become MTAC (watch you weekly NCIS Whaterever to confirm). ATAC was where he worked. Nothing to do with the fine operation at West Point.

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    9. I stand corrected. Thanks.

      Which channel?

      Arkie

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    10. I'd hoped you'd further James ask, "Why would a Navy thing turn into an Army thing?"

      (Just wanted to see if you're paying attention.)

      Ark

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    11. "Just wanted to see if you're paying attention".
      Too poor to afford it.
      James the Lessor

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  9. Thanks for the background on Pollard. I have felt that he was singled out as a sop to the Arabs but maybe it was a bureaucratic snafu. We certainly have plenty of those.

    Maybe you have some background on the Liberty incident that I have never heard.

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  10. As an aside, I wonder how and why Pollard was allowed any sort of clearance. It seems evident that he was loose cannon at best. When the only clearance I had a was at the classified level just leaving a morning report on my desk could have gotten my clearance yanked and could have resulted in being brought up on charges. It certainly gives pause about our national security.

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  11. Israel is a complicated and unique ally. Although the full extent of the crime that Jonathan Pollard and Israeli intelligence committed against the people of the United States won't ever be known, it appears that Israel traded some of the information to the Soviet Union. Life in prison for Pollard seems very lenient, and Israel's demands that he be released have provided a new definition of chutzpah.

    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/fr/576453/posts

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  12. Appreciate all the comments on the legal definition of treason. Yes, Pollard was not convicted of treason. This, however, is not a legal blog; this is a blog of opinion. I can say, for example, that Obama is guilty of being the worst President in the history of our Republic without need of a court sentence to that effect. I can say as my opinion that Snowden and Pollard and the Rosenbergs and Philby and the Walkers are traitors without need of a court verdict to that effect.

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    1. Exactly!
      James the Lessor

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    2. As you've noted Diplomad very precisely

      "I'm not a lawyer and I don't even play one on the Internet."

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    3. I frequently and gladly say that this president and many in his administration are traitors to or betrayers of their sworn oaths of office. This is part of their lawless m/o that is being aided and abetted by too many in the MSM, who by the way are traitors to or betrayers of their recognized role within our Constitution as watch dogs over government. This president is also being aided and abetted by most of his political party, not just his cabinet members, by their inaction and therefore collusion. Those lawmakers are the same re their oaths of office. Traitors to/betrayers of their oaths. There are many ways of subversion.

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  13. I'm with the Diplomad on this one. Nation's have interests, not friends. Any intentional, unauthorized disclosure of classified information, regardless of who it goes to, should be looked upon as a serious crime. I have no sympathy for Pollard.

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    1. Well, Obama and his State Department apparently see it as in US interest to give in to Israel's stupid and counterproductive pressure – in exchange for freeing terrorists which will diminish Netanyahu's popularity or even, according to some opinions, might bring down his government.

      Win-win-win for Obama: tick off responsible adults in the American security world, agree to an Israeli request but put conditions on it that will harm Israel and may bring down and Israeli leader Obama despises.

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  14. Aiii! I'm sorry I said anything!

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    1. Ha!! Don't be. This being an opinion blog, we here are quite full of them. As a matter of fact, some of us have been informed that we are a bit full of some other things too. Much discussion has followed which is the purpose.

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    2. Never be sorry for expressing your views. They are most welcome.

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  15. Likely unnecessary but in my responding to the comment [observation] at April 5, 2014 at 1:35 PM - my reply was intending to clarify these specifically:

    "He [Pollard] is the only person in US history to receive a life sentence for spying for an ally, and the only American citizen convicted of such a crime to be sentenced to more than 10 years in prison. ... Certainly what we have been told of the CIA damage report indicates the level of damage did no lasting damage to US security."

    John Walker (life sentence) of course knew he was in the pay of the Soviets as did his brother Arthur (life sentence) ... However in Jerry Whitworth's case (365 years) it should be noted he was under the impression he [Whitworth] was providing intel to the Israelis.

    Pollard, it is widely "known" spied for the Israelis. Less well-known is he supplied intel for at least two DC area investors and possibly a third. The motive was as should be expected ... Too, Pollard was very mobile, some would say extremely well-traveled and destinations very er, interesting.

    This link can be located on Google - it can be located on my preferred Search Engine Startpage but it takes very specific search-terms. Oh, it is rather long at 54 or so pages but what the heck - it's Sunday.

    http://www.irmep.org/ILA/pollard/01061987govt_memo_aid_sentence.pdf

    Arkie

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  16. Hi Diplomad
    Off topic but would be really interested in your take on this
    http://www.lrb.co.uk/2014/04/06/seymour-m-hersh/the-red-line-and-the-rat-line
    It blows up most of the Adminstration's position on Syria

    Kirkbride

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    1. If I may, I'll take a stab on this one - lots of reading though.

      (Forgive me Rosemont Observer above that I'm gonna link some stuff from West Point's CTC?)

      http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2005/08/the_ratline_man_1.php

      http://www.ctc.usma.edu/posts/al-qaidas-foreign-fighters-in-iraq-a-first-look-at-the-sinjar-records

      (This earlier preliminary may be easier accessible than the above though.)

      http://tarpley.net/docs/CTCForeignFighter.19.Dec07.pdf

      That immediately above coincidentally provides "an easier context" for what happened re Benghazi as it happens. Following:

      http://www.ctc.usma.edu/posts/lifg-revisions-posing-critical-challenge-to-al-qaida

      Hope that helps.

      Arkie

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    2. I should add perhaps that I've come to agree more with Diplomad's analysis of what the Foggy Bottom "thinking" was and (apparently) is not:

      Mr. Amselem's post of Wednesday, March 19, 2014 most specifically the linked Obama's Foreign Policy Part I - which I'd never considered:

      "In its defense, let me say that to call it a policy designed for America's defeat gives it too much credit. My experience at State and the NSC, has shown me that most Obamaistas are not knowledgable enough to design anything. Foreign policy for the Obama crew is an afterthought. They really have little interest in it; many key jobs went vacant for months at State, DOD, CIA, and the NSC. The Obama foreign policy team is peopled by the "well-educated," i.e., they have college degrees, and as befits the "well educated" in today's America, they are stunningly ignorant and arrogant leftists, but mostly just idiots."

      That above left me at least, with the very distinct feeling/understanding Diplomad was not repeat not being particularly partisan as this "our little group of commenters" would associate such - certainly not the regulars.

      Indeed (this just personally) I haven't seen written any more scathing critiques on the GW policies - excepting of course from those most obvious - than Diplomad himself.

      And that's the difference - as I see it - between reading here and for instance, agreeing with FOX solely.

      Diplomad very apparently has experienced stepping in dogshit - in even his "ideological peer's dogshit" - but I for one have never witnessed Diplomad's spraying Lysol Evergreen Scent on these here pages then exclaiming, Good God, smells like somebody just shit a Christmas Tree.

      Just my opinion of course.

      Arkie

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  17. Just "kicks" with this Diplomad, I know you'll be seeing the *irony* given, you've posted on DDT ... or not:

    http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/photo/2014-04/07/c_133243598.htm

    Needn't be concerned with me too much, I go off shift in a day or so (I hope).

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  18. Oops.

    http://www.duffelblog.com/2014/04/israeli-spy-to-iran/

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    1. Oh. I forgot to sign.

      Secretary of State
      John Kerry

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  19. The most damaging spy against the USA in the past 100 years was actually British - one Donald Duarte MacLean who passed every atomic secret from the Manhattan Project he could lay hands on to the USSR, which was virtually all of them. He did it for purely idealogical grounds, as a lifelong communist believing that if the USA (which he hated) had atomic weapons the the USSR must too. He eventually fled exposure to the USSR with another British communist, Guy Burgess and ruined USA/UK intelligence co-operation for at least a generation.

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