March 26, 2014

A pardon for Jonathan Pollard - a bargaining chip?

Note to my readers: This will be short and to the point. You all know my thoughts on Jonathan Pollard (I have provided links to my previous articles on him below). He is a traitor to this country - he spied for a foreign power and did irrevocable damage to the American intelligence system.

The fact that the foreign power is an ally is immaterial. Beyond the fact that Pollard violated his oath of loyalty to the United States - the country for which he betrayed the United States, Israel, is believed to have passed critical intelligence to our enemies. The resulting damage was permanent; the sources and methods Pollard compromised have never been recovered.

Unless there is a massive transplant of spine into the current American administration, Pollard will be released to the Israelis in the fall of 2015. He will fly to Tel Aviv to a hero's welcome and live until he dies in the country for which he became a traitor to my country. There is a provision in U.S. law that could require him to remain in the United States on parole for another 15 years, but that won't happen. He would jump parole and flee to Israel - I expect that the Israelis would probably assist him.

The specter of the possible release of Jonathan Pollard raises its ugly head yet again, almost on its yearly cue. This time, it is not in response to repeated Israeli requests, but as part of a desperate attempt by the Obama administration to achieve a success - any success - in the Middle East after a series of embarrassing failures. These failures extend former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's litany of failure into what appears to be the continuing clueless bumbling of current Secretary John Kerry.

According to Israeli Army Radio, Kerry made the offer to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu in an effort to revive the about-to-collapse Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. The Israelis have balked at the release of the final group of Palestinian prisoners that had been agreed to as part of the continuation of the talks. If the prisoners are not released, the Palestinians will not continue the talks, and John Kerry will suffer yet another policy failure. In exchange for Pollard's release, the Israelis will release 26 more prisoners, and the Palestinians will agree to continue talks until the end of 2014.

Let me understand this. We are going to release an admitted traitor to the custody of the country for which he spied, and for that we get an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians to continue talks? That does not seem like a good deal for the United States - how does this further our national interests? It seems that we are doing Israel two favors here, and getting nothing in return - only in John Kerry's mind could this make sense. Of course, Kerry can't make this commitment without the express consent of President Obama - only the President can pardon Pollard.

Mr President, keep Inmate #09185-016 at the medium-security Federal Correctional Institution in Butner, North Carolina for as long as possible. I realize that due to a court ruling changing life sentences, he will be paroled late next year - let's not reward him or Israel by releasing him one day early. To do so would be to break faith with those of us who served in the intelligence community. Any short-term gain - which is likely to be short-lived - so that you and Secretary Kerry can claim at least some sort of foreign policy success is not worth releasing an admitted traitor.

To my Israeli friends (and I have many): I know we disagree vehemently on this issue. I will not change my mind, nor will I get involved in a drawn-out discussion when we are unlikely to resolve our differences. This is my view - you are free to voice your own. I just will not respond.

My previous articles on Pollard:
Obama's visit to Israel - will this be Pollard's last chance? (February 2013)
Obama, Peres and Pollard - any "flexibility?" (April 2012)
Israeli leaders depart without spy Pollard - good! (March 2012)
Release a traitor in exchange for a settlement freeze? (September 2010)
Israelis ask for release of Jonathan Pollard - again (January 2008)