November 22, 2020

Traitor Jonathan Pollard free to go to Israel - good riddance

Netanyahu tweet on Pollard release
Netanyahu tweet on Pollard release

On November 20, Jonathan Pollard, a former U.S. Navy intelligence analyst convicted for betraying his country and selling national defense information to Israel, was freed from the terms of his post-confinement parole. That means he is now free and will undoubtedly relocate to the country he spied for, Israel, where he will be welcomed as a national hero.


Yes, that Israel, one of America's closest allies and a major benefactor of American aid, political support, intelligence sharing, and other largesse. I have stated unequivocally in the past, and will do so again - Pollard did irreparable harm to U.S. intelligence capabilities at the behest of his Israeli masters, and got only partially what he deserved. If it was up to me, he would still be in prison.


For those who may not be familiar with the treachery of Jonathan Pollard, let’s recap.


Jonathan Pollard was employed as an analyst at the what is now the U.S. Navy’s  National Maritime Intelligence Center in Suitland, Maryland. He had been granted a Top Secret clearance with access to Sensitive Compartmented Information (TS-SCI) and other special access programs (SAP). Readers with experience in the military or intelligence community will recognize those designations.


In 1984, Pollard volunteered his services to an Israeli Air Force officer attending university in the United States. He continued to work for the Israeli intelligence services until his arrest on November 21, 1985 as he and his co-conspirator wife Anne attempted to enter the Israeli embassy in Washington, DC, hoping to seek asylum.


Pollard made a plea deal with the U.S. government under which he would plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to deliver national defense information to a foreign government. Although that offense carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, the prosecution agreed to recommend "only a substantial number of years in prison." 

However, citing Pollard’s repeated violations of multiple terms of the agreement, on March 4, 1987, the judge adjudicating the case imposed the maximum penalty, a life sentence. That sentence was also greatly influenced by the classified damage-assessment memorandum provided by Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger. I have seen the damage assessment – it is truly devastating.


Apologists for Pollard claim that spying for Israel is "not really spying" since Israel is an ally of the United States. One has to consider that blanket statement that Israel is an ally of the United States with some reticence. Israel used the information provided by Pollard as "trade material" with the Russians - during the height of the Cold War - in return for the release of Jews detained in Russia. That is hardly the action of an ally of the United States.


There is speculation that American agents, people the U.S. intelligence agencies had recruited to collect information for us at great risk, were uncovered and executed because of the information the Israelis provided to the Russians. If that is the case, Pollard should have been executed instead of being sentenced to life in prison.


There is a group of Pollard supporters who claim that Pollard has been treated more harshly than others, but they fail to mention that others in the same class as Pollard - CIA officer Aldrich Ames and FBI agent Robert Hanssen - were also sentenced to life in prison. My response to the claim that other traitors have been given lesser sentences - the judges in those cases got it wrong; the judge in the Pollard case (as well as with Ames and Hanssen) got it exactly right. Unfortunately, prevailing laws at the time limits his “life” sentence to 30 years. That ended on November 21, 2015. He has been on post-confinement parole since then. While he could have been kept in that status for 15 years, he has been freed after five.


Many Israeli leaders and media outlets are citing this as a great day for Israel. It is not at all – this merely reminds that 36 years ago, someone in the Israeli intelligence services thought it would be a good idea to steal intelligence information from their greatest ally and staunchest supporter, then later reveal the sources and methods used to acquire that information to America’s greatest foes. Hardly a great day for Israel.  


So, the convicted felon/traitor Jonathan Pollard is now free to go to Israel. If he’s not in prison where he belongs, then I am glad he is not walking free in my country. Good riddance. Israel, you can have him – after all, you bought him.


To my Israeli and pro-Pollard Jewish 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 where we are unlikely to resolve our differences. This is my view - you are free to voice your own. I simply will not respond to your misguided attempts to justify Pollard’s betrayal of my - and what was once his - country.