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Condemned criminal pawn in peace negotiations

(Travels with Kerry II)

The United States is considering the release of a condemned American criminal on life, Jonathan Pollard, only as an incentive to the Israelis in the troubled Middle East peace negotiations. According to the Associated Press in Jerusalem, Israel would have to undertake significant concessions to the Palestinians in return. The infamous case of Pollard shows the almost hopeless phase where the negotiations have ended.

In the nineties a walker on the Tel Aviv seaside took a great chance to be asked to sign a petition for the release of the Jewish American Jonathan Pollard, one of the greatest traitors in the history of the Cold War. However for a lot of Israelis, maybe even most of them, he was a patriot and a hero. In 1987 an American court had convicted him to life for betraying his country to Israel for money.

Prime Minister Netanyahu has a long history of being brazen trying to free his spy. In 1998 while visiting the White House he sent his cabinet secretary, Danny Naveh, to the federal prison in Butner, North Carolina, to visit Pollard. Naveh brought with him an entourage of Israeli journalists and cameramen, some gifts and two messages from his boss. Naveh embraced the prisoner while the television cameras rolled. Then he acknowledged: “Jonathan Pollard was an Israeli agent, handled by high-ranking Israeli officials.”

In that same year George Tenet, then director of the CIA, reportedly told President Bill Clinton that he would resign, if the President would concede and release the spy. In his memoirs, he wrote that Pollard’s release “would reward a U.S. citizen who spied on his own country, and once word got out (and that would take a nanosecond or two), I would be effectively through as CIA director. What’s more, I should be.”

Tenet was not the only member of an American administration who furiously resisted Pollard’s liberation. Only three years ago, in 2011, Vice-President Joe Biden told The New York Times: “President Obama was considering clemency, but I told him, over my dead body are we going to let him out before his time. If it were up to me, he would stay in jail for life.”

Jonathan Pollard was a pathetic castle builder. On Stanford University he told his fellow students that he had both American and Israeli nationality – which was not true – and that he was even a lieutenant colonel in the Israeli army.

He left the university without degree and tried to get a job as analyst at AIPAC, the successful American pro-Israel lobby – in vain. In the end he got a job as an analyst at the Navy Intelligence, although he was a drug-addict.

Almost immediately after entering service, Pollard attempted to approach the Israelis in Washington. Shortly afterwards they hired him as their spy. Between 1981 and 1985, the year he was unmasked, he passed on large quantities of highly classified material, in return for tens of thousands of dollars.

In a publicly filed sentencing memorandum Charles S. Leeper, the assistant United States attorney who prosecuted Pollard, wrote that Pollard had made a commitment to spy for at least ten years and “stood to receive an additional five hundred and forty thousand dollars ($540,000) over the expected life of the conspiracy.”

Pollard gave the Israelis vast amounts of data dealing with specific American intelligence systems and how they worked, the famous investigative American journalist Seymour Hersh wrote in his book The Samson Option. “For example, he betrayed details of an exotic capability that American satellites have of taking off-axis photographs from high in space. While orbiting the earth in one direction, the satellites could photograph areas that were seemingly far out of range. Israeli nuclear-missile sites and the like, which would normally be shielded from American satellites, would thus be left exposed, and could be photographed. “We monitor the Israelis,” one intelligence expert told Hersh, “and there’s no doubt the Israelis want to prevent us from being able to survey their country.” The data passed along by Pollard included detailed information on the various platforms — in the air, on land, and at sea — used by military components of the National Security Agency to intercept Israeli military, commercial, and diplomatic communications.”

The information handed over by Pollard included top secret American information about the means that the Soviets had access to in order to protect their own targets from nuclear attack, such as camouflage and shielding, Hersh wrote. Pollard also handed over a copy of an annual review put together by the American secret service of the Soviet system of strategic nuclear weapons, which was known by the code 11-38 and which – in view of the items that came with it covering satellite surveillance, electronic listening stations, radar systems and secret service networks – must have been regarded as one of the most secret documents of the American government. In addition Pollard supplied the Israelis with the codes for communication with American diplomats, and the system that the Americans used to trace Soviet submarines and to follow them. According to the charges Pollard had stolen and handed over 500,000 pages of secret information in total.

During the reign Yitzak  of Prime Minister Shamir, part of this secret information was passed on to the Soviet Union. It was, Hersh writes on the authority of an Israeli spokesman, Shamirs’ way of demonstrating to the Soviets that Israel was a more reliable partner in the Middle East than the Arabs: “Which Arab country could have given you this?” In exchange, the Soviet Union extended exit visas to more of its own Jews, which they used in increasing numbers to emigrate, not to Israel, but to the United States. However it seems that sometimes the documents were used to enable Russian Jews who worked in particular sectors to move to Israel.

William Casey, the CIA Director at that time, told a subordinate a month after Pollard’s arrest: “For your information, the Israelis used Pollard to obtain our attack plan against the U.S.S.R., all of it: the coordinates, the firing locations, the sequences. And for, guess who? The Soviets.”

A ‘highly placed officer of the American secret service’ told Hersh that clear losses of agents and of the potential to gather information within the Soviet Union had occurred. Following extensive analysis, these losses were attributed to Pollard.

After Pollard was caught, the Israelis refused to tell the United States what Pollard gave them, and despite that lack of cooperation the annual American financial and military aid to Jerusalem was continued unimpeded.


Since this arrest, the Israeli government tried to get the man freed who, together with the Shamir Government, caused all that damage, not only to the defence of the US, but also to that of other NATO countries, causing much irritation in Washington and at the NATO Headquarters in Brussels.

Noel Koch, a senior counterterrorism official in the Defense Department, whom Israeli spies unsuccessfully tried  to recruit, wrote in Foreign Affairs in 2013: “Jonathan Pollard got what he wanted: money, jewellery, and paid trips in exchange for his treachery; he got what he deserved: life in prison. Unlike Judas, who had the grace to hang himself in shame, he lives in the hope that his purchasers will spring him so he can enjoy the apartment set aside for him, the money they have been banking for him, and the hero’s welcome they have promised him for betraying the United States.”

Already in 1987, President Reagan’s Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger wrote about Pollard’s behaviour to the court: “It is difficult for me, to conceive of a greater harm to national security than that caused by the defendant in view of the breadth, the critical importance to the U.S., and the high sensitivity of the information he sold to Israel. That information was intentionally reserved by the United States for its own use, because to disclose it, to anyone or any nation, would cause the greatest harm to our national security.”

By recruiting Pollard, Israel also damaged the position of Jews in the United States. “Whether it was Pollard’s initiative or the Israelis’, the idea that an American Jew would spy for anyone bothers the hell out of me,” Rear Adm. Sumner Shapiro, the first Jewish director of naval intelligence, told The Washington Post. “It bothers me because it puts all Jews in a position of trust like that under a certain cloud. Whether the cloud actually exists or not, you think that it does. We work so hard to establish ourselves and to get where we are, and to have somebody screw it up . . . and then to have Jewish organisations line up behind this guy and try to make him out a hero of the Jewish people, it bothers the hell out of me.”

That Pollard was not the Zionist idealist he nowadays pretends to be, (he sees himself as a victim of anti-Semitism) became clear in an op-ed for The Washington Post written in 1998 by four former past directors of Naval Intelligence, William Studeman, Sumner Shapiro, John L. Butts and Thomas Brooks. They argued that it never became public that Pollard “offered classified information to three other countries before working for the Israelis and that he offered his services to a fourth country while he was spying for Israel.” They meant the South-African Apartheid regime, Taiwan, Argentina and Afghan rebels. Pollard also tried to broker arms with Iranians and Pakistanis. Pollard thus lied when he argued that he acted solely out of idealism. He was driven to spy by his chronic need for money and cocaine.

After the failure of its policy towards the annexation of the Crimea by Russia, and the persistently cool relations with most of its European allies, in particular Germany due to the NSA bugging, the Obama Administration must be desperate to achieve any foreign policy success.

So Kelly’s mediation has to succeed with or without one of the greatest traitors of the Cold War in jail. It’s a lamentable sign of American humiliation. Peace between Israel and Palestine has nothing to do with the activities of an Israeli spy in Washington in the eighties. It has everything to do with the aspirations and the hope of two peoples in the Middle East.

Read more / source @ Freerepublic.com

Frans Peeters

Frans Peeters

Frans Peeters is senior editor at IQNA. Previously he was editor at the Dutch weekly Vrij Nederland and foreign editor and military reporter at the Dutch daily Het Parool. He published Gezworen Vrienden, het geheime bondgenootschap tussen Nederland en Israël (Sworn Friends, the Secret Alliance between the Netherlands and Israel).

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