Vendetta Against Pollard Exposed as CIA Coverup
- by Yaakov Kornreich -
Yated Neeman, December 18, 1998
Advocates for the immediate release of Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard are pointing to new evidence that he is being blamed by the American
intelligence community for damage that was actually done by CIA turncoat
Aldrich Ames. The newspaper Forward reports that according to a former staff
member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Angelo Codevilla, Ames himself
was the CIA agent in charge of the original damage report on Pollard's
Codevilla asserts that Ames took advantage of the Pollard affair to cover
up the loss of American intelligence for which Ames himself was actually
The most persuasive argument offered by those in the intelligence community
who have argued for Pollard's continued imprisonment is the wholly
unsubstantiated claim that the information that he gave Israel resulted in
the death of American intelligence agents. If Codevilla is right, and Ames
was the one really responsible for those losses, then the treatment of
Pollard will have been exposed as a massive and deliberate miscarriage of
Worse, it would reveal the case of Jonathan Pollard to be one in which the
federal government abused its power to declare information secret, in order
to deny Pollard, an American citizen, due process of law. As a result,
Pollard may have been punished unjustly for a crime for which he was never
convicted or even formally accused. The embarrassment of such a revelation
is one possible explanation for the American security establishment's
obsession to keep Pollard in federal prison.
The truth is that Pollard was the victim of a cruel double cross by
prosecutors. Originally, after he was arrested in 1984, he was charged with
giving classified information to a friendly country (Israel), a charge for
which no American had ever been imprisoned for more than ten years.
But Pollard agreed to tell everything he did in exchange for a plea
bargain. A plea bargain means that the prosecutor agrees to recommend a
reduced sentence in return for the cooperation of the accused, who agrees to
plead guilty. But in this case, the government prosecutor allowed Secretary
of Defense Caspar Weinberger, who as a Jew who converted to Christianity,
was clearly personally embarrassed by the Pollard case, to submit a secret
memo to the sentencing judge which accused Jonathan Pollard of crimes so
serious that the judge sentenced him to
life in prison.
The contents of that memo have never been revealed. Each time Pollard's
case comes up for clemency review, the same group of nefarious security
establishment figures comes forward with new but totally unproven
allegations about what damage Pollard might have done to deserve the
extraordinarily harsh punishment that he continues to receive.
As each succeeding allegation is disproved by Pollard's supporters, the
accusations grow wilder and more extreme.
He has been accused of releasing huge volumes of documents. After thirteen
years in jail, they say that he still has access to sensitive American
secrets that could somehow damage the country's security if they were
released by Pollard to Israel, one of America's closest allies.
They even say that unless Pollard stays in jail, other American Jews might
be tempted to spy for Israel.
Codvilla has recently sent a letter to President Clinton arguing for
Pollard's release, as has former Democratic Senator Dennis DeConcini, who
had access to all the relevant secret information as a member of the Senate
Intelligence Committee before he retired in 1994.
Codvilla has also suggested that another possible reason why the
intelligence community remains so furious with Pollard is because he exposed
the ill-fated American cooperation with Iraq's Saddam Hussein before he
invaded Kuwait in 1990.
Still, aside from mean-spirited revenge or die-hard anti-Semitism, it is
hard to comprehend why Pollard's accusers are so unforgiving. Are they
covering up their own guilt in his unfair persecution? Are they trying to
hide something that may be revealed upon his release? Perhaps they were
feeding him false information at the end, before he was arrested, to
deliberately mislead the Israelis, something that wouldn't become obvious
until the Israelis get a chance to debrief him. Whatever may be the real
reason for Pollard's relentless persecution, it is almost certain that the
most interesting parts of this story are yet to be told, and will not become
known until Jonathan Pollard is finally set free.
Pollard betrayed during the Wye talks
Pollard's case came to the fore most recently at the end of Wye accords,
when Clinton finally agreed to Israeli demands for his release, and then
quickly changed his mind when the American intelligence community rebelled
against the decision.
Reportedly, CIA Directer George Tenet went to Wye and threatened to resign
if Clinton did not reverse himself. In order for the Wye deal to go forward,
Tenet had to agree to play a key role in overseeing the security
arrangements in the Wye accords, Clinton felt he had no choice, and informed
Prime Minister Netanyahu that the part of the deal to release Pollard was off.
Netanyahu and the others in the Israeli delegation reacted angrily. They
had just agreed to allow one of Arafat's chief security men who was
personally responsible for recent terror attacks on Israel in exchange for
the promise of Pollard's release. Now Clinton told them that the Palestinian
terrorist would remain free, while Pollard would be kept behind bars.
The nasty public dispute came very close to causing the Wye accords to
collapse at the very last moment. The Israelis threatened to go home without
signing the accord. Clinton then countered that if they did that, he would
recognize the Palestinian state that Arafat has repeatedly threatened to
announced next May.
The Israelis had no choice. They accepted the deal, and Pollard remained in
In the end, the White House tried to cover up the embarrassing story of how
the president went back on his word. The Americans issued a cover story
saying that Netanyahu had brought up the Pollard release issue at the last
minute, and had misunderstood President Clinton's promise to review the
case. But multiple other sources have since confirmed that the issue of
Pollard's release had first been raised by the Israelis at the beginning of
the Wye talks, that Arafat had been the one who suggested the trade of
Pollard's freedom for his security man's freedom, and that Clinton had
clearly agreed to the deal and that Tenet and others later twisted his arm
to force him to change his mind.
Now Pollard's attorney, Larry Dub is accusing Tenet of "initiating a witch
hunt to rid the CIA of Jews holding security clearances." That accusation,
if true, raises other worries about how fairly the CIA under Tenet will
carry out its supervisory responsibilities for Palestinian compliance with
the Wye accords.
Clinton refuses to promise Pollard's release
In Israel this week, Clinton declined to say whether he would decide to set
Jonathan Pollard free. Clinton had promised Netanyahu at the signing
ceremony for the Wye accords that he would again review Pollard's case,
without committing himself as to the outcome of the review. Clinton has
reviewed Pollard's case twice before, once in 1993 and again in 1996. On
those occasions, the Washington intelligence/security establishment made
sure that he was kept in jail. Earlier this month, he made good on that
promise by asking for recommendations from his advisers on Pollard.
Netanyahu acknowledged that Pollard had "done something bad and
inexcusable... "We think he should have served his time, and he did."
Netanyahu noted that Pollard has already served 13 years in prison, most of
them in solitary confinement, a sentence far harsher than that meted out to
any other American who spied against it for a friendly power. Netanyahu
urged that it is now time for the US to release Pollard on strictly
"Since he was sent by us on a mistaken mission - not to work against the
United States, but nevertheless, to break the laws of the United States - we
hope that, on a purely humanitarian appeal, a way will be found to release
him," Netanyahu said at a joint press conference with Clinton in
In response, President Clinton promised, "I will review all that, plus
whatever arguments are presented to me on the other side for the reduction
of the sentence. And I will make a decision in a prompt way." Clinton said
he had instructed White House counsel Charles F.C. Ruff to sound out all the
relevant intelligence and security agencies for their opinions on Pollard's
Latest lies against Pollard
The most recent effort to keep Pollard in jail came in the form of a
petition signed by seven former American Defense Secretaries calling on
President Clinton not to release Pollard. The seven - Rumsfeld, Richardson,
Schlesinger, Weinberger, Cheney, Laird, and Carlucci - wrote that Pollard's
release "could encourage others who would harm national security."
Other recent accusations claimed that Pollard, after 13 years in jail,
could still compromise secret communications protocols used by American
Most fantastic of all, the CBS network broadcast an unattributed and
unproven accusation this week that Pollard also spied for South Africa and
Pakistan, and is still receiving payments in his accounts from those
countries for his services.
Pollard's lawyer Larry Dub, called the accusation, "absolute, utter nonsense." If monies were being deposited in Pollard's bank account [by Israel] today, Dub declared that he and his client were unaware of it.
Meanwhile, Pollard issuing a statement from his cell in a North Carolina federal prison, expressed satisfaction with Netanyahu's and Clinton's words.
A growing cause
The cause of Pollard's release has won growing support across the
ideological and political Jewish spectrum. Many secular American Jews
originally greeted the news of Pollard's arrest with horror. As a turncoat
American Jew who betrayed the US for Israel, his case revived all of the old
bugaboos about divided loyalties.
For years, most American Jewish organizations considered Pollard to be
little more than an embarrassment, and concerned themselves little over the
procedural injustices that he may have suffered at the hands of the American
However, as it became clear to all that Pollard was being singled out for
particularly cruel punishment, new interest developed in his case.
Pollard has long since expressed his deep remorse for his acts of espionage
against the United States.
For many years, the Israeli governments denied responsibility for Pollard's
actions, blaming his spying against the US on rogue Israeli intelligence
agents operating without official. It was only a few months ago that the
Netanyahu government finally formally acknowledged Israel's ultimate
responsibility for Pollard's spying.
Now Pollard's release has become a regular request by Israeli government
officials in meetings with their American counterparts, and several visiting
Israeli cabinet ministers have gone to see Pollard in his North Carolina
American Jewish groups, including first the National Council of Young
Israel and, most recently, the Conference of Presidents, have joined in the
calls for Pollard's release, as have several prominent secular Jewish
The cause of Pollard's release has also spread right to left across the
Israeli political spectrum.
"We expect the greatest power in the world not to show revenge but rather
to adopt a policy of generosity and consideration with regard to Pollard,"
said opposition Labor MK Ophir Pines-Paz to a crowd of about 100 adults and
youth who were demonstrating on behalf of Pollard's release outside the Beit
Hanassi Sunday evening while Clinton was speaking to President Ezer Weizman.
Pines-Paz said. "Jonathan Pollard certainly does not present a threat. It is ridiculous to make out that he does. He was wrong and has apologized," said M.K. Rechavan Ze'evi.
Now justice demands that the US at last let Pollard go. While he surely did
commit a crime, by now he has suffered more than enough to pay for his
admitted mistakes, and clearly deserves to be set free.