The Shadowy War Against Jonathan Pollard
David Twersky, Editor - New Jersey Jewish News - January 15, 1999
There are three positions in the great debate over the fate of Jonathan
There are those in the United States intelligence and defense community,
along with their allies in the U.S. Congress, who oppose Pollard's
There are those who can see letting him go in three years.
*(See release about this bogus proposal.) And there are those
who want him out now.
The emergence of the middle camp was first reported by NBC Nightly News
Jan. 7. According to NBC, "Administration sources say...the president
commute Pollard's sentence from
life to 25 years, but with good
Pollard could be released by 2002, one year after Clinton's presidential term ends."
That report triggered a furious barrage of leaks from the intelligence
community, the most detailed of which appeared this week in The New
Yorker, in an article by Seymour Hersh, "The Traitor the case against Jonathan Pollard."
Joining the chorus of those who want Pollard to stay in prison for the rest of his life were U.S. Sens. Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Bob Kerrey (D-NE),
chair and vice chair, respectively, of the Senate Select Committee on
Intelligence who wrote the president that his release "would now be
as an acquiescence to external political pressures and a vindication of
Pollard's specious claims of unfairness." That makes as much sense as
the statement by Newt Gingrich and Trent Lott during the Wye conference
that Pollard can't be released because, once free, he will go back to
In Israel, meanwhile, the lingering splits over Pollard resurfaced as
apparently refused to sign a joint letter with Netanyahu to
Clinton urging Pollard's release. And last month, the continued
Pollard's release from elements of the Israeli defense establishment
out in a column by Ha'aretz's veteran defense correspondent, Ze'ev
wrote that when released, Pollard would write a book, "the
(of which) are sure to spread far and wide in Israel."
Why all the noise on Pollard? Because Clinton promised the Israeli
government that he would review the case, getting input from "both sides
of the issue."
Both sides? Speaking from the federal prison in Butner, NC, Pollard told NJJN that he and his attorneys haven't made any submissions and,
being denied the right to review the documents and presentations offered
those opposing his release including documents shown to Hersh and
The flow of intelligence information to journalists like Hersh signals
intelligence community's lack of trust in Clinton, who it is believed
cave in to the Israelis.
So why does Pollard deserve never to get out? The case against early
rests on the charge he gave Israel the keys to the U.S. intelligence
Pollard, writes Hersh, handed over the secrets of U.S. intelligence
gathering to Israel, which, in turn, traded many of these secrets to the
exchange for the release of Soviet Jews.
Assuming this is true, there is no evidence to suggest that Pollard knew
that his material was being used in this way. In fact, the Hersh article
no evidence that Pollard's material was being traded to the Soviets,
some Israeli intelligence was getting to Moscow, either because the KGB
penetrated Israeli intelligence or because of the trading suggested by
Is this enough to sentence a man to life inside?
When Clinton was in Israel last month, the intelligence community leaked
reports that Israel had received from Pollard "a top-secret 10-volume
used by the National Security Agency to tap foreign communications and
protect U.S. communications from being intercepted." This charge was
recirculated in the Hersh piece. But if true, how come the Americans had
such an easy time intercepting and decoding an Israeli transmission from
its Washington embassy in May 1997? That was the conversation that
appeared to suggest to the Americans that there was an Israeli spy high
up in the U.S. administration Apparently, the
Israelis could not mask their transmission or use codes that would
escape the U.S. trackers a fact that flies in the face of the new
revelations in the Hersh piece.
The search for "Mr. X," the higher-up spy at work in Washington, colors
Pollard story. Is Pollard being held until he fingers Mr. X? Hersh quotes a
Justice Department official saying that the "top secret control numbers"
documents Pollard was asked to steal for Israel could only have come
somebody else in the U.S. government."
Those who doubt that America would indefinitely hold a man in jail to
this type of information should consider the Rosenberg case. According
historian Ronald Radosh, who believes that Julius Rosenberg was guilty
of espionage for the USSR, the innocent Ethel Rosenberg was convicted
and sent to the chair in an unsuccessful attempt to pressure Julius into
naming the rest of his spy circle.
It is also curious to read a piece documenting the flow of U.S.
information to the Soviet intelligence that blames it all on Pollard
never once mentions Aldrich Ames, the head of the CIA's Soviet/Eastern
Europe Division, who, as McGill University law professor Irwin Cotler
writes, "had himself been both the architect of those treasonable acts,
and the original
source of the disinformation against Pollard on those charges."
There's more: Pollard did drugs. Pollard did it for money. Pollard
arms deals with other countries. But, even if these charges are
(which they should not be), why do they require that Pollard remain in
until he dies? "I did not do these things," Pollard told us. "I wasn't
accused of or indicted for these things."
Says Pollard, "I am being done in by a campaign that is a combination
Dreyfus and McCarthy. I can't win a war in the shadows," he said, where
unnamed accusers and unexamined evidence are being used to keep him
locked away forever.