MENL: U.S. Used Intel To Pressure Israel

Middle East Newsline - January 25, 2012

WASHINGTON [MENL] -- The United States was said to have used its intelligence community to pressure Israel.

A leading former U.S. senator said Washington has employed intelligence as a lever for concessions from Israel. Former Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Dennis DeConcini cited a victim impact statement in the case of former U.S. Navy analyst Jonathan Pollard, sentenced to life in 1986 for relaying classified information to Israel.

"In short, Mr. Pollard's activities have adversely affected U.S.relations with both its Middle East Arab allies and the government of Israel," the impact statement quoted by DeConcini said.

The former Senate committee chairman said Pollard upset the balance of power between Jerusalem and the Arab world. The statement by prosecutors, who at one point agreed to a 10-year sentence, said Pollard's transfer of intelligence denied Washington the option of pressuring the Jewish state.

"In summary, the [victim impact] statement said Pollard gave Israel U.S. information on the weaponry of the Arab countries and this information deprived the U.S. of its bargaining leverage with Israel on intelligence-sharing and assisted Israel in its balance of power with the Arab countries," DeConcini wrote in a column in the U.S. newspaper Arizona Republic on Jan. 22.

DeConcini, one of the few to review the classified material on Pollard, has been calling for the latter's release since 1995. He said numerous former members of Congress as well as senior officials have also concluded that Pollard should be released.

The victim impact statement quoted by DeConcini was the first disclosure of how Washington viewed its intelligence exchange with Israel. Israeli officials have long complained of being short-changed in the amount of intelligence released by Washington in exchange for Israeli information on Middle East and other countries, including Iraq and Iran.

"It is a fact that Israel provides far more intelligence to the United States than it receives," a former Israeli official said.

In 2011, former members of Congress and the intelligence community have called for Pollard's release. They included former CIA director James Woolsey, former Deputy Attorney General Philip Heymann and former White House counsel Bernard Nussbaum, all of whom were given access to the classified material on Pollard.

So far, President Barack Obama has not replied to both the former officials as well as Israel, which publicly apologized for the Pollard case. In 2011, Obama told a Jewish donor to the Democratic Party that he was being pestered to release Pollard. In late 2011, Vice President Joseph Biden met Jewish leaders in the highest-level discussion of Pollard's fate.

"It is obvious that across the Jewish community there is widespread support for Pollard's release, and this view is shared by major American figures from both sides of the political aisle," DeConcini said. "Netanyahu asked for Pollard's release from prison. So far this request has gone unanswered."

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