Was There Another U.S. Spy Tasking Pollard? - Mr. 'X' Exposed

February 5, 1998 - Jonathan Pollard
Special to the New Jersey Jewish News

Preface by Esther Pollard:

Mr. "X" surfaced again as a new intelligence scandal broke. Yehuda Gill, a Mossad agent, stands accused of providing Israel with false intelligence reports regarding Syrian intentions. No one knows exactly who Gill is and in the scramble to identify him, Victor Ostrovsky, a renegade former Mossad employee of dubious credibility, wrote in the Israeli press that Gill was the agent sent by Israel to Washington to protect Mr. "X" when the Pollard case first broke.

The cloak-and-dagger image of a highly-placed Israeli mole in Washington directing Jonathan Pollard's intelligence collection activities is the stuff that good spy novels are made of. But just like in a good spy novel, the existence of Mr. "X" is pure fiction.

Even 13 years after my husband's arrest, the invented device of Mr. "X"continues to be used by American intelligence officials to keep recycling the Pollard case in order to call into question both Israel's reliability as an ally and the loyalty of the American Jewish community. For more personal reasons, Ostrovsky continues to use Mr. "X" to damage the reputation of his homeland.

Jonathan has written extensively to debunk the Mr. "X" myth. What follows is what he wrote on the matter in a detailed criticism of Wolf Blitzer's book Territory of Lies. Jonathan's response below refers specifically to a quote on page 133 of the book, in which Blitzer raises the issue of Mr. "X":

"The notes had precise numbers and names of classified documents with unique characters on them, including the proper sequencing of code-words. It was this kind of tasking, in fact, that would later convince some U.S. Justice Department and FBI authorities that the Israelis must have had another spy working inside the U.S. intelligence community a Mr. 'X' who was advising the Israelis what documents to obtain."

Jonathan Pollard's comments on the above quote:

The notes in question were document receipts that I was reviewing to see whether I had forgotten anything. While it is true that I did have a number of handwritten lists in my desk, they constituted the forms I used to order material for the ATAC "library." Mixed in with my requests were scores of other documents that I had "graciously" offered to order for other analysts in the office. The prosecution included these extra studies in their damage assessment, even though they had nothing to do with my operation.

As far as the possibility of there being a Mr. "X" is concerned, it should be remembered that months of polygraphing failed to confirm my involvement with any such individual. Moreover, if I had been aware that any such agent existed, it is probable that I would have made some attempt to trade his identity for [my former wife] Anne's release.

The basic problem with the government's approach to the issue of a Mr. "X" was its Procrustean methodology. In other words, given their burning desire to expose another Israeli agent operating in the United States, investigators twisted whatever evidence they had before them to confirm that such an agent existed.

Take, for example, the fact that I had been asked to obtain certain documents by their precise identification numbers. The government tried to read something sinister into this, whereas I tried to show how simple the whole situation really was.

Say the Israelis had been officially given a document with the identification number DIAM/433-72S. This translated out to be a 1972 SECRET level study by the Defense Intelligence Agency of a particular missile system. If the Israelis needed the latest (1998) TOP SECRET assessment of this missile, all they had to do was ask me to collect a copy of DIAM/433-98TS. It was as easy as that. Obviously the Israelis did not need a highly-placed mole to do this! Moreover, like good academics, the Israelis very carefully scrutinized the citations listed in the back of every study that they ordered. If there was something that interested them, all they did was copy down the exact identification number and pass it on to me.

Simple, right? The Navy, on the other hand, kept insisting that "somebody" had to have helped the Israelis to understand the citation system used in classified Department of Defense documents. It was madness, but the prosecution was absolutely bound and determined to uncover a high-level Israeli mole! Lastly, one of the documents that Yossi Yagur and I used to coordinate the collection effort was a SECRET-level compendium of intelligence community documents.

If the Israelis had been told through official channels that a given study "didn't exist," then I would be asked to obtain it. In this way, if the Israelis had been able to obtain a particular document, I didn't have to be tasked to hunt it down. And if the Israelis needed a TOP SECRET version of any of the documents listed in the compendium, they already knew how to make the appropriate modifications of the SECRET-level identification numbers.

The real indictment of the compendium, though, was that it clearly demonstrated to the Israelis just how much vital information the DOD was withholding from them.

According to Yossi, the Pentagon denied the existence of roughly three quarters of the information that should have been made available to Israel under the terms of its bilateral intelligence-sharing agreement with the United States. Even I was amazed when I heard this figure.

Jonathan Pollard is a former U.S. Navy intelligence analyst who was convicted in 1986 of spying for Israel. Esther Pollard is his wife.

  • See Also: New Charges In AIPAC Case; Rosen Expects Indictment