Beyond the Cusp

March 3, 2015

Trust Betrayed but By Who?

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In the midst of what is being called a betrayal of trust, hurtful acts to friendship and making United States Israeli relations into a partisan issue; there has been a few items likely to have been overlooked. Nobody is paying much attention to one side’s actions to put this whole vitriolic sniping into perspective. The news is full of the accusations of betrayal by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu claiming that his speech to Congress will be hurtful to American/Israeli relations. He has been warned not to state any of the terms in the framework of the agreement which President Obama is intending to sign in the near future as that might hurt the chances for the framework to be ratified. Meanwhile, another White House unnamed source gave comment which appears to counter the entire flow of aspersions when they stated that the speech was not going to have any effect nor would it in any way harm the talks the administration was holding as part of the P5+1 negotiations with Iran. If the negotiations will be unaffected then what is the entire brouhaha all about? When you add the statements at AIPAC by Netanyahu where he praised President Obama and stated that this is a disagreement about policy, not about anything personal and that such disagreements have existed before and the relations and personal interactions survived them all and some even became actions which were later appreciated though not at the time of the disagreement. Probably the best example of this was when Israeli Prime Minister Begin ignored President Ronald Regan’s insistence that Israel stand down and not potentially set off explosions across the Middle East which bombing the Osirak nuclear plant in Iraq presumably would cause. Israel still dispatched six fighter-bombers and escorts and destroyed the reactor and somehow there were no actual fireworks and President Bush later thanked the Israelis for not listening as if they had not struck the reactor it was very possible that Iraq would have had nuclear weapons making any actions against Saddam Hussein next to impossible. Even President Obama appeared to be talking back the acrimony stating that where there may be “substantial disagreement” over how to achieve the shared goal of preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, such disagreement would not be “permanently destructive” to American/Israeli relations. The difficulty is the mixed message as the President and Secretary of State Kerry also have sharply pointed to previous warnings from Prime Minister Netanyahu such as the claims that the interim agreement gave Iran too much leeway and was not providing sufficient enforcement while sanctions were being relaxed and this has not led to any disasters.

 

All of these accusations will only be validated or invalidated by the results down the road. There has been one point of contention which is undisputable, Prime Minister Netanyahu has pointedly made the case that Iran must never be permitted to have nuclear weapons capabilities while President Obama’s entire case is that by postponing the attaining of nuclear weapons by Iran, they will be put off by a decade or possibly even fifteen years and that the entire attitude of the Iranian government will likely change rather noticeable and for the better in the ensuing years and especially if the United States is able to put the past behind and initiate relations with Iran which can only help to alleviate any difficulties the West has with Iran. This is very likely minimizing the differences as Prime Minister Netanyahu and other Israelis have noted that the terms of the framework will allow Iran to reach almost breakout conditions though not verifiably have the capability to actually produce nuclear weapons and by allowing such is tantamount to risking Iran clandestinely producing nuclear weapons in the dark and outside of the ability of the IAEA inspectors to monitor. This was made all the more obvious recently with two reports. The first report came from the lead inspector of the IAEA who pointed out that Iran was not forthcoming with satisfactory answers to concerns placed before them for explanations which might allay fears that Iran was well on their way to militarizing their nuclear program. The second came from the same dissident group which had initially made the extent and scope of the Iranian nuclear activities known to the Western nations who have come forth stating that an additional nuclear plant for the processing of uranium had been established and was ready to be activated. The processing plant was presumably close to Tehran sitting underneath existing structures which had also served to shelter their activities from satellites and other detection abilities including especially drones. The news of such a facility makes fears that Iran intends to produce nuclear weapons despite any agreement far more probable should this reported plant be actualized and hopefully be placed under IAEA inspections, something unlikely when one also finds that the IAEA requests to inspect the Parchin Military Base where suspected weaponizing tests and manufacture of the detonators for a nuclear weapons were carried out. Recent reports also inform that not only had the buildings reputedly used for such experimentation and perfection of their triggering detonators been razed and the ground turned up and replaced with earth from another location, but now new buildings are being constructed over the site making inspections next to impossible. Such obstructionism does not bode well for Iranian compliance with the terms of any agreement.

 

Additional threats and demands have been levied and amongst them the demand that the Israelis not state any of the terms they suspect are a part of the framework largely because the administration has gone to such extremes to avoid allowing the Congress to vote on any agreement as such would require allowing the terms to be known. This request was made even before the elections which placed the Senate under a Republican majority. It has been the secrecy under which the administration has operated these negotiations which has initiated the suspicions which were apparently substantiated by the information received by the Israelis before they were locked out of the loop on any further updates by the United States. This will likely mean that Israel will now be just as ill-informed as the other Western members of the negotiations team as much of the framework has appeared to have been crafted in one-on-one meetings between Secretary Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. We will see today what effects the admonishments from the administration will have had on the address before Congress by Prime Minister Netanyahu as he gave little indications at his AIPAC speech as to what today’s speech will contain. Largely the Prime Minister’s speech was to show the appreciation that his administration and all Israelis have with their brothers and sisters living in the United States, the second most Jewish population state. Initiating his speech the Prime Minister gave thanks to Milos Zeman, president of the Czech Republic, for his support of Israel and his nation’s historical support of the Jewish state. Likewise he thanked Canadian officials, including outgoing Foreign Minister John Baird, for being “champions of Israel.” He gave a warm greeting to the packed audience greeting them with, “My friends I bring greetings to you from Jerusalem, our eternal undivided capital!” He also quipped receiving thunderous applause with, “I also bring to you news that you may not have heard. You see I’ll be speaking in Congress tomorrow.” Beyond the personal thank you statements and introductory ice breakers to put everyone at ease, Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke of the ties between the United States and Israel like that of a family that despite any disagreements remain closely related and such disputes do not make the family dysfunctional. Netanyahu stated, “You’re here to tell the world that reports of the demise of the Israeli and American ties are not only premature, they’re just wrong. You’re here to tell the world that our alliance is stronger than ever. And because of you… it’s going to get even stronger in the coming years.” He also stressed, “My speech is not meant to show any disrespect for President Obama or for the office that he holds, I have great respect for both.” Prime Minister spoke of the long period where Jews were as in the wilderness with no real home and subjected to the whims and provocations of those under whom they lived often facing terrible degradations and compared that suffering with the reality that now we once again have our homelands where we can finally fight for our rights and respect and rule ourselves. The Prime Minister initiated this telling that, “For 2,000 years my people, the Jewish people, were stateless, voiceless… we suffered relentless persecution and horrific attacks.” And then concluded stating, “Well, no more! The days when the Jewish people are passive in the face of threats to annihilate us, those days are over!” He also pointed out that the current disagreement with the United States is not over the goal we both desire but over the best method for achieving said goal. He pointed to our shared values of “liberty, equality, justice, tolerance, compassion.” You can hear the speech and judge his language and emotions yourself as his speech is embedded below.

 

 

 

We covered the framework’s rough draft a few days ago in the article “P5+1 and Iran Six Month Working Nuclear Agreement” which included the CNN released draft. We will not bore everyone repeating that article which had a few of our observations and cautionary quote made us the most ill at ease as we thought it was for too restrictive and presumptuous to assume to speak for the Congress while refusing to allow their input and advice. Today’s speech by the Israeli Prime Minister will be reviewed by many journalists and editorialists many of whom will have their best, sharpest and longest knives bared to stab and cut off the juiciest morsels they believe they can use to smear and defame the Prime Minister while others will have their most favorable glasses on and perfumed stationary on which to reveal their admirations and near love affair with Netanyahu, and any truth likely lies in the middle. Well, we will see what we will see and perhaps hear something unexpected but whatever is to come, by tomorrow all will be done except the media shouting, and who knows how long that may last and who from the political side will jump in and mix things up further. No matter what is said to Congress, the rest of the world continues to spiral out of control with the Libya ISIS terrorists still threatening to attack Italy and sac Rome, ISIS taking hostages with which to incite more hatred with their horrific offerings, Iran now being given the lead in the bombing war against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, Russia still eyeing the entirety of the coast of the Ukraine and drooling over the other former Soviet bloc nations and finally there is China manufacturing a blue water navy complete with continental missile carrying boomer submarines and aircraft carriers in their attempt to supplant the United States as the hegemonic power in the South China Sea, the Taiwan Strait or Formosa Strait, the Tsu Shima Strait, the Korea Strait and lastly adding the Pacific Ocean to their ownership of both ends of the Panama Canal. The world just keeps on getting more interesting and the nations within better and more dangerously armed and the little people, you know, you and us are simply not any part of the equations beyond statistical estimations on how many of us and in which regions we will be sacrificed in the next attempt to do what has been attempted throughout history, conquer the known world which finally actually means the whole world. Isn’t that just wonderful?

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

June 12, 2012

Should Pollard Receive Presidential Pardon?

On the subject of Jonathan Pollard spying for Israel and handing them classified photographs presumably of the Iraqi Osirak nuclear complex and reactor, it would have been easier to write of if he will be pardoned by United States President Obama at the behest of Israeli President Peres; very likely not. Instead, let’s look at the somewhat more controversial subject of if Jonathan Pollard should receive a pardon and be released. There are more sides, opinions, complications, over-simplifications, added-complications, theories, conspiracies, excuses, explanations, and lastly, accusations that to fully examine this subject and take in every obtuse angle which are splattered throughout the blogosphere and try to make heads or tails of it will drive one’s sanity right over the proverbial cliff. So, rather than actually go to a place more insane than where I am accused of residing, I figured I would simply try to write using things from my Swiss cheese memory. So, off we go into one more romp through blunderland.

The most important controversy about the entire Jonathan Pollard affair refers to exactly what he was guilty of. This is not what he was charged with or what he pleaded guilty to or even what the agreement was, we can go there in good time. The problem is there are many who claim that the judge broke the plea agreement when he received confidential, classified information which revealed the true extent to Pollard’s perfidy. I thought I might address what is likely the most serious of the supposed secret told to the judge right before sentencing. It was claimed that Pollard had sold the Russians the complete list of all our agents in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union which cost us both numerous agents’ lives and years of careful placement of placing people in the sensitive positions where they could best complete their missions. Here is the singular problem with this scenario. Jonathan Pollard worked as a Navy intelligence worker who handled photo reconnaissance and other related data and information. As such, guess what, Pollard had absolutely no access to the lists of our operatives, especially Central Intelligence Agency operatives, behind the Iran curtain. The real problem with Pollard revealing such information was simply impossible. Another claim from those on the opposite end of the spectrum is that Pollard was set up by being accused for all the misdeeds performed by master spy Aldrich Ames in order to divert the investigations by providing a believable suspect, though eventually Ames was caught. This is difficult to believe as I would hope any Judge worthy of trying such an important espionage case would be sufficiently knowledgeable to realize the limitations of Pollard’s security access dismissed much of what such claims would have entailed.

So, perhaps we should proceed under the premise that Pollard was charged with the same charges as were included in his plea deal and there were no other extraneous factors. Jonathan Pollard pleaded to the charge of passing sensitive classified information to an allied power. One has to remember that Pollard was nothing more than the person passing on information he came across in the performance of his Navy Department employ. He was not planted in the United States by a foreign country and actually passed on information that might have technically been covered under an agreement the United States has with Israel to provide them with intelligence information and satellite pictures pertaining to areas of what is referred to as special and mutual interests. One might have thought that satellite high-resolution pictures of the Iraqi Osirak Nuclear Power Plant would have fallen under such a classification. The problem was that the State Department did not consider that such intelligence was of any relative importance which Israel should be privileged to acquire. Since these items were classified, considered sensitive information, and determined of no interest to the Israelis, Jonathan Pollard had committed an act of espionage.

The passing of classified information, even to an ally, is very serious and very illegal and anybody caught and convicted of doing so, plea deal or not, deserves serious sentencing. The standard sentence has been reported to be an average of two to four years for passing such to an ally and as much as eight, though usually just four or five, for passing such information to an enemy state. Most often, somebody who is found guilty of passing sensitive information, which is not as secretive or as serious as classified items, to an enemy country is most often exchanged for whoever is found guilty of spying in said country in order to have a warm body to offer for trade long before they finish serving their sentence. My most unimpressive memory tells me that often they serve only two to four years despite what the sentence passed down.

So, what are we to believe should be done with Jonathan Pollard who has now languished for over a quarter of a century? One of the problems is that Pollard was spying for Israel who the United States would never stoop to spying against. Partially this is due to the fact that Israel very often informs the United States through one of the varied channels available of their military operational intentions, shares a fair amount of their intelligence information, and has agreements through which many of their military research is conducted in a shared manner jointly with American companies and appropriate American interests, and generally works willingly with the United States in many other areas. The truth of the matter is that Jonathan Pollard may very well be being held to the end of his life sentence simply as to be used as an example of the United States not operating under the direction and influence of Israel or their overly exaggerated influence reputably held by AIPAC. Releasing Pollard would cause a situation where somebody from the State Department would need to explain how releasing an Israeli master super spy, Pollard’s deeds have been inflated to the standard of rivaling the likes of Bond, James Bond, rather than leaving him to rot till death in some long forgotten dungeon, or if we have to be civil, a nice prison cell. Plainly put, releasing Pollard would mean admitting that some people went to great lengths to go overboard over the “Pollard Affair” and that perhaps he was given somewhat longer sentence than was rational, let alone believable. There will be no admission of such. The State Department and others in the seats of power will never ever admit to having been ham handed and blowing this case way out of proportions, thus Jonathan Pollard, the greatest spy since Mata Hari, will forever rot in prison and never be a free man. If some are feeling particularly generous, maybe they will allow Jonathan Pollard to travel to Israel to be buried, but maybe not.

Beyond the Cusp

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