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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