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Posted at 6:20 PM ET, 09/21/2010

White House, CIA ignore reported Pollard gambit

By Jeff Stein

Jonathan Pollard (AP Photo/Karl DeBlaker)

The Obama administration is publicly ignoring a reported offer from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to extend a settlements freeze in exchange for the release of Jonathan Pollard, the convicted Israeli spy.

Pressure to release Pollard, serving a life sentence since 1987 for providing thousands of secret documents to Israel, arises regularly, spurred by Pollard’s wife Esther and right-wing parties in Jerusalem.

But an even more powerful backlash from national security officials in Washington has repeatedly derailed the idea. Pollard also sold secrets to South Africa and advertised his services to Pakistan, they point out, while Israel used some of the documents he gave them as barter for favors from Moscow.

During Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations at the Wye Plantation in 1998, CIA Director George Tenet famously threatened to resign when the Clinton White House entertained the idea of Pollard's release.

It hasn’t been seriously considered since.

Today the idea provoked silence from the White House, where officials said they would have no comment. At the CIA, senior officials said the idea hadn’t even come up for discussion.

“It’s not a new development,” said a senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive diplomatic issues. “They deploy all the time.”

An Israeli Embassy spokesman in Washington had no immediate comment.

The latest Pollard feeler first arose Monday on the Israeli Army radio station.

“Army radio said that Netanyahu had asked an unnamed intermediary to sound out the Obama administration on the proposal, but it is not known what response was received,” The Guardian of London reported. “Other Israeli media reported that the prime minister dispatched the intermediary to approach the Americans ‘discreetly, and unofficially.’”

Settler groups responded angrily to the suggestion of a three-month freeze for Pollard, according to reports.

Jonathan Broder, the senior editor for Defense and Foreign Policy at
Congressional Quarterly Weekly, who has reported extensively on Israel over the years, said Netanyahu’s alleged overture was more than just a gesture to his right-wing allies.

Netanyahu "has tried this before, i.e. to link Israeli concessions in peace talks to a Pollard release," Broder said by email. "One can only assume he thinks this might mollify the right. But judging from the negative reaction of the settler groups, getting Pollard back is not worth a freeze to them.”

Likewise for the Obama White House, incremental progress on the settlements is not worth agitating CIA officials, who are still seething over the Justice Department’s investigation into whether its interrogations of suspected terrorists were illegal.

Broder called floating Pollard's release “an opening gambit for an extension of the freeze. But if Obama signals it won't fly, you can be sure that Bibi [Netanyahu's nickname] has a Plan B wish list.”

By Jeff Stein  | September 21, 2010; 6:20 PM ET
Categories:  Foreign policy, Intelligence, Lawandcourts  
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Considering that Pollard is serving life because of a deal he made that kept the rest of his family, who were in on his spying, out of jail, he stays right where he is forever.

Now if Israel wants to turn over all the others in the spy ring, Israelis and Americans, and come completely clean, THEN maybe if we get real concessions that generate a real final settlement, MAYbe we let him go.

Nah! That lousy no goodnik should have been shot.

Posted by: ceflynline | September 21, 2010 8:52 PM | Report abuse

US has to pay a price for helping Israel keep peace talk going?
This is insane US foreign policy, time to tell those Israeli nuts to go find new freinds, we are outta here.

Posted by: cj1231 | September 21, 2010 10:30 PM | Report abuse

The late Casper Weinberger, a honourable man, said of Pollard that he was the spy who did the most damage to the United States of America in its entire history. When one takes into account the Cold War spies who stole the secrets of nuclear weapons and sent them to Moscow, this give an indication of the harm Pollard did to America. Israel sold some of the nuclear secrets Pollard stole, to the USSR in exchange for an easement of the USSR's restrictions on allowing Russian Jews to migrate. Now here we are today, Israel using the release from prison of this dangerous enemy of America as a bargaining chip in Israeli's politics. The audacity. The crass insulting audacity. One effect(of many) would be to destroy Obama's credibility.

My message for Israel is; The only way forward is Peace. Make Peace. As soon as possible. For now, America, ignoring Bismark's edict that countries have interests, countries do not have friends, is your shield and guardian and pays a very high price for this. How far in the future can your leaders pretend to see? And gamble that the status quo endures? One hundred years? Two hundred years? More? To think this is to be delusional. Make Peace now. Your enemies will not be forever incompetent. Stupid gambits like this latest one is just that. Stupid. Your intransigence endangers all of us. Please go seriously about making peace.


Posted by: calexanderbrown | September 21, 2010 11:04 PM | Report abuse

Caspar Weinberger, wrote in a 46-page memorandum detailing the damage done by Pollard’s treason:

“It is difficult for me, even in the so-called ‘year of the spy,’ to conceive of a greater harm to national security than that caused by the defendant in the view of the breadth, the critical importance to the U.S., and the high sensitivity of the information he sold to Israel.”

Further: Allan C. Brownfeld, editor of the journal for the American Council for Judaism, reported "So damaging to U.S. security was Pollard’s role that Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger told Israeli Ambassador Meir Rosenne in 1987 that Pollard should be executed."

Posted by: wdfs1 | September 22, 2010 4:19 AM | Report abuse

There is a great article from Veterans Today about this traitorous Zio-Nazi pig

Posted by: commelec | September 22, 2010 5:08 AM | Report abuse

Are you kidding me! Israel, which lied about Pollards and countless others spying, and lies on a daily basis about its landgrabbing "settlements" on other peoples property, is giving its word on a new deal. Pollard should be executed for treason, and all aid shut down. The same sanctions AIPAC is trying so mightily to impose on Iran for "suspected" nuclear proliferation, should be imposed on Israel for actual nuclear proliferation. No more voting for traiterous US politicians who swear their obeissance to Israel. We need leaders looking out for America, not Apartheid Israel.

Posted by: Argonne1 | September 22, 2010 7:06 AM | Report abuse

Pollard deserves to be hanged until dead for his treason.

Israel is not much of an ally. Why the US provides an endless river of money, arms and UN vetoes is beyond my comprehension. I don't see anything at all that Israel provides to the US.

Posted by: xwagner | September 22, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Pollard deserves to be released 48 hours after a through and documented autopsy.

Posted by: BudMiller | September 22, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Jonathan Pollard: It’s Time to Let Him Go

by Jerrold L. Sobel

October 1, 2010

Having been convicted of multiple murders in 1998, one of which the body still has not been found, Loren Herzog was released from Prison in Stockton California this past July, having served less than 10 years for his crimes.

Dec. 7, 1968 Pontiac, Michigan. Having been a suspect in the murders of several women in the Wolverine state, Nolan Ray George was convicted of second degree murder of a woman, Frances Ann Brown. After several mistrials, in 1973 he began serving 17 1/2-25 years in prison. Credited with 8 years, he was released 7 years later.... No, this isn’t a transition into a “Law and Order” or a “CSI” police story. It’s just a circuitous way of making a point.

Jonathan Pollard, on March 4, 1987 began serving a life sentence at the Federal Prison in Butler, North Carolina for the crime of espionage. To this date, 25 years later, he still languishes at that facility. Please be certain of one thing, this isn’t going to be some tear jerk, sugar coated, die for Jonathan Pollard story. What he did was dastardly. To betray a country whose constitution you’ve sworn to uphold is nothing short of despicable, no matter how righteous the cause. Sanctimonious motivations aside, allegedly he also admitted to receiving $10,000 in cash and a $1500.00 a month stipend for additional classified material to be given to his Israeli handler, an air force colonel. So let there be no doubt, Pollard is not a choir boy. However, the plea agreement that was offered by the prosecution and signed onto by Pollard was not recognized by the presiding judge.

The terms of the agreement Pollard signed onto allowed him to plead guilty to: “One count of conspiracy to deliver national defense information to a foreign government.” By doing so, his wife Anne also was allowed to plead out for her complicity in the crime. She served 3 years of a 5 year term and was released. In accordance with the plea, and to avoid life imprisonment, Pollard agreed to cooperate fully with a government espionage assessment team and pledged non-disclosure of sensitive material he had privy to. The judge, Aubrey Robinson Jr. wasn’t having any of it, threw out the plea, and sentenced him to life imprisonment. So where are the mitigating factors?

From a legal standpoint, I’m not a lawyer, there might not be any. What is quite clear, from the time Pollard entered his plea in May 1986 to his sentencing ten months later, the government continually upped the ante on him. No longer content with the second tier of the espionage statute to which he plead guilty: “to the advantage of a foreign nation,” they went after him on the more severe first: “to the injury of the United States.” The judge simply failed to honor the deal brokered between the defense and the prosecution.

Whatever your feelings of Pollard, this is an injustice. He's sitting in jail for a crime he did not plead to.

Posted by: jerrysobel | September 30, 2010 9:13 PM | Report abuse

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