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Posted at 3:45 PM ET, 12/ 8/2010

Ex-intelligence official blasts Pollard lobbying

By Jeff Stein

Jonathan Pollard’s ex-wife Anne and her father were settled in Israel by the government there this week, the latest chapter in a renewed campaign to free the confessed spy.

Israel has angled periodically for Pollard’s release since 1998, when it admitted, after 13 years of denials, that the former naval intelligence analyst was not a rogue agent but an officially sanctioned spy.

Last September Prime Minster Binyamin Netanyahu relit the fires under the case when, according to Israeli Army Radio, he asked the Obama administration to release Pollard in exchange for a temporary halt in Israel's construction of Jewish settlements.

A month later Lawrence Korb, an assistant secretary of defense at the time of Pollard’s arrest in 1985, asked President Obama in a public letter to commute Pollard’s sentence to time served -- 25 years. A handful of members of Congress seconded the call, which has been bitterly resisted by U.S. intelligence agencies.

Now another key official at the time of Pollard’s arrest, former FBI and Navy lawyer M.E. “Spike” Bowman, is weighing in -- against his release -- in a forthcoming article.

“Since I was the only person who actually touched all aspects of the case I thought it was incumbent on me to lay out the facts,” Bowman, the top legal adviser to Navy intelligence at the time, and who later worked as senior counsel at the FBI and as deputy director of the National Counterintelligence Executive, told SpyTalk.

In a piece written for a forthcoming journal of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers, founded years ago to support the CIA, Bowman notes that there have been “few rebuttals of this escalation of calls for Pollard’s release…mainly because so few were cognizant of the scope of Pollard’s disclosures, or the misuses of those disclosures, and the damage they did to our own operations and sources."

The true extent of the spy’s damage remains locked in government vaults, Bowman writes, “because when a plea agreement was reached, it was no longer necessary to litigate issues that could have exposed the scope of Pollard’s treachery -- and the exposure of classified systems.”

But the retired Navy captain singles out three of Pollard’s leaks, the first being “the daily report from the Navy’s Sixth Fleet Ocean Surveillance Information Facility (FOSIF) in Rota, Spain, a top-secret document filed every morning reporting all that had occurred in the Middle East during the previous twenty-four hours, as recorded by the NSA’s most sophisticated monitoring devices.”

“Probably the most serious disclosure (of those of which we are aware) was the TOP SECRET NSA RAISIN manual, which lists the physical parameters of every known signal [or electronic communication], notes how we collect signals around the world, and lists all the known communications links then used by the Soviet Union,” Bowman writes.

“It is certainly the thing that stood out in the mind of the sentencing judge; particularly when Pollard alleged at sentencing that there really was no harm done. The judge interrupted and brought him up short, pointing specifically to disclosure of the RAISIN manual.”

Bowman also writes that “Pollard disclosed information to the Israelis that could prevent the U.S. from monitoring Israeli activities in the Middle East -- clearly a foreign policy nightmare.”

Pollard admitted to prosecutors that his handlers at the Israeli Embassy often goaded him for better-quality information, Bowman says.

“[H]is initial handler told him that they already receive 'SECRET' level material from the United States. What they needed was the TOP SECRET data they were not yet receiving.”

Hard copies of the documents Pollard stole in 18 months could “fill a room that is six feet by six feet by ten,” Ronald Olive, the top Navy investigator in the Pollard case, told SpyTalk.

"No other spy in the history of the United States stole so many secrets, so highly classified, in such a short period of time," he maintains.

Bowman also takes aim at Korb’s contention that Pollard has been unduly punished, arguing in his open letter to Obama that "the average sentence for Pollard's offence” -- stealing secrets for “friendly” countries -- “is two to four years, and under current guidelines the maximum sentence is 10 years.”

But Bowman, as well as a counterintelligence officer involved in Pollard’s case who insisted on anonymity, says Korb’s math is skewed.

“The supporters who claim that the sentence of Pollard was disproportionate to the crime cite three to four cases where Americans sold or gave documents to non-adversary countries like Saudi Arabia, Ecuador and El Salvador,” the CIA officer said. “These were a handful of secrets, and those who committed the crime were sentenced proportionately. What Pollard's crew has done is to take these handfuls of cases and then extrapolated the sentences saying that Pollard has served far longer than the ‘average’ spy who spied for 'friendly services.' "

In fact, the average sentence for those caught spying for the Russians, not counting the 365-year term given to Jerry A. Whitworth, part of the infamous John Walker family spy ring, was over 36 years. Three spies other than Pollard, including Russian mole Aldrich Ames, were given life sentences.

Of course, Pollard didn’t just spy for Israel, although that was far and away his main benefactor.

“Intelligence officials have unofficially detailed instances of additional disclosures to other nations,” Bowman writes. “These officials said that Pollard had given classified documents to Pakistan, South Africa and two other countries they declined to identify.”

Some the documents Pollard gave Israel ended up in Moscow, according to various reports, but as one investigator in the case told SpyTalk, “there are only two countries that know the facts …Russia and Israel. Which leads me to believe we will never know the truth.”

Pollard’s current wife, Esther, wrote in the Jerusalem Post Monday that the statement of support by Korb, and another from his former Israeli handler Rafi Eitan claiming that Washington had reneged on a verbal pledge to release Pollard after 10 years, “provide Israel with the golden key to open Jonathan's jail cell."

It's long past time, she said, for Netanyahu to go public with a demand to Washington that Pollard be released.

So far, however, the prime minister has refused to pick up the megaphone. And judging by Bowman’s forthcoming piece, his private pleas will, likewise, fall short.

By Jeff Stein  | December 8, 2010; 3:45 PM ET
Categories:  Foreign policy, Intelligence, Justice/FBI, Lawandcourts, Media, Military  
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Leave it to Israel to try and extort us over their illegal Settlements - "OK, just for you...give us 5 billion, your undying support based on big money donors to American politicians, and Pollard....and we just might halt building our illegal Settlements. As a big favor to you."

Posted by: ChrisFord1 | December 8, 2010 4:40 PM | Report abuse

How about he just have an "accident" and be done with?

Posted by: jkwynnyckyj | December 8, 2010 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Remember the name Lawrence Korb so the next time you hear him speak on a national security issue you can assess his credibility.

Posted by: whocares666 | December 8, 2010 5:00 PM | Report abuse

He should rot i jail for ever. Leave his rotting corpse in his cell for all eternity. Pollard did what he did for his ego not Israel.

Posted by: lotusxidriver | December 8, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse

I’m grateful the author posted comments from someone in a position to know, then Navy Intelligence legal counsel Spike Bowman, but I’m troubled by what seems to be Bowman’s purposefully biased analysis. For example, Bowman compares the sentence for Pollard to sentences for individuals spying for Russia. And the only rationale for the comparison appears to be the assertion that Pollard gave unidentified “classified documents” to risky countries such as Pakistan and that “some” documents “ended up in Moscow.” There is no claim that the document Bowman holds out as the most damaging, the RAISIN manual, is among these documents, other than an investigator’s statement that “we’ll never know the truth.” Bowman’s analysis is helpful in lifting a piece of the fog over DOD’s actions in insisting on throwing the book at Pollard is. But it would have been extremely helpful to at least demonstrate by examples the likelihood of America’s best ally in that part of the world playing any part in forwarding America’s top secrets to its adversaries before publishing Glenn Beck like claims to the effect that it did (i.e., the “we’ll never know the truth” statement clearly intended to be made with regard to a release of the RAISIN manual to Russia) . Absent that, I still scratch my head over what will likely be a lifetime sentence for Pollard.

Posted by: iharry | December 8, 2010 5:11 PM | Report abuse

The israeli spy and traitor, jonathan pollard, should have been executed upon being found guilty. He should never be set free from US custody, something else the slimy israelis wanted to happen, so he could spend the rest of his life as a hero in israel.

obummer should grow a pair and cut off ALL AID to that rotten little country of money grubbing murderers.

How much better the entire world would be without that treacherous outhouse called israel.

It's long past time to end ALL aid, financial, military and private, to that murderous band of treacherous parasites and if AIPAC or any other israel first group starts their threats, cut off diplomatic relations.

Never forget the USS Liberty and what our "ally" israel did that terrible day.

With "friends" like israel, who needs enemies?

Posted by: rcubedkc | December 8, 2010 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Maybe the Zionite tyrants think that Pollard is God's chosen spy and, therefore. should be pardoned. What nonsense. Let him rot where he is. Alternatively, maybe we could agree to let him go AFTER the Zionites stop building their settlements and sign a real peace treaty with the people whose lands they now occupy.

Posted by: sameolddoc | December 8, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse

sameold "Alternatively, maybe we could agree to let him go AFTER the Zionites stop building their settlements and sign a real peace treaty with the people whose lands they now occupy."

NO, never let him go. The israeli spy and traitor pollard's crimes were against my country, the United States of America, who almost singlehandedly supports israel whether israel is right or wrong.

NO, pollard must die in American prison as the spy and traitor that he is. Not as the hero he would be if released to our "ally" israel.

And lawrence korb, another so called American who puts israel above America every time should spend of few years of his life in an adjoining cell to his hero jonathan pollard.

Posted by: rcubedkc | December 8, 2010 5:40 PM | Report abuse

Sorry Israel is not and never has been America's best ally. Israel would sell this country into nuclear war if it meant Israel would survive or it was is Israel's best interest to do so. I admire Israel but this statement is the truth.

Why did Israel feel a need to recruit Pollard and spy on its so called best ally and friend?

Problem with the Pollard case is much of the info is still classified beyond the TS level.

Pollard should rot away in jail and sorry his ex wife should still be in prison doing life. If she had medical issues too bad she was an active participant and benefitted from the crimes. Therefore she has to pay the price.

Pollard was a punk! He did it for himself and not Israel or his religion.

Posted by: lotusxidriver | December 8, 2010 5:59 PM | Report abuse

Pollard was a munchkin.

Munchkins do not make foreign policy, but his betrayals did just that by default.


Posted by: jbartelloni | December 8, 2010 6:09 PM | Report abuse

No one (in the know and/or sane) considers Israel America's best ally, in the ME or anywhere else.

That's pure fantasy and certainly explains a lot.

Pity the poor politician, and others, still too dumb to get it.

Unless other evidence comes to light, let him rot.

He's a traitor, and there are standards.

Posted by: thegreatpotatospamof2003 | December 8, 2010 7:44 PM | Report abuse

Loyalty to Israel beats loyalty to America, every time.

Posted by: alientech | December 8, 2010 8:28 PM | Report abuse

Here is another set of words whose meaning is changing. We use to know the distinction between an "enemy" and a "friend" but obviously Lawrence Kolb can't figure it out anymore, and he hopes to confuse the rest of us too. Pollard was a US citizen and active foreign spy who used his position to undermine our security without regard to how many Americans would have been killed or how much damage we would have suffered if the information he stole had been used against us in the event of a war. It is no excuse that the full potential of the likely damages was never realized because no war occurred, although Pollard wouldn’t have regretted it if it had. The Israelis should get over Pollard. it is not in their interest to constantly remind us that they have been and may still be deeply and enthusiastically involved in suborning traitors and undermining our security and treating us as an “enemy.”

Posted by: droberts57 | December 8, 2010 9:23 PM | Report abuse

Pollard's supporters have never succeeded and likely never will. The expression of danger by Mr. Bowman appears to be hyperbole.

The man's wife and family will always argue for his release, but is that strange? Is that not what many convicted murderers's families do? Remember the Menendez trial? How Eric and Lyle's family emerged en masse for them? One might have expected the relatives to be upset that Kitty and Jose, nearer in relation to them than the sons, had their head blown off by shotguns.

As for these other persons, vital is resisting unjust exhortations arising from political connections. Such is a minimal requirement for justice.

Posted by: Martial | December 8, 2010 9:59 PM | Report abuse

It seems that all these people discussing this matter and the Wiki Links case are locked in some sort of weird anachronistic time warp and haven't yet joined the information age and aren't seeing the content of "classified" docs within the context of the totality of all available information.

Wake up.

Posted by: inono | December 8, 2010 10:07 PM | Report abuse

Given the fact that the Israelis are shown here to be particularly interested in stopping or at least knowing in full the capabilities and the information being harvested by Americans on them, is there anyone in the world who now doubts that the Israelis deliberately sought to sink the U.S.S. Liberty (our electronic surveillance ship) in international waters during the Seven Days War?

Further they deliberately sought to send all tapes, electronic gear, and ship's company to the bottom of the Mediterranean.

And of yes, the Pollard materials were used as trading goods to gain the release of thousands of Russian Jews for immigration to Israel. "Let my people go!"

This was done despite the fact that our own agents in very sensitive positions were exposed and summarily shot or worse.

One would only compare the silence of our media with respect to these betrayals and outings to the year long carnival about the "outing of the ex-CIA Valerie Plame" by such as the Times and Post.

Pollard reportedly has a photographic mind and continues to know a trove of top Secret information about the U.S. He should never, never, be released to do more terrible damage to this nation and its security.

Posted by: AmericanInterestsFirstandLast | December 8, 2010 10:28 PM | Report abuse

Oh and bear in mind that the Great Patriot William Jefferson Clinton was willing to trade Pollard's release for the Annapolis Settlement but was prevented from doing so by the then top CIA agent threatening to resign (and presumably undertaking an expose of this yet another stupidity by Clinton.)

Recently it was disclosed that Clinton is the only President to have lost the "biscuit" and further failed to admit it to his military handlers.

Posted by: AmericanInterestsFirstandLast | December 8, 2010 10:34 PM | Report abuse

Israel is the enemy.

Posted by: GEarlMoore | December 8, 2010 10:39 PM | Report abuse

Binyamin Netanyahu believes we should have freed Jonathan Pollard years ago. He is worried about all of all the unnecessary anxiety the other Israeli spies in America must be feeling right now about getting caught.

Posted by: BabeintheWoods | December 8, 2010 10:44 PM | Report abuse

How true. Reportedly Israeli sympathizers hold many mid-level and up positions in the Federal Civil Service, especially State, Treasury, DOD, and the White House that Israeli' representatives are already informed of the negotiating positions of the U.S. side before the two meet. Needless to say inter-agency working groups developing these papers are have their fair share of Israeli supporters--our only democratic ally in the Middle East. Ain't that grand!

Posted by: AmericanInterestsFirstandLast | December 8, 2010 11:02 PM | Report abuse

The fact that Pollard was prosecuted at all means that his crimes resulted in extraordinary damage to U.S. national security. Israeli spies, other than Pollard, are never prosecuted. Being assigned to investigate Israel's spying is considered a career killer within the FBI. The AIPAC case a couple of years ago is a case in point. An Air Force colonel plead guilty to providing an Israeli AIPAC agent with classified material and agreed to testify against the AIPAC agents. The colonel went to prison but the Justice Department decided not to prosecute the AIPAC agents.

The FBI reports that Israel's military and industrial spying on the U.S. is exceeded only by China. Everyone in authority in Washington knows this yet they know that should they speak out they will be labeled as anti-Semitic Jew haters unfairly picking on our "only ally in the Middle East." Recall Bill Clinton telling Monica Lewinsky in a telephone call that his White House telephone was tapped. It was tapped by Israel.

Israel will eventually obtain Pollard's release as they will have Obama or a successor over a barrel as they did Clinton.

Posted by: Lazarus40 | December 8, 2010 11:54 PM | Report abuse

America facilitates Israel's belligerence. Why? It provides a 24/7 to invade any oil-rich Muslim country we choose. It's the only way to beat them down on gas prices.

Posted by: blasmaic | December 9, 2010 12:46 AM | Report abuse

1) Bowman writes that “Pollard disclosed information to the Israelis that could prevent the U.S. from monitoring Israeli activities in the Middle East -- clearly a foreign policy nightmare.”

It was for this same reason that jews bombed US Liberty off the coast of Palestine in 1967 and murderd some forty US naval officers.The attack was conducted by freely supplied American jet fighters to thr racist aparheid 'only democrcay in the ME.'

2) "No other spy in the history of the United States stole so many secrets, so highly classified, in such a short period of time," he maintains."

jews are only loyal to their fellow jews:Pollard is a tangible case in point.

Posted by: asizk | December 9, 2010 10:10 AM | Report abuse

This is a topic that always generates a lot of heat. But I'd like to remind everybody to keep their comments within The Washington Post's very generous standards for civil discourse. Name-calling and slurs do not add to the debate and will not be tolerated. Many thanks for your participation. --Jeff Stein

Posted by: Jeff Stein | December 9, 2010 4:59 PM | Report abuse

The reference to Pollard's plea bargain is a half truth. In return for pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to deliver national defense information to a foreign government and complete cooperation with the investigation Pollard was promised "only a substantial number of years in prison" and a plea bargain for his wife (essentially a light sentence). Judge Aubrey Robinson, Jr. refused to accept the prosecutor's recommendation and sentenced him to life. His wife received 5 years.

Pollard lost his appeal 2:1 on purely (we are led to believe) technical grounds but the dissenting judgement should be remembered when considering this case. The dissenting judge, Judge Stephen F. Williams, stated that "because the government's breach of the plea agreement was a fundamental miscarriage of justice requiring relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, I dissent."

Had Pollard not been offered this plea bargain he probably wouldn't have cooperated and could have taken the 5th Ammendment in court.

Given that his confession was the major evidence against him and that District of Columbia has no death sentence he could not have received a tougher sentence than the one he ultimately received and may have finished with a much lighter one. The court proceedings could have taken years and much secret material exposed.

I don't know what security information Pollard has that is still current but the information on how the US government including its representative former FBI and Navy lawyer M.E. “Spike” Bowman perverted the protections any accused is entitled to,to ensure a conviction could prove embarassing on a Wikileaks scale.

BTW the interview (not mentioned) with Wolf Blitzer which has been claimed as the reason the US Government went all out for a conviction was published in the Washington Post. Even if Secretary of Defense, Casper Weinberger had not pushed for a maximum sentence the prosecutor's "In combination with the breadth of this man's knowledge, the depth of his memory, and the complete lack of honor that he has demonstrated in these proceedings, I suggest to you, your honor, he is a very dangerous man" would have shown the recommendation for a lesser sentence to be nothing but a scam.

Posted by: DEEGEE-post | December 13, 2010 6:51 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: iharry
"But it would have been extremely helpful to at least demonstrate by examples the likelihood of America’s best ally in that part of the world playing any part in forwarding America’s top secrets to its adversaries before publishing Glenn Beck like claims to the effect that it did (i.e., the “we’ll never know the truth” statement clearly intended to be made with regard to a release of the RAISIN manual to Russia) . Absent that, I still scratch my head over what will likely be a lifetime sentence for Pollard."

The LIKELIHOOD? It is known that the Israelis did in fact pass material on to the Russians. At the time they were bargaining with the Soviets for the release of Jews. Pollard put the RAISIN document on the world market.

Posted by: iharry

Posted by: scientist1 | December 13, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

As a Jew who worked in the Intelligence Community all his life I hope Pollard stays in prison. He made every Jew suspect of dual loyalties.

Posted by: GWGOLDB | December 13, 2010 8:20 PM | Report abuse

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