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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Ronald Montaperto gets three months for passing secrets to China; Jonathan Pollard begins 22nd year in jail for passing secrets to Israel

Defense Intelligence Agency analyst Ronald Montaperto was sentenced last month to a three-month prison term for passing US intelligence secrets to Communist China. This was not a minor spying case:
Former DIA analyst Ronald Montaperto was sentenced to three months in prison for illegally retaining classified documents. He was not charged on more serious spying charges, including passing top-secret information to a Chinese military intelligence officer, Yu Zhenhe.

According to court testimony, Montaperto signed in to a secure area of the Pentagon in 1988 and read top-secret intelligence reports on Chinese CSS-2 medium-range missile sales to Saudi Arabia, in November, and then in December read documents on Chinese C-802 anti-ship cruise missiles to Iran.

After each reading, Montaperto then met a short time later with Col. Yu, who was identified in court papers as a senior Chinese military intelligence officer.

U.S. officials said the disclosures by Montaperto coincided with the loss of a major electronic eavesdropping program that successfully spied on Chinese government links to illicit arms sales.

The loss of the communications link was a major blow to efforts to track Chinese arms sales, the officials said.
Meanwhile, Jonathan Pollard, who was sentenced to life in prison in 1985 for passing US secrets to Israel, a friendly country, is beginning his 22nd year in jail:
Pollard, a civilian Navy intelligence analyst, passed on vital security information to Israel and was never indicted for intent to harm the US. (Exactly what he handed over has never been officially revealed. It reportedly included data on Soviet arms shipments to Syria as well as Iraqi and Syrian weapons programs.)

His harsh sentence - he is the only person in US history to have received a life sentence for spying for an American ally - came after an 11th-hour memorandum in 1987 to the sentencing judge by then secretary of defense Caspar Weinberger. In the 46-page memorandum, Weinberger outlined the alleged harm to US national security done by Pollard, and urged severe punishment. But he later conceded the case had been "comparatively minor."

Former US envoy to the Middle East Dennis Ross indicated in his book The Missing Peace that Pollard's sentence had been disproportionate, and in principle supported his unconditional release. Ross said, however, that he had advised president Bill Clinton at the Wye summit in 1998 not to free Pollard because of his potential leverage value if and when the Israelis and Palestinians neared a permanent status accord.

In March, the US Supreme Court rejected an appeal by Pollard asking that it overturn a federal court ruling denying his attorneys access to classified information used in his trial. Pollard's attorneys argued that the documents were needed to make his case for clemency.
In other words, Jonathan Pollard is a political pawn, being held to extract political concession from Israel.

Read the whole thing.


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