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Friday, December 10, 2010

Some in Washington still oppose Pollard release

Here in Israel, we're often puzzled that Jonathan Pollard hasn't been released from prison already. We wonder why President Obama hasn't pulled the trigger, and why Prime Minister Netanyahu doesn't seem to be doing all he could to bring about Pollard's release.

But apparently there's a big problem. Not everyone in Washington wants to see Pollard released. And by referring to documents that no one can access they are preventing an intelligent debate in which Pollard's case can be fairly heard.
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.”

I hope someone in the Pollard camp has the information to answer these charges. I sure don't.

About 10-12 years ago, I met someone who had worked in the IDF unit that 'handled' Pollard. He predicted that Pollard would never be released because he knew too much. Unfortunately, I'm beginning to suspect that he may have been correct.



At 5:39 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

"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.”"

yeah about that plea agreement... I believe it clarified a lighter sentence. If indeed the plea agreement was agreed therefor locking in further information then why wasn't Pollard released by now?

At 6:25 AM, Blogger biorabbi said...

I hope and believe Pollard will be released soon. I'm very skeptical here. Did anybody die as a result of Pollard's actions? He has been punished long enough. I would also argue that the principle of deterrence has been met and then some; it would seem to me that the length and severity of Pollard's sentence would act as a vital deterrent against potential spys for friendly countries.

Second. Have not spies from hostile countries been released? Spies I might add who have caused great harm to the United States. And what, exactly, are these crown jewels that a naval officer of his rank might have had privy to?

Don't get me wrong. Pollard is no hero to me. Quite the contrary, but the principle of equal justice must be applied. I believe the entire issue of religion raised her head here with Pollard. The Israelis at first left "their man" in the field(actually in a literal sense given the proximity to the Israeli Embassy in terms of mere inches). There was a history of denial perhaps out of shame vis-a-vis the Israelis. A Deal was constructed and sentence was agreed to, but this was changed secondary to the "sealed" letter to the judge by Casper Weinberger. Pray tell? Was Casp's heritage an issue? Was Casper trying to be more Catholic than the Pope?? Why was his letter sealed?

Bottom line: Pollard should be released, not pardoned. The sentence has more than matched the crime. And let us hope he, Pollard, has the good sense to keep his mouth shut upon release.

At 4:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know he has his fans here and the Israeli government certainly appreciated the trove of methods and sources and info he provided but he was.an.American.citizen. He violated his oath to protect America's secrets in an extreme way. In an age of WikiLeaks, with Private Manning held incommunicado, the safe thing to do, and this includes for politicoes friendly to Israel, is to leave him there. Unfair? Maybe. Maybe certainly. But this is something Pollardand his handlers might have considered beforehand imo.

At 4:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

..and if he directly (or via Israel, indirectly) released to multiple foreign intelligence services...bad news--but the claim also seems to be that he has to be kept locked down because of what's still inside his head and could be communicated later..the man who knew too much, sorta like the Prisoner.


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