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Newly Released CIA Documents Reveal that Jonathan Pollard Sought Intelligence on Arab States, Not US

December 14, 2012 1:59 pm 16 comments

Jonathan Pollard at the time of his arrest.

A newly declassified damage assessment reveals that convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard was seeking information for nuclear, military and technical information on the Arab states, Pakistan, and the Soviet Union, and not on the United States.

The damage assessment, which was classified by the CIA and only released today–though still heavily redacted– on appeal by the National Security Archive at George Washington University reveals that Pollard’s handlers “never expressed interest in US military activities, plans, capabilities, or equipment.”

The damage assessment further details the specific information requested of Pollard: Syrian drones and central communications, Egyptian missile programs and Soviet air defenses. The document also describes how Pollard’s handler told him to ignore a request from his bosses for U.S. “dirt” on senior Israeli officials.

According to the article on the NSA’s website the documents Pollard passed along revealed information on “PLO headquarters in Tunisia; specific capabilities of Tunisian and Libyan air defense systems; Iraqi and Syrian chemical warfare productions capabilities (including detailed satellite imagery); Soviet arms shipments to Syria and other Arab states; naval forces, port facilities, and lines of communication of various Middle Eastern and North African countries; the MiG-29 fighter; and Pakistan’s nuclear program. Also included was a U.S. assessment of Israeli military capabilities.”

The damage assessment also paints a broader picture of Pollard the man, who at the time of his arrest was working as a civilian intelligence analyst.

A detailed 21-page chronology of Pollard’s personal life and professional career, including his work for the Israelis, highlights over a dozen instances of unusual behavior by Pollard that the CIA suggests in hindsight should have alerted his supervisors to the fact the he was a security risk. One such instance occurred when, upon arriving late for an interview, he gave his excuse that he spent the weekend rescuing his wife from the Irish Republican Army after they had kidnapped her.

Rabbi Pesach Lerner, Former Executive Vice President of the National Council of Young Israel, and a confidant and friend of Jonathan Pollard who is active in the case, told The Algemeiner that “Based on my quick review of hundreds of pages […] I think there are more questions now of why he is still in prison after 27 years.” He continued, “It looks like they put him away for a lot of ‘what ifs’ and those ‘what ifs’ didn’t happen. The court should go back and review all of this, basically say if we put him away for all the potentials and the potentials didn’t happen, we need to talk about that.”

But Jeffrey T. Richelson, Media Fellow at the National Security Archives, and author of the article that first outlined the newly released documents told The Algemeiner: “The arguments made by those in favor of a long life sentence for him were not simply dependent on whether he was spying on the United States in terms of giving away specific plans or military capabilities. It was the impact of the intelligence he gave the Israelis in terms of the risks he created.”

Richelson said that the U.S. was most concerned that Pollard’s spying would reveal “what the U.S. was able to collect, what judgments it made, and there was always the risk then that through the penetration of the Israeli community this information could then get to the Soviet Union. That argument isn’t changed by this new information.”

Pollard began spying for Israel after meeting Aviem Sella, an Israeli Air Force combat veteran who was studying at New York University. Pollard, who worked for U.S. Naval intelligence at the time, told him that the U.S. intelligence services were withholding information from Israel. Within days Pollard was spying for Israel.

Pollard was arrested in 1985 while trying to enter the Israeli embassy in Washington D.C. Until his arrest, Pollard delivered approximately 800 documents, many of which were classified top secret or codeword. In addition, he stole an estimated 1,500 current intelligence summary messages. He was given a life sentence.

Pollard’s case has remained in the public spotlight in part because of the effort by high level Israeli officials to secure his release. In 1995 Yitzhak Rabin petitioned U.S. President Bill Clinton for Pollard’s release, and only recently Benjamin Netanyahu did the same with U.S. President Barack Obama. Both were rebuffed.

On Thursday New York Congressman Eliot Engel  sent a letter to President Obama asking for the commutation of Jonathan Pollard’s sentence to one of time served. The letter was co-written by Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey and signed by 42 Members of Congress.

The letter stated expressly: “Mr. Pollard broke the law and deserved to be punished.  On that there is no debate.  However, he has paid his penalty and, due to failing health, should be allowed to live out his days with his family.  Mr. Pollard’s sentence was disproportionately severe.  He passed classified information to our ally, Israel; an offense which is usually punishable by a fraction of the time served by Mr. Pollard.  The time has come to close this chapter, commute Jonathan Pollard’s sentence to time served, and allow the Pollard family to heal together.”

It continued: “President Obama ought to heed the numerous calls for justice from scores of Republican and Democrat members of Congress as well as those Senior US officials who are most familiar with the Pollard case and who served at the time of Pollard’s conviction. Millions of humanitarians worldwide – both Jew and Gentile alike, will greatly appreciate President Obama’s honorable gesture if he were to grant clemency.”

Rabbi Lerner expressed his hope that at the very least the revelation of this new material might actuate Pollard’s legal team. “I would hope that the Pollard team would go through this with a fine tooth comb and do whatever they can […] to bring some of this new information to the fore and demand explanations.”

Mr. Richelson was more muted in his response to the new information: “I can’t speak for how people will respond to this new information, but if nothing else it will add to the historical record of the case.”


  • …Can one say craven to the apologists who are “manufacturing” lies so that justification can be given to Pollard’s deeds? He betrayed the United States period. There was no secret US government conspiracy to get Pollard, he is a traitor who at Israel’s hand threw the US under the bus. One must be quite amazed at “some Jews” who have the audacity to claim Pollard’s innocence, but this is what Jew’s do when they want something even know it betrays others. Self Serving, Craven, and without any moral compass to speak of. This is what Israel is, and its government.

    • Jonathan Pollard was working for the security of his country, not to hurt the United States. I would do the same to save my country against our enemies. Israel has rockets rained down on them everyday as it is the duty of Islam to kill Jews and Christians. As for me, Israelis are blood to me and their G*d is my G*d, the G*d of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

      • Douglas Presler

        “Jonathan Pollard was working for the security of his country, not to hurt the United States.”

        Well, at least someone is honest enough to state straightfowardly Pollard’s loyalites, as well as her own.

  • Where was the USA and the rest of the free world during world war two, while those German-Nazi butcherers of the 6,000,000 Jews and other innocents under the jackboots of the Third-Reich were being slaughtered on a daily industrial basis. America and their allies have a lot to answer for, how many more Jewish lives could have been saved from the hands of the Nazis. Nopbody really wanted Jewish refugees in their countries, Some of those countries that did allow some in were only considering how much each Jew was worth in payment, which was dolled out to them by the World Jewish Congress. The USA today is full of Jew-hating Arabs.

    • Douglas Presler

      “The USA today is full of Jew-hating Arabs.”

      True, sadly. As well as being the home of not a few Arab-hating Jews.

  • All I can say is I thank ‘Hashem’ that I don’t live in the USA, they seem to convict the wrong people. if Jonathan Pollard would have been anything but Jewish, he would have been released years ago, If he was an Arab-Muslim or any Muslim or from any other ethnic group for example he would have never served such a long gaol sentence. In some ways the USA treats it’s Jewish-Citizens differently from all other groups. As they judge Israel with a different set of rules to any other Country, so they apply the same method of judgement to their Jewish-Citizens. I hope that John Pollard will be released very soon from his very long incarceration.

  • What did Pollard do for the Jews that Obama didn’t do for the Muslims?

  • It was clearly Anti Semitism at the time and still is.

  • He sentence is disproportionate with his crime. This is another Dreyfus Affair.

  • Seemingly Pollard discovered information “dirt” about the “ruling elite” or “world shadow government”. The
    “puppet masters” want to hide. Why else would he be given a life sentence? May justice be enabled, by the will of G-d.

  • Pollard’s life sentence and continued captivity after 27years is preposterous! It is an unprecedented miscarriage of justice.

    While murderers, pedophiles, have either received more lenient sentences, or released on humanitarian or other grounds, he still languishes in one of the US’s harshest prisons.

    Notwithstanding clemency granted to arch murderer Megrahi of Pan Am flight 103 responsible for 259 deaths, Pollard’s severe ill health does not seem to elicit any compassion.

    His Life sentence, without a trial, can only be explained on Anti-semitic grounds. Period!

  • I wonder if he found some suspicious ties of the US admin to Arab terrorists/ Govts/PLO? Prescott Bush, his son HW and hid son GW have been in bed with the Arabs for years. Prescott’s ties began in the 1920s. If you read this book, it lays it all out and exposes how American has been screwing the Jewish people and Israel for nearly a century.

    “The Secret War Against the Jews”
    How Western Espionage Betrayed The Jewish People
    John Loftus and Mark Aarons

    • I’m so happy that people still read this FUNDAMENTAL BOOK, very serious and written by someone with the HIGHEST POSSIBLE SECURITY CLEARANCE, so essential to understand the REAL position of the Jews in America and who is or is not our friend.

      I ALWAYS RECOMMEND IT as unsurpassed together with David Wyman’s “The Abandonment of the Jews”!

  • E Pluribus Beagle

    So he was spying on our enemies. Seems like a sane reason to throw him a hole for life, doesn’t it?

    • Now that it has come out that Mr Pollard was not a traitor to the USA and was only looking at what the Arab countries were up to, it is time for him to be released – with a full pardon and compensation. The USA and the rest of the world will see that Arbas can’t be trusted. They only take and take and take.

      Ben Zion

    • You have to wonder, maybe THIS is why Pollard is still in prison? coubouwas not surprise me at all if the brutally long sentence is an accommodation to the Arab countries he was trying to get intelligence on. By now, Americans would have released him. Even American people like Cap Weinberger and George Schultz said he should be let go! But the Arabs would not hesitate to let him die in prison.

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