Partially Declassified CIA Assessment Does Not Exonerate Jonathan Pollard

FBI Wades Into Obama’s Commutation Process

The Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel recently forced the CIA to release additional content from its 1987 Jonathan Pollard espionage damage assessment report (PDF). The National Security Archive – which appealed this declassification case to ISCAP – and many establishment media outlets characterize the partially released contents as something of an exoneration of the "cooperative" Pollard, whom the CIA debriefed under polygraph. They applaud the "good faith" of Pollard’s Israeli handlers who are said to have largely tasked the theft of classified U.S. documents that were of immediate and exclusive use defending Israel – but unfairly withheld by America despite intelligence sharing agreements. If this framing were true, it would make the ISCAP release extremely timely as the Obama administration moves into the final stages of Pollard’s for request for executive clemency. However, an examination of the still-heavily-redacted CIA report against other recently declassified files about the activities of other assets handled by Israeli spymaster Rafael Eitan – reveal is not quite the "get out of jail free" card so many claim. Other documents now in the declassification pipeline may further erode the benign portrayal of Pollard’s activities – though not necessarily in time to prevent his early release.

Although CIA’s damage assessment claims Pollard’s handlers "concentrated on providing Israel with US intelligence on the military forces and equipment of Arab and Islamic states and on Soviet military forces, equipment and technology" many such bullet points and assertions are followed by other large censored sections that leave readers wondering what other tasking was documented by the CIA. It may be that the blanked-out sections refer to other American assets run by Rafael Eitan – an Israeli spymaster who has probably done more damage to United states than any other Middle Eastern spy – that were better situated to deliver the goods. Pollard is far from Israel’s only successful spy. Eitan himself visited the Nuclear Materials and Equipment Corporation (NUMEC) in 1968, a facility that "lost" more weapons-grade uranium than any other nuclear fuel processor in the US. Eitan would have likely relied on NUMEC president Zalman Shapiro and other helpful American colleagues for advanced hydrogen bomb designs and other assistance in the early 1970s. Eitan’s involvement in obtaining source code of the PROMIS intelligence case management program, a system compromised with secret back doors that was to be installed at the Justice Department and various foreign intelligence services, would have been a good source for "dirt" the CIA report claims Eitan wanted but that Pollard’s more sensible handlers vetoed.

The censored CIA damage assessment is highly valuable in reopening the question of exactly when and how Pollard may have been recruited into Israel’s U.S. espionage network. The CIA notes that Pollard attended a 1971 Weizmann Institute for Science camp in Israel and subsequently made sporadic claims to alarmed colleagues that he was a spy for Israel. Although any references that may exist to Israel’s nuclear weapons program are excised from the damage assessment, it is now established fact that the Weizmann Institute has long functioned as a front for Israel’s clandestine nuclear arsenal development, from fundraising to cyber-espionage against U.S. military installations.

Alarmingly, the CIA debriefing also claims Eitan tasked his American spies to insinuate themselves into agencies with a lax security such as the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence. Such perches did not systematically polygraph employees as a counterespionage measure, and Pollard planned on retiring to such a post that would better shield himself and Israel. Eitan repeatedly assured Pollard that nothing would happen if he were caught. Eitan’s confidence and placement policy may shed new light on other incidences such as former AIPAC director Morris Amitay’s confident decision to traffic in classified missile secrets to thwart an arms sale to Jordan after he left the US State Department. In Amitay’s case, Eitan’s dictum that "no drastic action would be taken by the United States" proved accurate, despite nearly driving Jordan into the arms of the Soviet Union according to the State Department. Eitan’s dictum also may also partially explain the State Department’s documented inability to enforce any end-use restrictions on Israel’s American-supplied weapons.

In sharp contrast to the news media’s overarching "no harm" portrayal of the CIA damage assessment, the report conclusion argues that Israel should be placed on the Attorney General’s list of "criteria countries" of high counterintelligence priority – while realistically considering whether Israel’s coveted (and lobby-enforced) "special relationship" would allow such an overdue and sensible measure. But overall, too much of the damage assessment is blanked out for any sweeping generalizations. A section tantalizingly titled "bought and sold" is blanked out. Yet another, the CIA’s entire "bottom line" on Pollard’s activities against the U.S. is also completely censored. It is therefore impossible to responsibly portray the damage assessment as an exoneration of Pollard.

The Defense Intelligence Agency, the main target of Pollard’s secrets collection, was alarmed enough to produce (and declassify this year) a short training video about how to detect and deter the next Pollard. The highly censored CIA report is not the final classified word with relevance over Pollard’s attempt to free himself – or the larger problem of ongoing Israeli espionage and cover action in America. In 1987 Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger concurrently submitted his own top-secret Pentagon memorandum in aid of sentencing Pollard that is still classified. It likely covers the more overarching questions of how to maintain advice and consent democratic governance responsive to the national interest when those highly motivated sleeper spies and operatives-in-waiting for Israel activated and caught are never seriously punished. In his pre-sentencing briefs, Pollard himself confidently asserted “…it was the established policy of the Department of Justice not to prosecute U.S. citizens for espionage activities on behalf of Israel.” 

Today Jonathan Pollard’s health appears to be failing. If President Obama is going to send Pollard to Israel as a meaningful act of mercy, it will have to be soon. But since summer ended, US Pardon Attorney Ronald Rogers reports that (PDF) the FBI has submitted a four-page analysis for consideration alongside already-received stacks of high-profile politician, government appointee and community leader demands that Pollard be freed. Although a formal FBI report usually takes place during the final phases of a pardon (as opposed to clemency) process, in cases where Israel is involved, US presidents rarely follow established procedures. However, it is unlikely a federal law enforcement agency that has compiled thousands of pages in hundreds of other cases detailing parallel but unpunished Israeli conventional and nuclear weapons component smuggling, obstruction of justice, economic and national defense espionage – and with an awareness of how much worse it could get – is now recommending leniency for Pollard. Unfortunately, the FBI rarely classifies its damage assessments but rather keeps them out of ISCAP’s clutches through more simple Privacy Act and law-enforcement Freedom of Information Act exemptions. It is unlikely FBI’s assessment, favorable or not, will ever see the light of day. The Executive Office of US Attorneys, on the other hand, is now under heavy pressure from Pollard supporters and detractors to finally release the still-classified final words of Casper Weinberger.

3 thoughts on “Partially Declassified CIA Assessment Does Not Exonerate Jonathan Pollard”

  1. Pollard's crime was to provide Israel with satellite photos of Arab countries, possibly the Soviet Union. Back in the 1980s this was a big deal, and Israel had no way of getting these. Nowadays every Tom Dick and Harry can get satellite photos of every corner of the Earth with better quality than what Pollard provided. It's espionage that's been rendered obsolete with advancing technology, and Pollard is still doing time for it.

    1. He is an American who was caught spying for a foreign country…He should have been executed. But, that's just this old Curmudgeon's opinion…

    2. That's a ridiculous point! Just because spy satellite technology has predictably improved over the years, how does this cancel out Pollard's work as a traitor to the USA? Pollard is obviously more loyal to Israel than he is to the USA – so he should have stayed in Israel, instead of worming his way into high security positions in this country with access to highly classified US data, and then explicitly swearing on his "honor" to obey strict security rules (as required of all persons given such access). If the US government wants to share data with Israel, then this is what happens (and no doubt this occurs quite often). But if the US government decides otherwise, it does not then become the option of traitors like Pollard to intervene, for any reason.

    3. You are right, it is a shame Pollard is still doing time for this. He should have been given an 8' drop at the end of a 3' rope.

    4. I heard that he compromised US operations in Russia, and Israel traded this info to the Russians in exchange for Jewish emigration. If this is so, Pollard's actions directly led to US spies in Russia being executed. The only way he should return to Israel is in a box.

  2. If Pollard is pardoned, it will re-confirm and underline in bold print that our government has been compromised by Israel and its Lobby. Israel–a criminal,pariah state whose morality is in the same league as Stalin, Hitler, ….

  3. Pollard’s a scumbag who did enormous damage to America on behalf of the Zionist entity. Let him rot in prison.

  4. Few Americans realize that Israel has a history of violating its' agreements with the Pentagon. They sold the American Patriot Missile Defense technology – a gift to Israel from American tax-payers – to Communist China for one billion dollars. Through their American agent, former CEO of Loral Corp. China acquired the Loral Missile Guidance System for one billion dollars. Loral's CEO paid a one hundred million dollar fine after his conviction for this illegal transaction. He left the courtroom a free man, after pocketing nine-hundred million dollars. From Pollard's massive treasure-trove of Pentagon military secrets, Israel sold to Communist USSR all of America's tactics and strategies in a projected military confrontation during the Cold War. The reported price: another one billion. The response from the alleged perpetrators: silence.

    1. Reading the JPost account and "looking at the truth" aren't exactly the same thing. Here is a list of problems with the JPost's selective retrieval:

      1. "While portions of the CIA document remain redacted, the disclosures officially confirm that Pollard spied for Israel, not against the United States." Too much of the document is redacted to make such a claim. The claim is also nonsensical, since Pollard's actions harmed US national security by forcing replacement of the RAISIN and reassignment of assets. Also, it is a given that Rafael Eitan launched other operations directly against the United States, that Pollard wasn't a one-stop-shop. But "giving to Israel" did involve "stealing from America." No way around that.

      2. "Moreover, the document puts the lie to American allegations that have been used for over a quarter of a century to justify Pollard’s continued incarceration. For example, Pollard’s full cooperation with the prosecution was one of the welcome admissions in this document, as was the confirmation that the volume of information Pollard transferred to Israel was far less than claimed."

      This is also nonsense, because as I mention, the CIA assessment is not the only damage assessment performed, nor is it necessarily the most informed. The DoD did its own damage assessment, because DoD was the true victim of espionage since it was DIA content that was most heavily targeted and stolen by Pollard/Israel.

      3. "The CIA document also reveals the subterfuge used by the US government to breach its plea agreement with Pollard."

      Again, whatever the CIA was told by Pollard (demonstrated to be a pathological liar), the DoD was the main victim, and Judge Aubry Robinson clearly deferred to SecDef Weinberger's still-classified memorandum in aid of sentencing. The JPost doesn't have the contents of that memo, nor does anyone else except the EOUSA. That makes the JPosts empassioned and sweeping charges unsupported by facts.

      The compelled release of the CIA assessment has triggered a great deal of emotionally charged and subjective analysis, speculation and demands for clemency beyond the JPost's flawed characterizations. Fortunately, Americans can read released sections of the assessment and make up their own minds.

  5. He was the spy of a foreign power. He spied on this country, handing over secrets that compromised our nations security while acting as the spy of a foreign power. Unfortunately, this man will be pardoned and set free because this country is, and will continue to be, the compliant, spineless puppet of the foreign power that used Mr. Pollard to spy on us.

  6. Israel is still the parasite wasp that will eventually kill its host.
    When will we wake up, and reveal the blackmail that keeps our country on a downhill spiral.
    Cora J

  7. Pollard betrayed his oath and blithely contended it was okay because it was for Israel. Can't punish him enough.

  8. It likely covers the more overarching questions of how to maintain advice and consent democratic governance responsive to the national interest when those highly motivated sleeper spies and operatives-in-waiting for Israel activated and caught are never seriously punished.

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  10. hat communities divert law enforcement resources from violent crimes to illegal drug offenses, the risk of punishment for engaging i

  11. most important job is taking your call when you get drunk in Riyadh. You don't get a great job at an influence mill with that on your résumé. You do if Ambassador to Saudi Arabia means what doing the "important work" needed under current policies.

  12. The CIA itself is guilty of exploiting social media to harness the information on millions of unsuspecting web surfers, so whatever good they seeming do seems to be eclipsed by the recent scandals. Google Edward Snowden to find out more.

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