Releasing Pollard was a bad idea in 1998 & 2001. It is not a better idea today.” 
Donald Rumsfeld

In 2007 the CIA in cooperation with the combined American intelligence establishment issued its dubious National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran just in time to provide President Bush an excuse to not follow through on his seven-year threat of the “military option” against Iran. The NIE concluded with “moderate confidence” that Iran quit its nuclear weapons program in 2003, a conclusion former Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Rep. Peter Hoekstra called "a piece of trash,” while former CIA Director James Woolsey described it “deceptive!” But then, the CIA, et al are, after all, beholding to their White House masters. But what to make of an assumed credible “independent” intelligence analyst employed by a highly regarded intelligence think tank who clearly crosses the line of objective credibility?

At the time of the Pollard Affair Don Rumsfeld most prominently served as President Reagan’s Special Envoy to the Middle East which likely explains the emotion appearing in his recent reminder of his opposition to allowing Pollard’s release by parole: “Releasing Pollard was a bad idea in 1998 & 2001. It is not a better idea today.” In his 2001 Letter to George W. Bush he advised the president to tell American delegations asking Pollard be freed: “come on very forcefully and say not no, but definitely not no + no today, tomorrow and the next day…” Similarly Stratfor’s Fred Burton, who describes himself “a young agent” at the time of Pollard’s arrest, seems to have accepted uncritically the description of Pollard as appeared in the press and bureaucratic grapevine demonizing him at the time. Burton wrote an “analysis, ”Broken Trust: The Pollard Affair" and two weeks later he sat for an interview expanding on his views, "Conversation: Reflections on the Pollard Case". In both instances “facts” are few and comments steeped in emotionality, although Rumsfeld far more so. Clearly bureaucratic opposition can no longer be based on the time-worn warning hold that thirty years later Pollard continues a national security risk. Perhaps Rumsfeld and other ranking government bureaucrats identified with the Affair fear something more dangerous to themselves than to the country. 

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Understandably reference to Iran-Contra would not appear in comments and writings by critics actively or unwittingly involved serving the government at the time the Pollard Affair was unfolding. Those actively involved would avoid such issues to avoid opening another channel of investigation. Those not actively involved would not necessarily seen the possible relationship. For example, the Irangate connection immediately involves its prime mover and head of the defense department, Caspar Weinberger. Coincidentally he was also the prime mover, and public relations spokesman for the Pollard Affair. Weinberger would later be tried and convicted as the highest ranking administration official involved in Iran-Contra, pardoned by then successor to President Reagan, George Bush (according to Loftus and Aaron it was George Bush as vice president who inspired and promoted Irangate).

Perhaps taking their cue from Weinberger or DiGenova (the lead federal prosecutor) who seemingly appeared daily attacking Pollard as the investigation continued critics since have maintained the drumbeat of emotionalism until today as Rumsfeld’s vitriol quoted above demonstrates.

I have drawn what I consider representative quotes from the Burton interview. Links to both his “analysis” and the interview, as well as to Rumsfeld’s remarks are also provided.

Burton: “we expected the Russian KGB to spy on us, but we never thought that the Israelis would actually spy on us.”

DT: In fact it was the US that was the first betrayer. Yosi Amit, a former major in the IDF specializing in intelligence was recruited by a Tel Aviv-based Jewish CIA operative stationed in Tel Aviv recruited Yosef Amit in 1982, two years before Pollard was offered a job my Naval Intelligence. Pollard was arrested on November 21, 1985; Amit four months later.

Burton: “there were many of us that would have willing[ly] tried to help if the Israelis had come to us with some very specific requirements or questions as to what they wanted or needed.”

DT: Let’s fact-check the background to why Israel might have taken the risk to begin with. Recall President Reagan’s Memorandum of Understanding with Israel providing for a free exchange of intelligence between the two countries. Had agencies of the US Government been adhering to the president’s assurances there would have been no need for the “willingness” of some within the intelligence community to have to respond to “some very specific requirements or questions.” It was this failure by the defense department that led to a need to fill the gap.

No I have suggested a connection between Irangate and the Pollard Affair so it is important to remind that Pollard was hired as an intelligence analyst for Naval Intelligence soon after he was turned down by the CIA. Two months after he was hired Pollard’s boss requested he be terminated. Instead Pollard was transferred to a more important position. It is a matter of record that in Weinberger’s defense department Pollard enjoyed serial promotions resulting in higher and higher security clearances. Until finally the suspect and know Zionist was assigned to the intelligence team responsible for exchanging information with Israel! It was then that Pollard could observe directly what intelligence was being provide, what withheld.

That the head of the Department of Defense was both antisemitic and anti-Israel is a matter of record. Lt. Colonel Ollie North, a key figure in Irangate, wrote:
[Weinberger] seemed to go out of his way to oppose Israel on any issue and to blame the Israelis for every problem in the Middle East. In our planning for counterterrorist operations, he apparently feared that if we went after Palestinian terrorists, we would offend and alienate Arab governments – particularly if we acted in cooperation with the Israelis.

“Weinberger’s anti-Israel tilt was an underlying current in almost every Mideast issue. Some people explained it by pointing to his years with the Bechtel Corporation…Others believed it was more complicated, and had to do with his sensitivity about his own Jewish ancestry.”
Not a stretch to imagine that defense department bureaucrats not already so inclined would have known of their chief’s position on Israel and would have wanted to please and curry favor with him?

Burton: “as a young agent… [an American Jew caught spying for Israel] was one of the vivid reminders that we are living in a very dirty world… this is what nations do. They spy on each other.”

DT: Yes, and does not context demand at least a nod in your “analysis”? Jonathan Pollard was arrested in The Year of the Spy, 1985-86. Among the other seven arrested that year was the Walker family who had been providing Russia, America’s enemy at the time, US Navy code machines and the codes, along with classified documents which, had there been a war between the superpowers, would have constituted a strategic threat to the United States. And then the legendary “Mr. X” long described as Pollard’s American guide to those Naval Intelligence files he provided Israel. Except that “Mr. X” was apparently the CIA’s own point man for Soviet counter-intelligence, Aldrich Ames. Apparently Ames was quietly feeding Pollard’s prosecutors information designed to transfer suspicion from his own treachery involving a series of otherwise inexplicably failed CIA failed operations, and the disappearances and deaths of agents behind the Iron Curtain. Those blown operations and dead operatives served as one “justification” for the Department of Justice to abandon its “assurances of leniency” in exchange for Pollard agreeing not to ask for a jury trial.

Was Jonathon Pollard guilty of espionage? Even this question is plagued by moral ambiguity. And what of those government agencies that intentionally withheld the information violating their president’s wishes which motivated the espionage to begin with?

In the end Pollard acted against a high ranking officer who was defied his president. Within this context, How judge the case against Jonathan Jay Pollard?


David Turner was approached by Jonathan Pollard in 1989 to represent himself and his wife Anne, to present their side of the clear injustice of their sentences to the American and Israeli Jewish communities. Towards that end I helped found Justice for the Pollards and served as its first director. 
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