In 1985 when the Jonathan Pollard case broke wide open I was the assistant special agent in charge of counterintelligence for the Naval Investigative Service (NIS). I retired from what is now called NCIS in January of 1999. I led the whirlwind investigation for NIS and garnered Pollard's confession.
Lynching Jonathan again (op-ed)
My book, Capturing Jonathan Pollard - How One of the Most Notorious Spies in American History Was Brought to Justice, tells the true documented story of Pollard, the spy who never should have been.
Pollard could have been fired many times, long before he started spying for Israel. One goal of my book is to sound a wake-up call for the US intelligence community which failed. Another goal is to set the record straight and provide an antidote to the uncertainty that has fueled speculation, rumor, myths and lies surrounding the Pollard case.
My desire is to have this true story published in Israel to allow readers to separate myth from facts. One such myth is how Pollard saved Israel, by giving it information regarding the threat of the Iraqi nuclear reactor. In fact, the reactor was bombed several years before Pollard spied for Israel.
Then there is the myth that Pollard provided Israel with needed and wanted terrorist information to ensure its survival. The fact is, all of Pollard's handlers told him not to provide Israel with terrorist information. Many of the secrets Pollard stole had nothing to do with the Middle East. After Pollard's arrest and guilty plea, he confessed that before he spied for Israel, he passed without authorization classified national security information to the South African government, his civilian financial advisers and to a visiting member of the Australian Royal Navy. He tried to recruit a college roommate to help him spy for Israel, informing him he could make two to three thousand dollars a month. A strong indication that ideology to support Israel was not his only reason for spying; there also was money to be made in the spy game. He was never charged for any of these crimes.
WHILE SPYING for Israel, Pollard befriended and tried to convince a CBS reporter covering the Afghanistan war against the Soviets into selling the Pakistanis a top secret (TS), sensitive compartmented information (SCI) document Pollard stole. When the reporter refused, Pollard said, "Well, we can sell it to somebody."
Pollard also confessed to passing a TS/SCI document to the Pakistani government in the hopes it would take him on as a spy. The Pakistanis rejected his offer. Pollard then became involved with numerous other foreign governments' representatives in Washington in an attempt to be a middle-man weapons broker, selling for a profit their weapon systems to Afghanistan via South Africa. Pollard admitted he was "addicted to money" stating, "It consumed him."
Pollard was never charged for these crimes.
THE CIVILIAN who led the damage assessment team for the US said he could prove Pollard stole 360 cubic feet of highly classified secrets. When confronted with this finding, Pollard agreed the estimate was probably accurate. During his debriefings after he pleaded guilty, he blatantly said, "If I could see it, and touch it, you can assume I got it." He then said, "My only limitation was what I couldn't carry."
The judge sentenced Pollard to life in prison based on the magnitude of his crime and Pollard's guilty plea. The US espionage statues do not differentiate between adversaries and allies. Pollard was eligible for parole after eight and a half years. Never once did he apply. One should wonder why?
The myth that two to four years is the average sentence for other spies who spied for an ally is blatantly false. No one in the history of the United States who spied for an ally or adversary came close to causing the colossal damage Pollard did to our national security, given the quantity and quality of information he took in just an 18-month period. Public records of spy cases to prove my point are detailed in my book
Pollard worked in the Anti Terrorist Alert Center (ATAC) which was designated as a sensitive compartmented information facility (SCIF). Cameras to monitor employees are never allowed in any SCIF spaces. However when we suspected Pollard of a major security violation, we obtained from the navy, based on probable cause, a command authorized search warrant to place two pinhole cameras overlooking the small passageway leading to Pollard's desk and one overlooking his desk area. No sound, just video.
He confessed and it was verified by polygraphs that on average, he stole classified information from the ATAC where he worked two to three times a day, three or four days a week. In his interviews with me before and following his arrest, he detailed how he stole classified information and how he used the trunk of his car to store the material in suitcases until delivery to his Israeli handler.
There's never been a vendetta by the US government intelligence agencies against the pro-Israeli people. Myself and the agents who investigated this case and US attorneys who prosecuted the case hold no grudge against Pollard or Israel. We were just doing our jobs.
Finally to the people of Israel, I tell you in all sincerity, neither one misguided individual who decided to violate the law, nor the State of Israel, which made a terrible mistake and miscalculation, will ever destroy the strong bond that has and always will exist between the State of Israel and America.
In 1981 I visited Israel and loved it, and ever since then I've been a great supporter of Israel.
The writer, now a security consultant, is author of Capturing Jonathan Pollard - How One of the Most Notorious Spies in American History Was Brought to Justice.