Jonathan Pollard: Israel Should Butt Out

By Frank Anderson, former CIA Chief Officer for Near East and South Asia

In January, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent a letter to President Obama asking for the early release of Jonathan Jay Pollard, who was convicted of spying for Israel and sentenced to life in prison in 1987. The United States has steadfastly refused requests for Pollard’s release; it has every reason to continue that policy.

The Pollard clemency pleas are partly based on the close relationship between Israel and the United States. Under this theory, spying for Israel was not serious because it was on behalf of an ally and a friendly government, rather than an enemy of America.

But espionage on behalf of any foreign power is a serious crime for which there are severe punishments. It is a deed that should “shock the conscience” and evoke strong condemnation.

Although spying for another country might sometimes fall short of the legal definition of treason, it is always a betrayal of the spy’s duty to his country and countrymen.

The essential point is that any nation that steals American defense or intelligence secrets does serious damage to our nation. It might be our friend in many other important ways. In this, it is the enemy. Pollard’s crime would not be less heinous had he committed it on behalf of Canada or Ireland. His betrayal would not be more serious had he acted for Russia or North Korea.

The judge who sentenced Pollard did not choose the punishment because of the country Pollard spied for but because disclosure of the secrets Pollard peddled did such damage to our country.

In addition, Pollard violated a plea agreement that might otherwise have led to a lesser sentence. He launched a media campaign to portray himself as a valiant defender of Israel rather than a venal traitor of America. It was Pollard who broke the deal and brought maximum punishment upon himself.

The judicial system is the arena in which Pollard should seek to reduce his time in prison. Despite his violation of the oath he swore, as a US Navy intelligence analyst, to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States from all enemies, foreign and domestic,” it’s that Constitution, not diplomatic efforts by another nation, that provides Pollard a means to get his sentenced vacated or reduced.

The bottom line for Jonathan Pollard and those who bought his secrets is one I learned early in my youth: “If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.”

Complete article via Los Angeles Times

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