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Former FBI Lawyer Opposes Pollard Release

Alleges spy’s full damage remains untold

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Jonathan Pollard.(Haaretz)

Over the past months, momentum had been building toward the United States perhaps releasing Jonathan Pollard, the man who in 1987 was convicted of and sentenced to life for spying on behalf of Israel. You had early chatter that Pollard could be released in exchange for some sort of peace process deal; then you had former deputy defense secretary Lawrence Korb claim that his former boss Caspar Weinberger’s anti-Israel bias contributed to Pollard’s life sentence; then you had 39 Democratic congressmen, including influential ones like Barney Frank and Anthony Weiner, asking President Obama to commute Pollard’s sentence; and finally you had reports that Prime Minister Netanyahu had asked for the freedom of Pollard (since honorarily made an Israeli citizen) as part of a deal in which his cabinet would approve a 90-day West Bank construction freeze. (The case for Pollard’s release, perhaps best articulated by Gil Troy in Tablet Magazine, rests not on his innocence, but on the arguable lack of damage his crimes did and on the disproportionate nature of his sentence compared to similar spies.)

But in the past week, two things have happened to make Pollard’s release less likely. First and most important, of course: The United States has given up on attempting to secure an extension of the freeze, in turn leaving Bibi with less of a quid to offer for the Pollard quo. But secondarily and more interestingly, M.E. “Spike” Bowman, a former Navy and FBI lawyer who told a Washington Post reporter that he was “the only person who actually touched all aspects of the case,” has come out and opposed Pollard’s release, on the grounds that the disclosures did immense damage.

In a forthcoming essay [PDF] published by the Association of Former Intelligence Officers (whose Board of Directors he chairs), Bowman argues, “No other spy in the history of the United States stole so many secrets, so highly classified, in such a short period of time.” These included a “TOP SECRET” list of the locations of all the communication signals the U.S. was intercepting and of all known Soviet communications links.

Bowman also notes that the full extent of Pollard’s leaks remains sealed due to a plea bargain, and says that officials informally accused Pollard of having given information to other countries, including Pakistan and South Africa. And he finally argues that if Pollard’s offenses are properly understood, then his sentence appears commensurate even in the context of similar cases.

There are certain oddities in Bowman’s essay that stand out, most notably references to the “Gaza peace process” and “Gaza antagonists.” These seem to betray an ignorance about current Mideast politics, since the “peace process,” such as it is, tends to leave Gaza out, and nobody has suggested that releasing Pollard could help the situation in Gaza, which would be unaffected by a freeze; moreover, while “Gaza antagonists” seems to refer to Israel and the Palestinians, the Palestinians who are participating in the peace process don’t run Gaza right now.

Toward its conclusion, Bowman’s brief devolves into an irrelevant ad hominem attack: He calls Pollard “a self-serving, gluttonous character seeking financial reward and personal gratification. … arrogantly venal, unscrupulous, and self-obsessed.” None of which I doubt, but all of which seems beside the point.

I don’t presume remotely Korb or Bowman’s knowledge of the Pollard affair or expertise in these matters. But, as one of the citizens Pollard was spying on and who is currently imprisoning him, I think that if Pollard’s crimes merit a life sentence, then he should stay in jail even if freeing him would help the cause of peace; and I think that if Pollard’s crimes merit his release now, he should be freed even if he is an asshole.

Ex-Intelligence Official Blasts Pollard Lobbying [SpyTalk]
The Drumbeats for Clemency for Jonathan Jay Pollard Reverberate Again [Intelligencer: Journal of U.S. Intelligence Studies]
Related: National Insecurity [Tablet Magazine]
Early: Bibi Reportedly Seeking Pollard’s Release
Congressmen Backing Pollard’s Freedom

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As Marc Tracy notes, Bowman’s comments on Pollard and the Middle East demonstrate both ignorance and anti-Pollard partisanship. Clearly not a reliable “witness” as compared to a former deputy defense secretary present at the time and scene, former CIA directors, former US Senate Select Intelligence Committee chairman Dennis DeConcini, multiple other government officials and congressional representatives. In itself this should not just disqualify self-advertising charlatans like Bowman, but raise questions regarding the motives behind his 25 years and counting incarceration.

That Pollard spied on behalf of Israel is not in doubt; he admitted so as part of his plea agreement. And as regards the charge that he “sold” US secrets to the Soviets, or South Africa, even Mr. Bowman is represented as admitting that, “the full extent of Pollard’s leaks REMAINS SEALED due to a plea bargain, and says that officials INFORMALLY accused Pollard of having given information to other countries.” In other words, the “personal reasons” advanced as justifying Pollard’s continuing incarceration are groundless.

As regards the “official reasons” justifying his continuing imprisonment, that he still has information somehow injurious to American interests, several ex-CIA directors have themselves discredited this assertion. And even common sense suggests that, in the age of WikiLeaks, what on earth can Pollard know that the US has not already allowed to slip through its intelligence safeguards?

In short, there is no legal, political, security or moral justification for Pollard having already spent 22 years more than typical maximum for spying on behalf of an ally.

Or are we in what Wolf Blitzer aptly titled his Pollard book, the Territory of Lies. If Pollard’s incarceration cannot be justified by the above criteria then we might come to conclusions based on other evidence. Pollard reappears in the press leaked by unnamed US officials timed to pressure Israel, eg Wye River negotiations.

BethesdaDog says:

The fact is, we don’t know enough about improper motives by the sentencing judge, Aubrey Robinson. A former AUSA in D.C., who was NOT sympathetic to Pollard, told me about an incident–entirely unrelated to the Pollard case–which convinced him that Robinson did not like Jews. And I know about Robinson’s decision in Simcha Goldman’s yarmulke case–I don’t find that necessarily persuasive or dispositive on the question of whether Robinson did in fact harbor some antipathy to Jews which did come out in the Pollard sentencing. The information provided to Alan Dershowitz by the late Arthur Goldberg concerning his discussion with Judge Robinson is enlightening. It further reveals that Robinson acted with bias in his inordinate and inappropriate sentence imposed on Pollard. It would not surprise me that the dirty tactics employed by the Justice Department (reneging on the plea agreement, for example) reveal just more manifestations of that department’s longstanding problem with Jews.

It’s interesting that all these “experts” about the Pollard case continue to come out of the woodwork so long after the prosecution, guys like Bowman and Olive, who claim to know exactly the extent of the damage Pollard did to American interests. The fact that so much of the record and information about the extent of Pollard’s activity remains hidden raises very serious questions, especially in light of the participation of anti-semites like Weinberger, Robinson and perhaps others, in this case.

I never actually considered the question of Robinson’s biases in the case. I recognized the Justice Department’s biases, but again, there was just so much circumstantial evidence involving Weinberger’s Defense Department to the timing and outcome. The fact that Pollard was a vocal and public, even boastful Zionist in college; that the CIA rejected him out of hand, etc. But Weinberger’s Navy Department hired him? With the Navy’s well known antipathy towards Jews, that alone should have raised questions. And of course there was Weinberger’s own reputation regarding the Jews, and Israel. Did it never strike interest that a known Zionist, whose presence in Naval Intelligence was questioned by a ranking admiral in intelligence, found himself regularly promoted into more and more sensitive positions, able to access Middle East intelligence? Does it not raise suspicions that Pollard was able to freely carry briefcases filled with documents which Weinberger described as eventually filling a space six feet by six feet by six feet, that he was able to smuggle them out every Friday, return them every Monday morning; and this from one of the most secure buildings in D.C.? Did the fact that the Pollard Affair surfaced at around the same time that the administration’s gun-smuggling activities known as Irangate were hitting the press, and that Pollard dominating the news just happened to conveniently distract from administration crimes?

In the end, before his death, Weinberger himself corroborated Korb saying the “severity” of Pollard’s crime was overblown. He might have added that Pollard had already served his assigned purpose.

I believe Pollard remains in prison not because “justice” so demands, since “justice” in this case is so obviously miscarried. He will remain hostage to those “unnamed” government sources who time news stories to their own purposes. Or until a president is courageous enough to stand up to those bureaucrats and commute his sentence.

pinchas gertz says:

“Spike” Bowman sounds like an angry old pitbull who won’t let go. His ad hominem remarks are ugly and full of hate, more self-incriminating than incriminating of Pollard. “Spike” certainly doesn’t prove his case, he just makes wild charges, then says the facts are secret and sealed. I wonder what other ex-intelligence lawyer in the D.C. beltway will come out and spread more anti-Pollard, (anti-semitic?) hyperbole?

Thanks for letting me know that you think Pollard is a self-serving, gluttonous person, not to mention an orifice in the human body.

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Former FBI Lawyer Opposes Pollard Release

Alleges spy’s full damage remains untold

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