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Ahead of Obama Trip, Pollard Plea Grows

Former U.S. official join large petition signatories

Adam Chandler
March 05, 2013
Jonathan Pollard.(Screengrab)
Jonathan Pollard.(Screengrab)

According to a former U.S. official, convicted American spy Jonathan Pollard is no longer a threat to United States security and should be released.

A statement made by Lawrence Korb, who once served as assistant secretary of defense, is the latest in a series of efforts to persuade the Obama administration to reconsider the long-held American policy that has kept Pollard in jail for almost 30 years.

Korb’s statement comes as a petition calling for Pollard’s pardon surpassed 100,000 signatures. Added to pleas by various Israeli officials, included President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the infamous Pollard case may be garnering the most support yet.

As Lee Smith wrote in Tablet just a few months ago, there may be a reason for that:

After more than 25 years of speculation, documents released last week to the National Security Archives at George Washington University provide us, for the first time, with many of the details of the espionage activities that have made Pollard one of the most controversial figures in the history of the U.S. intelligence community. What the documents, particularly the CIA’s 1987 damage assessment of Pollard, show is that both Pollard’s detractors and supporters possess vastly distorted views of him. But it is the narrative put forth by those who insisted that Pollard was the most treacherous U.S. spy since Benedict Arnold that has caused real damage to the fabric of this country—more damage, in fact, than Jonathan Pollard ever did.

Unless some intense political maneuvering attaches itself to the Pollard’s release, like certain Bibi guarantees on a number of issues, I can’t imagine this effort will bear fruit.

Adam Chandler was previously a staff writer at Tablet. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Slate, Esquire, New York, and elsewhere. He tweets @allmychandler.