• Pressure mounts on president to release Jonathan Pollard
By Richard Walker
To Israelis, Jonathan Pollard is a national hero for stealing United States intelligence secrets on behalf of the Zionist state, in an operation that caused untold damage to America’s global security networks. After 26 years in prison, there is mounting pressure on President Barack Obama from Israeli leaders and their backers on Capitol Hill to release the spy so he can end his days in Israel.
It is not the first time Israel has requested his release. Every president since Ronald Reagan has received private pleas from Israel to let him go. Recently, there has been so much behind-the-scenes pressure on Obama from the Israeli lobby on Capitol Hill there is reason to believe he will capitulate.
To this day, the facts about Pollard’s deception continue to speak to Israel’s ongoing determination to ensure the U.S. is never in a position to make strategic decisions about the Middle East and other regions where Israel may have an interest without Israeli intelligence knowing about them.
Pollard was born into a Jewish family in Galveston, Texas, in 1954. By 1984, he was employed as an analyst at the highly classified Antiterrorist Alert Center in Suitland, Md. In retrospect, the Navy’s decision to employ him was shocking since the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had already rejected him when it learned he had been a heavy drug user in the late 1970s.
In 1984, at a party run by rich New York Jews, he met Aviem Sella, an Israeli air force colonel. Sella was on a sabbatical, studying computer science at New York University. Over drinks, Pollard told Sella about his job and that he was a committed Zionist. He complained to Sella the U.S. was not sharing enough secrets with Israel. Sella contacted the Mossad and was told to cultivate Pollard as a spy. Pollard subsequently agreed to meet with Sella in places like the Rockefeller Plaza ice rink in Manhattan, where he gave him top-secret files.
Pollard’s information enabled Mossad to identify the whole CIA network across the Middle East and in countries like South Africa. Mossad passed the information on to South Africa, leading to 12 CIA agents having to flee the country. It was as if Pollard was somehow exacting revenge on the CIA for not recruiting him.
Privately, the CIA later claimed Pollard had not only stolen U.S. naval nuclear codes but the codes for America’s global electronic surveillance network. Mossad shared some of the information Pollard supplied with Russia to secure the release of Russian Jews. Pollard was even instructed to share intelligence with Australia. According to some sources his betrayal cost the lives of CIA sources in many parts of the world. He was eventually caught by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, but Sella escaped to Israel. The sheer scale of the secrets he stole has never been revealed.
In 1987, Pollard was sentenced to life, and his wife was sentenced to five years. She said her husband became a spy because his moral obligation was to Jews, not America.
Richard Walker is the pen name of a former N.Y. news producer.