The Jonathan Pollard Affair: Unanswered Questions Abound

Jonathan Pollard’s release from federal prison on November 20 has triggered
a flood of superficial stories in the establishment media. Few of them address
lingering mysteries or contextualize huge changes in U.S.-Israel relations.
Pollard was charged with (PDF) “Gathering or delivering defense information to aid foreign
government” in 1986. The spy used his courier status and security clearances
as a U.S.-Navy intelligence analyst to deliver a huge volume of U.S. intelligence
to Israel from the NSA, CIA and DIA. The Defense Intelligence Agency — Israel’s
biggest victim — even used the Pollard affair as the case study for a counterintelligence
training video
.

Yet in court, Pollard expected to be treated with extreme leniency and be merely
slapped on the wrist and deported to Israel. In his own words “…it was
the established policy of the Department of Justice not to prosecute US citizens
for espionage activities on behalf of Israel.” A huge public relations
campaign, some spurred on by former AIPAC Near East Report editor Wolf
Blitzer, framed the boundaries of acceptable public debate about Pollard while
calling into question aspects of the criminal investigation.

Pollard was therefore shocked to receive a life sentence in 1987 from Judge
Aubrey Robinson. This immediately followed a classified
memorandum in aid of sentencing
from Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger
that had a huge impact on the judicial decision. Yet three decades later, core
questions about conduct of government with huge relevance to Americans remain
unaddressed:

Who was Mr. X or “MEGA”? Jonathan Pollard was tasked to obtain secret
files by “date and document control number.” He was shown by his Israeli handlers
US secrets so highly classified that even he did not have access to them. The
FBI opened an investigation “to determine whether a senior US government official
has been passing highly sensitive information to the Israeli government” according
to the Washington Post. WAPO even speculated that Pollard was burned
to protect an even more valuable agent. Was Mega ever unmasked? Or, as is usually
the case, was there finally an internal political intervention to close down
the investigation? When Israel is the subject of investigation, internal and
external lobbying for closure usually manages to short-circuit
accountability.

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