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Jonathan Pollard After 22 Years and Counting Print E-mail
By Jay Bushinsky 
November 14, 2007

JERUSALEM -- Jonathan Pollard, the 53-year old U.S. Navy intelligence analyst who was convicted of spying for Israel has spent the past 8,000 days and then some in prison, the current one being the federal penitentiary in Buttner, NC.  I remember well the day his story broke into the American news media.  It was barely three weeks after the inauguration of my weekly column in the Chicago Sun-Times.  The managing editor, Kenneth Towers, an affable and warm-hearted journalist himself, told me I would have to face up to what happened: an American Jew evidently had betrayed his country.

It was terrible news.  My reaction was anger and disgust -- anger that a man upon whom the United States depended for its national security could deceive his superiors.  As an ex-GI who served with the Seventh Army in Germany, this was incredible.  Disgust because the Israelis apparently had taken advantage of a man who brimmed with good will and concern for the safety of the Jewish state.  I assumed without any basis for my assumption, that this was not the way the espionage game was supposed to be played.  The years went by, and as they did, my attitude changed with them.  Seven years, 10 years, 15 years, now 22 years behind bars, many of them in solitary confinement and many in the company of perverts, sexual deviants and other unpleasant types, presumably including some rabid anti-Semites, seemed more and more like a punishment that did not fit the crime.

My understanding was that Pollard had given the Israelis sensitive information about Iraq that he regarded as vital to Israel's survival.  I could not and still cannot understand why the U.S. would withhold such data, especially when it related to a Middle Eastern dictator, the late Saddam Hussein, who proclaimed his intention to burn all of Israel "like a strawberry leaf" and proved his animosity by launching more than 39 Soviet-type Scud missiles at this country (one of them landed so close to my house that the windows blew out, doors flew off their hinges and cracks appeared in the walls).  There also was a sense of mystification about former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger's apparent vendetta against Pollard that resulted in secret terms for his confession, trial and conviction to be followed by clemency within a reasonable period of time.

The most astonishing incident occurred when I unexpectedly was privy to an unusually frank chat conducted by an Israeli government official on the eve of then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's trip to the U.S., in 1998, for a summit meeting with President Clinton and the late Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat at Wye Plantation, MD.  He talked about possible, but controversial concessions that were about to be made in the interest of regional peace.  "We're going to come back with Pollard," he said confidently, suggesting that that would make it easier for the Israeli public to swallow the bitter diplomatic pills.
 
Then, upon noticing that I was within earshot and knowing that I was a foreign correspondent, he added: "Jay, you didn't hear anything; right?"  It did not work out, though.  Early on at Wye, the President told the prime minister he could not produce Pollard.  "They won't let me," he said.  He meant that ex-CIA Director George Tenet had vetoed the deal.  

Afterward, it emerged that the Israeli side also was seemy.  Neither Pollard's Israeli handlers nor the top government officials to whom they were accountable came to his aid, not when he tried to escape to the Israeli embassy and not while he was in prison.  He listed all of these incumbents in an interview granted a correspondent of the Tel Aviv  daily Yediot Aharonot to mark the 22nd year (!) of his incarceration:  President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Pensioners Minister Rafi Eitan, the latter having headed the rogue intelligence outfit that used him.

John Loftus and Mark Aarons (the former an ex-U.S. Justice Department aide), contend in their book, "The Secret War Against the Jews," that the Israeli movers and shakers would rather let Pollard rot in prison than come here and write a book that would expose their apparent indifference to his ordeal.  After all, anything is possible in the creepy world of intelligence and espionage.  As a postscript, I ought to mention the reply I received from my esteemed managing editor when I expressed astonishment at the idea that Israel would spy on its best foreign friend, the U.S.A.  "Don't you know that everybody spies on everybody else," he said.  "Friendship has nothing to do with it.  The British spy on us, we spy on them, likewise the French and on down the line."  I swallowed hard and said to myself, 'it's about time you grew up!'

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