Spy Jonathan Pollard deserves no new deal

January 15, 1999

The following editorial appeared in the Miami Herald on Wednesday:

Despite a concerted public-relations campaign and an asserted passion for Israel, there is nothing in the record of convicted American spy Jonathan Pollard that warrants presidential clemency. To the contrary, the record and a startling report in the current New Yorker magazine by Seymour Hersh suggest that prison is exactly where Pollard -- who has served nearly 12 years of a life sentence -- should stay.

How a debt-ridden, cocaine-sniffing Naval analyst, who was paid $50,000 by his Israeli handlers and promised more, metamorphosed into an Israeli national hero is made clear by Mr. Hersh: Israel got its money's worth.

Pollard turned over thousands of documents, including "the bible" of the National Security Agency, a 10-volume, top-secret log revealing the radio signals the agency monitors. He sold analytical reports and critical technical data showing how U.S. intelligence worked. Worse, some of that information wound up in the Soviet Union, bartered for Jewish emigration to Israel, according to Hersh.

Only last year did Israel, a U.S. ally, officially acknowledge Pollard as an operative. It did not cooperate in the 1985-1986 investigations and has returned only a token number of documents. Yet on the brink of signing the Wye River Accord with the Palestinians, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suddenly demanded that President Clinton release Pollard.

The subsequent review of the "Pollard case" reveals that he did far more damage to U.S. intelligence than was publicly admitted in 1986 when he was plea bargaining. Pollard got a good deal then -- his life. Nothing since has justified a better deal.

Pub Date: 1/15/99

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