How a spy was caught and why he still stands to profit

The Washington Times Weekly - - Culture, Etc. -

I’m about to ruin your morn­ing, so please shove your cof­fee cup out of rage-range and take a deep breath. Ready? When the loath­some slug JonathanJayPol­lard­wassen­tenced to life im­pris­on­ment in 1987 for steal­ing more than a mil­lion pages of highly-clas­si­fied doc­u­ments for the Is­raelis, U.S. At­tor­ney Joseph diGen­ova told re­porters out­side the court­house, “It is likely he’ll never see the light of day again.”

What Mr. diGen­ova per­haps did not know was that just prior to Pol­lard’s sen­tenc­ing (on a guilty plea) there was an ob­scure rule change stip­u­lat­ingth­at­per­son­ssen­tencedto life paroled af­ter 30 years if they main­tained a good record in prison. Thus Pol­lard could walk out of prison on Nov. 23, 2013.

Take an­other deep breath; the best—or­more­ac­cu­rately,the­worst — is yet to come.

The Is­raeli gov­ern­ment, af­ter years of fudg­ing, fi­nally ad­mit­ted in 1998thatPol­lard“actedasanof­fi­cial Is­raelia­gent.”The­p­ointisim­por­tant. Hear the math of naval intelligence in­ves­ti­ga­torRon­aldJ.Olivein­his­fas­ci­nat­ing “Cap­tur­ing Jonathan Pol­lard”: “It is al­leged that Is­rael dou­bles­the­salaryyear­ly­forIs­raelispies caught and im­pris­oned on for­eign soil. If Pol­lard’s spy salary of $2,500 a month plus the promised $30,000 an­nual bonus were dou­bled [the fig­ures came from Pol­lard] he would ear­nap­prox­i­mately$3.6mil­lionover thirty years.

“To my knowl­edge, no other spy in his­tory, in jail or re­leased from it, has been so hand­somely re­warded,” Mr. Olive writes, in a sen­tence drip­ping with dis­gust.

Al­though per­haps half a dozen

mustbe

book­son­thePol­lard­case­have­been pub­lished, Mr. Olive’s tow­ers over the pack. He writes with in­sider knowl­edge gained as the coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence agent of the Naval In­ves­tiga­tive Ser­vice (NIS), which led the Pol­lard in­ves­ti­ga­tion, and ob­tained the con­fes­sion that left him lit­tle choice but to plead guilty. To put it bluntly, the Pol­lard af­fair was not the U.S. Navy’s most shin­ing mo­ment. But Mr. Olive does de­tail how the NIS can do su­perb work once it cen­ters in on a sus­pect.

Al­though read­ers of this news­pa­per know the thrust of the story, Mr. Olive­pro­videsnew­ma­te­ri­alon­how Pol­lard fi­nally came to grief. There isa­herointhe­sor­did­saga,al­beitMr. Olive leaves him anony­mous by his own choice.

The af­ter­noon of Fri­day, Nov. 8, 1985, a co-worker at the Anti-Ter­ror­ist Alert Cen­ter in Suit­land, Md., no­ticed Pol­lard wrap­ping a thick batch of TS/SCI ma­te­ri­als (top se­cret/spe­cial com­part­mented in­for­ma­tion), which he said he had re­ceived by mis­take. He claimed to be pre­par­ing to re­turn them to a doc­u­ments cen­ter.

Afewmin­utes­later,theco-worker saw Pol­lard’s wife Anne drive up to the head­quar­ters en­trance. Pol­lard emerged car­ry­ing the en­ve­lope he had said he was re­turn­ing. Some­thing seemed amiss. On the drive home, the co-worker dis­cussed his sus­pi­cions with his own wife, who also had a se­cu­rity clear­ance. Per­haps there was a le­git­i­mate rea­son for­whatPol­lard­was­do­ing?Hiswife fi­nally told him “that if he felt so strongly there was some­thing wrong, he needed to re­port it.”

Thus was set into mo­tion the chain of events that led to a de­fi­ant Pol­lard even­tu­ally ad­mit­ting to Mr. Olive that he was giv­ing se­cu­rity in­for­ma­tion to an out­sider. (Pre­dictably, he lied, first claim­ing the ma­te­rial went to a Wash­ing­ton jour­nal­ist.) And in due course, the Pol­lards were ar­rested out­side the Is­raeli em­bassy, where they had fu­tilelysoughtre­fuge.Mr.Olivesays that “to this day, few know [the co­worker’s] iden­tity.”

A sec­ondary theme of Mr. Olive’s en­gag­ing book is an ac­count of the ut­ter fail­ure of sys­tems con­trol­ling the­cir­cu­la­tionof­clas­si­fied­ma­te­rial. Any­one even vaguely aware of se­cu­rity rules will be ap­palled to read howPol­lardsys­tem­at­i­cal­ly­ob­tained highly-clas­si­fied doc­u­ments from intelligence agen­cies all over the D.C. area, sim­ply by or­der­ing them from repos­i­to­ries main­tained by var­i­ous of­fices, in­clud­ing the CIA. Pol­lard had no “need to know” be­cause the bulk of th­ese doc­u­ments hehadac­quired­had­norel­e­vanceto his work.

No mat­ter. In­ter­nal courier ser­vices brought the pa­pers to Pol­lard in car­load lots. He stuffed them un­der his desk, and then took to his carathisleisurein­brief­cases.In­one episodere­lat­ed­byMr.Olive,inas­in­gle evening Pol­lard lugged enough doc­u­ments to fill five suit­cases stacked in the rear of his car. (My neigh­bor­hood branch of the D.C. pub­li­cli­brary­paysmore­at­ten­tionto whatleaves­the­build­ingthandidthe ATAC “guards.”)

Each week­end, Pol­lard lugged the pa­pers to an apart­ment Is­raeli agents rented at Con­necti­cut Av­enue­andVanNessStreetNW,afew blocks from the em­bassy. High­speed copy ma­chines wor­thy of a Kinko’schurnedthroughthep­a­pers —in­18­months,morethanamil­lion pages, enough to fill a 6-by-10-foot room that is 6 feet high.

From his prison cell, an un­re­pen­tan­tPol­lard­still­claim­sadou­ble­cross by U.S. prose­cu­tors who had promised­not­toseekalife­sen­tence. Mr. Olive dashes this protest: The gov­ern­ment­did­notrec­om­mendthe term. It was meted by U.S. Dis­trict Judge Aubrey E. Robin­son Jr., af­ter read­ing a still-se­cret memo from De­fense Sec­re­tary Casper Wein­berger de­tail­ing the grave dam­age Pol­lard caused to na­tional se­cu­rity.

Mr. Olive con­cludes by sum­ma­riz­ing“re­forms”in­tend­ed­to­pre­vent pil­lag­ing by an­other Pol­lard. What is needed, in my view, is a dol­lop of com­mon sense. Pol­lard first tried to join CIA. A poly­graph op­er­a­tor caught him in a bla­tant lie: in­stead of­smok­ing­mar­i­juana“on­justafew oc­ca­sions,”thetrue­count­wasabout 600 times.

CIA re­jected Pol­lard, who im­me­di­ately ap­plied for a navy intelligence slot. When the De­fense In­ves­tiga­tive Ser­vice asked CIA for in­for­ma­tion it might have on Pol­lard, the agency re­fused, cit­ing his “right to pri­vacy.” Su­pe­ri­ors who con­tem­plated re­vok­ing Pol­lard’s clear­ances be­cause of his slip-shod han­dling of doc­u­ments and gen­eral . . . well, work­place nut­ti­ness . . . were­de­terred­bythreat­soflaw­suits.

I did de­tect one pos­si­ble le­gal rea­son­for­keep­ingPol­lard­lockedup de­spite the changes in pa­role laws. As part of his plea agree­ment, he swore not to dis­close any clas­si­fied ma­te­rial he ob­tained while work­ing for the navy. Fur­ther, he swore not to“provide­in­for­ma­tion­for­pur­poses of­pub­li­ca­tionordis­sem­i­na­tion”un­less it was re­viewed by the di­rec­tor of naval intelligence.

Toth­eas­t­on­ish­mentof­pros­e­cu­tors and­in­ves­ti­ga­tors,three­weeks­be­fore his sen­tenc­ing, Wolf Bl­itzer, a correspondent for the Jerusalem Post, wrotea­lon­gar­ti­clestem­mingfroma jail-cellinter­viewwith­Pol­lard.Italso ranintheWash­ing­tonPos­tun­derthe head­line, “Pol­lard: Not A Bum­bler, but Is­rael’s Mas­ter Spy.”

Pol­lard told Mr. Bl­itzer what he pro­vided the Is­raelis: re­con­nais­sance­satel­litepho­tog­ra­phy­ofPales­tine Lib­er­a­tion Or­ga­ni­za­tion (PLO) head­quar­tersinTu­nisia,speci­fic­ca­pa­bil­i­ties of Libya’s air de­fenses and far more. “In gen­eral,” Mr. Bl­itzer wrote, “Pol­lard gave Is­rael the pick of U.S. intelligence about Arab and Is­lamic con­ven­tional and un­con­ven­tionalmil­i­tary­ac­tiv­ity,fromMoroc­co­toPak­istanan­de­v­erycoun­try in be­tween. This in­cluded both ‘friendly’ and ‘un­friendly’ Arab coun­tries.” (Mr. Bl­itzer now works for CNN.)

The U.S. At­tor­ney’s Of­fice con­sid­ered void­ing the plea agree­ment and putting Pol­lard on trial but de­cided not to bother, given that the life sen­tence was at hand. When Pol­lard comes up for pa­role, hope­fully some gov­ern­ment lawyer will dust off the al­ready-vi­o­lated plea agree­ment and cite it as a rea­son to keep him be­hind bars.

Joseph C. Goulden is writ­ing a book on Cold War intelligence.

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