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Monday, December 23, 2013

US Spies on Israel: Loses Moral Authority To Keep Jonathan Pollard In Prison (Update)

The latest Edward Snowden revelation is that the NSA and GCHQ the British equivalent, were spying on the communications of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his cabinet:
 One GCHQ document, drafted in January 2009, makes clear the agencies were targeting an email address listed as belonging to another key American ally – the "Israeli prime minister". Ehud Olmert was in office at the time. Three other Israeli targets appeared on GCHQ documents, including another email address understood to have been used to send messages between the then Israeli defense minister, Ehud Barak, and his chief of staff, Yoni Koren.
Reaction from senior members of the Israeli Cabinet has been muted, perhaps because they operate on the assumption that they are being monitored. Officials use special secure lines for certain types of communications, and for the most sensitive matters, issues are discussed only face to face in secure rooms.

Israel TV reported that to avoid being spied upon Netanyahu has no computer in his office, does not use email, and does not maintain a private phone, Channel 2 reported.  Chanel 10 reports when discussing especially sensitive issues even at his home, Netanyahu and guests sometimes resort to “gestures” rather than speech, because of concerns that they are being listened to, and he conducts his most sensitive discussions in the offices of the Mossad intelligence service, because only there is he confident that he is safe from listening devices.
Even so, Israeli officials reacted with uncharacteristic anger toward the U.S., Israel's closest and most important ally.

Lawmaker Nachman Shai, a member of the parliamentary foreign affairs and defense committee, which deals with intelligence matters, called for an urgent intelligence briefing on the reported spying.

Shai called for a "full report about what we know, what we have done, and just to find out."

The truth is friends spy on friends, it is only a big deal when it gets exposed publicly, but now that it has been exposed publicly, its time for Israel and friends of Israel to demand the release of Jonathan Pollard.

Pollards imprisonment was justified, like Edward Snowden he deserved to go to prison because he illegally passed along classified information, but after 29 years in prison he has more than served his time.

Jonathan Pollard was a civilian American Naval intelligence analyst. Around1983-1984 Pollard discovered that information vital to Israel's security was being deliberately withheld by certain elements within the U.S. national security establishment.  Israel was legally entitled to this security information according to a 1983 Memorandum of Understanding between the two countries. 

The information being withheld from Israel included Syrian, Iraqi, Libyan and Iranian nuclear, chemical, and biological warfare capabilities being developed for use against Israel. It also included information on ballistic missile development by these countries and information on planned terrorist attacks against Israeli civilian targets. 

According to Pollard, when he discovered this suppression of information and first asked his superiors about it, he was told to "mind his own business", and that "Jews get nervous talking about poison gas; they don't need to know."  He also learned that the objective of not giving Israel the information was to severely curtail her ability to act independently in defense of her own interests.

Pollard took it upon himself to pass the information along to Israel, a crime, and got caught. On June 4, 1986, Pollard pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to deliver national defense information to a foreign government. He was not, as some people claim sent to jail on treason charges.

Prior to sentencing, speaking on his own behalf, Pollard stated that while his motives
 "may have been well meaning, they cannot, under any stretch of the imagination, excuse or justify the violation of the law, particularly one that involves the trust of government ... I broke trust, ruined and brought disgrace to my family.
Prior to sentencing, then-Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger delivered a 46-page classified memorandum to the sentencing judge. Since then, neither Pollard nor any of his cleared attorneys have ever been allowed to access the memorandum to challenge the false charges it contains-a clear violation of Pollard's constitutional rights.

The day before sentencing, Weinberger delivered a four-page supplemental memorandum to the sentencing judge. In it, he falsely accused Pollard of treason, which by definition is passing along information to an enemy in time of war. Also in the supplemental memorandum, Weinberger advocated a life sentence in clear violation of Pollard's plea agreement.

Weinberger’s motivation may very well been his personal bias, he was afraid that people would think he was Jewish. Weinberger had a Jewish grandfather, but given his surname was always quick to stress to people that he was not Jewish, according to "Jewish Power," a book on the relationship between American Jews and the U.S. government by J.J. Goldberg.

"Even close aides agree that Weinberger's apparent discomfort may have played a role in his occasional tilt against Israel in debates within the Reagan administration," Goldberg wrote.

During the Wye River negotiations during Netanyahu’s earlier stint as Prime Minister, President Clinton first agreed to release Pollard then changed his mind because CIA Director Tenet threatened to resign.

Pollard is eligible for parole from his life sentence in 2015, but its time to let him go now. No one else in the history of the United States has ever received a life sentence for passing classified information to an ally only Jonathan Pollard. To put it in perspective, Bradley Manning has been sentenced to 35 years in prison for passing hundreds of thousands of classified military documents to WikiLeaks. It is believed that some of Manning's revelations led to deaths of American sources across the world. The has never been evidence that the secrets Pollard handed to Israel were ever made public or used against the United States in any manner.

Now that it's been revealed that the United States spied on Israel's Prime Minister and Defense Minister, the United States has no moral excuse to do anything else, it’s time to release Jonathan Pollard who is serving a life sentence for giving Israel information that the U.S. already committed to give her.

Ed Morrissey is not as positive about releasing Pollard as I am and makes some good points, read his take here, before you make up your mind.

2 comments:

Jeff Dunetz said...

...God Bless Duck Commander Phil Robertson , for the truth shall set you free ."

Jeff Dunetz said...

Phil is great!