Pollard and Treason By Richard Sale

Richard Sale headshot (2)

In the summer of 1988, I wrote the following exclusive for UPI.

“WASHINGTON – Israel’s intelligence agency, Mossad, has been penetrated by “highly placed” Soviet moles and a full-scale internal counterintelligence investigation is under way, U.S. intelligence sources said.

“The sources described the Soviet infiltration as the most serious blow to Israeli intelligence since the 1970s, and said U.S. intelligence also was breached as a result.

“A Justice Department source said that U.S. counterintelligence agents became aware of the Israel-Soviet espionage pipeline when data stolen by Jonathan Jay Pollard, a U.S. Navy analyst convicted of spying for Israel “was traced to the Eastern bloc.”

“Intelligence sources said that the data came to the Soviet Union via the old rat lines, and included advanced weapons technology strategic plans for Turkey and moderate Arab countries. Israel also gave to the Russians sensitive communications gear stolen by Pollard ‘that proved to be extremely compromising,’ one said.

“Another major blow to U.S. security was Pollard’s gift to the Soviets was that of the firing locations, sequences and coordinates of the U.S. war plan against the Russians. Another was giving the Soviets information about the techniques used by the U.S. Navy to track Soviet subs around the world.


“The Soviet spies inside Israel have funneled some of the stolen Pollard data to Moscow.

“Another effect of the Pollard data was the slowing down of recruiting new anti-Soviet agents, U.S. intelligence officials said.

“U.S. intelligence analysts said the data was given the Soviets on promises to increase emigration of Jews from the Soviet Union.

(There occur here denials by the Israeli government that any such thing ever took place.)

“Said a U.S. intelligence official, “We expect that we’ll see additional suspects and by that, I mean U.S. nationals.”

“The Israeli government initially claimed that it was not involved, but a federal grand jury last year indicted an Israeli officer, Colonel Aviem Sella, on conspiracy charges stemming from his alleged recruitment of Pollard in 1984.

“Pollard was recruited by senior Israeli defense officials close to then Defense Minister, Ariel Sharon.

“These officials, according to the source, traded stolen U.S. documents to Soviet military intelligence agents in return for assurances of great emigration of Soviet Jews. “It began as a straight data-for-people,” said a CIA official. But the result was that “the Soviets penetrated the Israeli defense establishment at a high level.”

“An administration official explained in an interview that U.S. officials are certain the Israeli espionage is continuing.

“’Mossad is the most active foreign intelligence service on U.S. soil, more active and more successful than the KGB,’ the source said.

“The Justice Department source said that there were 42 cases of Israeli espionage against the United States in a 15-year period ending in 1969.

 Not Much Fuss

The day after I completed this story, and after it went out, I went to lunch, and when I returned, I had a phone message from Sy Hersh.  I had never met him. He was working hard on a book called The Sampson Option that would appear in 1991, but I immediately returned his call.  I had been an admirer of his since his My Lai exclusive. He had tremendous energy.

He was as gracious as Sy gets, and he said something like, “Thanks for screwing up my book.” I didn’t realize he had a book, and he talked to me about it.  I apparently had good sources, and he told the Pollard stuff was going to a big exclusive in his forthcoming work.  So we got together for lunch, and our friendship began.  We both were working from entirely different groups of sources, but the conclusions of them were the same: Pollard was a very damaging traitor to his country.

(Sy wrote and published his book in expectation of its startling readers, but as he said, “It fell dead” when it was published. “No one gave a shit. No one gave a shit,” he said.


In 2003 I did a story about Rafael Eitan, an update for UPI. (The Washington Times no longer carries the story on its site.) Eitan, a former senior Mossad and Shin Bet officer who commanded the team that nabbed Adolf Eichmann in Argentina in 1960, told Yedioth Ahronoth in 2006 that “in intelligence [work], as in war, you go to battle, and when you go to battle you also make mistakes.”

But the Washington Times story had resurfaced elsewhere. “According to Richard Sale (Pollard Recruiter Resurfaces in U.S., UPI, July 31, 2003) and federal law enforcement officials, ‘Eitan has, for the last year or so, been traveling to the United States on an Israeli passport, but using an alias.’

“Eitan apparently landed at Columbus, Ohio, and then moved around the Midwest on a prolonged road trip. Eitan "the stinker" has been photographed in the company of "known dealers who belong to a ring dealing in the drug ecstasy," one federal law enforcement official told Sale.

“Last year two major Israeli Ecstasy traffickers were extradited to the United Sates, much to the displeasure of the Israeli government. The DEA claims "Israeli organized crime figures" control around 70 percent of the worldwide market in Ecstasy. "The FBI is looking for evidence that Eitan is, or has been engaging, in questionable activities related to this ring," a federal law enforcement official told Sale.

“For his part in the Pollard spy scandal, Rafi Eitan was promoted to a senior position with the largest state-owned business enterprise in Israel — the Israel Chemicals Company. He received the job based on the recommendation of Ariel Sharon. "It’s generally agreed that Eitan was to take the brunt of blame for the [Pollard] mess," a former official close to confidential details of the case told Sale. "In return for his silence, Sharon would make sure he got a good job." In 1987, Eitan boasted to an Israeli newspaper that all of his actions had been undertaken with the knowledge of his Israeli superiors.

“But Eitan was not the only Israeli to be rewarded for snooping on America. Aviem Sella, an Israeli Air Force expert in nuclear targeting and delivery of airborne nuclear weapons, was Pollard’s handler. When Pollard was arrested for passing satellite photographs and weapon systems data to the Israelis, Sella hurried back to Israel, and was soon promoted to Brig. Gen. in Israel’s Air Force. "This raised such an outcry of protest in the United States that Sella was quietly moved to the Israeli Defense Force Defense College," writes Sale.

Then I found another story.

In a follow up UPI story on Aug. 7, Sale wrote, "U.S. officials said Eitan, at first described by former Israeli officials as being 'sidelined' and 'in mothballs' as far as Israel is concerned, has, in fact, been brought back into government life by Sharon who is employing him as a counter-terrorism adviser… 'We all thought he was in disgrace,' a federal law enforcement official said. 'We were wrong.’ 

“Sale quoted from a June 1997 interview with Eitan by the Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot, in which the former chief of Mossad operations in Europe said, ‘I failed in the Pollard affair, just as I failed in other intelligence operations behind enemy lines. That is the lot of the intelligence officer who runs complex operations.'’ Note Eitan's reference to the United States as "behind enemy lines.''

Reagan’s Secretary of Defense, Caspar Weinberger, a reflective, clear headed and a very tenacious man, and I became good friends, talking once a week,  and he talked about Pollard over a dozen times in detail. He was living in Maine with his wife Alice. We got to be friends, because in the early 1980s, the House of  Representatives was holding hearings on the deployment of the Pershing II missiles in West Germany, designed to counter  the spreading Soviet SS-20 mobile missiles.

The Pershing IIs were a missile that terrified the Soviets. If fired from West Germany, they would reach their apogee in six minutes and plunge down on vulnerable Soviet installations, mainly missile command centers.  The U.S. was going to take out all the Soviet subordinate missile command and control center, and leave the main one isolated without the ability to fire salvoes missiles. The Pershing IIs meant business. West Germany intelligence guys told me that the warheads could demolish targets hardened to 32.000 pounds per square inch, something along those lines. 

So Cap was assigned to defend their deployment, and Weinberger would come in morning, and he would sit down, and one day I found myself sitting next to him. Caspar was a modest man, and would settle and sit calmly, until the TV crews came in.  I was a reporter for Aerospace Daily, the sister publication of Aviation Week.  As the TV guys came in, Caspar would grow anxious – he began to straighten up, check and straighten his tie, smooth his coat, becoming more and more uncomfortable, until one day I learned over to him.  “You look perfectly fine. Screw the TV guys anyway.” Caspar didn’t reply, he didn’t look over at me, but not long after, the same thing took place. At another hearing we found ourselves sitting together. He was calm, never varied from his talking points, and presided successfully, except then the TV guys came in, and I again said “You look fine,” and I saw him relax.

So we became friends. I used to talk with him about Reagan and Star Wars.  My last sight of him was in Washington. I was there to cover something for UPI, and going down the main hallway of the Mayflower Hotel, when I saw him ahead of me and yelled, and he spotted me, walking along, a sheaf of papers locked under his arm, and he yelled back, “Richard – how did I get to be so old?”

 The incident that enraged him the most was Pollard picking up a trinket for his wife, Ann, in some jewelry stores in Amsterdam. Pollard was a rotten, miserably weak and mercenary character.

So there you have my latest thoughts on Pollard. My own view isn’t personal, it is biological – Pollard is pond scum, the kind of thing you would scrape off the sole of your foot with a stick if you stepped in it. My views are angry or vindictive, in spite of my tone.  Every country has its heroes and if Israel has one in Pollard, so be it. Israel owes him a decent burial.

I miss Cap very much.


"rat lines?"  Nah.  The material was traded government to government (Mossad to KGB)  pl


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18 Responses to Pollard and Treason By Richard Sale

  1. Charles 1 says:

    So here’s a question. Never mind the peace process, or rather the piece by piece salami process.
    What would really be worth it to the U.S. national interest and felicity in return for releasing said scum. Wasn’t it Powers for Abel?
    What is the cost of the damage? What is Pollard really worth? Pat’s proposal? Total disclosure of co-conspirators in the U.S.?
    Any other deal, you’re being used.
    And guys like Eitan, who retire or go private? They’re never out.

  2. wisedupearly says:

    behind enemy lines?
    how many in sensitive positions hold dual nationality?
    time to decide guys, you are either one thing or the other.
    If you have trouble making the decision I suppose we will have to make it for you.
    Key national secrets traded to the KGB for emigres who will no doubt be housed in comfort in US-funded dwellings.

  3. MS2 says:

    When you say “The US was going to take out…” the USSR missile command centers with Pershing 2s, do you mean those of the SS-20, or the whole Strategic Rocket Forces? Were SS-20s (among other things) not capable of launching autonomously, given only a broadcast code?
    This seems like one a specific instance of a bunch of bold things we did to support “flexible response” credibility by telegraphing that we considered ourselves capable of going nuclear during a wartime alert, and getting an outcome better than seeing the continent red.
    MAD was never compatible with doctrine, from New Look to flexible response. The French defection realigned a MAD reality with credible deterrence and helped our situation immensely. For similar reasons it boggles my mind that we put ourselves so completely at risk by threatening massive response ourselves, rather than setting up something like a German Polaris/Trident force. Someone out there must have the reasons, they are not available to laypeople like me; all I can think of is distrust, and if that is the case, again, why put ourselves at such risk for them.

  4. MRW says:

    Walter Cronkite never did for this country what Richard Sale did.

  5. oofda says:

    The idea of a German Polaris/Trident force would never have seen seriously contemplated. Just the memories of what the Kriegsmarine’s Unterseeboot fleet did in WWII would stop that- the Brits would never have stood for it. Also giving the Germans nuke weapons would have been contra to nuclear counter-proliferation – that would have been an almost impossible sell.

  6. All,
    Off topic:
    An article by Seymour Hersh on the background to the chemical weapons atrocity at Ghouta on 21 August last year has just been posted on the website of the ‘London Review of Books.’ It claims that this was a Turkish ‘false flag’ operation, and makes further detailed charges about collusion with the Syrian rebels by external powers including the U.S. and the U.K.
    (See http://www.lrb.co.uk/2014/04/06/seymour-m-hersh/the-red-line-and-the-rat-line )
    From a parochial British point of view, an interesting implication is that the report from the chairman of the JIC to David Cameron claiming that there were ‘no plausible alternative scenarios to regime responsibility’, produced prior to the vote by the House of Commons against participation in the proposed attack on Assad, was disinformation.
    If Hersh is right, it was actually analysis of a sample of the sarin used in the Ghouta attack at the Porton Down defence laboratory in Wiltshire which provided some critical evidence that the Syrian regime was not responsible.
    It is not clear whether this analysis was done prior to the submission of the JIC report on 29 August – and it would be interesting to find out whether it was. Be that may, Hersh claims that both the American and British intelligence communities ‘had been aware since the spring of 2013 that some rebel units in Syria were developing chemical weapons.’
    According to the JIC, however, there was no ‘credible intelligence or other evidence’, not only to support claims that the chemical weapons use had been either faked or undertaken by the opposition, but to substantiate ‘possession of CW by the opposition.’
    If Hersh’s sources are accurate, it would seem that these assertions are either direct lies or the most appalling casuistry. The question then becomes whether the JIC was attempting to deceive the Prime Minister, or whether they and the Prime Minister were colluding in an attempt to deceive the House of Commons and the British people.

  7. Alba Etie says:

    Mr Habakkuk ,
    Since we are discussing false flag operations by Erdogan’s government – do you believe the reports were credible that Turkey was sending Jihadi Tartars to foment unrest in Crimea ?

  8. eakens says:

    The ecstasy/MDMA is quite interesting as well. There appears to be some vertical integration on the part of producing and promoting the large dance/electronic music festivals around the world, as those are probably the largest demand source for the drug. In fact, there is a huge surge in the popularity of this type of music and these types of events right now in the US, which has been lagging behind Europe in that regard.
    It would be very interesting to see how the figures at the top of the music industry are intertwined with those criminal figures responsible for the trade of the drug. There certainly is great motive for the two to work together.

  9. Thomas says:

    “We now know it was a covert action planned by Erdoğan’s people to push Obama over the red line,’ the former intelligence official said. ‘They had to escalate to a gas attack in or near Damascus when the UN inspectors’ – who arrived in Damascus on 18 August to investigate the earlier use of gas – ‘were there. The deal was to do something spectacular. Our senior military officers have been told by the DIA and other intelligence assets that the sarin was supplied through Turkey – that it could only have gotten there with Turkish support. The Turks also provided the training in producing the sarin and handling it.’”
    This article deserves its own post. Another “ally” trying to drag us into a war.

  10. samuelburke says:

    “rat lines?” Nah. The material was traded government to government (Mossad to KGB) pl
    Thank you Col Lang.

  11. Alba Etie,
    This is not question to which I feel able to give a confident answer. Some thoughts, for what they are worth.
    Both in the U.S. and U.K., a large part of our elites are prepared either to disseminate ‘information’ they know to be false, or to believe what they want to believe – and the preponderant part of the MSM is ready to act as stenographers to that section of the elites.
    The ‘concerned citizen’ can inform himself or herself from the internet, but this provides both accurate information and pure garbage, as well as a lot in between. It is thus necessary to cultivate a large measure of agnosticism, and distinguish carefully between what one has good reason to believe and what one thinks may be true.
    From the start, many of us were sceptical about claims that the Syrian regime was responsible for the Ghouta atrocity, both on ‘cui bono’ grounds, and because more details could have been given of the intercepts supposed to established their guilt – which in any case sometimes sounded like bad fiction, particularly when emanating from British sources.
    (See http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/425981/Senior-Syrian-military-chiefs-tell-captain-fire-chemicals-or-be-shot )
    A similar ‘cui bono’ argument applies to the question of the sniper shootings on the Maidan on 20 February. After Putin’s – undogmatic – suggestion of a possible ‘false flag’ operation was followed up by the release of the conversation between Paet and Ashton, the onus of proof is now heavily on those who want to claim that Yanukovich’s people were responsible.
    Have you see the WP or the ‘Sunday Times’ calling loudly for an independent and impartial inquiry?
    I think we are not that far from being able to regard it as established fact that the Maidan shootings, as well as the Ghouta atrocity, were indeed ‘false flag’ operations.
    As to the Crimea. It seems clearly the case that Sevastopol is at the heart of two agendas with substantial support in Washington and London.
    It is central alike to the agenda in relation to Russia which Putin calls ‘containment’, by which he means further and indeed perhaps indefinite ‘rollback’, and the agenda for the destruction of the Assad regime as a part of a broad offensive against Shiite power, which appears to have very strong support from the Saudis and other Gulf States, as well as Israel.
    A body of circumstantial evidence was presented by ‘b’ on ‘Moon of Alabama’, and by ‘the Saker’ suggesting that there may have been plans to try to follow up what we can fairly call a ‘putsch’ in Kiev by seizing control in the Crimea, involving Turkish collaboration with Crimean Tartars as well as with the West Ukrainian ‘Banderistas’.
    (See http://www.moonofalabama.org/2014/03/the-crimean-anti-coup-move.html and http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/what-really-happened-overnight-in-crimea.html .)
    While the work of both of ‘b’ and ‘the Saker’ has been invaluable, I think that the current state of play is that reports that ‘Turkey was sending Jihadi Tartars to foment unrest in Crimea’ are ‘credible’ in the sense of being eminently plausible.
    It would still seem to be premature to take them as established fact – it is necessary to remember that there is an enormous amount of disinformation emanating from all sides in relation to conflicts in the former Soviet Union and the Middle East.
    Perhaps Seymour Hersh will now build on his exposure of Turkey’s role in Ghouta, and look at events in the Ukraine? If indeed his U.S. intelligence sources validated the claims by ‘b’ and ‘the Saker’, then the question of the complicity of elements in the U.S. and U.K. with these Turkish machinations would become an inescapable one.

  12. Thomas,
    This is what a great deal of modern international politics is about – the Lilliputians attempting, often successfully, to manipulate Gulliver.
    A big change, however, is that some of the ‘lower limbs’ of Gulliver are getting tired of this. My impression is that the ‘peasants’ revolt’ which produced the House of Commons vote against intervention in Syria has gone further in the U.K. than the U.S., but there still seems to be a clear momentum for change at the grassroots in both countries.
    In my view, ‘the Saker’ misinterprets the results of the poll of readers of the ‘Independent’ which showed 82% registering Putin as their ‘favourite world leader’, with Merkel in second place at 8%. Its actual significance is as an indication of the extent of the disillusionment with Obama (4%) and Cameron (2%), and the fact that this is related to anger about foolish interventions.
    (For the poll, and the comments by ‘the Saker’, see http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/amazing-poll-at-independent.html )

  13. Alba Etie says:

    Mr Habakkuk,
    Thank you for the thoughtful reply . Generally I am convinced now having watched the debacle in Iraq , and seen the push back from the American Public about unwise & unnecessary intervention overseas that there is a “behind the headlines ” struggle between the neocons/jacobins and the realists . President Obama in my opinion came into office on the side of the realist. I still believe if we look at BHO ‘s actions and appointments he still would like to side with the realist . Secretary of Defense Hagel & JSC Gen Martin Dempsey reflect this current President’s instinct for a realistic foreign policy . If I look at the facts- for example we have not engaged Iran miltarily – even though many of us here at SST thought that we would . If I look at the apparent BHO pushback to the Israeli firsters & the Saudi royal intrigues maybe we are moving toward a realistic foreign policy . If for the moment I accept that theory- that BHO really does want to not have another Iraqi debacle on his watch. I begin to wonder if the neocons /jacobins were so embedded in our Elite structure that this very young and inexperienced President was given bad advice on whom to appoint in key positions re Powers & Rice. I also wonder after the Kiev uprising that BHO discovered he was once again played by the ‘leave behinds neocons ” – Ms Nuland after all worked for the Cheney cohort . Would it be to naive on my part to ask – after the fact that Putin went to Crimea etc that BHO was making the best of a bad situation with the Russians . Perhaps to be counter intuitive the Russian as a regional power statement might have been made to bolster Putin’s standing in Russia domestically thus helping defuse the politics . I would also wonder counter intuitively perhaps if BHO did not get boxed in by our own domestic politics and the Sarin false flag operation in Syria . And that the way out for BHO not to bomb Assad was to ask our Congress to authorize an AUMF – knowing full well the House of Representatives would not vote for bombing Syria.
    I guess I am trying to look at actually what Obama has done as to opposed to what he might do – mindful that there are many deeply embedded jacobin neocon interest here and abroad that would want the US to be actively militarily engaged overseas. Furthermore I also believe that some of these same neocon interest have powerful allies ‘Captains of Industry ” that see it in their economic interest to make sure Ms Nuland hands out cookies in Kiev. I am trying to give a benefit of the doubt to BHO and his administration regarding a sound foreign policy abroad . The fact that we have not yet bombed Nantanz or sent cruise missiles after Assad gives me some glimmer of hope that we might actually at the end of the day wind up with a foreign policy that is humane and in our collective best interest . Finally the back stop for this optimism is that I think the neocon Elites know now that we all also would have mass civil direct action disobedience here if we do bomb Assad or do any other stupid action like that overseas ,

  14. The reliability of the Pershing II was its real secret. Unreliability of US and Soviet missiles big problem throughout the Cold War!

  15. Agree with this comment!

  16. Thanks for this excellent post Richard. It deepens my suspicion that Israeli organized criminal organizations, with deep links in Russia and US may have Israeli government sponsorship.
    My belief is that Pollard knows more about this subject than anyone cared at the time of his arrest and trial and imprisonment the details of his imprisonment might well be of great interest. Did the Federal Bureau of Prisons [DoJ] give Pollard special privileges during his incarceration?

  17. Mike says:

    Mr. Sale —
    You seem oblivious to the fact that seven years after Pollard was convicted of passing info to the Israelis, Alrich Ames was found to be the mole in the CIA that passed info to the Russians and got several American double agents murdered. He’s the one who sold much of the info to the Russians that Pollard was accused of.
    I suggest, if you’re interested in the facts, that you speak to John Loftus who knows a lot more about the Pollard case than you do.

  18. turcopolier says:

    Aldrich Ames gave the Russians materials that were different from those that Pollard gave to the Israelis and that ended up in the hands of the USSR. I was still in government at the time and am familiar with the two cases. pl

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