Prisoner Exchange: Pollard for Palestinians? – Peggy

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 Israel is holding back on the release of the final group of 26 Palestinian prisoners promised in the current round of negotiations with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. The talks are now deadlocked. Would releasing Pollard save them from collapsing?

The talk of releasing Pollard as a gesture to Israel in return for the previously promised release of the prisoners cropped up last summer between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Secretary of State John Kerry. Nothing came of it. Haaretz reports that the “prisoner exchange” has come up again in an effort to keep the talks from collapsing.

No names and no attributions to the story. Trial balloon? Idle chatter? Kerry trying to convince Obama? What guarantee that the talks would finally go anywhere even with Pollard in Israel and the Palestinian prisoners back home?

Haaretz, March 23, http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/1.581444

Bargaining Chip: http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.565943

Wikipedia (a pretty grim indictment of Pollard) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_Pollard

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36 Responses to Prisoner Exchange: Pollard for Palestinians? – Peggy

  1. kao_hsien_chih says:

    Why the heck should we tie a spy who did us serious harm with the problems that Israelis are having (due to their own intransigence) with their neighbors? I am all in favor of releasing Pollard back to Israel as long as he is cut up into at least 7 disconnected parts of no more than 25lb each.

  2. different clue says:

    If Pollard were released and the Palestinian prisoners released, the talks would go just as nowhere as before.
    How important is Pollard to the Israeli government/ intelligence community/ etc? Important enough to remove every Israeli settler from the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights? Important enough to cancel the illegal annexation of EJ and GH? Enough to enforce all that with whatever legal enforcement violence may be necessary? Important enough to reveal whatever specific agents (by name) that they have here?

  3. different clue says:

    And thinking further, I remember our being reminded that the reason Pollard’s sentence was so long was that the damage done was so extensive. Such a sentence was to discourage any other American from doing anything on that scale for Israel or for anyone else either. If the Israelis in particular got Pollard in return for turning over their spy/agent networks and systems, they would try rebuilding it all as soon as they had Pollard anyway. And then try finding another Pollard.

  4. turcopolier says:

    All
    Again, I was on the JCS damage board about Pollard. His tasking from the Israelis was for material they could trade to the USSR for Jewish émigrés pl

  5. Fred says:

    After this “peace in our time” gesture, to which none have courage to affix their name, what will be the next demand?

  6. Jonathan House says:

    Off topic – perhaps not completely. It seems the entire Israeli Foreign service has gone on and “open ended strike”
    I’d be interested in what our host and others make of this. Both as a immediate issue and peraps as something symptomatic.
    Jonathan House
    Haaretz:
    Foreign Ministry employees declare general strike, paralyzing Israel’s diplomatic system
    All Israeli foreign missions closed; Lieberman censures ‘miserable decision that lacks sense.’
    .
    “The strike has no time limit and will continue as long as necessary,” the message to all ministry workers stated. “We instruct all employees to obey these instructions as written. We will be strong and together we will achieve our goals.”
    Foreign Ministry sources said that the missions abroad would be completely closed and that security officers were instructed to prevent entrance to all, including officials from the defense ministry, the Israel Defense Forces, the Mossad, Shin Bet security service and other government ministries.
    The Jerusalem headquarters will be locked over the course of the strike and entry will be denied to Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin and Director-General Nissim Ben-Sheetrit.
    “The Treasury has declared a war-to-the-death against the Foreign Ministry of the State of Israel and the dedicated diplomats who fight for the rights of Israelis daily,” said Ya’akov Frumer, chairman of the Foreign Ministry workers committee.
    “We will not accept the relentless disregard of finance ministry officials intent on sabotaging the essential interests of the state of Israel. These officials irresponsibly ignore the citizens of Israel and are destroying the country’s economy, its security and the future of us all with their bare hands.”
    Lieberman called the strike a “miserable decision that shows a lack of sense.”
    http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/1.581466

  7. confusedponderer says:

    The logic here is beyond me – why Pollard against Palestinian prisoners? And why take this demand serious at all?
    That is bizarre on so many levels:
    * There is only an arbitrary connection between Pollard and the Pals
    * Since Bibi is basically hostile to then US, certainly hostile to the Obama administration and essentially a Republican partisan – why reward him for his obnoxious and destructive behaviour by handing them Pollard?
    * Then there is the nature of the trade: the US would give them a guy who did really serious harm to the US, in exchange for the Izzies releasing a number of Pals that got swept up in Israeli occupational activities?
    * What good would it do for the Pals except for setting these prisoners free?
    * Beyond that, it wouldn’t improve their general situation a bit. Israel isn’t going to stop settlements, or new arrests for that matter.
    * There is nothing that would prevent the Izzies to re-arrest these prisoners …
    * … without due process – which is less than can be said about how the US treated Pollard.
    * The idea seems to be that if the Izzies get Pollard for nothing – they would make concessions or a deal with the Palestinians and be more amenable to Kerry’s peace initiative. Not going to happen.
    * Izzy pols have rejected Kerry’s initiative as ‘not worth the paper it’s written on’. I can’t see how giving them Pollard is going to change their views. They’d trade Greater Israel for one man? Ludicrous.
    * The US would get nothing out of that deal but to appease the Izzies for a week.
    * Given Izzy temperament and territorial appetite, being appeased for a week would be long for the Izzies. It also may postpone announcements for new settlements for a day.
    * I fail to see how delaying another hearty fuck you from Tel Aviv to the world for a week counts as a concession.
    * i.e. given their intransigence, it is most likely that the Izzies are using the Pollard issue as a diversion to muddy the water on the other issues they have with the US.
    * Given the well known resistance in the intelligence agencies against releasing Pollard, create discord in the Obama administration and tie them down debating this ploy.
    * It would give the Izzies another reason to refuse a deal with the Pals they are unwilling to make anyway – and blame it on ‘US intransigence on the Pollard issue’.
    * Domestically, it would probably not appease Israels partisans in the US who plead for Pollard. They hate Obama anyway. Adelson is not going to start to love Obama over this. It is doubtful that anything resembling gratitude so generated would last for even an hour. They’d interpret is as a sign of Obama’s weakness.
    * Besides, so would the Izzies themselves.
    In sum: It has no benefits for the Obama administration domestically. It doesn’t serve the US in bilateral relations with Israel. It’s an idiotic idea. Don’t do it.

  8. Alba Etie says:

    All
    Pollard betrayed Our country to a foreign power . He needs too stay in jail , period.

  9. RetiredPatriot says:

    The persistence of the GoI in trying to repatriate their spy is impressive. Makes one wonder what else he knows and why they are so anxious to get him back even after all these years. I like the way Different Clue is thinking. If the traitor Pollard is that valuable to Israel, than the “give” must be just as painful to them when and if he ever goes “home.”
    RP

  10. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Why wasn’t Pollard executed? Like the Rosenbergs?

  11. sam says:

    I wish they would release Pollard already…i’d love to see the intel community and maybe even the military in open rebellion against our bff in the middle east.
    unfortunately it is the only solution i see for our lobby nation to unhinge itself from the unfortunate ties that have been developed over the years with a foreign country with such a smart and manipulative lobby.
    Gulliver and the Lilliputians is an apropos analogy to our condition as it relates to Israel and it’s lobby.

  12. sam says:

    In “The Case Against Jonathan Pollard,” Seymour M. Hersh relates a conversation between the late William J. Casey, then CIA director, and one of his station chiefs, a month after Pollard’s arrest. When his subordinate asked why the CIA chief was ordering stepped-up monitoring of an Israeli delegation on a routine visit,
    “‘He asked if I knew anything about the Pollard case,’ the station chief recalled, and he said that Casey had added, ‘For your information, the Israelis used Pollard to obtain our attack plan against the USSR, all of it. The coordinates, the firing locations, the sequences. And for guess who? The Soviets.’ Casey had then explained that the Israelis had traded the Pollard data for Soviet émigrés. ‘How’s that for cheating?’ he had asked.”

  13. Margaret Steinfels says:

    Monday’s NYTimes (3/24) repeats the exchange idea suggesting that it is a serious bargaining chip. Is it really? No attribution. Just something to slip into a story about the hold-up on the Palestinian prisoners? Or an idea that won’t go away?
    “The seriousness of the situation has led to renewed discussions over the possible release of Jonathan J. Pollard, an American serving a life sentence in North Carolina for spying for Israel, which those involved in the process see as a powerful card that Washington wants to play at the right moment for maximum effect.”

  14. confusedponderer says:

    Ames and Hanssen aren’t being released either. Both got their live sentences because of the severity of the damage they caused.
    Pollard’s certainly is a comparable case, perhaps worse, in terms of severity.
    Had he been spying for Russia he probably would had gotten life without parole like Hanssen and Ames, and nobody I heard has ever complained about them having received an excessive punishment.
    I read the Wiki article on Pollard saying that because he spied for a nominal ally, the sentences was not a severe as if he had spied for, say, the Russians.
    Wikipedia:
    “Pollard is the only person in US history to receive a life sentence for spying for an ally, and the only American citizen convicted of such a crime to be sentenced to more than 10 years in prison. Currently, the punishment for such a crime is set at a maximum of ten years,[10] …”
    Since the Izzies traded his secrets for immigrants from the USSR that is a distinction without a practical difference.
    “… except if it might “result in the death of an agent of the United States” or if it concerns “nuclear weaponry […] war plans; communications intelligence or cryptographic information.”
    The point is, I understand that what Pollard gave to the Israelis was precisely along the lines of these exacerbating circumstances.
    When the Izzies and Pollard’s fans deny that they tell BS. Pollard is a hard case, just like Hanssen or Ames.
    It doesn’t matter whether or not he pities himself, regrets anything or found Jehova in jail or found some new ex-post facto explanation like newfound love for Israel.
    As for Pollard doing it for Israel, well, not really. It seems he sold, or tried to sell, intel to at least four countries, Israel, Palistan, China, South Africa, and tried to sell to a fifth one.

  15. Medicine Man says:

    Col.: Why is Israel so interested in getting Pollard back? Is it to demonstrate to other potential moles that they can protect those who render service? Or are there emotional reasons on the Izzies part?

  16. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Israelis pulled all the propaganda stops for Sharansky, who was evidently spying for them in USSR; they turned him into some sort of cause célèbre- akin to that of Dreyfus.
    When he was released and sent to Israel, the entire Israeli cabinet was there greeting him to “His Country” as a national hero.
    I think Israelis are showing restraint in case of Pollard since they do not wish to alienate US.

  17. Will Reks says:

    The only way Pollard should be going to Israel is in a body-bag. No pardon or clemency for this man.

  18. All,
    As a non-American, I hesitate to intervene in this argument. But as CP, who is German, has made useful comments, perhaps it may stimulate discussion if some observations from a ‘Perfidious Albionian’ are thrown into the mix.
    It seems to me that the traitor Pollard may be, at long last, doing a valuable service to the country he betrayed.
    As long as he remains in jail, the Israelis will continue to attempt to secure his release. And, given the enormity of his betrayal, in so doing they will advertise their complete contempt for the security interests of the United States.
    Had he been executed, as Babak Makkinejad suggests might have been appropriate, or traded for some almost certainly unreal concessions from the Israelis, Pollard could no longer perform this invaluable function.
    What’s not to like?

  19. sam says:

    This is from a Christopher Ketcham article.
    As the story goes…Pollard was guided to the documents he purloined by another agent.
    Perhaps most infamous was the case of Jonathan Pollard, a Jewish-American employed as a civilian analyst with the U.S. Navy who purloined an estimated 800,000 code-word protected documents from inside the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and numerous other U.S. agencies. While Pollard was sentenced to life in prison, counterintelligence investigators at the FBI suspected he was linked to a mole far higher in the food chain, ensconced somewhere in the DIA, but this suspected Israeli operative, nicknamed “Mr. X,” was never found. Following the embarrassment of the Pollard affair — and its devastating effects on U.S. national security, as testified by then Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger (who allegedly stated that Pollard “should have been shot”) .

  20. turcopolier says:

    sam
    As I mentioned some time back I worked on the JCS damage assessment for the Pollard affair. He was tasked by his Israeli handlers with long lists of SCI documents that the US Navy had possession of. The documents were from every part of the Executive Branch that generated such documents. The documents were listed by title and serial number. Many had nothing to do with intelligence analysis and were operations documents and plans. This data had been supplied by another agent or group of agents and Pollard was used to bring the documents out in order to protect these other people. There were people in DIA at the time who could fairly be suspected but none of them with one or two exceptions would have had access to strategic ops plans. OSD with its work force of politically appointed civilians is the most logical locus for such an agent or agents. There were many dubious characters there. pl

  21. different clue says:

    Since I don’t know anything about the doing of intelligence, I can only guess that I should understand that other agent or agents knew by exact title what each of those documents was about? How could this other agent or agents know all that? Did they have a webwork of yet more other agents giving this detailed knowledge about the title and contents of all these documents?

  22. different clue says:

    When Pollard first tried running to the Israeli embassy, the embassy turned him away. Israel tossed Pollard aside like an old shoe when his usefulness was ended. Colonel Lang has suggested in the past that the Israel leadership began realizing that if such a valuable spy would be un “rescued”, with or without effort; that other potentially lucrative spies would not even risk becoming such. So now they are trying. This makes it in our interest to keep Pollard to demonstrate that Israel can’t save a spy even when it tries. (I wonder whether this logic was first voiced from within Israel or to Israel by someone(s) outside of Israel).
    If Israel were to accede to a fully independent State of Palestine on the borders of ’66, with all the attributes of sovereignty listed in one of our host’s comments several threads ago . . . would that be worth releasing Pollard for? Once the State of Palestine had been irreversibly established?

  23. turcopolier says:

    DC
    Classified governments documents of various kinds are distributed either electronically or by courier to offices or individuals who are deemed to need them in their work. Once at their destinations some are retained for extended periods of time in office “libraries.” All that was needed for the penetration agent or agents was to have access to one or more of these “libraries” to be able to compile the kind of lists from which Pollard was tasked. pl

  24. turcopolier says:

    sam
    The leak would not have been in CIA. Nobody in DoD would have trusted them enough to give them access to some of this information. DIA? Many people who worked in the Soviet analytic field might be suspect especially my colleagues the DIOs for the USSR. One of them still works as an SES for DIA. pl

  25. steve says:

    Medicine Man,
    Pollard is a useful organizing and fundraising tool for Israel and its lobby, as well as a potential political tool for I/P negotiations as pointed out.
    He’s been elevated to an Israeli political symbol, for whatever useful purposes best serve Israeli politicians.
    Other than that, Israel could not care less about him.

  26. kao_hsien_chih says:

    To be honest, I can’t really understand why arranging for peace between Israel and its neighbors (or, is it de facto subjects, in case of Palestinians.) Should be even a high priority business for the US (yes, it is just a rhetorical point, and we have proven that it isn’t by generally not taking the “peacemaking” side of that business very seriously) Given that it is nit such an important priority for us, other than some PR opp for some pols, it seems absurd that we should make any kind of serious concession even if it means serious peace between Israel and its neighbors, let alone some meaningless and symbolic nonsense like letting some Pakestinian prisoners out temporarily.

  27. PL! And it worked with strong links in the criminal world between IOCs [international organized crime] in Russia, Israel, and USA! Israel only a brief stop for many of the Russians leaving Russia to Pollard IMO!

  28. Babak! Pollard is the darling of an international criminal conspiracy that protects him IMO!

  29. J.H. See my comments posted elsewhere! Many involved with Madoff prosecution think his stash in Israeli bonds with open complicity of Stanley Fischer, former head of the Israeli Central Bank and now Vice Chair of the US Federal Reserve.
    The US FED is owned and operates in secret to support US and foreign banks and Central Banks.
    Anti-fraud and anti IOC activity is largely non-existent with the Federal Reserve. Janet Yellen a figure head while Fischer runs the FED.

  30. sam! The US SIOP was long known to the Soviets but hidden from oversight by US lawmakers!
    MAD demanded both sides knew the others strategies and targeting.
    Perhaps Pollard could have yielded confirmation but he was never cleared for the SIOP!

  31. MM! IMO Pollard knows and has benefited from Israeli OC [organized crime]!

  32. Medicine Man says:

    It is of strategic interest to the US not to be seen as partner to ethnic cleansing in Palestine, especially as the struggle with Islamic extremism moves into its second decade.

  33. RetiredPatriot says:

    DC, since the establishment of such a state would take decades even after it was agreed to, I suspect Johnny P would be one very, very old man before his masters in Jerusalem could savor his release to them. As for the other discussions about how Johnny was guided (the OTHER spy/spies for Israel), perhaps the routine engagement of “let’s swap” is merely Israel’s demonstration to those they left behind that they will always fight to get them back once those spies are finally caught. (And I suspect the reason these traitors have never been “caught” is entirely political – the cases were made long ago and just sit on the shelf waiting for a politician strong enough to bring them on.)

  34. Peggy says:

    This just in: “There are currently no plans to release Pollard,” said a statement issued by the U.S. National Security Council and the U.S. State Department.”
    Is currently the operative word?
    http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/1.582081

  35. kao_hsien_chih says:

    except everything we do makes us look even more like we’re siding with ethnic cleansing. being seen as sincerely helping arrange peace would be of help, certainly, but we are not.

  36. confusedponderer says:

    Babak,
    is there any more detailed information available known about Sharansky spying for Israel in Russia?

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