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A Spreading Treason
May 25, 2005 7:43 AM   Subscribe

A Spreading Treason The vagaries of U.S. involvement in the Middle East were surely brought home to First Lady Laura Bush on her recent trip to Israel, on a tour of Jerusalem's holiest sites. At the Wailing Wall, where she placed a note in the Western Wall – as is the custom – she faced surly throngs of protesters shouting "Free Pollard Now!" The Pollardites also showed up earlier that morning, as Mrs. Bush paid a visit to the home of Israeli President Moshe Katsav: "Pollard, the people are with you!" they chanted.
posted by mk1gti (23 comments total)

 
You do the crime, you do the time. So, what's your point?
posted by mischief at 8:02 AM on May 25, 2005


well, mischief, the issue is a matter of perspective.

from the israeli perspective, pollard (because he was working as a civilian naval intelligence analyst) became aware of information about syrian, iraqi, libyan, and iranian chemical and biological warfare capabilities... information that arguably the U.S. should have shared with israel under a 1983 memorandum of understanding.

when his superiors refused to disclose this information to the israeli government, pollard took it upon himself to do so. pollard felt israeli lives were at jeopardy. there seems to be little question that pollard "did the crime" but his action can certainly been seen from the israeli perspective as somewhat heroic.

from the american perspective (or more precisely casper weinberger's perspective) his action amounted to treason, which arguably it was - his obligation to the U.S. government to not disclose classified information was black and white. pollard copped a plea and received a life sentence.
posted by three blind mice at 8:17 AM on May 25, 2005


What I find amusing is that both the Israelis and the Palestinians were protesting against Laura Bush (presumably as a symbol of US policy).

Reshaping the Middle East, indeed.
posted by QIbHom at 8:19 AM on May 25, 2005


Wouldn't it be nice if there was peace in Israel because of Bush?
Brought together after years of bitter fighting thanks to a mutual hatred of America.
posted by Kellydamnit at 8:24 AM on May 25, 2005


three bilind mice, I'm still with mischief here. You provide a good summary of the case, but then...what? The linked article was more about Larry Franklin and AIPAC than about Pollard. So what are we supposed to be discussing?
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:24 AM on May 25, 2005


MrMoonPie, well, you got me.... i was just trying to put some context as to why "surly throngs of protestors" were shouting "Free Pollard Now!"

condensing it to "do the crime, do the time" seemed like a gross oversimplification of a case that underscores the incredibly complex relationship between the two countries - which seems germane to mk1gti's FPP.
posted by three blind mice at 8:36 AM on May 25, 2005


I wonder if Laura Bush even knows who the hell Pollard is?
posted by PenDevil at 8:46 AM on May 25, 2005


I'm sure Ms. Bush was not wondering who the hell Pollard is, rather why the protestors were not corralled in some far-away 'free speech zone'
posted by tippiedog at 8:50 AM on May 25, 2005


PenDevil, she was probably told that "free pollard now" is hebrew for "we love george."
posted by three blind mice at 9:01 AM on May 25, 2005


So both the Israelis AND the Palestenians now hate America? (along with the rest of the world)

Congratulations Dubya! Time to push that Bolton (the man who would kick down and piss off Mother Teresa) nomination through, isn't it?
posted by nofundy at 9:21 AM on May 25, 2005


Just be glad horse penii weren't there to mock her.
posted by bardic at 9:34 AM on May 25, 2005


Three Blind Mice,
His conscience seems to extend to also receiving thousands of dollars, not really the concerned citizen approach.

Link to Steve Gilliard...
posted by stuartmm at 9:38 AM on May 25, 2005


I think the critical issue here isn't so much Pollard as Pollard *and* Franklin *and* Feith *and* Perle *and* Wolfowitz *and* etc, etc, etc.
The critical issue is: Are we the United States of America or are we conservative Israel's dog? These issues of spy cases involving Israel against the U.S. seem to be more common, yet less critically pursued. Where is the coverage on the national news? In fact it's minimal.
One would think if persons high up in our country's government are clearly working on behalf of another nation's government and against their country of citizenship there would be stronger reaction against this including a re-examination of a country's relationship with the country who seems so determined to influence the spied-uponed country's government and policies.
posted by mk1gti at 9:43 AM on May 25, 2005


threeblindmice, wasn't that Franklin and not Pollard? Pollard sold the names of American agents to the Soviets through Israeli intelligence connections. People were captured and killed in Eastern Europe as a result of Pollard's actions.
posted by Pollomacho at 9:45 AM on May 25, 2005


from the american perspective (or more precisely casper weinberger's perspective) his action amounted to treason, which arguably it was - his obligation to the U.S. government to not disclose classified information was black and white.

arguably it was...

The most notorious instance involved, again, Israel: the case of Jonathan Pollard. Pollard is serving a life sentence for leaking extremely classified information to Israel in the 1980s. The U.S. government has never revealed just what Pollard leaked, but Seymour Hersh offered a summary five years ago in The New Yorker. Intelligence officials gave Hersh a rundown because President Bill Clinton had promised right-wing Jewish groups—who were lobbying for Pollard's release—that he would at least look into the case, and the intel officials were worried that Clinton might succumb to the pressure. To pre-empt such a move, they told Hersh just how serious Pollard's indiscretions were. If Hersh's report is true (and his sources on these matters tend to be excellent), the indiscretions were as serious as they can get: technical features of U.S. photo-reconnaissance satellites, operations of nuclear-missile submarines, details of the Strategic Air Command's nuclear-war plan. Officers also told Hersh that the Israeli government had passed on some of these secrets to the Soviet Union in exchange for a more relaxed policy toward Jewish emigration.

The Friendly Spook
posted by y2karl at 9:55 AM on May 25, 2005


pollomacho, it was pollard. you are correct that his disclosure of information led to the deaths of a number of people working on behalf of US intelligence agencies. that is why he got a life sentence and that is why when clinton suggested that he might pardon pollard (or hand him over to the israelis) there was a huge outcry from the intelligence community. i could be wrong, i'm working from a memory (slightly damaged by my misspent youth.)

mk1gti: The critical issue is: Are we the United States of America or are we conservative Israel's dog?

it's a lot more complicated than that. clearly there is a lot of jewish american support for "conservative" israel (the liberals and moderates don't seem to have much voice.) that's what makes AIPAC so influential in washington.

but the U.S. is also the running dog of the american christian right. the american christian right supports the right wing in israel. until they refuse to convert to christianity that is.. then they will cheer as their god smites those unbelievers.

stanger bedfellows are hard to find.
posted by three blind mice at 10:04 AM on May 25, 2005


Hmm, I'm trusting Juan Cole's take on this:
http://www.juancole.com/2005/05/is-it-georges-fault-laura-bush-heckled.html
posted by Mossy at 10:44 AM on May 25, 2005


> until they refuse to convert to christianity that is.. then they
> will cheer as their god smites those unbelievers.

No, that's not it. The US Christian Right supports Israel because without an Israeli homeland, the Apocalypse can't happen as per scripture, and so there won't be a rapture, with no call to heaven for the faithful. It's not a political issue, it's a theological one.
posted by DangerIsMyMiddleName at 11:00 AM on May 25, 2005


from the israeli perspective, pollard (because he was working as a civilian naval intelligence analyst) became aware of information about syrian, iraqi, libyan, and iranian chemical and biological warfare capabilities...

Which information could well have been planted or supplied by Mossad in the first place. (You think Chalabi invented a new strategy?) Remember the US has been raving about "WMDs" for decades now, as Qathafi's bombed daughter shows; in 1986 also people wanted to see proof of those allegations.

information that arguably the U.S. should have shared with israel under a 1983 memorandum of understanding.

Which was not a treaty ratified by the US senate and so was not legally binding. Not that I'd support it in that case either.

The issue in this case is who runs America and benefits most from it, the US fascists or the Israeli ones. I don't have a horse in this race, but since Sabra and Chatila it's been hard for me to see Israel as a victim of the evil Arabs or as a poor relation of the US.

Be that as it may, I think pollomacho and tbm are referring to rumors like allegations made about Pollard by John Loftus here. (Loftus also links the Pollard case to "9/11" here, by the way.) My initial reaction was 'Y'all are confused, that was Robert Hannsen and Aldritch Ames who turned "our spies" in to the USSR.' But Loftus (in that article on Pollard anyway) is not alleging that Pollard meant to betray US agents to the Soviets, and that the Israelis didn't mean to do that either: Loftus writes that

"Pollard had supposedly given Israel a list of every American spy inside the Soviet Union. On several occasions Soviet agents in New York had posed as Israelis. The CIA reasoned that that was also true in Israel: The Mossad had been infiltrated by one or more Soviet spies. In the trade this is called a "false flag" operation: Your enemy poses as your ally and steals your secrets. In this case, the CIA reasoned in attempting to explain its horrendous losses, Pollard had passed the information to Israel he had stolen, which in turn fell victim to the "false flag" operation. Soviet agents in Israel, posing as Israeli intelligence agents, passed the information to Moscow, which then wiped out American human assets in the Soviet Union.

Pollard hadn’t meant for this to happen, but the result of the "false flag" mistake was mass murder. In a matter of months, every spy we had in Russia—more than 40 agents—had been captured or killed. At least that was the accusation, but the basis for it had been kept secret from Pollard and his defense counsel."

Furthermore, though this will probably derail this thread, Loftus goes on to say that

"The public could not be told the horrifying truth: American intelligence had gone blind behind the Iron Curtain—we had lost all our networks, as the intelligence community publicly admitted more than a decade later. The Soviets could have attacked the United States without warning. Everyone who knew at the time (including me) blamed Pollard."

So according to Loftus it wasn't Pollard's fault the Soviets got those names but the Israelis' -- and that the infernally dangerous Soviet "Evil Empire" could well have laid waste to whatever their missiles could reach but for some reason did not.

To me this whole subject is too much like Alternate History, or maybe an Alternate Universe entirely, and it's quite likely that NONE of the "information" we're getting about ANY of this stuff is true. The reporters have been kept too far away and/or too "embedded" for far too long, for one thing. In any case it has never been the business of the US "intelligence" agencies to provide accurate information to the American people; maybe generations from now historians will be able to piece a more accurate version together, or maybe they'll give us more Dick too.

As for Pollard himself, I have no pity for him either. The enemies of my enemies are not always my friends.
posted by davy at 11:19 AM on May 25, 2005


Three Blind- Thanks for providing some info for the deficient FPP...
posted by klangklangston at 11:42 AM on May 25, 2005


Soviet "Evil Empire" could well have laid waste to whatever their missiles could reach but for some reason did not.

Could it be that they did not because they could not and we already knew that since the days of the "missile gap" fiction? Just asking, I mean 1986 was pretty late in the history of the USSR. I have trouble believing that US intelligence was "blind" yet 5 years later the whole Soviet Bloc was dissolved. I'd have to agree with your alternate history assessment.
posted by Pollomacho at 12:09 PM on May 25, 2005


*cough*Mordechai*cough*Vanunu
posted by Skeptic at 3:28 PM on May 25, 2005


Mossy: Great link. It's weird how Juan Cole links to Free Republic for a Seymour Hersh article to point out what Pollard did. Strange bedfellows indeed.
posted by sien at 4:59 PM on May 25, 2005


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