Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Jonathan Pollard

After thirty years in the clink, Israeli Spy Jonathan Pollard is getting out. I recall attending a bar mitzvah a decade or more ago where the rabbi interrupted the service to implore the audience to petition their politicians to work for his release, and he explained that Pollard had done nothing to harm the US. I barely restrained my impulse to stand up and shout "Bullshit!"

Pollard gave away key US secrets, and they made their way to Moscow as well as Tel Aviv - and whatever his religious motives he got paid for it.

Fred Kaplan has the story in Slate:

At his sentencing hearing, Pollard, who’d been a U.S. Navy intelligence official, painted himself as a devout Jew who’d stolen classified documents dealing only with Arab military might in order to help Israel stave off an invasion; none of his actions, he claimed, harmed American security.

Judge Aubrey Robinson Jr. called Pollard to the bench, showed him a classified affidavit that the Department of Defense had submitted, listing the range of sensitive secrets that he’d stolen, pointed to one of the items, and said, “What about this?” Pollard was silenced. Robinson sentenced him to life.

We now know (and M.E. Bowman, a senior counterintelligence officer who was working the Pollard case, has since confirmed) that the item in question was a National Security Agency manual called the RASIN, short for “Radio Signal Notations.” The RASIN was a guide to the physical parameters of every radio signal that the NSA was intercepting—a guide on how the NSA was tracking military communications, not just Israel’s but any and every country’s, including the Soviet Union’s. The RASIN was 10 volumes, and Pollard gave his Israeli handlers every single page of it.

An article by Seymour Hersh, in the Jan. 18, 1999, issue of the New Yorker, titled “The Traitor,” listed some other beyond-top-secret documents—among the tens of thousands—that Pollard had stolen and sold. They included the “National SIGINT Requirements List” (SIGINT standing for Signals Intelligence), which revealed which communications channels of which military powers, in which regions, the NSA was intercepting in what order of priority. In other words, it would give the reader a heads up on where and what actions the U.S. military might take next.

I can think of a number of worse traitors, but he was bad enough.