Today Jonathan Pollard was freed. Pollard, a former analyst for the U.S. Navy, was a notorious spy who passed classified secrets to a foreign government before being caught in the 1980s and sent to jail for life.
So why isn’t Pollard mentioned in the same breath as the Rosenbergs, or Benedict Arnold, or other notorious spies in American history? Could it be, perhaps, because he was an agent who spied for Israel, that long-time U.S. ally?
Weird, isn’t it, that Israel would spy on the United States? Not really. I’m quite confident that the United States regularly collects data on friends and foes alike — remember Angela Merkel’s cell phone? — because intelligence gathering is what intelligence agencies do. If America thought that finding out what was going on at 10 Downing Street was essential to its national security, America would figure out how to get that information out of Great Britain, by hook or by crook.
That’s not to diminish what Israel did in the Pollard case, or Pollard’s betrayal of his country. He purportedly thought the United States should give more information to Israel, and he provided Israel with huge amounts of classified data. After he was arrested in 1985, Israel initially denied that he was an agent, but they eventually ‘fessed up and began to quietly lobby for Pollard’s release to eliminate a source of tension between Israel and America.
Now, after 30 years, Pollard has been freed. His parole conditions require him to stay in America for five years, wearing a GPS bracelet, and submitting to inspections of his house. His lawyers say the conditions are onerous and oppressive. Of course, they beat being in jail for life.