Pollard Release?

NY Times

It looks like the administration is giving in in exchange for illusory progress on the Palestinian issue. I hope Kerry is roasted for this when he returns.

Secretary of State John Kerry and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel hammered out details of the emerging deal in meetings here that began Monday night and continued early on Tuesday. The agreement was awaiting approval from the White House regarding Mr. Pollard as well as from President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority. The timing remained unclear: The release of Arab-Israeli prisoners, among other things, would be subject to a vote by the Israeli cabinet, and no meeting has yet been scheduled.

As Aeschylus wrote I have learned to hate all traitors, and there is no disease that I spit on more than treachery.

I really find it odious that spying for Israel is somehow considered categorically different than spying for, say , Russia, or Zimbabwe for that matter. The agreements one makes when gaining access to controlled material do not give you the option to pick and choose the distro list. Classified material is classified for a reason, and while often that reason might be bogus in your eyes, it exists independent of your determination of its justification. Even if the people to whom you give stuff are, in your estimation, our allies, you are way overstepping your authority to make that call on your own.

One can argue that life in prison for Pollard was too harsh, and that he is up for parole next year anyhow, but we were correct to prosecute him in the first place and I think we are wrong to set any sort of precedent here in implying that espionage, if it is on behalf of a friendly power, is acceptable in any fashion.

Hell, at least Snowden released stuff ecumenically and, however misguided, was not serving the interests of a specific foreign power. It wasn’t strictly speaking espionage. Pollard was a flat out spy.

AIPAC and their ilk have had a corrosive effect on our foreign policy. I look forward to the day when their influence fades, and when AIPAC is required to register as an agent* of a foreign government. I suppose Israel has taken on the roll of the China lobby of old. If you look at Pollard’s ostensible supporters, it’s a list of Israeli activists and politicians looking to curry favor. I thought we were the superpower, no?

*Their predecessor was shut down for just that reason.

That’s the thing, isn’t it? Pollard was tasked with stealing intelligence about the Soviet Union and our plans regarding the Soviets. The secrets he stole made their way straight to Moscow.

on behalf of a friendly power

I think we can quibble with that assertion. At the very least Israel has its own interests which in this case meant lead to the exposure of critical American secrets to a hostile foreign power.

He’s scheduled to be released in Nov 2015 regardless. It’s really only shaving a little over year off his release date, but I don’t like that this is tied into the peace talks regardless.

He’s eligible, provided the government has no objection.

For the record, Pollard was a bit of a patsy. He stole documents identified by other Israeli spies thus protecting them from detection.

He’ll be technically eligible for parole. No guarantee he gets out in 2015.

I’m with Josh Marshall on this. HELL NO. It’s not that we’re against trading spies for deals, but Netanyahu is going to give us two things for this: Dick and Butkus. It’s not like we’re on the edge of a major deal between the Palestinians and Israelis. This would just basically be to get Israel to get back to the fucking table (again), where they’ll do shit (again). If we were on the edge of a major deal, then, yeah, let Pollard out. But we’re not talking about that. If we do this, I consider Netanyahu gracious if he doesn’t give us a middle finger during Pollard’s hero’s welcome in Jerusalem.

Israel has little serious interest in the peace process. It appears that they’ve decided on a policy of slow, de facto, annexation. There will be pockets of Palestinian self rule, but these will be isolated cantons. Besides, if we’re operating under the belief that peace is in Israel’s best interests - then why do we have to bribe them? Perhaps we should revisit that assumption.

This is just so the president can say, “I put them at the table.” There’s absolutely no way Israel is going to go for a deal, but Pollard gets them at the table and Obama gets to claim some kind of progress. That’s why it’s a bribe. Getting Israel to the table is basically the best we can hope for, because everyone knows nothing will come of it. But this is the fucking charade that is the Middle East.

Agreed.

I can only hope that Israeli opposition to prisoner releases, and blowback from our intel community will torpedo this.

Same here. We turn a blind eye to actions by or for the Israeli’s far too often. While I understand the underlying causes, I don’t agree with the outcome. When Israel as a nation takes actions that go against our own interests, we have to respond to them as we would any other nation. Otherwise, they’ll continue to abuse the relationship, as they have been for decades.

And it’s all for nothing. I expect this new round of talks will be as pointless as the last dozen or so. Israel is unwilling to pull out of its settlements and reach an accord that would bring real closure to this issue. We need to recognize this fact and play hardball in return. I’d make our massive military and economic aid packages contingent on a moratorium on new settlements and a firm plan to destroy the existing ones. In exchange, we could offer an absolute, unilateral guarantee of their territorial integrity (minus the Palestinian regions). No Arab state would be stupid enough to challenge that.

I rarely speak up for the Israelis, but I will here. I don’t think any reasonable government would accept that guarantee. We’re an ocean away, and who’s to say we would follow through in that moment of crisis?

Personally, I believe we should cut them loose - and terminate our relationship, such as it is. We receive no benefit from the status quo.

While I agree that the status quo is doing us no good and much harm, I’m sure that a formal declaration that we would go to war with any nation that attacked Israel would be honored by the US (and believed by every state in the region). It’s academic, though, since we’ll never play hardball with Israel. Well, maybe not never, but it’s decades away at least.

Did they ever prove that Pollard’s stuff made its way to the Soviets? I remember that was the working theory back in the mid 90s, but I never saw anything that actually confirmed it.

(Aside: this should not be construed as support for releasing Pollard)

It would also get a convicted spy out of the country. If he stood a good chance of getting parole in the next few years, this might be a decent way to wash our hands of the guy.

I don’t think his parole situation would have anything to do with how much of a future danger he is to society.

That said, I’d want something legitimate from Israel for his release- not wishy-washy promises they’d go back on.

It’s in the damage assessment report.

Fair, but the Israelis are going to put more faith in their men and the dirt they control. I wouldn’t blame them either. You should never rely on a third party for your security.

Someone should tell them about a little thing called NATO and how it held the USSR at bay.

That comparison would only work if NATO was an alliance of two countries, six thousand miles apart, where the major partner had no troops positioned to help the minor partner. In practical terms, assuming we were willing to help, we could never deploy forces fast enough to defend Israel from any sort of conventional threat. In addition, they have always been opposed to any formal alliance. They prefer the independence.

We pretty much always have a carrier battle group or two in the Med and/or Persian Gulf area. We have bases in Europe from which long range bombers and fighters could operate. We could transfer more there quickly. And we’ve shown the Arab world over and over again that we’re willing to bring the pain. They’d give a guarantee of territorial integrity the credibility it would deserve (enormous, in other words).

I really do see that carrot/stick approach as the optimal one to permanently resolve this mess, but again, I know full well our government will never implement it because of the stick part of the equation. Saying “remove those settlements or else lose our military and economic aid” is impossible in the current climate because of our unwillingness to use the words “or else” with Israel.

I think it’s pretty well established Israeli intelligence was infiltrated by the Russians and leaked like a sieve at the time, but most if not all of the really good stuff Pollard gave to the Israelis, and the Russians might have acquired, could also have come from Robert Hannsen.