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Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Good Question: Why Is The U.S. Releasing Israeli Spy Jonathan Pollard?
Michael Weiss at the Daily Beast asks why the notorious convicted spy and oddball is being released from prison.
“It is difficult for me, even in the so-called ‘year of the spy,’ to conceive of a greater harm to the national security than that caused by the defendant in view of the breadth, the critical importance to the U.S., and the high sensitivity of the information he sold to Israel.”
Thus spake U.S. Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger in 1986 in a still largely classified declaration, more or less sealing the life sentence handed down to Jonathan Pollard, a former analyst at the U.S. Navy’s Anti-Terrorist Alert Center who over a 17-month period in the mid-1980s passed along enough classified intelligence to Israel to fill, by his own admission, a 6x6x10-foot room.
After decades of trying in vain to get out of jail, Pollard will be released on November 20 after serving 29 years in a federal prison. The timing, coming so soon after the U.S. helped ink an arms control agreement with Iran, has raised eyebrows not least because anonymous U.S. officials told The Wall Street Journal last week that the Obama administration was planning to release Pollard as a salve to Israel to try and convince the Jewish state to tone down or abandon its fierce criticism of the Iran deal.
The administration has repeatedly denied that any such quid pro quo arrangement was being brokered and insisted that Pollard’s fate was entirely up to an independent parole board. “I haven’t even had a conversation about it,” Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters Tuesday.
However, while it’s true that Pollard was in any event due for a mandatory parole hearing this year under the terms of his sentence, the Journal scoop proved uncannily prescient.
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Paul Davis is a writer who covers crime. He has written extensively about organized crime, street crime, sex crime, cyber crime, drug crime, white collar crime, crime fiction, crime prevention, espionage and terrorism. His 'On Crime' column appears weekly in the Washington Times. He is also a regular contributor to Counterterrorism magazine. His work has also appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News and other newspapers, magazines and online publications. His crime fiction has appeared in online crime magazines. As a writer, he has attended police academy training, gone out on patrol with police officers, accompanied detectives as they worked cases, accompanied narcotics officers on drug raids, observed criminal court proceedings and visited jails and prisons. He has covered street riots, mob wars and murder investigations. Paul Davis' online "Crime Beat" column offers his long-form Q&As with cops, crooks and crime writers. Paul Davis has been a student of crime since he was a 12-year-old aspiring writer growing up in South Philadelphia. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy when he was 17 in 1970 and served on the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk during the Vietnam War. He also served two years on the Navy harbor tugboat USS Saugus at the U.S. floating nuclear submarine base at Holy Loch, Scotland. Following his Navy service, he performed security work as a Defense Department civilian and worked part-time as a freelance writer. He was also a producer and on-air host of the radio program Inside Government for 14 years. He became a full-time writer in 2007. Paul Davis' On Crime and Crime Beat columns, his crime fiction and his magazine and newspaper pieces can be read on this website. His full bio can be read by clicking on the above photo.