Free Jonathan Pollard? REVISITED
I wrote last week about my “favorite paragraph of the week” from a piece Bret Stephens did in the Wall Street Journal advocating against the release of Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard. “Don’t Free Jonathan Pollard – WSJ 3/19/13” Here is that paragraph:
What’s inequitable about Pollard’s sentence isn’t that his is too heavy. It’s that the sentences of spies such as Aldrich Ames, Robert Hanssen and Robert Kim have been too light. Particularly in the age of digital downloads, WikiLeaks and self-appointed transparency crusaders, the U.S. needs to make harsh examples of those who betray its secrets. That goes especially for those who spy on behalf of friendly countries or, as Bradley Manning imagined, in the ostensible interests of humanity at large. (credit Stephens, WSJ 3/19/13)
Today Mr. Stephens follows up on his article with “A Postscript on Pollard- A spy who betrayed his country and his people is nobody’s hero” Wall Street Journal 3/25/13. Not only does Mr. Stephens write about the reaction to his initial Pollard article, he gives us an excellent synopsis of Pollard’s crimes. (all block quotes below credit Brett Stephens via WSJ)
What’s true about American politics writ large goes also for any number of political causes writ small. I was reminded of this on Monday when I was abruptly disinvited from delivering a keynote to a charitable pro-Israel organization for the sin of opposing, in my last column, the release of convicted spy Jonathan Pollard.
Interesting how some of the folks I write about get disinvited from speaking engagements for speaking to the truth (to wit, Pamela Geller: see “#CPAC2013” link following this post).
Mr. Stephens makes two main points on why his opinion is factually supported and why the folks who disagree with his stance may be intellectually challenged.
The first is a refresher course on who Pollard was and what he did. According to a recently declassified CIA damage assessment report (which Pollard supporters mistakenly claim vindicates him), he was an emotionally disturbed individual who lied to his superiors about his academic and professional qualifications, “disclosed classified information to the South African [defense] attache without authorization,” and on one occasion as a student “waved a pistol in the air and screamed that everyone was out to get him.” He also once claimed that his wife had been kidnapped by the IRA.
In short, he was a nut.
[What Pollard stole] was intelligence that was meant to help Israel, not harm the United States. But he also handed over “three daily intelligence summaries, prepared by the National Security Agency and Naval Intelligence,” amounting to some 1,500 messages in all. More damagingly, he handed over the NSA’s “Radio Signal Notation” manual, which helped Israel listen in on Soviet-Syrian radio traffic but also cost the U.S. billions of dollars to replace.
The second point is the way in which Pollard’s advocates have gone about defending him.
A nation that cannot recognize that wantonly committing espionage against its closest ally is an enduring source of shame, not pride, is one that has some serious soul-searching to do.
It’s one thing for a rogue agent to betray U.S. secrets; it’s another for a legion of defenders to rise up to justify his espionage.
Thusly we come to your humble blogger’s favorite paragraph for this week;
The case for Israel in the U.S. has always rested on the fact that the values and interests of the two countries are compatible even if they are not identical. But that is true only so long as Israel and its advocates labor to maintain that compatibility. It is harder to think of a more efficient way to undo those labors than to defend the likes of Jonathan Pollard, the man who betrayed both his country and his people.
Bravo Mr. Stephens, bravo!