CIA Said Jonathan Pollard Cooperated: Report

Declassified Documents Shed New Light on Spy for Israel


By JTA

Published December 16, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share

CIA debriefers of Jonathan Pollard said the Israeli spy cooperated “in good faith” while in custody and that his handlers’ requests were limited to intelligence on the Pakistanis, Arab states and the Soviets.

The 1987 CIA damage assessment, published for the first time in a newly declassified version by the National Security Archive, a George Washington University project, recorded Pollard as “responding in good faith to debriefers’ questions.”

Polygraphs “tended to confirm that his cooperation with U.S. authorities was bona fide,” according to the assessment.

It also records, with confidence, the amount of intelligence that Pollard shared with Israelis, though the figure was redacted.

Both revelations undercut a key argument by figures in the national intelligence community who over the years have resisted calls to commute Pollard’s sentence based partly on arguments that he and Israel withheld the extent of his espionage while he was a U.S. Navy civilian analyst.

The CIA assessment suggests that the judge who ignored a plea agreement and sentenced Pollard to life did so because Pollard and his then-wife, Anne Henderson, broke the agreement by speaking to the media and not because of secret documents suggesting that Pollard had stolen more information than is believed – another predicate of arguments opposing Pollard’s release.

The document says that two of Pollard’s three handlers, Aviem Sella and Joseph Yagur, “emphasized that Pollard should obtain military and technical intelligence on the Soviet Union, Arab states and Pakistan.”

Rafi Eitan, another handler, wanted “dirt” on Israelis who may be passing on information to the United States, but Yagur later told Pollard that such information was off limits.

The document does not specifically address reports that Pollard shared information on U.S. agents with his Israeli handlers, but it does say that Pollard did not share, nor did the Israelis seek, the most sensitive information at hand.

“The Israelis did not request or receive from Pollard intelligence concerning some of the most sensitive U.S. national security resources,” the document says. “The Israelis never expressed interest in U.S. military activities, plans, capabilities or equipment. Likewise, they did not ask for intelligence on U.S. communications per se.”

A mostly redacted section asserts that “Pollard’s espionage has put at risk important U.S. intelligence and foreign-policy interests.”

The debriefers record Pollard as saying that Eitan offered him Israeli citizenship and protections, and grew angry when Pollard resisted expanding the scope of his espionage.

Israel’s embassy turned Pollard and Henderson away when his espionage was uncovered and did not confer citizenship until years later.

A long biographical section suggests that Pollard had a troubled emotional history based in part on anti-Semitic encounters during his youth in South Bend, Ind., and was a serial fabricator.

“He has tried to justify or rationalize his espionage as an effort to help a beleaguered Israel so that it would ‘win the next war’ against the Arabs,” the document says. “The Intelligence Community believes the Israelis readily would accomplish that objective without Pollard’s stolen intelligence.”

A bipartisan slate of 42 U.S. House of Representatives members, backed by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, this week urged President Obama to commute Pollard’s sentence – the latest of many such pleas since the mid-1990s.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Happy birthday to the Boy Who Lived! July 31 marks the day that Harry Potter — and his creator, J.K. Rowling — first entered the world. Harry is a loyal Gryffindorian, a matchless wizard, a native Parseltongue speaker, and…a Jew?
  • "Orwell would side with Israel for building a flourishing democracy, rather than Hamas, which imposed a floundering dictatorship. He would applaud the IDF, which warns civilians before bombing them in a justified war, not Hamas terrorists who cower behind their own civilians, target neighboring civilians, and planned to swarm civilian settlements on the Jewish New Year." Read Gil Troy's response to Daniel May's opinion piece:
  • "My dear Penelope, when you accuse Israel of committing 'genocide,' do you actually know what you are talking about?"
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.