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!
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • 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.