As a Palestinian, I never thought I would ever end up writing in Jonathan Pollard's defense, especially as, when he was convicted of espionage in 1987, I was 13 years old.
It seems Pollard will remain in jail for his crime against US national security -- while at the same time US national security and intelligence are being compromised by American's Arab allies.
How does this add up?
...In weighing the damage Pollard has caused, it might be good to compare his passing of classified information to Israel to what has been taking place in recent years, and the way the US has been handling its security operations with "trusted" allies.
The United States has been vigorously cooperating with the intelligence entities of several Arab and Muslim countries, including the Jordanian General Intelligence Department, better known as the GID. The strong cooperation between the US and Jordan has been directed at fighting terrorism; nevertheless, in 2009, a trusted Jordanian Bedouin intelligence officer, Hammam Al-Balawi, who had been recruited by the GID and implanted inside Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, blew himself up, killing seven senior CIA officers along with the King of Jordan's cousin, who was his case officer. Shortly after, Al-Qaeda released a propaganda tape in which Al-Balawi detailed how both the GID and CIA did intelligence work with him, and declaring that he hope he had provided a guideline of operations to other terrorists. . In his tape, Al-Balawi describes the GID as "stupid" and "ignorant" for "fulfilling his dream by taking him to Afghanistan by themselves," even after he had been arrested for supporting Al-Qaeda. Has Pollard's damage come anywhere close to the damage Al-Balawi might have done? What Al-Balawi did could be light years ahead of Pollard's crime in compromising the security of the US and its NATO allies in and out of Afghanistan, all because the CIA had probably vested too much confidence in its Jordanian allies
In January, when Hosni Mubarak of Egypt was toppled by public unrest, protestors stormed countless Egyptian State Security centers, pored through classified documents and presented some of them to the media. The State Security (Amin El-Dawlah, in Arabic), Egypt's main intelligence body, is known for its close cooperation with the US intelligence bodies on a major scale. No one yet has an exact idea of what documents have found their way to the public -- or terrorists or enemy governments -- yet this breach of security must have seriously compromised US intelligence secrecy and operations. Perhaps the US intelligence community should estimate such risks when working with the intelligence agencies of dictatorships, especially as the "Arab Spring" has shown that dictatorships can be toppled, regardless of how stable they might seem.
...The US national security and intelligence operations have been significantly compromised by none other than the US "allies" themselves, which brings us to the main subject: Pollard. Although he acted illegally and betrayed the national trust vested in him, he gave the information to an ally, Israel; and there seems to be no proof whatever that his acts resulted in harm to any of his fellow Americans.
The question remains: why do so many out there seem obsessed with opposing Pollard's release while they willfully ignore more serious threats taking place on the ground?
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