Maariv: US wrongly punishing Pollard for crimes he did not commit
Review of Maariv Feature Interview with John Loftus
By Sarah Liebowitz-Daar – Maariv Weekend Magazine – November 26, 2010
John Loftus a former US Justice Department attorney and intelligence expert
is convinced that Jonathan Pollard is rotting in prison, not because of
anything he did. He states that spies Aldrich Ames and Robert Hansen are the
ones who gave the soviets the lists of American agents in the USSR which led
to their executions. Institutional intransigence caused the prosecution to
continue to insist that information that Pollard provided to Israel came
into the hands of Shabtai Kalmanovitch (a Soviet spy operating out of
Israel) and from Kalmanovitch to the KGB. Pollard gave secret documents to
Israel, Loftus says, but the punishment he received is totally
disproportionate to the offense he committed.
Loftus says that Pollard did not even have the requisite clearances to have
committed the crimes that he was accused of, yet the Americans will not
admit it, nor take steps to correct this massive injustice. In his feature
interview, Loftus takes Israel to task, saying that with all that is now
known about the injustice done to Jonathan Pollard, Israel should have made
a clear demand for his release, but never did.
The following essay by Loftus previously printed in an American magazine
clearly outlines the stunning points that Loftus made in his interview with
The Truth about Jonathan Pollard
When American intelligence broke the Soviet wartime code, we learned that
the Soviets had infiltrated the American government. The American
intelligence community's penchant for secrecy and its refusal to admit that
it had been infiltrated was so great that it failed to disclose this to
President Harry S. Truman. This is how Daniel Patrick Moynihan described it:
"The Soviets knew we knew they knew we knew. The only one who didn't know
was the President of the United States. Our politics was injured for 30
years by this." — Quoted in the New York Times, March 30, 2002
There is a good reason why neither Congress nor the American Jewish
leadership supports the release of Jonathan Pollard from prison: They all
were told a lie—a humongous Washington whopper of a lie. The lie was first
whispered in the "bubble," the secret intelligence briefing room on Capitol
Hill, but it quickly spread.
Just before Pollard's sentencing, Senator Chic Hecht of Nevada, a senior
member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, telephoned the leaders of every
major Jewish organization to warn them not to support Pollard in any way.
Pollard had done something so horrible that it could never be made public.
Several senior intelligence sources confirmed the message: No matter how
harsh the sentence, Jewish leaders had to keep their mouths shut; don't make
a martyr out of Jonathan Pollard.
Washington insiders thought they knew the big, dark secret. David Luchins,
an aide to Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, announced to reporters that he had
seen "secret documents confirming that Pollard's spying had resulted in the
loss of lives of U.S. intelligence agents." Luchins later recanted his
statement, but not until the damage had already been done.
Pollard had supposedly given Israel a list of every American spy inside the
Soviet Union. On several occasions Soviet agents in New York had posed as
Israelis. The CIA reasoned that that was also true in Israel: The Mossad had
been infiltrated by one or more Soviet spies. In the trade this is called a
"false flag" operation: Your enemy poses as your ally and steals your
secrets. In this case, the CIA reasoned in attempting to explain its
horrendous losses, Pollard had passed the information to Israel he had
stolen, which in turn fell victim to the "false flag" operation. Soviet
agents in Israel, posing as Israeli intelligence agents, passed the
information to Moscow, which then wiped out American human assets in the
Pollard hadn't meant for this to happen, but the result of the "false flag"
mistake was mass murder. In a matter of months, every spy we had in
Russia—more than 40 agents—had been captured or killed. At least that was
the accusation, but the basis for it had been kept secret from Pollard and
his defense counsel.
The public could not be told the horrifying truth: American intelligence had
gone blind behind the Iron Curtain—we had lost all our networks, as the
intelligence community publicly admitted more than a decade later. The
Soviets could have attacked the United States without warning. Everyone who
knew at the time (including me) blamed Pollard.
On March 5, 1987, at 2:22 p.m., the sentencing hearing in U.S. District
Court in Washington, D.C., began in Criminal Case No. 86-207, United States
of America v. Jonathan Jay Pollard. The prosecutors produced a secret letter
and memo from Secretary of Defense Caspar "Cap" Weinberger referring to the
"enormous" harm that Pollard had done to our national security. In his memo,
Weinberger directly accused Pollard of betraying America's "sources and
methods," which is to say, he had betrayed our spies in foreign countries.
Weinberger publicly stated that Pollard was the worst spy in American
history: "It is difficult for me, even in the so-called year of the spy, to
conceive of a greater harm to national security than that caused by the
defendant." Despite his plea agreement to the contrary with the government,
Pollard was given the maximum sentence, life in prison. Weinberger later
said that he wished Pollard had been shot.
A week after the sentencing, the Washington Times reported that the United
States had identified Shabtai Kalmanovich as the Soviet spy in Israel who
supposedly worked for the Mossad but was actually working for the KGB; he
had betrayed American secrets to Moscow. Kalmanovich had been flying under a
false flag. Washington insiders winked knowingly at one another: Pollard's
contact in Israel had been caught.
Just to make sure that Pollard was blamed, U.S. intelligence sources,
several months later, leaked word to the press of the Kalmanovich
connection. "A Russian mole has infiltrated the Mossad and is transmitting
highly sensitive American intelligence information to the Russians," was the
report flashed around the world by United Press International on Dec. 14,
1987. Citing "American intelligence sources," the UPI announced that the
"sensitive intelligence material relayed to Israel by Jonathan Pollard had
reached the KGB."
But it was all untrue. Every bit of it. Pollard wasn't the serial killer.
The Jew didn't do it. It was one of their own WASPs—Aldrich Ames, a drunken
senior CIA official who sold the names of America's agents to the Russians
for cash. Pollard was framed for Ames's crime, while Ames kept on drinking
and spying for the Soviets for several more years. In fact, Israeli
intelligence later suspected that Ames played a direct role in framing
Pollard. But no one in America then knew the truth.
Ames was arrested in February 1994, and confessed to selling out American
agents in the Soviet Union, but not all of them. It was only logical to
assume that Pollard had betrayed the rest of them, as one former CIA
official admitted shortly after Ames's arrest. Even one life lost was too
many. So Pollard continued to rot in jail. No one dreamed that yet another
high-level Washington insider had sold us out to Soviet intelligence. Years
passed, and eventually a Russian defector told the truth. A senior FBI
official—Special Agent Robert Hanssen—had betrayed the rest of our agents.
Hanssen was arrested in February 2001, and soon confessed in order to avoid
the death penalty. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Would the Americans now admit that they had been conned into blaming
Pollard? Beltway bureaucrats do not readily admit to mistakes of this
magnitude. Instead, they convinced themselves that Pollard might still be at
least partly to blame for the worst debacle in U.S. intelligence history.
One desperate analyst from the National Security Council, looking for
something to pin on Pollard, had his own theory. Maybe the Russians didn't
initially believe that their own spies (Ames and Hanssen) had procured all
the names of U.S. agents in the Soviet Union. Maybe Pollard's list tipped
Such things had happened before. Once again, Washington insiders circled
their alphabet agencies to fire back at the critics who dared to suggest
that Pollard might have been innocent of the major charge against him.
Meanwhile, deep inside the Navy's intelligence service, a low-level decision
was made to re-examine the Pollard case in view of the convictions of Ames
and Hanssen. With sickening chagrin, the Navy discovered that the evidence
needed to clear Pollard had been under its nose all along.
As my source in Naval intelligence explained, the list of our secret agents
inside Russia had been kept in a special safe in a special room with a
special "blue stripe" clearance needed for access. When I was a lawyer in
the Justice Department and would be sent over to the CIA to do research, I
was permitted to use only a blue-striped, CIA-issue legal pad for
note-taking. Nothing with a blue stripe could leave the building without
being scrutinized by CIA security.
But Jonathan Pollard didn't have "blue stripe" clearance, according to
intelligence sources I spoke with. That was the bombshell that would clear
him of any possible connection to the deaths of our Russian agents.
Just to make sure, I checked it out, even visiting Pollard in prison to
confirm it. Sure enough, there is no way on earth Jonathan Pollard could
have entered the file room, let alone the safe where the list was kept.
But the intelligence community's failure to catch this and thereby discredit
a critical piece of prosecutorial evidence was, to put it mildly, a bit of
an oversight. Some would say it was an obscene blunder. I regard it as an
understandable mistake that was overlooked in the avalanche of phony
evidence the KGB was planting that pointed to Pollard and away from Ames and
Hanssen, whom the Soviets wanted to protect. Both of them had "blue stripe"
clearance, as was well documented in several books that have been written on
each man and his exploits.
The lack of "blue stripe" clearance was the final proof that Pollard could
not possibly have betrayed our Russian agents. It should certainly have
gotten him a new hearing. As a former federal prosecutor, I can state that
it would be hard to rebut this kind of evidence.
The Justice Department, in one of its briefs, had specifically mentioned the
"false flag" theory as grounds to support Pollard's heavy sentence, arguing
in part, that spying even for friendly countries can be damaging if
information ultimately falls into the wrong hands. In this, the Justice
Department had unwittingly misled the judge. Weinberger also raised the
"false flag" issue in his top-secret memorandum to the judge.
The only possible way to uphold the sentence might be the "harmless error"
doctrine. The government could admit that Pollard had never stolen the
Russian agent list, but so what? Maybe he had passed other information that
was equally damaging, so he would still deserve to remain in prison for the
rest of his life.
The problem with the "harmless error" strategy is that the rest of the
material that Pollard gave the Israelis was itself pretty harmless.
In fact, the original damage assessment from the intelligence community
confirmed that the impact on our national security—of the release of
information other than the agent names—was not serious. This assessment came
after Pollard's initial grand jury appearance, but before the Soviets began
to frame Pollard with the phony Kalmanovich connection. No less a figure
than Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles Leeper had characterized damage caused
by the release of the information that Pollard actually gave Israel as
The reason America suffered so little harm is simple: Pollard was stealing
Soviet secrets for Israel, not American secrets for the Soviets. Before the
fall of communism, the Soviets were shipping guns to nearly every terrorist
group in the Middle East. Pollard knew that U.S. intelligence had been
ordered to share this information with Israel—under an executive order
signed by President Reagan—but had not done so.
In fact, as Pollard himself admitted in one of my three prison interviews,
many, if not most, of the documents he handed over were cover sheets showing
the titles of files that the U.S. was supposed to share with Israel, but
were holding back. (The U.S government, according to Israeli intelligence
sources, mistakenly counted the cover sheets as if they were full files and
came up with the mythical "room full of stolen documents," instead of the
small boxfulls or so that Pollard actually passed.) In the long run, though,
the issue is not how many boxes Pollard passed, but whether anything he gave
Israel did harm to America.
After the government's "false flag" theory was blown up by the "blue stripe"
discovery, the anti-Pollard members of the intelligence community had to
come up with a new PR campaign for damage control. In order to justify
Pollard's life sentence, they had to show that he did do some potentially
catastrophic damage to America. What they came up with was a bit of a
stretch. Pollard had given Israel a set of radio frequency guidebooks, a
worldwide listing of short-wave radio bands. It takes a lot of time and
money to compile one of these guides, but essentially they are just publicly
available information, openly deduced by listening to who is talking to whom
on which radio bands.
Seymour Hersh is a famous reporter and long-time friend. (I was his secret
source in his 1983 book The Price of Power—Kissinger in Nixon's White House
(Summit Books). But Sy had his leg pulled on Pollard by his CIA sources, as
a result of which Sy published a story in the New Yorker in January 1999
claiming that these radio guides were just about the crown jewels of U.S.
intelligence. The truth is that certain portions of the guide had already
been sold to the Soviets by the Walker spy ring, according to courtroom
testimony, which also revealed that the Soviets thought so little of the
guides' value that they did not even bother to ask their top spies, Ames and
Hanssen, to steal the remainder of the set. Moreover, as previously noted,
the government's own damage assessment report originally concluded that the
loss of the guides was a minor matter.
So much for the crown jewels. If that is the best spin the intelligence
community can come up with, Pollard is probably entitled to immediate
release for time served. The truth is that without the "false flag" theory,
and the accompanying "worst spy in history" hysteria, Pollard would probably
have been served no more than five years in prison. He has already served 18
After 9/11, though, I began to realize that Pollard's tale was only the
beginning of a much bigger story about a major America intelligence scandal,
which is the subject of a book I am now working on. Although Jonathan
Pollard did not realize it, he had stumbled across the darkest secret in the
Reagan administration's closet. It is one of the reasons that I am serving
as the intelligence advisor on a trillion-dollar federal lawsuit filed in
August 2002 against the Saudis on behalf of the victims of 9/11.
Pollard in fact did steal something that the U.S. government never wishes to
talk about. Several friends inside military intelligence have told me that
Pollard gave the Israelis a roster that listed the identities of all the
Saudi and other Arab intelligence agents we knew about as of 1984. (This has
been corroborated by Israeli sources, as well.) At that time, this list,
known in intelligence circles as the "blue book," would have been relatively
unimportant to the United States—but not to Israel.
Since 9/11, however, Pollard's "blue book" is of profound interest to
everyone, including the U.S. These particular agents are now a major
embarrassment to the Saudis and to the handful of American spy chiefs who
had employed these Saudi intelligence agents on the sly. Some of the names
on this list—such as Osama Bin Laden—turned out to be leaders of terrorist
groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood and what we now call Al Qaeda.
In hindsight, we now know that Pollard stole the one book—that,
incidentally, was alluded to in Weinberger's secret memorandum—that
unquestionably proves that the Americans knew as early as 1984 about the
connection between the Saudis and terrorist groups.
How does this all fit together? During the Reagan-Bush administrations, the
National Security Council wanted to throw the Soviets out of Afghanistan
using Arab soldiers instead of American. It seemed like a good idea at the
time, but no one thought about the long-term consequences. In imitation of
the Soviet strategy of hiring terrorists, we asked the Saudis to recruit a
proxy army of Islamic terrorists whom we would supply with guns and pay
indirectly, according to intelligence sources. By having the Saudis hire the
"freedom fighters," we could avoid embarrassing questions in Congress about
giving the taxpayers money to known Arab terrorists.
In 1982, I went on "60 Minutes" to expose Nazi war criminals I had been
assigned to prosecute who were then working for the CIA. It was one of those
Cold War blunders. The CIA didn't have a clue it was dealing with Nazi war
criminals. It thought they were "freedom fighters." In 1985, I ended up
testifying before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee about Nazis on the
Sadly, the only lesson the intelligence bosses learned was to put the bad
guys on someone else's payroll (the Saudis for one), and then reimburse them
under the table. Because of my whistle-blowing during the early 1980s, the
CIA was still pretty sensitive about hiring Nazi "freedom fighters" without
background checks, so they were mostly kept out of the loop about the Arab
terrorists hired clandestinely by the Saudis to fight the Soviets in
The Soviets pulled out of Afghanistan in 1989. The naive Americans walked
away from the Frankenstein monster they had created, but the cynical Saudis
kept the terrorists on the payroll. From the Saudi perspective, it was safer
to keep paying the terrorists groups to attack Israel, Bosnia or Chechnya
rather than letting them all back into Saudi Arabia. As one U.S.
intelligence bureaucrat cynically confided to me, "Sure we knew that the
Saudis were giving money to terrorist groups, but they were only killing
Jews, they weren't killing Americans."
In this "Keystone Cops" affair, one wing of U.S. intelligence was hunting
terrorists while another winked at the Saudis' recruitment of them. I have
spoken to numerous FBI and CIA counter-terrorist agents, all of whom tell a
similar story. Whenever the FBI or CIA came close to uncovering the Saudi
terrorist connection, their investigations were mysteriously terminated. In
hindsight, I can only conclude that some of our own Washington bureaucrats
have been protecting the Al Qaeda leadership and their oil-rich Saudi
backers from investigation for more than a decade.
I am not the only one to reach this conclusion. In his autobiography, Oliver
North confirmed that every time he wanted to do something about terrorism,
Weinberger stopped him because it might upset the Saudis and jeopardize the
flow of oil to the U.S. John O'Neill, a former FBI agent and our nation's
top Al Qaeda expert, stated in a 2001 book written by Jean Charles Brisard,
a noted French intelligence analyst, that everything we wanted to know about
terrorism could be found in Saudi Arabia.
O'Neill warned the Beltway bosses repeatedly that if the Saudis were to
continue funding Al Qaeda, it would end up costing American lives, according
to several intelligence sources. As long as the oil kept flowing, they just
shrugged. Outraged by the Saudi cover-up, O'Neill quit the FBI and became
the new chief of security at the World Trade Center. In a bitter irony, the
man who could have exposed his bosses' continuous cover-up of the Saudi-Al
Qaeda link was himself killed by Al Qaeda on 9/11.
Congress has been told repeatedly that American intelligence never knew the
identities of the Arabs who threw the Soviets out of Afghanistan.
Inadvertently, Pollard stole the ultimate smoking gun that shows exactly
what the leaders of our intelligence community knew and when they knew it.
The "blue book" Pollard stole flatly establishes that all the dots were
connected many years before 9/11, and the only thing the intelligence chiefs
did competently was cover up the fact that we had long known about the
In the ultimate irony, Pollard may have to be let out of prison to testify
before Congress about the negligence of his own superiors. Like O'Neill,
Pollard had tried to warn his superiors that a wave of terrorism was coming
out of the Middle East, but no one would listen. Pollard himself told me
this. Pollard has admitted—to me and in writing to President Clinton—that he
was wrong and stupid in passing the information to Israel on his own, but in
the long run he may have committed the most unpardonable sin of all: He was
right and the bureaucrats were wrong.
Pollard never thought he was betraying his country. And he never did,
although he clearly violated its laws. He just wanted to help protect
Israelis and Americans from terrorists. Now in prison for nearly two
decades, Pollard, who is in his late 40s, grows more ill year by year. If,
as seems likely, American bureaucrats choose to fight a prolonged delaying
action over a new hearing, Pollard will probably die in prison. There are
people in power inside the Beltway who have been playing for time. Time for
them ran out on 9/11. Sooner or later, they are going to be held
accountable. I hope that Pollard lives to see it. ==
John Loftus of St. Petersburg, is a former Justice Department Attorney and
co-author with Mark Aarons of "The Secret War Against the Jews" published by
St. Martin's Press.
THE TRUTH ABOUT JONATHAN POLLARD by John Loftus was originally published in
Moment Magazine, June 2003.
US Intelligence Expert: Pollard Wrongly Blamed – Gill Hoffman – Jerusalem
The True Motives Behind the Sentencing of Jonathan Pollard
An Interview with Prof. Angelo Codevilla – The Washington Weekly