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Monday, December 17, 2012
CIA: Pollard got life sentence due to his Jerusalem Post interview with Wolf Blitzer

CIA: Pollard got life sentence due to ‘Post’ interview
By GIL HOFFMAN The Jerusalem Post 12/17/2012 03:34
http://www.jpost.com/DiplomacyAndPolitics/Article.aspx?id=296217

Newly declassified 1987 CIA damage assessment of the Jonathan Pollard case
states that he violated plea bargain terms by giving interview to Wolf
Blitzer in 'The Jerusalem Post.'
Photo: Courtesy

Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard received a life sentence because he violated
a plea agreement he had signed, by giving an unauthorized interview to The
Jerusalem Post, according to the newly declassified 1987 CIA damage
assessment of the Pollard case, published Friday by the National Security
Archive at George Washington University.

Judge Aubrey Robinson sentenced Pollard to life in prison in March 1987
despite a plea agreement in which Pollard agreed to cooperate with the
investigation against him, in return for a promise that he would not receive
such a sentence.

The CIA document surmised that Robinson delivered the sentence because of
the plea bargain violation, along with his perception of the severity of the
espionage offense.

“Pollard’s willingness to grant an interview to journalist Wolf Blitzer for
The Jerusalem Post without obtaining advance approval of the resulting text
from the Justice Department violated the terms of his plea bargain,” the
document said.

“In the Blitzer interview, which was held on November 20, 1986, at
Petersberg Federal Penitentiary, Pollard provided extensive information on
his motives and objectives in conducting espionage for Israel. He also
provided Blitzer a general account with important examples of intelligence
he passed to the Israelis, and emphasized that the Israeli government must
have been aware of and approved of his activities.”

The interview was first published over several months in the Post and was
then reprinted in The Washington Post and The New York Times. Pollard’s
then-wife Anne also angered the judge, according to the document, by giving
an unauthorized interview to CBS’s news magazine 60 Minutes on March 1,
1987, three days before Pollard was sentenced.

The CIA speculated in the damage assessment that by giving the interviews,
the Pollards were trying to mobilize support among American Jews and the
Israeli government, but that strategy backfired.

Pollard’s current wife Esther responded that neither Robinson nor the
government had barred her husband from talking to the press. She said that
if he wanted to meet with a reporter, all he had to do was obtain written
permission from the Bureau of Prisons and restrict his comments to
guidelines established for such interviews, which she said he did with
Blitzer.

“The government did something highly suspicious by forgetting to send anyone
to monitor these interviews,” Esther Pollard said. “Later, at sentencing,
the prosecutor successfully inflamed the judge against Jonathan by falsely
claiming that not only had the interviews been secretly arranged behind
their backs, but that Jonathan had also disclosed highly classified material
to Blitzer that compromised the intelligence community’s sources and
methods.”

Esther Pollard pointed out that several years later, Blitzer said it
appeared to him that the approval for the interview was “part of a
calculated scheme” by the prosecutors designed to justify their planned
violation of the plea agreement. She said government prosecutor Joseph
diGenova later confirmed this by telling The Village Voice that he had hoped
the interview would be the “rope” with which Pollard would hang himself.

Pollard's attorneys, Eliot Lauer and Jacques Semmelman, responded that the
government's claim that Pollard gave an unauthorized interview is baseless.

"The government approved Mr. Pollard's application, and two interviews took
place inside the prison with government approval," the lawyers said. "Under
the plea agreement, any interviews had to be approved by the Director of
Naval Intelligence. Mr. Pollard had been led to believe that his written
requests for authorization had received all necessary approvals within the
government. Indeed, it would not have been possible for Mr. Blitzer to enter
the prison at all, much less equipped with tape recorder and camera, without
government approval."

Lawrence Korb, former US assistant secretary of defense at the time of
Pollard’s arrest, said that the release of the CIA damage assessment which
indicated that Pollard sought information on Israel’s Arab adversaries and
not the US was a “fortuitous development” that “underscores the case for
Pollard’s immediate release.” He urged Israeli officials to use this
development to press for Pollard’s release without delay.

“We knew all along that the information that Pollard passed concerned Arab
countries, and not the US, but the release of this official document
confirming the facts makes it much easier to bring a speedy end to this
tragedy,” Korb said. “After 28 years it is time for Pollard to be released
and to go home now."

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