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September 19, 2014 / 24 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘intelligence’

Weinberger Gave Judge Wrong Information Resulting in Pollard’s Life Sentence

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

I previously wrote about new documents declassified in the Jonathan Pollard case, which might help us understand his disproportionate life sentence and why he is still imprisoned after 27 years.

Pollard’s lawyers negotiated a plea agreement with the government: he agreed to plead guilty and gave up his right to a jury trial; in return, the prosecution agreed not to seek a life sentence. By the precedents set by other cases of espionage on behalf of allies, Pollard expected a much lighter sentence.

Instead, the Secretary of Defense, Caspar Weinberger, presented a memo to the court at the last minute accusing Pollard of doing massive damage to the U.S. The prosecution then reneged on its agreement and the judge sentenced Pollard to life imprisonment. Pollard’s lawyers were able to see the document for a few minutes, but were not given the opportunity to respond. The document has been released in a highly redacted form, so it is still not possible to know precisely what was in it.

Part of the content was probably assertions that information from Pollard found its way to the Soviet Union, exposing several American agents who were then murdered by the KGB. As I explained Friday, it appears that the agents were actually betrayed either by double agent Aldrich Ames or another ‘mole’ in the CIA who was being protected by Ames. Hershel Shanks explains,

In 1983 Ames was made chief of the CIA’s Soviet counterintelligence branch in the Soviet-East European Division. Ames was recruited by the Russians in 1984. Ames would, of course, have every reason to deflect suspicion from himself and blame someone else for what was happening in the Moscow bureau – and Ames was in a position to do so.

The information Pollard passed to Israel about Russian weaponry in Arab states was obtained, at least in part, from American agents in Russia.

In the intelligence community it was well known that in the past KGB moles had penetrated Israeli intelligence. Perhaps a still-undiscovered Soviet mole inside Israeli intelligence passed the secrets to the Soviets that Pollard had passed to Israel.

Pollard was not sentenced until March 1987. Ames was still in charge of Soviet counter-intelligence within the CIA. Based on what Ames told him, Weinberger drafted his affidavit to the court [my emphasis].

But the government apparently provided additional “facts” to the judge. When Pollard attempted (unsuccessfully) to withdraw his guilty plea in 1990, attorney Alan Dershowitz presented the following affidavit to the court:

  1. My name is ALAN M. DERSHOWITZ. I am a Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. I serve as one of the lawyers for Jonathan J. Pollard. During the 1963 – 1964 Supreme Court term, I was a law clerk to Mr. Justice Arthur Goldberg. Between that time and his death, I remained a close friend and associate of Mr. Justice Goldberg. We worked together on many projects, spoke and met frequently, and jointly authored articles and proposals.
  2. Following the publication of the a letter to the Jerusalem Post, on September 12, 1989, I spoke to Justice Goldberg on the telephone about the sentence imposed on Jonathan Pollard. I promised to send him some comparative sentencing data. Justice Goldberg promised to make some inquiries on his own regarding the sentence.
  3. Subsequent to this conversation, Justice Goldberg called me to tell me that he had personally met with Judge Aubrey Robinson and discussed the Pollard sentence with him. Justice Goldberg told me that Judge Robinson had told him that he (Judge Robinson) had been provided by the government with evidence that Jonathan Pollard had given Israel American satellite photographs proving that Israel had tested Jericho missiles in South Africa and had provided South Africa with missile and nuclear technology. Justice Goldberg told me further that Judge Robinson was particularly outraged by the Israel-South Africa connection and Pollard’s role in providing Israel with evidence that the United States had satellite evidence of it. Justice Goldberg told me that he understood why Judge Robinson, as a Black man, would be particularly sensitive to this evidence. Justice Goldberg told me that Judge Robinson had told him that Pollard-South African connection had weighed heavily in his (Judge Robinson’s) decision to impose a life sentence. I told Justice Goldberg that I did not believe that Jonathan Pollard had provided Israel with any such satellite information, but that I would check.
  4. I immediately called Hamilton Fox and Nathan Dershowitz [Pollard's lawyers] and told them of my conversation with Justice Goldberg. Fox said he would check with Jonathan Pollard and his earlier attorney, Richard A. Hibey concerning the truth or falsity of the evidence provided to Judge Robinson.
  5. After being assured by Fox that there was no truth whatsoever in the claim that Jonathan Pollard had provided satellite photographs or information to Israel about South Africa, Jericho missiles or nuclear technology, I wrote Justice Goldberg the attached letter (Attachment A).
  6. On January 15, 1990 I spoke with Justice Goldberg on the phone. He was quite upset at the content of my letter and promised to get to the bottom of it. He told me that he would phone Attorney General Thornburgh for a meeting to discuss this issue and the sentence. He told me that if my facts were correct, then the Justice Department had improperly “pandered” (that was his precise word) to Judge Robinson’s racial sensitivities as a Black judge by providing him with false, inflammatory, ex parte information.
  7. On Friday morning January 19, 1990, I learned from Robert Goldberg that his father, Justice Arthur Goldberg, had died in his sleep during the night.

Was there a “South African connection?” It seems unlikely, considering the kind of information Israel sought from Pollard – information about its Arab enemies and their Soviet supporters.

But more important, even if there were such a connection, Judge Robinson’s outrage that Israel may have aided the hated South African regime is hardly a legitimate reason to doom Pollard to life in prison! After all, even if true, this wasn’t Pollard’s doing.

If indeed a combination of false accusations and an inappropriate emotional reaction by the judge resulted in Pollard’s life sentence, then a miscarriage of justice occurred.

The administration should either release Pollard or explain convincingly why he should remain in prison.

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Time To Let Jonathan Pollard Go

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Jonathan Pollard’s long incarceration has taken its toll and he is now seriously ill. While he is not the first inmate to suffer in this manner, most are given consideration for compassionate early release. It in no way diminishes the severity of his crimes to suggest he should be sent home. His sentence was Draconian, as attested to by a growing number of former senior federal officials, including several from Congress and the intelligence community.

In this connection, we were disappointed that retiring Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman, who in the past pointedly refused to get involved with the issue, still does not seem interested – this despite his call for Congress to have “mercy” on United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice, who has been heavily criticized for her statements after the Benghazi attack. The circumstances are obviously very different but we were struck, nevertheless, by his compassion for Ms. Rice, which stands in such stark contrast to his disinterest in Mr. Pollard’s plight.

Several years ago his Senate colleague, New York’s Charles Schumer, said in an interview after being asked about his reported review of the classified Pollard case file:

Pollard should have been punished, he spied on the United States. But the sentence he received is disproportionate. When I got the top-secret briefing you alluded to, it didn’t teach me anything that I didn’t know from open sources.

Sen. Lieberman once told an interviewer that he had had “a classified briefing” in the matter and noted that “Pollard did some terrible things” – though he also acknowledged that “he’s been in a long time…but if you’re asking if I’m going to get involved, no.” When pressed further he said,

He’s been in a very long time. Our system of justice unfortunately sometimes produces results like this. Two people, even in the same state, can both be charged with murder and convicted of murder. One gets a life sentence for some reason and maybe that is commuted to 25 years; the other gets executed. I mean, that’s just the way it is.”

Mr. Lieberman’s words speak for themselves.

Report: Israel Spotted Iranian Boat with Rockets for Gaza

Sunday, November 25th, 2012

The Sunday Times reported that Israeli spy satellites detected an Iranian ship loaded with rockets. According to the report, intelligence experts estimated that the shipment was intended to reach Gaza through the Red Sea, Sudan and Egypt.

The cargo was prepared for loading last week, at the time when Israel and the Hamas were negotiating the ceasefire. Israeli intelligence believes that it will be delivered from Iran to Sudan.

“We believe that Iranian warships anchored in Eritrea will accompany the weapons ship as soon as it will enter the Red Sea,” an Israeli source told the Times.

In the Matter of Susan Rice

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

Getting at the truth of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi is a work in progress and this is certainly a story with legs. Why U.S. personnel were not given adequate protection despite danger signals for weeks prior and why the Obama administration, in the face of intelligence information to the contrary, downplayed any terrorist dimension in the assault, urging instead that the attackers were ordinary Muslims upset about an anti-Muhammad video, is sure to be the focus of intense congressional attention.

But the brouhaha over the role of our UN Ambassador Susan Rice in promoting the deception has assumed a life of its own as she appears to be President Obama’s choice to succeed Hillary Clinton as secretary of state. To be sure, Ambassador Rice’s appearances on news programs touting the video scenario raises some serious questions. But there should also be concern over her comments to the UN Security Council in February 2011 when, ironically, she cast the U.S. veto of a resolution condemning Israeli settlement expansion.

It will be recalled that there was a concerted effort on the part of the Palestinians and their allies to have the Security Council pass a resolution condemning Israel’s settlement growth. President Obama indicated early on that the U.S. would not go along with this and, if necessary, block the measure by voting against it. (Because the U.S. is a permanent member of the Security Council, this meant the measure would not pass.)

Video of the Security Council session show an obviously upset Ambassador Rice as she cast the negative vote. Her body language and facial expressions send an unmistakable message. Here are excerpts of what she said that day:

The United States has been deeply committed to pursuing a comprehensive and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians. In that context, we have been focused on taking steps that advance the goal of two states living side by side in peace and security, rather than complicating it. That includes a commitment to work in good faith with all parties to underscore our opposition to continued settlements.Our opposition to the resolution before this Council today should therefore not be misunderstood to mean we support settlement activity. On the contrary, we reject in the strongest terms the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity. For more than four decades, Israeli settlement activity in territories occupied in 1967 has undermined Israel’s security and corroded hopes for peace and stability in the region. Continued settlement activity violates Israel’s international commitments, devastates trust between the parties, and threatens the prospects for peace….

While we agree with our fellow Council members – and indeed, with the wider world – about the folly and illegitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity, we think it unwise for this Council to attempt to resolve the core issues that divide Israelis and Palestinians. We therefore regrettably have opposed this draft resolution.

So, separate and apart from her role in the Benghazi aftermath. we have serious reservations about what it would mean for Israel should Ms. Rice become secretary of state. As for Benghazi, President Obama has defended Ms. Rice in the face of criticism that she misled the public. He has said she was following his orders. A similar defense was offered by members of the Black Congressional Caucus who insist that any criticism of Ms. Rice is racist and sexist since she was simply following the president’s directive.

In reality, of course, the ambassador has shown herself quite capable of communicating her personal disagreement with presidential policy when she feels the need to do so, as witness the above transcript.

We also note in this connection that as a cabinet level official, Ms. Rice had access to classified intelligence information concerning Benghazi that contradicts the administration’s initial video narrative. And how in the world did she overlook or dismiss the fact that the attack came on 9/11?

Jewish Press Election Night Live Chat

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

This is for political junkies and their loved ones: if you are bursting with meaningful stuff to say about the elections and your local bar is closed down, or you don’t have a local bar in your neighborhood, or you would rather be doing your political bar brawling from the safety of your apartment, but you just have to share with national-religious, conservative Jews and their friendly others – come to the Jewish Press Election Chat online.

You’ll need to log in on the top-right corner of your screen at or just before 9 PM New York time, or 4 AM Jerusalem time. Enter and start sharing – but, please, ladies and gentlemen, we don’t need more Obama put-downs, or broad generalizations about the comparative intelligence of conservatives and liberals. What we need are good, interesting, funny and real observations. You can talk back and refute stuff to your heart’s content, but do be civil. Remember, the moderator has the power to take away your chat privileges if you misbehave.

We’re looking forward to chatting with you tonight – and let’s hope America gets the chief executive she deserves.

Good night, stock up on chips and salsa and beer (if your mom says it’s ok) – and let us celebrate democracy!

The players and managers of the JewishPress.com

Latest Blood Libel: Iranians Accusing Israel of Developing Race-Specific WMDs

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Here are the first three paragraphs of what appears to be a completely serious news report that appeared on Tuesday and is still up on the website of PressTV. It’s been there since this morning.

UK, Israel seeking to develop SARS-like race-specific bio-weapon Tue Oct 9, 2012 4:36AM GMT

British and Zionist health experts are working on a SARS-like race-specific bio-weapon, which could be capable of creating a global threat through triggering a massive ethnic cleansing, it has been claimed.

The claim was made following the identification by the World Health Organization (WHO) of a new SARS-like race-specific virus that targets people of Middle Eastern decent. The original SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) resulted in the death of numerous people in Hong Kong.

The Zionist-led Israeli regime has been seeking to spot specific genes carried by human of Arab decent in an attempt to develop a race-specific bio-weapon that could covertly be exposed to Arab populations in order to commit a massive ethnic cleansing whenever necessary.

Ignore for the moment the rank racism, the poor spelling (“by human of Arab decent”), the childish form of expression, the absence of any basis for the wild and irresponsible allegations (“it has been claimed“; “according to intelligence sources“). Ignore that it more or less repeats (without attribution) something that appeared on an over-the-edge website a few days prior.

Just focus, for a moment, on the comments published under the article on the PressTV site. As of Tuesday afternoon, there are 27 published comments, almost all of them proceeding on the assumption that the report is true, and 75 “likes.” The story went up Tuesday, so by the time you check, there are certain to be more.

If it was not already obvious, we have arrived at the point where people are ready to swallow the most extravagant charges against Israel - anything, with or without an explanation, no matter how fanciful or outrageous. These commenters are probably not the brightest bulbs in the box, but in times as dangerous as these, when mobs don’t just get noisy but actually kill innocent people, there’s no requirement for them to have normal intelligence in order to cause harm.

And before anyone wants to dismiss the news channel as marginal, a word about PressTV. It calls itself

the first Iranian international news network, broadcasting in English on a round-the-clock basis. Our global Tehran-based headquarters is staffed with outstanding Iranian and foreign media professionals. Press TV is extensively networked with bureaus located in the world’s most strategic cities.

PressTV is owned and operated by the government of Iran, via the state-owned media corporation Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) [source]. Its current presenters include Lauren Booth, gaffe-prone sister-in-law of former British prime minister Tony Blair and thoroughly loose cannon; and George Galloway, the inflammatory British parliamentarian. FARS, another Iranian media channel with a name that sounds like what it often is, and Iran English Radio are both currently echoing the PressTV report. Someone in the Iranian regime clearly wants this story to get traction. Sadly, that is very likely to happen.

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Behind The Mossad Curtain: An Interview with Author Dan Raviv

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

The mystique of the Mossad. Few can resist it. Hardly any Jew bears anything but affection and admiration for the foreign intelligence agency that produced Eli Cohen, kidnapped Adolf Eichmann, and attacked Iran’s nuclear program with a computer virus in 2009.

But how did the Mossad become so effective? And from where does it get its information? These questions and others are addressed in a new book, Spies Against Armageddon: Inside Israel’s Secret Wars. Written by veteran journalists Yossi Melman and Dan Raviv, the book traces the history of the Mossad from its inception to today. A Hebrew version of the work, Milchamot Hatzlalim, is a bestseller in Israel.

Raviv, who has served as a CBS News correspondent for over 30 years, recently spoke with The Jewish Press.

The Jewish Press: Your book relates many fascinating incidents, but a great deal of them have already appeared in other works. What exactly is new about this book?

Raviv: For one, we are the first to reveal the decision-making process behind the bombing of Syria’s nuclear reactor in 2007 and how Israel’s intelligence community discovered it.

How, indeed, did it discover it?

When Colonel Khaddafi in Libya gave up his weapons of mass destruction in a deal negotiated by the Americans and British, Israel was taken entirely by surprise. Israel didn’t know that Khaddafi had an active WMD program and didn’t know about the negotiations for him to give it up. And that was pretty embarrassing to the Mossad.

So Israeli intelligence decided to review every file they had that had anything to do with Arab countries and nuclear work. And they found that the Pakistani [nuclear scientist] A.Q. Khan, who was known to have sold nuclear equipment to many countries, had been in touch with Syria. More importantly, they discovered North Korea had been working closely with Syria.

So the Mossad turned its focus, and Israeli spy satellites, to that and found the secluded building in northeastern Syria which Israel’s air force eventually destroyed.

You write that Israel somehow managed to get photos of the inside of that building. How?

A Mossad team in Europe obtained them from the computer files of a Syrian official who was traveling.

What I think is so interesting is that Israel decided never to confirm the air raid that destroyed the reactor, hoping that, as a result, no war would break out. It didn’t want to humiliate Assad. It was a clever strategy, and it suggests that if Israel takes action inside Iran, it similarly won’t confirm it.

Israel has already started taking action on Iran as you document in your book.

Yes, and Yossi and I believe we are the first to establish that the assassinations of five nuclear scientists in Tehran from 2007 to 2011 were committed by members of a special Mossad squad called Kidon. We looked into the possibility that Israel hired mercenaries or local Iranian dissidents. But our sources told us that if an operation is extremely sensitive, they don’t trust others to do it.

What is the Kidon unit?

It’s an extremely well trained and talented group that can get to places that are almost unthinkable. In other words, they are super spies. Even within the Mossad, most staff members don’t know the real names of Kidon operatives.

How many Kidon operatives are there?

My impression is that there are just a few dozen. They’re handpicked for being especially talented, including skills at foreign languages. They’re trained in the use of all kinds of weapons and most of the assassination missions have been done by them.

Do you think assassinating Iranian scientists and planting sophisticated computer viruses can continue to disrupt Iran’s nuclear program? Or are we nearing the point where only an air attack would do the trick?

I think it’s possible to keep causing delays and problems. Recently retired Israeli intelligence people speak of a list of actions which still have not been done – including cutting off electricity and water, causing communications difficulties, planting more computer viruses, etc. They think a lot of sabotage can still be done, and that is one of their arguments against sending Israel’s air force to attack Iran.

Tons of people have heard of Israel’s legendary spy, Eli Cohen, who was caught and hanged in Syria in 1965. Does the Mossad still have undercover agents like Eli Cohen living in Arab countries?

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/interviews-and-profiles/behind-the-mossad-curtain-an-interview-with-author-dan-raviv/2012/09/25/

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