Monday, April 17, 2006

Trade a Spy for Somebody Else's Terrorist ?

The Jerusalem Post online edition reports today that Mr. Jonathan Pollard, now serving a life term for his 1986 conviction for spying for Israel, would oppose release from US imprisonment in exchange for the Israelis freeing Mr. Marqan Barghouti, a Palestinian terrorist held by Israel.

Mr. Pollard was a civilian US intelligence analyst for the US Navy’s Field Operational Intelligence Office (NFOIO). In 1984, Mr. Pollard contacted a Colonel Sela of the Israeli Air Force, and transferred to Colonel Sela “thousands” of classified files that he – Pollard – decided should have been shared with Israel under agreements to share intelligence. Mr. Pollard’s superiors became suspicious when classified documents unrelated to his work were found in his office, and after FBI investigation, Mr. Pollard was arrested in November of 1985.

How interesting and how irrelevant that Mr. Pollard opposes being released to free Mr. Barghouti. Mr. Barghouti is an Israeli problem, but Mr. Pollard is ours. As far as I’m concerned, Mr. Pollard can rot in prison for the rest of his days.

Mr. Pollard is an American citizen, who abused the trust reposed in him by the Navy to pass information to representatives of a foreign government. Mr. Pollard was no hero, or innocent victim, but a spy who was lucky not to have danced at the end of a rope.

It matters not, to me, that Mr. Pollard worked for a friendly government, the offense, in my opinion is the same. Mind you, I have no moral problems with the Israelis on this point: all governments spy, even on friendly and allied nations. If we don't catch them, shame on us, but not on them: governments engage in espionage as a matter of course. Similarly, Colonel Sela, and the other Israelis involved in obtaining Mr. Pollard’s information owed America no allegiance, and did no more than their duty to their government.

The Israelis can do what they want with Mr. Barghouti, but Mr. Pollard is exactly where he belongs – in jail.

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