Jonathan Jay Pollard eligible for parole  

Jonathan Jay Pollard, the former civilian intelligence analyst for the United States Navy who passed sensitive material to Israel, is slated to become eligible for parole.

Although the United States Parole Commission is expected to assent to Pollard’s release, the Justice Department anticipates the former intelligence researcher convicted for violations of the Espionage Act to remain jailed.

“The Department of Justice has always and continues to maintain that Jonathan Pollard should serve his full sentence for the serious crimes he committed, which in this case is a 30-year sentence as mandated by statute,” said spokesman Marc Raimondi.     

Pollard, who began spying for Israel in 1984, fell under suspicion when he was noticed removing classified documents for neither an apparent reason nor a logical destination.  Shortly after, a co-worker noticed unsecured classified material in Pollard’s work area and notified the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Although the FBI did not immediately arrest Pollard, they did begin to monitor his movements and conducted a search of his home.  Pollard refused a FBI polygraph, admitted to passing material, but did not name the destination of his deception.  With the FBI surveillance net growing tighter, Pollard and his then-wife, sought asylum at the Israeli embassy in Washington.

Spurned by Israel, the FBI arrested Pollard outside the Israeli diplomatic offices.  Pollard accepted a Justice Department offer to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy of passing national defense material to a foreign government.

Pollards incarceration has been the subject of numerous calls for his release by the Israeli government.

What will one more year be to Pollard?

Unlike a handful of other spies who were seized by the U.S. government in the 80s, Pollard did not pass information to the former Soviet Union.  Unsubstantiated claims Pollard peddled intelligence to South Africa and Pakistan persist, but no overwhelming evidence exists.

It was, however, the passing of the Radio and Signal Intelligence Manual (RAISIN) to Israel, which was most damaging from Pollard’s intelligence draw:  The deed compelled the U.S. to re-organize the entire signal system at a cost estimated in the billions.

While Pollard did inflict massive damage to U.S. intelligence capabilities, his greatest blunder may well have been personal in submitting to a series of pre-sentence interviews:  During jail-house cross examinations, Pollard discussed details of his case and did not express remorse.  The Justice Department considered these public exchanges with the media to be violations to the agreed plea deal negotiated months prior.  Additionally, Pollard’s long incarceration rests in part with a memo written by then-Secretary of Defense, Caspar Weinberger, who argued Pollard’s crimes merited life imprisonment.

Pollard was a spy; and he did inflict untold damage on U.S. intelligence capability.  Had he remained quiet and eschewed any form of grandstanding for sympathy, he would be walking the streets today.

He will likely be free next year.

[Associated Press]