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Jonathan Pollard: Revisiting a Still Sensitive Case

Washington, D.C., November 24, 2020 – Jonathan Pollard, the former U.S. Navy intelligence analyst who pleaded guilty to spying for Israel in 1987, was released from parole this week.  Pollard, 66, spent almost three decades in prison before being paroled in 2015 on condition that he could not travel outside the United States, had to submit to a curfew, and wore an electronic monitor.  Any company that employed him had to have special government monitoring software on its computer systems.

Pollard’s case was a constant source of tension between the United States and Israel as successive American presidents came under pressure from Israeli leaders and domestic constituencies to reduce or end his sentence.  On the other side of the ledger was the U.S. intelligence community, which consistently expressed outrage over the incident.  As recently as 2006, Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet threatened to resign if the White House released Pollard. 

Today, the National Security Archive is reposting an Electronic Briefing Book on the Pollard case.  First published in December 2012 by then-Senior Fellow Jeffrey T. Richelson (who passed away in 2017), it features almost two dozen CIA, Defense Department, and other records on the case, Pollard’s background, the impact of his espionage, and the Israeli intelligence establishment.  Among the highlights are a detailed 1987 CIA damage assessment, initially heavily redacted but later substantially restored after an Archive appeal to an interagency panel, and a Defense Intelligence Agency biographic sketch of Pollard’s initial Israeli handler.

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Original Posting from 2012

The Jonathan Pollard Spy Case: The CIA's 1987 Damage Assessment Declassified

New Details on What Secrets Israel Asked Pollard to Steal

CIA Withholding Overturned on Appeal by National Security Archive

Washington, D.C., December 14, 2012 – When Naval Investigative Service analyst Jonathan Pollard spied for Israel in 1984 and 1985, his Israeli handlers asked primarily for nuclear, military and technical information on the Arab states, Pakistan, and the Soviet Union  not on the United States  according to the newly-declassified CIA 1987 damage assessment of the Pollard case, published today by the National Security Archive at George Washington University (www.nsarchive.org).

The damage assessment includes new details on the specific subjects and documents sought by Pollard's Israeli handlers (pages 36-43), such as Syrian drones and central communications, Egyptian missile programs, and Soviet air defenses. The Israelis specifically asked for a signals intelligence manual that they needed to listen in on Soviet advisers in Syria. The document describes how Pollard's handler, Joseph Yagur, told him to ignore a request, from Yagur's boss, for U.S. "dirt" on senior Israeli officials and told Pollard that gathering such information would terminate the operation (page 38).

Read entire article at National Security Archive