The government's investigation has revealed that defendant provided to certain of his acquaintances U.S. classified documents which defendant obtained through U.S. Navy sources. The classified documents which defendant disclosed to two such acquaintances, both of whom are professional investment advisers, contained classified economic and political analyses which defendant believed would help his acquaintances render investment advice to their clients... Defendant acknowledged that, although he was not paid for his unauthorized disclosures of classified information to the above-mentioned acquaintances, he hoped to be rewarded ultimately through business opportunities that these individuals could arrange for defendant when he eventually left his position with the U.S. Navy. In fact, defendant was involved in an ongoing business venture with two of these acquaintances at the time he provided the classified information to them...
Jonathan Jay Pollard was born in Galveston, Texas, in 1954, to a Jewish family, the youngest of three siblings. In 1961, his family moved to South Bend, Indiana, where his father, Morris, an award-winning microbiologist, taught at Notre Dame.
Pollard's Future wife, Anne Henderson (born May 1, 1960), moved to Washington, D. C., in fall 1978 to live with her (recently divorced) father, Bernard Henderson. In the summer of 1981, she moved into a house on Capitol Hill with two other women and, through a friend of one of her roommates, she first met Pollard. He later said he had fallen in love during their first meeting – they were "an inseparable couple" by November 1981, and in June 1982, when her Capitol Hill lease expired, she moved into Pollard's apartment in Arlington, Virginia. In December 1982, the couple moved into downtown Washington, D. C., to a two-bedroom apartment at 1733 20th Street NW, near Dupont Circle. They married on August 9, 1985, more than a year after Pollard began spying for Israel, in a civil ceremony in Venice, Italy. At the time of their arrest, in November 1985, they were paying US$750 per month in rent.
Pollard grew up with what he called a "racial obligation" to Israel, and made his first trip to Israel in 1970, as part of a science program visiting the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot. While there, he was hospitalized after a fight with another student. One Weizmann scientist remembered Pollard as leaving behind "a reputation of being a troublemaker".
After completing high school, Pollard attended Stanford University, where he completed a degree in political science in 1976. While there, he is remembered by several of his acquaintances as having boasted that he was a dual citizen of the United States and Israel, claiming to have worked for Mossad, to have attained the rank of colonel in the Israel Defense Forces (even sending himself a telegram addressed to "Colonel Pollard"), and to have killed an Arab while on guard duty at a kibbutz. He also claimed that his father was a CIA operative, and to have fled Czechoslovakia as a child during the Prague Spring in 1968 when his father's CIA role there was discovered. None of these claims were true. Later, Pollard enrolled in several graduate schools, but never completed a post-graduate degree.
In 1979, after leaving graduate school, Pollard began applying for intelligence Service jobs, first at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and then the U.S. Navy. Pollard was turned down for the CIA job after taking a polygraph test in which he admitted to prolific illegal drug usage between 1974 and 1978. He fared better with the Navy and on 19 September 1979, he was hired by the Navy Field Operational Intelligence Office (NFOIO), an office of the Naval Intelligence Command (NIC). As an intelligence specialist, he was to work on Soviet issues at the Navy Ocean Surveillance Information Center (NOSIC), a department of NFOIO. A background check was required to receive the necessary security clearances, but no polygraph test. In addition to a 'Top Secret' clearance, a more stringent 'Sensitive Compartmented Information' (SCI) clearance was required. The Navy asked for, but was denied information from the CIA regarding Pollard, including the results of their pre-employment polygraph test revealing Pollard's excessive drug use. Pollard was given temporary non-SCI security clearances pending completion of his background check, which was normal for new hires at the time. He was assigned to temporary duty at another NIC Department, the Naval Intelligence Support Center (NISC) Surface Ships Division, where he could work on tasks that did not require SCI clearance. NOSIC's current operations center and the NISC were co-located in Suitland, Maryland.
Pollard's clearance was reduced to Secret. He subsequently filed a grievance and threatened lawsuits to recover his SCI clearance. While awaiting his grievance to be addressed, he worked on less sensitive material and began receiving excellent performance reviews. In 1982, after the Psychiatrist concluded Pollard had no mental illness, Pollard's clearance was upgraded to SCI. In October 1984, after some re-organization of the Navy's intelligence departments, Pollard applied for and was accepted into a position as an analyst for the Naval Intelligence Command.
Pollard claimed that he provided only information that was vital to Israeli security, and that it was being withheld by the Pentagon, in violation of a 1983 Memorandum of Understanding between the two countries. The Memorandum of Understanding was an agreement between the United States and Israel regarding the sharing of vital security intelligence. According to Pollard, this included data on Soviet arms shipments to Syria, Iraqi and Syrian chemical weapons, the Pakistani atomic bomb project, and Libyan air defense systems. According to the declassified CIA 1987 damage assessment of the Pollard case, under the heading "What the Israelis Did Not Ask For", the assessment notes that the Israelis "never expressed interest in U.S. military activities, plans, capabilities, or equipment". Pollard's defense claimed that Israel had the legal rights to the information that Pollard passed to Israel based upon the 1983 Memorandum of understanding and the United States was breaching that Memorandum.
Pollard's espionage nearly came to light in 1984 when a department head noted a report on Soviet military equipment and questioned why it was germane to the office. Pollard, whom the report was traced to, was asked about it, and he replied that he had been working on terrorist networks, which was accepted as valid. In 1985, a co-worker anonymously reported Pollard's removal of Classified material from the NIC. The coworker noted that Pollard did not seem to be taking the material to any known appropriate destination, such as other intelligence agencies in the area. Although Pollard was authorized to transport documents and the coworker said the documents were properly wrapped, it appeared out of place that Pollard would be transporting documents on a Friday afternoon when there was little going on and people seemed to be focused on an upcoming long weekend. Ultimately, that report was not acted upon as it was felt it occurred within Business hours and Pollard had Business being in other offices. In another instance Pollard's direct superior, having to complete extra work at the office on a Saturday, had walked by Pollard's desk and noticed unsecured Classified material. Taking the initiative to secure it, the supervisor glanced over it and saw it was unrelated to antiterrorism matters in the Caribbean, which is what the section focused on. Looking at more unrelated documents, the supervisor believed foreign intelligence might be involved, but was unable to determine which nation might be interested.
Prior to Pollard's plea bargain, the U.S. government began preparing a multi-count Criminal indictment against him, which included drug offences and tax fraud along with espionage. The government alleged that Pollard used Classified documents to unsuccessfully broker an arms deal with the governments of South Africa, Argentina, and Taiwan. FBI investigators also determined that Pollard met with three Pakistanis and an Iranian foreigner in an attempt to broker arms in 1985. Pollard eventually cooperated with investigators in exchange for a plea agreement for leniency for himself and his wife. Israel said initially that Pollard worked for an unauthorized rogue operation, a position they maintained for more than ten years. They finally agreed to cooperate with the investigation in exchange for immunity for the Israelis involved.
Pollard was then moved from FCC Petersburg in Virginia, where he had been held since 1986, to a federal prison hospital in Springfield, Missouri, to undergo a battery of mental health tests. In June 1988, he was transferred to the federal maximum security prison in Marion, Illinois, and in 1993 to FCI Butner Medium at the Butner Federal Correction Complex in North Carolina. In May 1991, Pollard asked Avi Weiss to be his personal rabbi. Israeli Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu was also a supporter of Pollard, and campaigned for his release from prison.
The Pollards' sentencing took place on March 4, 1987. While the prosecutor, in compliance with the plea agreement, recommended that Pollard receive "only a substantial number of years in prison", Judge Aubrey Robinson Jr. was not obligated to follow the recommendation. Noting that Pollard had violated multiple conditions of the plea agreement, he imposed a life sentence on the basis of a Classified damage-assessment memorandum submitted by Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger.
In 1988, Israel proposed a three-way exchange, wherein Pollard and his wife would be released and deported to Israel, Israel would release Soviet spy Marcus Klingberg, and the Soviet Union would exercise its influence with Syria and Iran to release American hostages held there by Syrian- and Iranian-sponsored terrorist groups.
In 1989, Pollard's attorneys filed a motion for withdrawal of his guilty plea and trial by jury due to the government's failure to abide by terms of the plea agreement. The motion was denied. An appeals court affirmed the denial. Several years later, with a different attorney, Pollard filed a petition for habeas corpus. A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled two-to-one to deny Pollard's petition, primarily due to the failure of Pollard's original attorneys to file his appeal in a timely manner. Judge Stephen F. Williams dissented, "because the government's breach of the plea agreement was a fundamental miscarriage of justice requiring relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2255".
In the 1990s former University of Notre Dame President Theodore Hesburgh, a family friend of Pollard's, attempted to broker a deal whereby Pollard would be released, "be banished to Israel", and would renounce his U.S. citizenship. Mike Royko of the Chicago Tribune wrote columns in February 1994 supporting the idea. White House officials expressed little enthusiasm for Hesburgh's plan, and he ceased further efforts.
In 1993, political science professor and Orthodox Jewish Activist David Luchins organized an unsuccessful appeal to President Bill Clinton to commute Pollard’s sentence. The appeal included a letter of remorse from Pollard in which he admitted violating both U.S. laws and Jewish religious tenets. Pollard later reportedly regretted his admission, suspecting that it worsened his chances for clemency. Pollard loyalists blamed Luchins, who received death threats and required federal protection for a period of time.
Yitzhak Rabin was the first Israeli prime minister to intervene on Pollard's behalf; in 1995, he petitioned President Bill Clinton for a pardon. Other requests followed. At a critical juncture in the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations at the Wye River Conference in 1998, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attempted to make the outcome contingent on Pollard's release. "If we signed an agreement with Arafat, I expected a pardon for Pollard", he wrote. Clinton later confirmed in his memoir that he tentatively agreed to the condition, "...but I would have to check with our people". When that information was made public, the American intelligence community responded immediately, with unequivocal anger. Seven former Secretaries of Defense—Donald Rumsfeld, Melvin R. Laird, Frank C. Carlucci, Richard B. Cheney, Caspar W. Weinberger, James R. Schlesinger and Elliot L. Richardson—along with several senior Congressional Leaders, publicly voiced their vigorous opposition to any form of clemency. Central Intelligence Agency Director George J. Tenet initially denied reports that he had threatened to resign if Pollard were to be released, but eventually confirmed that he had. Other Clinton advisors, including Madeleine Albright and Sandy Berger, were "adamantly opposed" to clemency as well. Clinton, who had not expected such forceful opposition, told Netanyahu that Pollard’s release could not be a condition of the agreement, and ordered a formal review of Pollard's case. Dennis Ross confirmed Clinton's version of events in his book The Missing Peace.
After finalization of his divorce from Anne, Pollard married Esther "Elaine" Zeitz, a Canadian Teacher and Activist based in Toronto who had organized a campaign for his release. In 1996, she initiated a public hunger strike, but ended it 19 days later after meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who pledged to step up his efforts to secure Pollard's release. Media sources and Pollard family members have questioned whether Pollard and Zeitz are legally wed. Prison officials told Ha'aretz that there is no record of a marriage ceremony having been requested or conducted. After completing her parole, Anne Pollard emigrated to Israel, where she lives in Tel Aviv on a government stipend supplemented by occasional private donations.
Israel's official position until 1998 was that Pollard worked for an unauthorized rogue organization. In May of that year, Prime Minister Netanyahu admitted that Pollard had in fact been an Israeli agent, answering directly to high-ranking officials of Lekem, the Israeli Bureau for Scientific Relations. The Israeli government paid at least two of the attorneys—Richard A. Hibey and Hamilton Philip Fox III—working for his release.
Critics allege that Pollard's espionage, which compromised elements of four major intelligence systems, damaged American national security far more than was ever publicly acknowledged. They have charged that he was motivated not by patriotism or concern for Israel's security, but by greed; that Israel paid him well, and he spent the money on cocaine, alcohol, and expensive meals. Many intelligence officials are convinced that at least some of the information Pollard sold to Israel eventually wound up in the Soviet Union, although officials interviewed by investigative Journalist Seymour Hersh acknowledged that they had no hard evidence. In 1999, Hersh summarized the case against Pollard in The New Yorker.
The issue of his imprisonment has sometimes arisen amidst Israeli domestic politics. Benjamin Netanyahu has been particularly vocal in lobbying for Pollard's release, visiting Pollard in prison in 2002. He raised the issue with President Clinton during the Wye River peace talks in October 1998. In his autobiography, Clinton wrote that he was inclined to release Pollard, but the objections of U.S. intelligence officials were too strong:
Dennis B. Ross said in 2004: "Pollard received a harsher sentence than others who committed comparable crimes." Former U.S. Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger stated that "[t]he Pollard matter was comparatively minor. It was made far bigger than its actual importance." Stephen Fain Williams, a Senior Circuit Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit stated: "Jonathan Pollard's life sentence represents a fundamental miscarriage of justice". In December 2010, former U.S. assistant Secretary of Defense Lawrence Korb said: "In retrospect, we know that an injustice was done to Pollard ... the man is very sick and should be released before it is too late."
Another Israeli request was made in New York on September 14, 2005, and declined by President George W. Bush. A request that Pollard be designated a Prisoner of Zion was rejected by the High Court of Justice of Israel on January 16, 2006. Another appeal for intervention on Pollard's behalf was rejected by the High Court on March 20, 2006.
Ron Olive, retired Naval Criminal Investigative Service, led the Pollard investigation. In his 2006 book, Capturing Jonathan Pollard – How One of the Most Notorious Spies in American History Was Brought to Justice, Olive wrote that Pollard did not serve Israel solely, but admitted passing secrets to South Africa, and to his financial advisers, and to shopping his access to Pakistan and other countries. Pollard also stole Classified documents related to China that his wife used to advance her personal Business interests, and attempted to broker arms deals with South Africa, Argentina, Taiwan, Pakistan, and Iran.
On January 10, 2008, the subject of Pollard's pardon was again brought up for discussion, this time by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, during President George W. Bush's first visit to Israel as President. Subsequently, this request was turned down by President Bush. The next day, at a dinner attended by several ministers in the Israeli government (in addition to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice), the subject of Pollard's release was again discussed. This time, however, Prime Minister Olmert commented that it was not the appropriate occasion to discuss the fate of the convicted Israeli spy.
As President Bush was about to leave office in 2009, Pollard himself requested clemency for the first time. In an interview in Newsweek, former CIA Director James Woolsey endorsed Pollard's release on two conditions: that he show contrition and decline any profits from books or other projects linked to the case. Bush did not pardon him.
In September 2011, according to one report, Vice President Joe Biden - who was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee at the time of Pollard's arrest - told a group of rabbis, "President Obama was considering clemency, but I told him, 'Over my dead body are we going to let him out before his time. If it were up to me, he would stay in jail for life'." Biden later denied having used those precise words, but acknowledged that the report characterized his position accurately.
In a letter to the Editor of The Wall Street Journal, published on July 5, 2012, James Woolsey wrote that he now supports release of the convicted spy for Israel, citing the passage of time: "When I recommended against clemency, Pollard had been in prison less than a decade. Today he has been incarcerated for over a quarter of a century under his life sentence." He pointed out that of the more than 50 recently convicted Soviet and Chinese spies, only two received life sentences, and two-thirds were sentenced to less time than Pollard has served so far. He further stated that "Pollard has cooperated fully with the U.S. government, pledged not to profit from his crime (e.g., from book sales), and has many times expressed remorse for what he did." Woolsey expressed his belief that Pollard is still imprisoned only because he is Jewish. He said, "anti-Semitism played a role in the continued detention of Pollard." "For those hung up for some reason on the fact that he’s an American Jew, pretend he's a Greek- or Korean- or Filipino-American and free him," Woolsey, who is not Jewish, said in his letter to the Wall Street Journal.
Angelo Codevilla, who has followed the Pollard case since serving as a senior staff member for the Senate intelligence committee from 1978 to 1985, argued that the swarm of accusations against Pollard over the years is implausible. On November 15, 2013, Professor Codevilla wrote a letter to President Obama, stating, "Others have pointed out that Pollard is the only person ever sentenced to life imprisonment for passing information to an ally, without intent to harm America, a crime which normally carries a sentence of 2–4 years; and that this disproportionate sentence in violation of a plea agreement was based not on the indictment, but on a memorandum that was never shared with the defense. This is not how American justice is supposed to work." In an interview to the Weekly standard, Codevilla stated, "The story of the Pollard case is a blot on American justice." The life sentence "makes you ashamed to be an American".
New Republic Editor Martin Peretz also argued against freeing Pollard: "Jonathan Pollard is not a Jewish martyr. He is a convicted espionage agent who spied on his country for both Israel and Pakistan (!) — a spy, moreover, who got paid for his work. His professional career, then, reeks of infamy and is suffused with depravity." Peretz called Pollard's supporters "professional victims, mostly brutal themselves, who originate in the ultra-nationalist and religious right. They are insatiable. And they want America to be Israel's patsy."
A bill introduced in the Knesset in November 2015 would, if passed, authorize the Israeli government to fund Pollard's housing and medical expenses, and pay him a monthly stipend, for the remainder of his life. Reports that the Israelis had already been paying Pollard and his ex-wife during his incarceration were denied. After numerous delays, the bill was withdrawn from consideration in March 2016 at the request of Prime Minister Netanyahu and Israeli security officials, citing "diplomatic and security reasons".
After his release on November 20, as scheduled, Pollard relocated to an apartment secured for him by his attorneys in New York City. A job offer, as a research analyst at a Manhattan investment firm, was retracted due to the restrictions imposed on his Internet access and the inspections to which his employer's computers would be subjected. His attorneys immediately filed a motion challenging the terms of his parole, arguing that the Internet restrictions rendered him unemployable as an analyst, and the GPS-equipped ankle bracelet was unnecessary, as he was not a FLIGHT risk. The filing included affidavits from McFarlane and former Senate Intelligence Committee member Dennis DeConcini declaring that any secrets learned by Pollard thirty years ago were no longer secret, and had no value today. On August 12, 2016, a federal judge denied the motion on the basis of a statement from James Clapper, the Director of U.S. National Intelligence, asserting that contrary to the MacFarlane and DeConcini affidavits, much of the information stolen by Pollard in the 1980s remained secret. The judge also cited Pollard's Israeli citizenship, obtained during his incarceration, as evidence that he was indeed a FLIGHT risk.
In March 2017, Pollard's attorneys petitioned the US Court of Appeals to reverse the August 2016 lower-court decision denying his request for more lenient parole restrictions. They argued that the prohibition against leaving his residence between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. forced him to violate Shabbat and Jewish holidays, and that surveillance of his computers prevented him from working at a job consistent with his education and intelligence. They further asserted that Pollard could not possibly remember information he saw before his arrest, and in any case, the parole conditions arbitrarily limited his computer usage, but not his ability to transfer information by other means. Netanyahu also reportedly renewed his request for a parole waiver during a meeting with Vice President Mike Pence.
Lee Hamilton, a former U.S. Congressman from Indiana who was Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee at the time of Pollard’s sentencing, wrote an emotional letter to President Obama in 2011 supporting commutation of Pollard's sentence. "I have been acquainted for many years with members of his family, especially his parents, and I know how much pain and anguish they have suffered because of their son's incarceration", he wrote. Hamilton added that Pollard's father, whose health was failing rapidly, deserved to see his son freed.