Clinton Goes, Bush Arrives and Jonathan Pollard Remains Behind Bars

Bill Clinton, with one foot out of the White House, granted last-minute pardons on Saturday, Jan. 20, to a long list of extremely controversial miscreants. But not to Jonathan Pollard. Clinton was forced to take him off the list, notwithstanding the promises he gave four Israeli prime ministers, the late Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, Binyamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak. Pollard, a US navy analyst who was convicted in 1985 of spying for Israel, was therefore left to serve his life sentence.
Clinton even got himself forgiven by the independent prosecutor for the Whitewater offences with only a $25,000 fine and the loss of his license to practice law for five years.
But every time the Pollard case comes up, America’s entire intelligence community digs in its heels and maintains that his premature release would pose an irreversible security threat to the United States.
Clearly, the Pollard case is far from being a straight case of espionage. He got caught in the wheels of far more powerful Cold War intelligence enterprises – as debkafile reveals here for the first time. The precise nature of those enterprises is known to no more than a dozen people in Washington – and none of them has the whole picture.
The only American with most of it is George Bush senior, father of the new president, who was Ronald Reagan’s vice president when the Pollard affair broke. The new president will therefore stay clear of every aspect of the Pollard case in case his father is embarrassed.
Strange as this may seem, but to the best knowledge of debkafile‘s counterintelligence sources, the full Pollard story is not even known to the Israeli prime ministers, intelligence chiefs and others who lobbied hardest for his release, although some details of the complex affair may have leaked to them.
The only American who knows it all is a man serving a life sentence in the high-security prison in Allenwood, Pennsylvania, as the most damaging spy America has ever known. He is Aldrich Hazen Ames, who was convicted in 1994 for spying for the Soviet Union and later Russia. (Read more about Aldrich Ames’s exploits in debkafile reports on the Lockerbie trial.)
There is also one Russian who was privy to the Pollard secret: Aldrich Ames’s Russian control, General Vitaly Yurchenko, who was at the time chief of Soviet counterintelligence in the United States. This Russian superspy now lives in a modest flat in Moscow and flatly refuses to communicate with any foreigner.
The mistake Pollard’s Israeli lobbyists made throughout their campaign was to treat him simply as a spy who sold American secrets to Israel. This he did, but he also passed secrets to other parties – and that was his ultimate undoing.
In June 1984, Jonathan Pollard began working as an analyst for the Threat Analysis Division of the US Naval Criminal Investigation Service’s Terrorism Alert Center in Washington. This division handled the most sensitive data coming in from satellites and CIA field officers. Some of this secret material, Pollard passed to Israel, but another part relating to the Far East, he offered to Taiwanese agents, unbeknownst to his Israeli controllers.
The trouble was that most of the Taiwanese were double agents also employed by Chinese mainland intelligence. Both Chinese services therefore received the sensitive American secrets he handed over. Aware of this, Pollard decided to expand his Communist Chinese market for secrets. To this end, he had his first wife, Ann Anderson Pollard, join a New York public relations firm employed to enhance Beijing’s image in the United States. Pollard diverted to his wife information reaching him as an analyst at the INS Terrorism Alert Center, for the sake of her advancement in the firm. Neither realized that their dual ties with the two Chinas were sucking Pollard into the devious machinations of one of the most dangerous spy rings in the history of US intelligence. Certainly, the Israelis with whom he worked had no notion of this.
This spy ring hinged on two buried two tentacles inside the CIA – one on behalf of Moscow headed by Aldrich Ames; the other for Beijing under a Sino-American called Larry Wu-tai Chin. Chin, in the CIA’s employ from the 1950 Korean War, was the Agency’s controller of its Far East networks. He double-crossed the Americans for forty years as double agent for Communist China.
The two “moles” Chin and Ames, both attained high rank in the most sensitive quarters of the CIA. They were also collaborators and swapped information on the double agents secretly operating on their respective turfs. Both therefore knew about Jonathan Pollard.
In 1985, Ames received a tip from the KGB in Moscow that the Americans were getting close to discovering him. To throw off their suspicions, he and Yurchenko cooked up an ingenious scheme. In August of that year, therefore, General Yurchenko in person walked into the US Embassy in Rome and announced he wanted to defect. As the highest-ranking Soviet defector ever to fall into American hands, the Russian general was rushed over to Washington for urgent debriefing. The CIA had swallowed the bait.
During his three-month long interrogation ending November 1985, Yurchenko handed over long lists of double agents working against America, including Wu Tai Chin and Jonathan Pollard. One of his debriefers was none other than Aldrich Ames himself. That list achieved its purpose in turning suspicions away from Ames into quite different directions. So important was Ames to KGB Moscow that the long-running Chinese double agent was considered worth sacrificing.
On November 2, 1985, diversion scheme complete, Yurchenko disappeared from a Georgetown restaurant after dining there and turned up at the Soviet embassy in Washington, asking to be repatriated. That was the closing move in the most bizarre defection on record in counterintelligence.
A few days after General Yurchenko’s return to Moscow, Jonathan Pollard, Larry Wu-tai Chin and others on the Russian agent’s lists of double agents, were rounded up and charged with spying for foreign powers. Aldrich Ames took an active part in the probes.
The crime of spying for Israel was serious enough to get Jonathan Pollard of life imprisonment. But it does not fully account the implacable front presented by America’s intelligence authorities against his release – even after he has served 15 years of his sentence. They are determined that neither Pollard nor Ames will ever see the light of day until they give up everything they are believed to know about the other “moles” and traitors with whom they collaborated who remain buried inside the US intelligence system. Neither of their sentences will be commuted until he gives up all those secrets.

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