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Damage Caused by 'Friendly' Spies

By Stephen Green

THE arrest and conviction of Jonathan Pollard for "conspiracy to commit espionage" for Israel against the United States was an event freighted with emotion and bitterness in both countries. Nor did the hard feelings cease when, in March of 1987, Mr. Pollard was sentenced to, life imprisonment. He has been out of sight since then, hut the issues surrounding the case continue to fester.

Many Israeli's resent their government's cooperation in providing US investigators with some of the evidence that persuaded Pollard to plead guilty. At the same time, many American Jews have felt betrayed by the Israeli government as, in the months after Pollard's arrest, one Israeli official was formally indicted in connection with the case, four others were named as unindicted, coconspirators, and reports surfaced linking the operation to the office of the Israeli prime minister The US intelligence and military communities were initially puzzled by the arrest, but have since become increasingly angry and mistrustful of the Israelis as their own internal investigations revealed the size of the operation, the enormous damage to US national security, and belatedly, similar past instances of Israeli espionage.

In sum, the Pollard case has had and continues to have a strong negative effect on the working relations between these two close security allies.

It is therefore not surprising that a substantial effort is under way to "reexamine" the case and to engender sympathy and support for Pollard and his wife, who pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of "conspiracy to receive embezzled government property" and serving a prison term.

A Justice for the Pallards movement in New York and a mirror Citizens for Pollard group in Israel work to vindicate the couple and to raise funds to defray their legal expenses. Jonathan's father, Dr. Morris Pollard, along with Alan Dershowitz, the Pollard's well-known attorney, have been pleading the cause on television.

Bernard Henderson, Mrs. Pollard's father, has written a book entitled "A Spy's Story," which understandably minimizes the crimes committed and makes a passionate case for the couple's early release on humanitarian grounds.

Hardly less subjective is the recently published book "Territory of Lies," written by the Washington correspondent of the Jerusalem Post, Wolf Blitzer. A candid subtitle informs the reader that the author was given "exclusive" access to the Pollards. The methodology here is to allow Jonathan Pollard to pick apart selected portions of the US government's case while ignoring or misrepresenting other portions.

A central theme in these revisionist efforts is that the classified documents stolen by Pollard and sold to a special intelligence unit of the Israeli Defense Ministry were essential to Israel's survival, Mr. Blitzer, quoting Pollard's attorneys, indicates that the stolen material includes documents an weapons systems, intelligence structures and capabilities of Arab countries, analysis of Arab leaders' political intentions, and details of Soviet weapons about to be delivered to Israel's enemies. (Continued after insert.)

Israel's 40-Year History of Espionage Against the United States

May 22, 1989
By Steven Green


Stephen Green. Stephen Green is the author of ``Living By the Sword: America and Israel in the Middle East.'' He is writing a book on Israeli intelligence activities in America.

THE pattern of Israeli spying on the United States may be shown by a review of selected cases going back to the founding of the state of Israel. To the best of my knowledge, with one exception none of the cases below have previously been publicized. They are based on either documents released under the Freedom of Information Act or interviews with current counterintelligence agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or with retired FBI and Justice Department officials.

1940s - The first Israeli military attach'e sent to Washington in June 1948, Efraim Ben-Artzi, set up a four-man board to conduct espionage in the US. The board was composed of Ben-Artzi himself, a member of the Israeli US delegation in New York, a US citizen who was a New York lawyer, and a professional intelligence agent who came and went from Tel Aviv, operating as a case officer.

Early projects included a training center in New York which taught recruited agents the craft of espionage - such things as street and electronic surveillance and the use of disappearing inks, codes, and ciphers - and the bugging of the hotels and automobiles of key Arab United Nations delegations. There were from the outset, however, American targets as well. This probably included the ``acquisition'' and shipment to Czechoslovakia of a US developmental prototype of a small, mobile, early-approach radar, in exchange for Czech arms for the Haganah, the armed Jewish forces in Palestine.

1950s - In 1956 a ``high Israeli official'' in Tel Aviv whose name was Eisenstadt approached American Embassy official Earl L. Jensen, offering to pay him for classified information and documents. Mr. Jensen pretended to accept the bait, and under the guidance of the FBI and the Justice Department, passed carefully selected material to two Israeli contacts named Abramski and Nevoth (these names are from a declassified State Department document in which only last names are given.)

When Jensen was reassigned to Washington, Abramski and Nevoth followed to continue the arrangement. As the Israelis had no diplomatic immunity in this country, the State and Justice Departments concurred in writing that prosecution should proceed under both the Foreign Agent Registration Act and applicable US espionage laws. Nevertheless, for reasons I have so far been unable to determine, Abramski and Nevoth apparently were not arrested and prosecuted.

1960s - In the mid-1960s the FBI expanded an existing Atomic Energy Commission investigation of the Nuclear Materials and Energy Corporation (NUMEC) in Apollo, Pa., for possible diversion of weapons-grade reprocessed uranium to Israel. The FBI's primary concern was the safety of classified documents on weapons-related technology, which were stored at Apollo. Frequent visitors from Israel had access to the documents, and one of those visitors, Rafael Eitan, was known to have Israeli intelligence connections. (Yes, it's the same Rafael Eitan involved in the Pollard case.)

In 1969, following recommendations of the FBI, NUMEC's US uranium reprocessing contracts were canceled, and it was decertified as a repository for weapons-related documents. Further, the security clearances of Dr. Zalman Shapiro, NUMEC's president, were lifted.

1970s - Perhaps the most abrasive and persistent person ever sent by Israel to spy upon America was Col. Yosef Langotsky, who came to the FBI's attention shortly after his assignment in mid-1976 to the Israeli Embassy in Washington as assistant army attach'e. Langotsky repeatedly wandered into secure areas at the Pentagon, and clumsily tried to recruit Pentagon employees to commit espionage. After several warnings to the Israeli Embassy, the Defense Department simply refused him all cooperation and any access to the Pentagon. In early 1979, Langotsky was quietly recalled to Israel by his government.

1980s - In 1983, the Defense Intelligence Agency's security office searched the workplace and home of a senior staff member of the Defense Intelligence College. Several of his colleagues had reported the individual for what they thought were security improprieties involving Israeli military and intelligence officials. No classified material was located during the search, though hundreds of the college's library books were found which had been obtained fraudulently and subsequently mutilated or destroyed. The Defense Department turned the matter over to a federal prosecutor.

In an arrangement with the prosecutor, the individual pleaded guilty in federal district court in Alexandria, Va., in November 1983 to ``injuring government property'' and was convicted, fined, and sentenced to a term of community work. The arrangement included his immediate resignation as a civilian staff member of the Defense Intelligence Agency, of which the college is part. None of the security aspects of the case were ever brought to trial. Nevertheless, according to agency officials, ``important'' classified material was found to be missing from the college library during the investigation. The individual involved is currently director of Mideast studies at a university in the Washington, D.C., area.

On a recent "ABC Night line" show, Dr. Pollard said he could understand his son's feelings when he learned the US was not sharing with Israel the intelligence information it had on gas plants in Syria [and] impending PLO attacks from Lebanon.

The image here is of a bright young American Jew deeply torn between his concern about the survival of Israel and his duty as a US intelligence official to protect his own country's security secrets. There's a certain logic to this image, and even some elements of truth. But this is not why Jonathan Pollard is serving a life sentence. There is more to the story.

SOON after Pollard's arrest in November 1985, his Defense Investigative Service and FBI interrogators became convinced that much if not most of the "take" in fact had nothing to do with Israel's essential national security interests. This worried the US government even more than the incredible amount of documents involved, approximately 850,O0O pages - or even the classification level, well over half of it was TOP SECRET or higher. The problem was essentially this, The Defense Investigative Service and the FBI knew from lists hidden in Pollard's desk that he had been very specifically tasked. That is, his Israeli handlers had developed intelligence requirements for particular documents, by name and number. Initially, this indicated the possibility of another agent - the infamous "Mr. X" - who was pointing the operation toward the documents Pollard was to steal. In a polygraph interrogation, however, Pollard confirmed what US defense officials already suspected: One of the first documents he'd been asked to take was a huge compendium of current classified military documents which is updated every three months. This lists and describes tens of thousands of documents - a virtual road map for Pollard's handlers. No need for Mr. X.

So what Pollard took was exactly what the Israelis wanted. But what did they want? The initial shock came when the FBI analyzed the 25 documents found in a suitcase Anne Pollard had removed from their apartment on her husband's instructions, after he was first questioned at the Pentagon. Many of them were classified TOP SECRET, and virtually all dealt with US weapons and military capabilities. The question "Is there a Mr. X?" had pretty well been answered. Now there was a new question: "Why do the Israelis want this stuff"

Senior defense officials and FBI counterespionage agents who have reviewed the Pollard debriefing transcripts confirm this is still a major focus of the investigation. The transcripts, together with computer records at the Defense Intelligence Agency (and within the agency, at the Defense Intelligence College), where Pollard gained access to many of the stolen documents, have subsequently revealed that much of the operation's take had nothing to do with the Middle East at all - it contained details of US and Soviet intelligence, communications and military capabilities. This included, according to the government's Memorandum in Aid of Sentencing, "details about US ship positions, aircraft stations, tactics, and training operations." Much of this material could have been of interest to only one country - the Soviet Union.

This concern was heightened when, during the Pollard investigation, a Soviet defector in US hands revealed that in addition to the two Soviet spies serving prison terms in Israel (Shabtai Kalmanovitch and Marcus Klingberg), there was a third who had not been caught. He was well placed in the Defense Ministry, and still "active." Quite possibly, secrets Pollard sent to Israel were passed on to Moscow, whether or not that had been intended.

A second theme of Pollard's supporters is that the sentence was too harsh because the compromised documents, however voluminous and important, were sent to an ally. They question whether much damage was in fact done. The issue is fairly joined here, because it was almost certainly Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger's 46-page classified submission

to the court about damage to US security which led Judge Aubrey Robinson to issue a life sentence.

In the months since Pollard went to prison, his supporters have taken Mr. Weinberger to task for his role in the sentencing process. Mr. Dershowitz has characterized Weinberger's statements as "dirty pool." In an op-ed piece he added: "The Defense Department cannot expect the American people to accept its gross exaggerations at face value, especially when they fly in the face of common sense.

Wolf Blitzer is a bit more circumspect in his book, admitting that Pollard had indeed damaged national security. But he adds the curious caveat that much of the damage had been contained, "because of the exposure of the operation" and because "US and Israeli intelligence -officials have cooperated - albeit not completely - to repair the damage."

What all these statements share, aside from a generous amount of wishful thinking, is a fundamental misunderstanding of the imperatives of any national security apparatus. Among the things Pollard sent to the Israelis, according to government submissions, were:

"Data about technical, systems for the collection of intelligence, as well as the intelligence product collected by the systems."

"Detailed analytical studies containing technical calculations, graphs, and satellite photographs in which the authors of the analyses were identified."

"Information from human sources whose identity could be inferred by a reasonably competent intelligence analyst."

"Three separate categories of daily message or cable traffic for approximately 17 months."

JONATHAN POLLARD admits he did not excise a single document he transmitted to the Israelis. None of the documents recouped in his apartment were excised: None of the (163) documents returned by the Israeli government had been excised. The compromised documents, in other words, revealed all details about the intelligence sources and methods used to collect the information. Even if Pollard had tried to-excise sources and methods, he did not have the competence to do so. We are speaking about hundreds of thousands of pages, thousands of documents, and hundreds of subjects.

One example: The information compromised included US military satellite photographs. If a foreign intelligence organization simply sees the photograph in a technical journal, all it has is the subject in the photo, the fact that the National Security Agency is interested, and some indication of the power and resolution of the satellite cameras. But if foreign analysts get their hands on the original or even a good photocopy of the photo itself, they also get all the telemetry data that was printed around the edges - the location, distance, altitude, altitude and degree of angle of the satellite, among other things. With this information in foreign hands, the NSA must reposition, or even change the orbit of the satellite, at great expense, and the element of surprise is lost.

This is what Weinberger meant when he referred to "[the loss of] national assets which have taken many years, great effort, and enormous national resources to secure," Three separate Defense Department sources who took part in the Pollard operation damage exercise have been unable or unwilling to put a specific dollar figure on the loss. But all three have, independently referred to "several billions of dollars" as a rough estimate, with the vast majority of that loss occurring to the technical collection resources of the NSA.

And at that, we haven't counted the networks destroyed and the extreme personal risks caused for spies whose identities, locations, and activities were revealed.

It makes virtually no difference that the pages went to Israel as opposed to, say, Czechoslovakia. No modern national security apparatus would risk many lives or billions of dollars on operations whose security it no longer controlled. Once it is gone, it's gone. If Pollard had taken half the material and mailed it to KGB headquarters in Moscow, and had merely given the other half to a friend in Bethesda, Md. to store in his house, the effect would have been virtually the same for purposes of damage assessment.

In this case, the material went to a foreign power whose intelligence services the US had reason to believe were already penetrated by the Soviets. Former CIA director Richard Helms was recently asked in connection with Pollard, whether the US should distinguish between those who sell secrets to friends on the one hand, or enemies on the other. His answer was, no, it shouldn't, "for the simple reason that we don't know about the security of those other governments." Mr. Helms's comment underscores another important point about the "take" in the Pollard operation: It is only the government of Israel, meaning the entirety of its security establishment, that could have used the voluminous material stolen in this case.

Rafael Eitan, the director of LEKEM, the Defense Ministry unit that managed the Pollard operation, served as an adviser on intelligence and counter terrorism to both Yitzhak Shamir and Shimon Peres during the time that he ran Pollard. In his book, Mr. Blitzer is very careful to point out that when Mr. Peres became prime minister in September 1984 (shortly after Pollard was recruited), Mr. Eitan "was asked to give up his counter terrorism responsibility." What Blitzer neglects to say is that Eitan retained his intelligence role in the prime minister's office until the time Jonathan Pollard was arrested.

My source for this is Thomas Pickering, then US ambassador to Israel, who, when Eitan's name became connected to the case, was asked by the State Department about the man's ties to the prime minister. He responded as indicated above in a "Secret" telegram (No. 17246 dated Nov., 26, 1985) to the secretary of state. It was declassified in 1986 in response to a freedom of information request from this writer.

Perhaps the most embarrassing aspect of the Pollard matter, from Israel's standpoint, and the primary reason that those directly involved would like to see the Pollards released and the issue permanently resolved and out of the news, is the question of the policy context for the operation. Was Pollard the first person to spy for Israel against the US, or was he only the first one to be caught doing so, or was he only the first one to be caught and prosecuted!

You would be correct if you answered "none of the above." Psllard was not the first Israeli spy here, nor was he the first caught or even the first prosecuted. Blitzer distinguishes between "friendly espionage" and the nasty kind where agents are recruited and money is paid for information. The former is collected by overt technical means or by the reports of military and other accredited attaches. This Israel has done to America, and the US does to Israel, and everybody does to everybody else,-B-ut for decades, Blitzer maintains, the US and Israel have abided by an agreement not to spy on each other the nasty way. That is provable nonsense.

The Israeli government is even less equivocal on this matter than Blitzer. Shortly after Pollard's arrest, Prime Minister Peres issued a statement which said, in part: "Spying on the US stands in total contradiction to our policy." Not so. Not now, not when Pollard was recruited, and not at any time going back to the very establishment of Israel's first embassies in Washington and at the United Nations in 1948.

The list in the accompanying article is by no means complete. Documentary evidence exists of similar cases. Why are they not better known! Because prior to Jonathan Pollard, according to one senior FBI counterespionage official, "95 percent of the cases developed resulted in declinations [to prosecute]." The official added that he himself had readied two such files in which he believed he had a clear preponderance of evidence. The cases were dropped at the last moment.

Pollard was certainly not the first and he probably won't be the last Israeli spy in America: He was just the most effective. That said, my sense is that many if not most in the US intelligence and military communities would be delighted to accommodate Pollard's family and supporters, and release the man and his wife to their adopted country. It would depend on what the US could get in trade, perhaps in a three-way deal involving the Soviets and their spies now in Israeli jails. There is generally no rancor in Washington toward Pollard personally. And in any event, the damage is already done. But you can be sure that whatever has happened in the past, the next Israeli caught spying in America will be treated as a spy.


Stephen Green is the author of "Living by the Sword; America and Israel in the Middle East." He is writing a book on Israeli intelligence activities in America.

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