Spy for Russ Jinxed Pollard, Insists an Intelligence Guru

FORWARD - December 11, 1998 - Volume CII, No. 31,214
By: Seth Gitell

Washington - With the White House engaged in a review of whether Jonathan Pollard should be released, a former staff member of the Senate Intelligence Committee is blaming convicted spy Aldrich Ames for giving Pollard a bad rap.

The former staffer, Angelo Codevilla, is joining a former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dennis DeConcini, in calling for Pollard's release. The men are challenging the bulk of the intelligence establishment, which favors keeping Pollard in prison.

Mr. Codevilla's call for the release of Pollard comes amid a flurry of intelligence activity around the case. Pollard's own lawyer, Larry Dub, has sent President Clinton a letter seeking access to the documents regarding the Pollard case. The case is also capturing the American Jewish imagination. Congregation Kehillath Israel in Brookline, Mass., sponsored a debate this week on Pollard between a Harvard law professor, Alan Dershowitz, and a senior editor at The National Review, David Klinghoffer. The National Council of Young Israel also sponsored a forum on the Pollard case at its Manhattan headquarters this week. Panelists included the past chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Seymour Reich; writer Anne Roiphe, and a professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law, Kenneth Lawson.

"I know as much as there is to know about the intelligence business. I've offered many times to talk to anybody that thinks Pollard has done great harm to U.S. intelligence," Mr. Codevilla said. "These people don't know anything about the intelligence business."

Central to Mr. Codevilla's thesis is that Pollard is being wrongly blamed for the deaths of American operatives in the former Soviet Union. "Some of the accusations involve the lost of agents in Russia. Those losses were later attributed, and rightly so, to Aldrich Ames," Mr. Codevilla said. "It is significant that the man who wrote the damage report on Jonathan Pollard was none other than Aldrich Ames himself."

The author of "The Spy Who Knew Too Much," a book about the Pollard case, Elliot Goldenberg, credits Mr. Codevilla's theory. "It's likely that could have happened, considering Pollard was blamed for a lot of Ames' crimes," Mr. Goldenberg said, "I know that Pollard was blamed. I feel Mr. Codevilla's [idea] is very logical."

The editor of the Middle East Quarterly, Daniel Pipes, said he though the theory made sense. "Ames was somehow overseeing the Pollard case and, in retrospect, there's reason to think he made the thing far more serious than it was," Mr. Pipes said, cautioning that conclusive proof about Ames' role has yet to emerge.

The National Council of Young Israel is pointing to a June 1996 letter penned by Mr. DeConcini, who left the Senate in 1994, as further evidence that some in the intelligence community seek Pollard's release.

"During my term of office, I carefully reviewed Mr. Pollard's case...and concluded at the time that it was not appropriate for a parole for Mr. Pollard," Mr. DeConcini wrote. "I am convinced that Mr. Pollard has expressed the appropriate remorse and served adequate time."

Contacted by the Forward, Mr. DeConcini said, "I stand by that letter. I think it is current."

A regional president of Young Israel, Farley Weiss, pointed to Mr. DeConcini's letter as evidence that Pollard should be released. "I felt with Senator DeConcini's being chair of the intelligence committee, he can do it based on what he thinks is right," Mr. Weiss said. "I think it's significant that he would come out in favor of Pollard's release."

A spokeswoman for the Central Intelligence Agency, Anya Guilsher, disputed Mr. Codevilla's charge that Ames implicated Pollard. "Ames played no role in the damage assessment that was done on Pollard, "She said.

A former director of central intelligence, R. James Woolsey, also took issue with the allegation. "I know the individual who did it, and it was not Aldrich Ames. He's still an Agency employee," Mr. Woolsey said. "It is quite false and a major disservice to truth and accuracy to suggest that Pollard's espionage was anything other than highly damaging. He stole cubic yards of classified material."

Told of the assertion of the CIA, Mr. Codevilla said that strikes me as a bald-faced lie."

"I'm a little bit stunned they would be that categorical," said Mr. Codevilla. "If the assertion is made that Pollard had something to do with the compromise of agents in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, why would the chief of counter-intelligence in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union not have a role? That's what Ames was at the time."

In response, the CIA's Ms. Guilsher said, "In theory, sure, you would think Ames would have a role, but at the time the assessment was done, he didn't."

Asked more generally about any potential impact that Ames may have had in the Pollard case, Ms. Guilsher said, "We have to nail this down to something."

Mr. Codevilla stuck by his story that Ames exaggerated Pollard's role in the case. "They are engaged in the Clintonization of language," Mr. Codevilla said. "The CIA is hiding the fact that Ames played a major role in convincing it that Pollard was responsible for agent compromises."

Mr. Codevilla suggested that the CIA's blanket statement covered an initial damage assessment, but not a later report prepared for the secretary of defense, Caspar Weinberger.

Mr. Codevilla also alleges that the intelligence community resents Pollard's leaking of materials that demonstrated the way America built up Iraq's Saddam Hussein. Pollard's attorney, Larry Dub, wrote to the White House last week requesting "the right to review the material submitted to you by the Justice and Intelligence and Defense departments regarding my client, Jonathan Pollard."

Mr. Dub also alleged that the current director of central intelligence, George Tenet, had targeted Jews within the Agency. "Under Tenet, the CIA has initiated a witch hunt to rid the agency of Jews holding security clearances," Mr. Dub wrote.

The CIA's Ms. Guilsher called the charge "completely ridiculous." She said, "The CIA does not discriminate on any basis."

Mr. Dub likened Mr. Clinton's legal troubles to those of his client. "There are, ironically, parallels between your personal situation and those of my client," wrote Mr. Dub. "Just as your attorneys are now appropriately demanding the right to see the material being prepared for impeachment..the same opportunity must be afforded to Jonathan Pollard to answer his accusers."

A spokesman for the National Security Council, Colonel P.J. Crowley, said that the White House would probably not comply with Mr. Dub's request: "When the president finishes the review, we will thoroughly explain his conclusions and the reasons for it, but at this point I would not envision that we have any plan to release internal documents for review."

Israel's minister of trade and industry, Natan Sharansky, told the Forward this week that when he left the Wye Plantation, he was sure that the Pollard case had been resolved successfully. When Mr. Sharansky arrived in Israel, "I was told that all this blew up," he said. White House officials gave the impression that the Israelis had raised the Pollard issue at Wye at the last moment. That impression, Mr. Sharansky told the Forward is "absolutely, absolutely wrong."

See Also:
  • Senator DeConcini Says To Free Pollard