The U.S. National Security Archive revealed over the weekend documents related to the activities of imprisoned Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard.
Pollard's stolen material, from the Israeli perspective, provided significant benefits, the CIA wrote in its heavily redacted "damage assessment" document.
Pollard, 57, was a civilian intelligence analyst for the U.S. Navy when he copied and gave his Israeli handlers classified documents. Arrested in 1985 after unsuccessfully seeking refuge at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, Pollard was convicted and two years later sentenced to life in prison. Democrat and Republican administrations in the U.S. have repeatedly refused Israel's appeals to commute Pollard's sentence.
The National Security Archive's documents show that between 1984 and 1985, Pollard's handlers had asked him to pass along intelligence on the nuclear, military and technical activities of Arab countries, Pakistan and the Soviet Union - and not information on U.S. activities. This was according to the CIA's damage assessment from 1987.
"Apart from supporting Israeli actions or positions that could harm U.S. relations with friendly Arab states, Pollard's activities have caused some Arab countries to raise unwelcome questions or make critical observations about US evenhandedness in its Mideast policies," the document states.
Pollard was asked to transfer information on matters such as Syrian aircraft and their communications system, Egypt's missile program and Soviet air defense systems. Israeli intelligence was particularly interested in obtaining a technical guide which was vital to the activities of Soviet advisors in Syria, a guide which was an official NSA document. Pollard told investigators that his Israeli handler Joseph Yaqur informed him that the NSA manual permitted Israel to begin the process of attempting to monitor a communications link between the Soviet General Staff in Moscow and the Soviet military assistance group in Damascus, Syria.
The U.S. documents specify how Pollard's direct handler, Yossi Yagur, told him to ignore requests Rafi Eitan, head of the scientific relations unit at the time, to give him U.S. "dirt" on senior Israeli officials as well as the names of Israelis who were giving information to the U.S. Yagur told Pollard that collecting such information would lead to a cancellation of the spying operation. Some of the information transferred by Pollard to Israel helped in the Israeli elimination of the head of the PLO's military wing in Tunisia, Abu Jihad.
The contents of the exposed documents strengthen the position of several American officials claiming that Pollard's sentence is disproportionate to his crime because his espionage activities were not meant to harm U.S. security but to help Israel defend itself. Pollard claimed that the U.S. was not being forthcoming with the intelligence it had that could have helped Israel.
The committee working to secure Pollard's release said on Saturday that disclosing the documents would motivate more U.S. officials to express support for the Israeli agent's release.
Esther Pollard, Jonathan Pollard's wife, said in response to the revelation of the documents that, "Jonathan should not be in prison one second longer following the release of these secret documents."
Pollard recently started serving his 28th year in prison, without a reduced sentence. He was hospitalized several times in recent weeks due to his deteriorating medical condition.
Two weeks ago, the imprisoned agent was taken to the hospital after collapsing in his jail cell. In August 2011, he had emergency kidney surgery and in April of this year he was rushed to the hospital after falling ill due to a significant decline in his health.