The Wall Street Journal, in what appears to be quite a Friday News Dump, is reporting that the Obama administration is looking to release convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard. They say it’s possible that his release could come in a matter of weeks, but it’s far more likely that he’ll be released in November, when he’s scheduled to have his first parole hearing after 30 years in prison, presumably so that the administration can pretend that Pollard was just paroled in the normal way and that no special strings were pulled to spring him.
Look, Pollard is 60 years old, and there’s not much to be gained from leaving him in prison until he dies. You could argue that the US should trade him for something from Israel, like a freeze on illegal settlements in the West Bank or at least one good faith effort at negotiating with the Palestinians, but it’s beyond obvious now that despite Israeli lip service about seeing Pollard released (including from Benjamin Netanyahu himself), they don’t actually give enough of a shit about Pollard to trade anything for him. So OK, the guy’s served his time, let him go. But I hope nobody in the Obama administration is laboring under the notion that freeing Pollard is going to give Netanyahu the warm and fuzzies, or get him to suddenly stop playing National Security Theater over the Iran deal. Letting Pollard go isn’t going to blunt Israeli criticism or get Netanyahu to back off his Congressional lobbying effort. I would hate to think that anybody in the administration is naive enough to think otherwise.
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