Gen. Michael Hayden, former director of both the CIA and the NSA, is against a plan to release convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard
in return for Israeli concessions with the Palestinians.
"On so many levels, this just doesn’t feel right. This is just weird. It looks like it smacks of desperation on the part of the United States and our secretary of state to do anything in order to keep this peace process alive. You know, that's a really unsettling fact," he told Newsmax TV's John Bachman and J.D. Hayworth on "America's Forum" Tuesday.
Pollard, a former U.S. Navy analyst, pleaded guilty to spying for Israel in 1987 and was granted Israeli citizenship in 1995. His release seemed imminent Tuesday, in exchange for the release of some 400 Palestinian prisoners.
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"One of the dangers when you get into negotiations with the Russians over Crimea and Ukraine, the Iranians over nuclear weapons, the Israelis and the Palestinians, you fear that your negotiators get so caught up in the negotiations that they'll do anything to keep the talks alive. That's what this seems to be," Hayden said.
He did, however, point to possible humanitarian grounds for Pollard's release.
"The man has spent a quarter-century in jail. He had a plea bargain between himself and the prosecutors that the judge threw out. He got a particularly harsh sentence. So if you've got a humanitarian question here, look at it in due time as a humanitarian question," he said.
Still, Hayden said there are broader ramifications to such a prisoner exchange.
"Let me give you one other big point, too, it's really important and not yet noticed much. Most of the people from my old career field, 100,000-plus intelligence professionals, will think of this not all being about Pollard but as perhaps a signal as to what someone someday might do with Snowden. That would be a really disastrous signal to send out there," he said.
"Bill Clinton considered this and actually considered it at a point where he had much more of an agreement in hand than Secretary Kerry has. George Tenet threatened to resign if President Clinton went ahead with this, and I suspect the current intelligence community's leadership would react very much the same way. Betrayal is betrayal, and it has consequences."
Asked whether the move to release Pollard now could also be political because it would help President Obama's standing with Israel, Hayden replied, "Many supporters of Israel would be very happy if Mr. Pollard were released, and so to that degree, certainly, the president would buy support among those who are solid supporters of the Jewish state, no question about it."
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