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TBR News September 5, 2015

Sep 04 2015

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. September 4, 2015: A very informative, and very well-connected, neighbor has been speaking with us about very imporant, often astonishing, national and international matters. His family connections are beyond question and we have spent the last few weeks making copious notes of our meetings.

The US is the world’s largest consumer of oil. The US oil production is minimal and the so-callled “fracking” process is not successful.

Until recently, Saudi Arabia has been the US’s major oil supplier. Our real reason for invading Iraq is because that country has an enormous amount of untapped oil reserves but by removing Hussein, the Shiite and Sunni factions in that country engaged in brutal civil war, precluding any further oil explotation on the part of anyone.

Syria is hated by Israel because that country has permitted the Russians to ship long-range missiles to Hezbollah units in southern Lebanon. Syria is not liked in the US because they have permitted Russia to establish a naval base on their territory, permitting Russian naval units access to the Mediterranean area.

The Saudis have viewed the situation in Syria as a religious war and, with American support, funded and organized ISIS.

ISIS went its own way and plunged the Mid-East into a bloodbath causing, among other matters, an enormous number of refugees from their murdereous pseudo-religions mania to flee to the sanctuary of Europe.

But the Saudi oil fields are running out of oil and now Russia is the largest oil producer and the US refuses to deal with Russia, preferring instead to destablize her current government, as their CIA has done before, and take over Russian oil and other assets for American use and exploitation.

Also, the President is not a fan of Israel and the bombastic, threatening behvior of the gross Netanahau has caused him to adopt an unfriendly attitude to a hitherto powerful factor in American foreign policy.

As ISIS has been destroying valuable historical sites in her religious frenzies, various entities in the US have come up with an idea to deal a terrible blow to the Muslims and, at the same time, rid herself of lingering oblitations to Israel.

The false-flag operation, as planned, is to send two helicopters, of the type the US has supplied to Israel, to attack Mecca during the hajj.

The helicopters will come in low levels, below the radar screens, and will be painted in Israeli markings.

Their target will be the Kaaba located in the Al-Masjid al-Haram, in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. This is the most sacred site in Islam. It is considered the “House of God” and has a similar role as the Tabernacle and Holy of Holies in Judaism and Christianity.

The Kaaba is the eastern cornerstone of the the ancient sacred stone building towards which Muslims pray, in the center of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

The Stone” is a dark rock, polished smooth by the hands of millions of pilgrims, that has been broken into a number of fragments cemented into a silver frame.

One of the Five Pillars of Islam requires every Muslim who is able to do so to perform the hajj pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime. During the hajj,millions of pilgrims gather to circle the building on the same day. In 2013, the number of pilgrims coming from outside the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to perform hajj was officially reported as 1,379,531. In 2014, Saudi Arabia reported having completed Hajj permits for 1,389,053 international pilgrims and 63,375 for residents.

Mecca is located 43 miles inland from Jeddah and is in a narrow valley at a 909 ft above sea level. The hajj period held in the twelfth Muslim lunar month of Dhu al-Hijjah.

The next hajj 1437 AH+ begins on 10 January 2016.

The current plan is to send the repainted helicopters in, armed with rockets, when the huge square is packed with worshippers, let them see the marking on the helicopters and then fire batteries of rockets into both the packed square and, most especially, at the Kaaba with the hopeful goal of utterly desroying it.

There is no doubt that there would follow a terrible, widespread and unstoppable retribution on the part of Muilims, not aimed at the US but at Israel.

There would be little left of Israel when the jihad was over and the US would no longer be required to a support that state that has caused Muslim terrorist activity against them.”

US pressured Norway to arrest & extradite Snowden, seize all devices – documents

August 28, 2015

RT

The US repeatedly asked Norway to detain and deport whistleblower Edward Snowden if he tried to enter its territory in the aftermath of his leaks on mass US global surveillance, Norwegian media revealed citing formal requests.

Norway’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs received the first letter from Washington shortly after the former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor’s revelations went public when he was stranded in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport.

The note, dated June 27, 2013, was quoted by Norway’s NRK broadcaster: “We request that should US citizen Edward J. Snowden attempt to enter Norway through any means, the Government of Norway notify the Embassy immediately and effectuate the return of Mr. Snowden to the United States by way of denial of entry, deportation, expulsion or other lawful means.”

On the same day, the FBI’s Scandinavia office followed up with another letter addressed to justice authorities in Norway, Sweden and Finland. It described Snowden as a criminal fugitive and urged them to notify American personnel if the whistleblower booked a flight to one of their countries from Moscow.

These correspondences were followed up with a separate message to Norway’s Department of Foreign Affairs on July 4, 2013, requesting that Snowden be arrested and extradited if he were to attempt to enter Norwegian territory. “The United States urges that Snowden be kept in custody, if arrested,” the note said.

The language in documents revealed by NRK reflects how desperately the US wanted to contain the information Snowden had in his possession.

The Embassy requests the seizure of all articles acquired as a result of the offenses (..) This includes, but is not limited to, all computer devices, electronic storage devices and other sorts of electronic media.”

The most problematic aspect of the US making such bullish requests is that Snowden would have been denied his international right to apply for asylum before being arrested had the countries complied, Snowden’s lawyer Ben Wizner told NRK.

What is troubling to me is the suggestion that if Mr. Snowden showed up in one of these countries, he should be promptly extradited – before he would have a chance to raise his humanitarian rights under international law,” he said.

The only correct response from political leaders in Norway or any other free society should be to tell the US that this is a question of law and not a question of politics. And that, under international law, someone who is charged with a political offense has a right to raise a claim for asylum before the question of extradition even comes up.”

Snowden has been invited to Norway to receive the prestigious Bjørnson Prize by the Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson Academy for freedom of expression. The award is being presented to Snowden “for work protecting privacy and for shining a critical light on US surveillance of its citizens and others.”

However, it is still unclear whether Norway would arrest Snowden if he attempted to enter the country.

Norway’s Justice and Foreign Affairs departments said that the US’ requests had not been answered because, under Norwegian law, no country can make an extradition request until the alleged criminal is actually on Norwegian territory.

Jøran Kallemyr, State Secretary in Norway’s Department of Justice, confirmed this view: “What Norway has done is to inform the American authorities how the Norwegian system works,” he said. “If they request an extradition, the prosecuting authorities will decide if the case should be brought before the courts. And the court will decide if the terms for extradition are fulfilled.”

Norway is not the only country reportedly bullied to hand over Snowden. Washington threatened to stop sharing intelligence with Berlin should Germany offer asylum to Snowden or even try to arrange any kind of travel to Germany, according to a report by journalist Glenn Greenwald.

They told us they would stop notifying us of plots and other intelligence matters,” German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said earlier this week, as cited by Greenwald in the Intercept.

Snowden sought political asylum in Russia in 2013 after facing arrest and extradition to the US, where he has been charged under the country’s Espionage Act.

On August 1, 2013, Russia granted him asylum for one year, saying it had no other legal choice. A year later, Snowden received a Russian residence permit valid for three years, valid from August 1, 2014. In March, he publicly asked Switzerland to grant him political asylum.

Snowden has been condemned as a criminal in the US for leaking a vast trove of classified material to journalists who published the documents, revealing the espionage antics of the NSA’s global spying operations.

The documents leaked by Snowden informed the public that the US government, together with European allies, is gathering and storing millions of pieces of metadata on citizens. Other disclosures revealed that the NSA bugged the personal communications of high-ranking businessmen and world leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.

America Is So in Play

Donald Trump’s staying power in the polls reflects a change in the electorate only now coming into focus.

August 27, 2015

by Peggy Noonan

WSJ

So, more thoughts on Donald Trump’s candidacy, because I can’t stop being fascinated.

You know the latest numbers. Quinnipiac University’s poll this week has Mr. Trump at a hefty 28% nationally, up from 20% in July. Public Policy Polling has Mr. Trump leading all Republicans in New Hampshire with 35%. A Monmouth University poll has him at 30% in South Carolina, followed 15 points later by Ben Carson.

Here are some things I think are happening.

One is the deepening estrangement between the elites and the non-elites in America. This is the area in which Trumpism flourishes. We’ll talk about that deeper in.

Second, Mr. Trump’s support is not limited to Republicans, not by any means.

Third, the traditional mediating or guiding institutions within the Republican universe—its establishment, respected voices in conservative media, sober-minded state party officials—have little to no impact on Mr. Trump’s rise. Some say voices of authority should stand up to oppose him, which will lower his standing. But Republican powers don’t have that kind of juice anymore. Mr. Trump’s supporters aren’t just bucking a party, they’re bucking everything around, within and connected to it.

Since Mr. Trump announced I’ve worked or traveled in, among other places, Southern California, Connecticut, Georgia, Virginia, New Jersey and New York’s Long Island. In all places I just talked to people. My biggest sense is that political professionals are going to have to rethink “the base,” reimagine it when they see it in their minds.

I’ve written before about an acquaintance—late 60s, northern Georgia, lives on Social Security, voted Obama in ’08, not partisan, watches Fox News, hates Wall Street and “the GOP establishment.” She continues to be so ardent for Mr. Trump that she not only watched his speech in Mobile, Ala., on live TV, she watched while excitedly texting with family members—middle-class, white, independent-minded—who were in the audience cheering. Is that “the Republican base”? I guess maybe it is, because she texted me Wednesday to say she’d just registered Republican. I asked if she’d ever been one before. Reply: “No, never!!!”

Something is going on, some tectonic plates are moving in interesting ways. My friend Cesar works the deli counter at my neighborhood grocery store. He is Dominican, an immigrant, early 50s, and listens most mornings to a local Hispanic radio station, La Mega, on 97.9 FM. Their morning show is the popular “El Vacilón de la Mañana,” and after the first GOP debate, Cesar told me, they opened the lines to call-ins, asking listeners (mostly Puerto Rican, Dominican, Mexican) for their impressions. More than half called in to say they were for Mr. Trump. Their praise, Cesar told me a few weeks ago, dumbfounded the hosts. I later spoke to one of them, who identified himself as D.J. New Era. He backed Cesar’s story. “We were very surprised,” at the Trump support, he said. Why? “It’s a Latin-based market!”

“He’s the man,” Cesar said of Mr. Trump. This week I went by and Cesar told me that after Mr. Trump threw Univision’s well-known anchor and immigration activist, Jorge Ramos, out of an Iowa news conference on Tuesday evening, the “El Vacilón” hosts again threw open the phone lines the following morning and were again surprised that the majority of callers backed not Mr. Ramos but Mr. Trump. Cesar, who I should probably note sees me, I sense, as a very nice establishment person who needs to get with the new reality, was delighted.

I said: Cesar, you’re supposed to be offended by Trump, he said Mexico is sending over criminals, he has been unfriendly, you’re an immigrant. Cesar shook his head: No, you have it wrong. Immigrants, he said, don’t like illegal immigration, and they’re with Mr. Trump on anchor babies. “They are coming in from other countries to give birth to take advantage of the system. We are saying that! When you come to this country, you pledge loyalty to the country that opened the doors to help you.”

He added, “We don’t bloc vote anymore.” The idea of a “Latin vote” is “disparate,” which he said generally translates as nonsense, but which he means as “bull—-.”

He finished, on the subject of Jorge Ramos: “The elite have different notions from the grass-roots working people.”

OK. Old style: Jorge Ramos speaks for Hispanic America. New style: Jorge Ramos speaks for Jorge Ramos. Old style: If I’ve lost Walter Cronkite, I’ve lost middle America. New style: How touching that an American president once thought if you lost a newsman you’d lost a country.

It is noted that a poll this week said Hispanics are very much not for Donald Trump. Gallup had 65% with an unfavorable view of him, and only 14% favorable. Mr. Trump and Mr. Ramos actually got into that, when Mr. Ramos finally questioned him after being allowed back into the news conference. Mr. Trump countered with a recent Nevada poll that has him with a state lead of 28%—and he scored even higher with Nevada’s Hispanics, who gave him 31% support.

I will throw in here that almost wherever I’ve been this summer, I kept meeting immigrants who are or have grown conservative—more men than women, but women too.

America is so in play.

And: “the base” isn’t the limited, clichéd thing it once was, it’s becoming a big, broad jumble that few understand.

***

On the subject of elites, I spoke to Scott Miller, co-founder of the Sawyer Miller political-consulting firm, who is now a corporate consultant. He worked on the Ross Perot campaign in 1992 and knows something about outside challenges. He views the key political fact of our time as this: “Over 80% of the American people, across the board, believe an elite group of political incumbents, plus big business, big media, big banks, big unions and big special interests—the whole Washington political class—have rigged the system for the wealthy and connected.” It is “a remarkable moment,” he said. More than half of the American people believe “something has changed, our democracy is not like it used to be, people feel they no longer have a voice.”

Mr. Miller added: “People who work for a living are thinking this thing is broken, and that economic inequality is the result of the elite rigging the system for themselves. We’re seeing something big.”

Support for Mr. Trump is not, he said, limited to the GOP base: “The molecules are in motion.” I asked what he meant. He said bars of support are not solid, things are in motion as molecules are “before combustion, or before a branch breaks.”

I end with this. An odd thing, in my observation, is that deep down the elite themselves also think the game is rigged. They don’t disagree, and they don’t like what they see—corruption, shallowness and selfishness in the systems all around them. Their odd anguish is that they have no faith the American people can—or will—do anything to turn it around. They see the American voter as distracted, poorly educated, subject to emotional and personality-driven political adventures. They sometimes refer to “Jaywalking,” the old Jay Leno “Tonight Show” staple in which he walked outside the studio and asked the man on the street about history. What caused the American Civil War? Um, Hitler? When did it take place, roughly? Uh, 1958?

Both sides, the elites and the non-elites, sense that things are stuck.

The people hate the elites, which is not new, and very American. The elites have no faith in the people, which, actually, is new. Everything is stasis. Then Donald Trump comes, like a rock thrown through a showroom window, and the molecules start to move.

Water wars? Devastating shortages will fuel MidEast conflicts for 25 yrs – report

August 28, 2015

RT

In a worrying global trend, the Middle East is set for a record water shortage to strike over the next 25 years. The global fallout from the recent record heatwaves will force more and more people into overcrowded cities and stagnate economic growth.

Worse still, according to scientists with the World Resource Institute (WRI), water shortages will exacerbate existing conflicts – and the factor is considered to have contributed to the rising violence in Syria that erupted in 2011.

Drought and water shortages in Syria likely contributed to the unrest that stoked the country’s 2011 civil war. Dwindling water resources and chronic mismanagement forced 1.5 million people, primarily farmers and herders, to lose their livelihoods and leave their land, move to urban areas, and magnify Syria’s general destabilization,” a new WRI report says.

The institute estimates that, of 33 countries predicted to face “extremely high water stress” by the year 2040, 14 will be in the Middle East and North Africa.

The process will take place gradually, owing not only to a period of drought we’ve been facing, but also by overcrowding, as the global demand for water grows.

As many in the world grow poorer, a middle class is also emerging – and its own demands for increased use of water will also put pressure on resources, as its demands for electricity and water-intensive food production far outstrip those of the poor, the researchers say.

The situation is not uniform, where drought is concerned: some areas become drier, and others wetter. And as some are set to die of thirst, others may suffer deadly floods, which will also destroy livelihoods and displace hundreds of millions of people.

To arrive at its conclusions, the WRI has carried out a completely unique analysis. In the analysis, it arrived at rankings on future water stress that comes out of both depletion and competition for the resource. A total of 167 countries were sampled, with predictions offered for 2020, 2030 and 2040.

Some of the worst-hit countries, scoring 5.0 on the proposed scale, are in the Middle East, starting with Bahrain. The last on that list is Tunisia. But adjoining regions will also face difficult times; for instance, the rich and affluent principality of San Marino and the business-savvy Singapore join Bahrain, Kuwait, Palestine, Qatar and the UAE in the report as countries most at risk.

Israel, for comparison, is only at eighth.

Greece, Turkey and Macedonia, as well as ex-Soviet Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan, are also high on the danger list.

The list includes Estonia, in the Baltic region – far away from the arid Africa, where Botswana and Namibia stand to lose especially hard.

But the consensus is that the Middle East is probably the least sustainable of all the regions, owing to an already huge stress on groundwater and desalinated seawater. The perpetual violence of conflict in the region has made access to already-scarce water resources more difficult, particularly in Syria.

Water is a significant dimension of the decades-old conflict between Palestine and Israel,” the report says, adding: “Saudi Arabia’s government said its people will depend entirely on grain imports by 2016, a change from decades of growing all they need, due to fear of water-resource depletion. The US National Intelligence Council wrote that water problems will put key North African and Middle East countries at greater risk of instability and state failure.”

China and India are at extreme risk of water shortages, given the latest fallout from the droughts and heatwaves. But it’s not just developing nations: the US southwest and California are also set to suffer record droughts unheard of over the past century.

The fault in the impending shortages will lie with both rising temperatures worldwide, and the changing precipitation pattern, researchers say. But each country is affected differently by this combination of factors.

Whatever the drivers, extremely high water stress creates an environment in which companies, farms and residents are highly dependent on limited amounts of water and vulnerable to the slightest change in supply. Such situations severely threaten national water security and economic growth,” the report says.

The authors recommend: “National and local governments must bring forward strong national climate action plans and support a strong international climate agreement in Paris this November. Governments must also respond with management and conservation practices that will help protect essential sustainable water resources for years to come.”

ANNALS OF ESPIONAGE: THE TRAITOR

The case against Jonathan Pollard.

by Seymour M. Hersh

In the last decade, Jonathan Pollard, the American Navy employee who spied for Israel in the mid-nineteen-eighties and is now serving a life sentence, has become a cause célèbre in Israel and among Jewish groups in the United States. The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, a consortium of fifty-five groups, has publicly called for Pollard’s release, arguing, in essence, that his crimes did not amount to high treason against the United States, because Israel was then and remains a close ally. Many of the leading religious organizations have also called for an end to Pollard’s imprisonment, among them the Reform Union of American Hebrew Congregations and the Orthodox Union.

Pollard himself, now forty-four, has never denied that he turned over a great deal of classified material to the Israelis, but he maintains that his sole motive was to protect Israeli security. “From the start of this affair, I never intended or agreed to spy against the United States,” he told United States District Court Judge Aubrey Robinson,Jr., in a memorandum submitted before his sentencing, in 1986. His goal, he said, was “to provide such information on the Arab powers and the Soviets that would permit the Israelis to avoid a repetition of the Yom Kippur War,” in 1973, when an attack by Egypt and Syria took Israel by surprise. “At no time did I ever compromise the names of any U.S. agents operating overseas, nor did I ever reveal any U.S. ciphers, codes, encipherment devices, classified military technology, the disposition and orders of U.S. forces . . . or communications security procedures,” Pollard added. “I never thought for a second that Israel’s gain would necessarily result in America’s loss. How could it?”

Pollard’s defenders use the same arguments today. In a recent op-ed article in the Washington Post, the Harvard Law School professor Alan M. Dershowitz, who served as Pollard’s lawyer in the early nineteen-nineties, and three co-authors called for President Clinton to correct what they depicted as “this longstanding miscarriage of justice” in the Pollard case. There was nothing in Pollard’s indictment, they added, to suggest that he had “compromised the nation’s intelligence-gathering capabilities” or “betrayed worldwide intelligence data.”

In Israel, Pollard’s release was initially championed by the right, but it has evolved into a mainstream political issue. Early in the Clinton Administration, Yitzhak Rabin, the late Israeli Prime Minister, personally urged the President on at least two occasions to grant clemency. Both times, Clinton reviewed the evidence against Pollard and decided not to take action. But last October, at a crucial moment in the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations at the Wye River Conference Centers, in Maryland, he did tentatively agree to release Pollard, or so the Israeli government claimed. When the President’s acquiescence became publicly known, the American intelligence community responded immediately, with unequivocal anger. According to the Times, George J. Tenet, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, warned the President that he would be forced to resign from the agency if Pollard were to be released. Clinton then told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Pollard’s release would not be imminent, and ordered a formal review of the case.

The President’s willingness to consider clemency for Pollard so upset the intelligence community that its leaders took an unusual step: they began to go public. In early December, four retired admirals who had served as director of Naval Intelligence circulated an article, eventually published in the Washington Post, in which they argued that Pollard’s release would be “irresponsible” and a victory for what they depicted as a “clever public relations campaign.” Since then, sensitive details about the secrets Pollard gave away have been made public by CBS and NBC.

In the course of my own interviews for this account, the officials who knew the most about Jonathan Pollard made it clear that they were talking because they no longer had confidence that President Clinton would do what they believed was the right thing — keep Pollard locked up. Pollard, these officials told me, had done far more damage to American national security than was ever made known to the public; for example, he betrayed elements of four major American intelligence systems. In their eyes, there is no distinction between betraying secrets to an enemy, such as the Soviet Union, and betraying secrets to an ally. Officials are loath to talk publicly about it, but spying on allies is a fact of life: the United States invests billions annually to monitor the communications of its friends. Many American embassies around the world contain a clandestine intercept facility that targets diplomatic communications. The goal is not only to know the military and diplomatic plans of our friends but also to learn what intelligence they may be receiving and with whom they share information. “If a friendly state has friends that we don’t see as friends,” one senior official explained, sensitive intelligence that it should not possess — such as that supplied by Pollard — “can spread to others.” Many officials said they were convinced that information Pollard sold to the Israelis had ultimately wound up in the hands of the Soviet Union.

Jonathan Jay Pollard was born in 1954 and grew up as the youngest of three children in South Bend, Indiana; his father, Dr. Morris Pollard, was an award-winning microbiologist who taught at Notre Dame. The young boy did not fit in well in South Bend, and members of his family have described his years in public school there as hellish: he made constant complaints of being picked on and, in high school, beaten up, because he was Jewish. One of the boy’s happiest times, the family told journalists after his arrest, came when, at the age of sixteen, he attended a summer camp for gifted children in Israel. He talked then of serving in the Israeli Army, but instead he finished high school and went on to Stanford University. His Stanford classmates later recalled that he was full of stories about his ties to Israeli intelligence and the Israeli Army. He also was said to have been a heavy drug and alcohol user.

He graduated in 1976, and in the next three years he attended several graduate schools without getting a degree. He applied for a Job with the C.I.A. but was turned down when the agency concluded, after a lie-detector test and other investigations, that he was “a blabbermouth,” as one official put it, and had misrepresented his drug use. Pollard then tried for a job with the Navy, and obtained a civilian position as a research analyst in the Field Operational Intelligence Office, in Suitland, Maryland. The job required high-level security clearances, and the Navy, which knew nothing about the C.I.A.’s assessment, eventually gave them to Pollard. His initial assignments dealt with the study of surface-ships systems in non-Communist countries, and, according to Pollard’s superiors, his analytical work was excellent. While at Suitland, however, he repeatedly told colleagues far-fetched stories about ties he had with Mossad, the Israeli foreign-intelligence agency, and about his work as an operative in the Middle East.

Pollard’s bragging and storytelling didn’t prevent his immediate supervisors from recognizing his competence as an analyst. He was given many opportunities for promotion, but at least one of them he sabotaged. In the early nineteen-eighties, Lieutenant Commander David G. Muller, Jr., who ran an analytical section at Suitland, had an opening on his staff and summoned Pollard for an interview. “I had respect for him,” Muller recalled recently. “He knew a lot about Navy hardware and a lot about the Middle East.” An early-Monday-morning interview was set up. “Jay blew in the first thing Monday,” Muller recounted. “He looked as if he hadn’t slept or shaved. He proceeded to tell me that on Friday evening his then fiancee, Anne Henderson, had been kidnapped by I.R.A. operatives in Washington, and he’d spent the weekend chasing the kidnappers.” Pollard said that he had managed to rescue his fiancee “only in the wee hours of Monday morning” — just before his appointment. Of course, Pollard did not get the job, Muller said, but he still wishes that he had warned others. “I ought to have gone to the security people,” Muller, who is retired, told me, “and said, ‘Hey, this guy’s a wacko.’ ”

A career American intelligence officer who has been actively involved for years in assessing the damage caused by Pollard told me that Pollard had been desperately broke during this period: “He had credit-card debts, loan debts, debts on rent, furniture, cars.” He was also borrowing heavily from his colleagues, in part to forestall possible garnishment of his wages — an action that could lead to loss of his top-secret clearances. Despite his chronic financial problems, the intelligence officer said, Pollard was constantly spending money on meals in expensive restaurants, on drugs, and on huge bar bills.

In late 1983, shortly after the terrorist bombing of a Marine barracks in Beirut, the Navy set up a high-powered Anti-Terrorist Alert Center at Suitland, and in June, 1984, Pollard was assigned to that unit’s Threat Analysis Division. He had access there to the most up-to-date intelligence in the American government. By that summer, however, he had been recruited by Israeli intelligence. He was arrested a year and a half later, in November of 1985.

Pollard was paid well by the Israelis: he received a salary that eventually reached twenty-five hundred dollars a month, and tens of thousands of dollars in cash disbursements for hotels, meals, and even jewelry. In his pre-sentencing statement to Judge Robinson, Pollard depicted the money as a benefit that was forced on him. “I did accept money for my services,” he acknowledged, but only “as a reflection of how well I was doing my job.” He went on to assert that he had later told his controller, Rafi Eitan, a longtime spy who at the time headed a scientific-intelligence unit in Israel, that “I not only intended to repay all the money I’d received but, also, was going to establish a chair at the Israeli General Staff’s Intelligence Training Center outside Tel Aviv.”

Charles S. Leeper, the assistant United States attorney who prosecuted Pollard, challenged his statement that money had not motivated him. In a publicly filed sentencing memorandum, Leeper said that Pollard was known to have received fifty thousand dollars in cash from his Israeli handlers and to have been told that thirty thousand more would be deposited annually in a foreign bank account. Pollard had made a commitment to spy for at least ten years, the memorandum alleged, and “stood to receive an additional five hundred and forty thousand dollars ($540,000) over the expected life of the conspiracy.”

There was no such public specificity, however, when it came to the top-secret materials that Pollard had passed on to Israel. In mid-1986, he elected to plea-bargain rather than face a trial. The government agreed with alacrity: no state secrets would have to be revealed, especially about the extent of Israeli espionage. After the plea bargain, the Justice Department supplied the court with a classified sworn declaration signed by Caspar W. Weinberger, the Secretary of Defense, which detailed, by categories, some of the intelligence systems that had been compromised. Judge Robinson, for his part, said nothing in public about the scope of the materials involved in the case, and merely noted at the end of a lengthy sentencing hearing, in March, 1987, that he had “read all of the material once, twice, thrice, if you will.” He then sentenced Pollard to life in prison. Pollard’s wife, Anne (they had married in 1985), who had been his accomplice, was convicted of unauthorized possession and transmission of classified defense documents and was given a five-year sentence.

Once in jail, Pollard became increasingly fervent in proclaiming his support for Israel. In the Washington Post last summer, the journalist Peter Perl wrote that even Pollard’s friends saw him as “obsessed with vindication, consumed by the idea that he is a victim of anti-semitism and that Israel can rescue him through diplomatic and political pressure.” Pollard has also turned increasingly to Orthodox Judaism. He divorced his wife after her release from prison, in 1990, and in 1994 proclaimed that, under Jewish law, he had been married in prison to a Toronto schoolteacher named Elaine Zeitz. Esther Pollard, as she is now known, is an indefatigable ally, who passionately believes that her husband was wrongfully accused of harming the United States and was therefore wrongfully imprisoned. “This is the kind of issue I feel very strongly concerns every Jew and every decent, law-abiding citizen,” she told an interviewer shortly after the marriage. “The issues are much bigger than Jonathan and myself…. Like it or not, we are writing a page of Jewish history.”

Esther Pollard and her husband’s other supporters are mistaken in believing that Jonathan Pollard caused no significant damage to American national security. Furthermore, according to senior members of the American intelligence community, Pollard’s argument that he acted solely from idealistic motives and provided Israel only with those documents which were needed for its defense was a sham designed to mask the fact that he was driven to spy by his chronic need for money.

Before Pollard’s plea bargain, the government had been preparing a multi-count criminal indictment that included-along with espionage, drug, and tax-fraud charges — allegations that before his arrest Pollard had used classified documents in an unsuccessful attempt to persuade the governments of South Africa, Argentina, and Taiwan to participate in an arms deal for anti-Communist Afghan rebels who were then being covertly supported by the Reagan Administration. F.B.I. investigators later determined that in the fall of 1985 Pollard had also consulted with three Pakistanis and an Iranian in his efforts to broker arms. (The foreigners were quietly deported within several months of his arrest.)

Had Pollard’s case gone to trial, one of the government’s major witnesses would have been a journalist named Kurt Lohbeck, who had a checkered past. He had served seven months in prison after being convicted of passing a bad check in New Mexico in 1977, but by 1985 he was under contract to the CBS Evening News.

Lohbeck, who now lives in Albuquerque — (he received a full pardon from the governor of New Mexico two years ago), acknowledged in a telephone interview that he was prepared to testify, if necessary, about his involvement in Pollard’s unsuccessful efforts in 1985 to broker arms sales for the rebels in the Afghan war. At one meeting with a foreign diplomat, Lohbeck said, Pollard posed as a high-level C.I.A. operative. Lohbeck, who was then CBS’s main battlefield correspondent in the Afghan war, told me that Pollard had provided him, and thus CBS, with a large number of classified American documents concerning the war. He also told me that Pollard had never discussed Israel with him or indicated any special feelings for the state. “I never heard anything political from Jay,” Lohbeck added, “other than that he tried to portray himself as a Reaganite. Not a word about Israel. Jay’s sole interest was in making a lot of money.”

Lohbeck went on to say that he had also been prepared to testify, if asked, about Pollard’s drug use. “Jay used cocaine heavily, and had no compunction about doing it in public. He’d just lay it in lines on the table.” In 1985, Lohbeck made similar statements, government officials said, to the F.B.I.

Pollard, told by me of Lohbeck’s assertions, sent a response from a jail cell in North Carolina: “My relationship with Lohbeck is extremely complicated. I was never indicted for anything I did with him. Remember that.”

The documents that Pollard turned over to Israel were not focussed exclusively on the product of American intelligence — its analytical reports and estimates. They also revealed how America was able to learn what it did — a most sensitive area of intelligence defined as “sources and methods.” Pollard gave the Israelis vast amounts of data dealing with specific American intelligence systems and how they worked. For example, he betrayed details of an exotic capability that American satellites have of taking off-axis photographs from high in space. While orbiting the earth in one direction, the satellites could photograph areas that were seemingly far out of range. Israeli nuclear-missile sites and the like, which would normally be shielded from American satellites, would thus be left exposed, and could be photographed. “We monitor the Israelis,” one intelligence expert told me, “and there’s no doubt the Israelis want to prevent us from being able to surveil their country.” The data passed along by Pollard included detailed information on the various platforms — in the air, on land, and at sea — used by military components of the National Security Agency to intercept Israeli military, commercial, and diplomatic communications. At the time of Pollard’s spying, select groups of American sailors and soldiers trained in Hebrew were stationed at an N.S.A. listening post near Harrogate, England, and at a specially constructed facility inside the American Embassy in Tel Aviv, where they intercepted and translated Israeli signals. Other interceptions came from an unmanned N.S.A. listening post in Cyprus. Pollard’s handing over of the data had a clear impact, the expert told me, for “we could see the whole process” — of intelligence collection — “slowing down.” It also hindered the United States’ ability to recruit foreign agents. Another senior official commented, with bitterness, “The level of penetration would convince any self-respecting human source to look for other kinds of work.”

A number of officials strongly suspect that the Israelis repackaged much of Pollard’s material and provided it to the Soviet Union in exchange for continued Soviet permission for Jews to emigrate to Israel. Other officials go further, and say there was reason to believe that secret information was exchanged for Jews working in highly sensitive positions in the Soviet Union. A significant percentage of Pollard’s documents, including some that described the techniques the American Navy used to track Soviet submarines around the world, was of practical importance only to the Soviet Union. One longtime C.I.A. officer who worked as a station chief in the Middle East said he understood that “certain elements in the Israeli military had used it” — Pollard’s material — “to trade for people they wanted to get out,” including Jewish scientists working in missile technology and on nuclear issues. Pollard’s spying came at a time when the Israeli government was publicly committed to the free flow of Jewish emigres from the Soviet Union. The officials stressed the fact that they had no hard evidence — no “smoking gun,” in the form of a document from an Israeli or a Soviet archive — to demonstrate the link between Pollard, Israel, and the Soviet Union, but they also said that the documents that Pollard had been directed by his Israeli handlers to betray led them to no other conclusion.

High-level suspicions about Israeli-Soviet collusion were expressed as early as December, 1985, a month after Pollard’s arrest, when William J. Casey, the late C.I.A. director, who was known for his close ties to the Israeli leadership, stunned one of his station chiefs by suddenly complaining about the Israelis breaking the “ground rules.” The issue arose when Casey urged increased monitoring of the Israelis during an otherwise routine visit, I was told by the station chief, who is now retired. “He asked if I knew anything about the Pollard case,” the station chief recalled, and he said that Casey had added, “For your information, the Israelis used Pollard to obtain our attack plan against the U.S.S.R. all of it. The coordinates, the firing locations, the sequences. And for guess who? The Soviets.” Casey had then explained that the Israelis had traded the Pollard data for Soviet emigres. “How’s that for cheating?” he had asked.

In subsequent interviews, former C.I.A. colleagues of Casey’s were unable to advance his categorical assertion significantly. Duane Clarridge, then in charge of clandestine operations in Europe, recalled that the C.I.A. director had told him that the Pollard material “goes beyond just the receipt in Israel of this stuff.” But Casey, who had many close ties to the Israeli intelligence community, hadn’t told Clarridge how he knew what he knew. Robert Gates, who became deputy C.I.A. director in April, 1986, told me that Casey had never indicated to him that he had specific information about the Pollard material arriving in Moscow. “The notion that the Russians may have gotten some of the stuff has always been a viewpoint,” Gates said, but not through the bartering of emigres. “The only view I heard expressed was that it was through intelligence operations” — the K.G.B.

In any event, there was enough evidence, officials told me, to include a statement about the possible flow of intelligence to the Soviet Union in Defense Secretary Weinberger’s top-secret declaration that was presented to the court before Pollard’s sentencing. There was little doubt, I learned from an official who was directly involved, that Soviet intelligence had access to the most secret information in Israel. “The question,” the official said, “was whether we could prove it was Pollard’s material that went over the aqueduct. We couldn’t get there, so we suggested” in the Weinberger affidavit that the possibility existed. Caution was necessary, the official added, for “fear that the other side would say that ‘these people are seeing spies under the bed.’ ”

The Justice Department further informed Judge Robinson, in a publicly filed memorandum, that “numerous” analyses of Soviet missile systems had been sold by Pollard to Israel, and that those documents included “information from human sources whose identity could be inferred by a reasonably competent intelligence analyst. Moreover, the identity of the authors of these classified publications” was clearly marked.

A retired Navy admiral who was directly involved in the Pollard investigation told me, “There is no question that the Russians got a lot of the Pollard stuff. The only question is how did it get there?” The admiral, like Robert Gates, had an alternative explanation. He pointed out that Israel would always play a special role in American national security affairs. “We give them truckloads of stuff in the normal course of our official relations,” the admiral said. “And they use it very effectively. They do things worth doing, and they will go places where we will not go, and do what we do not dare to do.” Nevertheless, he said, it was understood that the Soviet intelligence services had long since penetrated Israel. (One important Soviet spy, Shabtai Kalmanovitch, whose job at one point was to ease the resettlement of Russian emigrants in Israel, was arrested in 1987.) It was reasonably assumed in the aftermath of Pollard, the admiral added, that Soviet spies inside Israel had been used to funnel some of the Pollard material to Moscow.

A full accounting of the materials provided by Pollard to the Israelis has been impossible to obtain: Pollard himself has estimated that the documents would create a stack six feet wide, six feet long, and ten feet high. Rafi Eitan, the Israeli who controlled the operation, and two colleagues of his attached to the Israeli diplomatic delegation — Irit Erb and Joseph Yagur — were named as unindicted co-conspirators by the Justice Department. In the summer of 1984, Eitan brought in Colonel Aviem Sella, an Air Force hero, who led Israel’s dramatic and successful 1981 bombing raid on the Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak. (Sella was eventually indicted, in absentia, on three counts of espionage.) Eitan’s decision to order Sella into the case is considered by many Americans to have been a brilliant stroke: the Israeli war hero was met with starry eyes by Pollard, a chronic wannabe. Yagur, Erb, and Sella were in Washington when Pollard was first seized by the F.B.I., in November, 1985, but they quickly left the country, never to return. During one period, Pollard had been handing over documents to them almost weekly, and they had been forced to rent an apartment in northwest Washington, where they installed a high-speed photocopying machine. “Safe houses and special Xeroxes?” an American career intelligence officer said, despairingly, concerning the Pollard operation. “This was not the first guy they’d recruited.” In the years following Pollard’s arrest and confession, the Israeli government chose not to cooperate fully with the F.B.I. and Justice Department investigation, and only a token number of the Pollard documents have been returned. It was not until last May that the Israeli government even acknowledged that Pollard had been its operative.

In fact, it is widely believed that Pollard was not the only one in the American government spying for Israel. During his year and a half of spying, his Israeli handlers requested specific documents, which were identified only by top-secret control numbers. After much internal assessment, the government’s intelligence experts concluded that it was “highly unlikely,” in the words of a Justice Department official, that any of the other American spies of the era would have had access to the specific control numbers. “There is only one conclusion,” the expert told me. The Israelis “got the numbers from somebody else in the U.S. government.”

The men and women of the National Security Agency live in a world of chaotic bleeps, buzzes, and whistles, and talk to each other about frequencies, spectrums, modulation, and bandwidth — the stuff of Tom Clancy novels. They often deal with signals intelligence, or SIGINT, and their world is kept in order by an in-house manual known as the RASIN an acronym for radio-signal notations. The manual, which is classified “top-secret Umbra,” fills ten volumes, is constantly updated, and lists the physical parameters of every known signal. Pollard took it all. “It’s the Bible,” one former communications-intelligence officer told me. “It tells how we collect signals anywhere in the world.” The site, frequency, and significant features of Israeli communications — those that were known and targeted by the N.S.A. — were in the RASIN; so were all the known communications links used by the Soviet Union.

The loss of the RASIN was especially embarrassing to the Navy, I was told by the retired admiral, because the copy that Pollard photocopied belonged to the Office of Naval Intelligence. “He went into our library, found we had an out-of-date version, requested a new one, and passed it on,” the officer said. “I was surprised we even had it.”

The RASIN theft was one of the specifics cited in Defense Secretary Weinberger’s still secret declaration to the court before Pollard’s sentencing hearing. In fact, the hearing’s most dramatic moment came when Pollard’s attorney, Richard A. Hibey, readily acknowledged his client’s guilt but argued that the extent of the damage to American national security did not call for the imposition of a maximum sentence. “I would ask you to think about the Secretary of Defense’s affidavit, as it related to only one thing,” Judge Robinson interjected, “with reference to one particular category of publication, and I fail to see how you can make that argument.” He invited Hibey to approach the bench, along with the Justice Department attorneys, and the group spent a few moments reviewing what government officials told me was Weinberger’s account of the importance of the RAISIN. One Justice Department official, recalling those moments with obvious pleasure, said that the RASIN was the ninth item on the Weinberger damage-assessment list. After the bench conference, Hibey made no further attempt to minimize the national-security damage caused by its theft. (Citing national security, Hibey refused to discuss the case for this article.)

The ten volumes of the RASIN were available on a need-to-know basis inside the N.S.A. “I’ve never seen the monster,” a former senior watch officer at an N.S.A. intercept site in Europe told me, but added that he did supervise people who constantly used it, and he described its function in easy-to-understand terms: “It is a complete catalogue of what the United States was listening to, or could listen to — information referred to in the N.S.A. as ‘parametric data.’ It tells you everything you want to know about a particular signal — when it was first detected and where, whom it was first used by, what kind of entity, frequency, wavelength, or band length it has. When you’ve copied a signal and don’t know what it is, the RASIN manual gives you a description.”

A senior intelligence official who consults regularly with the N.S.A. on technical matters subsequently told me that another issue involved geometry. The RASIN, he explained, had been focussed in particular on the Soviet Union and its thousands of high-frequency, or shortwave, communications, which had enabled Russian military units at either end of the huge land mass to communicate with each other. Those signals “bounced” off the ionosphere and were often best intercepted thousands of miles from their point of origin. If, as many in the American intelligence community suspected, the Soviet communications experts had been able to learn which of their signals were being monitored, and where, they could relocate the signal and force the N.S.A. to invest man-hours and money to try to recapture it. Or, more likely, the Soviets could continue to communicate in a normal fashion but relay false and misleading information.

Pollard’s betrayal of the RASIN put the N.S.A. in the position of having to question or reevaluate all of its intelligence collecting. “We aren’t perfect,” the career intelligence officer explained to me. “We’ve got holes in our coverage, and this” — the loss of the RASIN — tells where the biases and the weaknesses are. It’s how we get the job done, and how we will get the job done.”

“What a wonderful insight into how we think, and exactly how we’re exploiting Soviet communications!” the retired admiral exclaimed. “It’s a how-to-do-it book — the fireside cookbook of cryptology. Not only the analyses but the facts of how we derived our analyses. Whatever recipe you want.”

Pollard, asked about the specific programs he compromised, told me, “As far as SIGINT information is concerned, the government has consistently lied in its public version of what I gave the Israelis.”

In the mid-nineteen-eighties, the daily report from the Navy’s Sixth Fleet Ocean Surveillance Information Facility (FOSIF) in Rota, Spain, was one of America’s Cold War staples. A top-secret document filed every morning at 0800 Zulu time (Greenwich Mean Time), it reported all that had gone on in the Middle East during the previous twenty-four hours, as recorded by the N.S.A.’s most sophisticated monitoring devices. The reports were renowned inside Navy commands for their sophistication and their reliability; they were based, as the senior managers understood it, on data supplied both by intelligence agents throughout the Middle East and by the most advanced technical means of intercepting Soviet military communications. The Navy’s intelligence facility at Rota shared space with a huge N.S.A. intercept station, occupied by more than seven hundred linguists and cryptographers, which was responsible for monitoring and decoding military and diplomatic communications all across North Africa. Many at Rota spent hundreds of hours a month listening while locked in top-secret compartments aboard American ships, aircraft, and submarines operating in the Mediterranean.

The Navy’s primary targets were the ships, the aircraft, and, most important, the nuclear-armed submarines of the Soviet Union on patrol in the Mediterranean. Those submarines, whose nuclear missiles were aimed at United States forces, were constantly being tracked; they were to be targeted and destroyed within hours if war broke out.

Pollard’s American interrogators eventually concluded that in his year and a half of spying he had provided the Israelis with more than a year’s worth of the daily FOSIF reports from Rota. Pollard himself told the Americans that at one point in 1985 the Israelis had nagged him when he missed several days of work because of illness and had failed to deliver the FOSIF reports for those days. One of his handlers, Joseph Yagur, had complained twice about the missed messages and had asked him to find a way to retrieve them. Pollard told his American interrogators that he had never missed again.

The career intelligence officer who helped to assess the Pollard damage has come to view Pollard as a serial spy, the Ted Bundy of the intelligence world. “Pollard gave them every message for a whole year,” the officer told me recently, referring to the Israelis. “They could analyze it” — the intelligence — “message by message, and correlate it. They could not only piece together our sources and methods but also learn how we think, and how we approach a problem. All of a sudden, there is no mystery. These are the things we can’t change. You got this, and you got us by the balls.” In other words, the Rota reports, when carefully studied, gave the Israelis “a road map on how to circumvent” the various American collection methods and shield an ongoing military operation. The reports provide guidance on “how to keep us asleep, thinking all is working well,” he added. “They tell the Israelis how to raid Tunisia without tipping off American intelligence in advance. That is damage that is persistent and severe.”

Not every document handed over by Pollard dealt with signals intelligence. DIAL-COINS is the acronym for the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Community On-Line Intelligence System, which was one of the government’s first computerized information-retrieval-network systems. The system, which was comparatively primitive in the mid-nineteen-eighties — it used an 8088 operating chip and thermafax paper — could not be accessed by specific issues or key words but spewed out vast amounts of networked intelligence data by time frame. Nevertheless, DIAL-COINS contained all the intelligence reports filed by Air Force, Army, Navy, and Marine attaches in Israel and elsewhere in the Middle East. One official who had been involved with it told me recently, “It was full of great stuff, particularly in HUMINT — human intelligence. Many Americans who went to the Middle East for business or political reasons agreed, as loyal citizens, to be debriefed by American defense attaches after their visits. They were promised anonymity — many had close friends inside Israel and the nearby Arab states who would be distressed by their collaboration — and the reports were classified. “It’s who’s talking to whom,” the officer said. “Like handing you the address book of the spooks for a year.”

Government investigators discovered that one of the system’s heaviest users in 1984 and 1985 was Jonathan Pollard. He had all the necessary clearances and necessary credentials to gain access to the classified Pentagon library; he also understood that librarians, even in secret libraries, are always eager to help, and in one instance he relied on the library security guards. With some chagrin, officials involved in the Pollard investigation recounted that Pollard had once collected so much data that he needed a handcart to move the papers to his car, in a nearby parking lot, and the security guards held the doors for him.

Pollard also provided the Israelis with what is perhaps the most important day-to-day information in signals intelligence: the National SIGINT Requirements List, which is essentially a compendium of the tasks, and the priority of those tasks, given to various N.S.A. collection units around the world. Before a bombing mission, for example, a United States satellite might be redeployed, at enormous financial cost, to provide instantaneous electronic coverage of the target area. In addition, N.S.A. field stations would be ordered to begin especially intensive monitoring of various military units in the target nation. Special N.S.A. coverage would also be ordered before an American covert military unit, such as the Army’s Delta Force or a Navy Seal team, was inserted into hostile territory or hostile waters. Sometimes the N.S.A.’s requests were less comprehensive: a European or Middle Eastern business suspected of selling chemical arms to a potential adversary might be placed on the N.S.A. “watch list” and its faxes, telexes, and other communications carefully monitored. The Requirements List is “like a giant to-do list,” a former N.S.A. operative told me. “If a customer” — someone in the intelligence community — “asked for specific coverage, it would be on a list that is updated daily.” That is, the target of the coverage would be known.

“If we’re going to bomb Iraq, we will shift the system,” a senior specialist subsequently told me. “It’s a tipoff where the American emphasis is going to be.” With the List, the specialist added, the Israelis “could see us move our collection systems” prior to military action, and eventually come to understand how the United States Armed Forces “change our emphasis.” In other words, he added, Israel “could make our intelligence system the prime target” and hide whatever was deemed necessary. “The damage goes past Jay’s arrest,” the specialist said, “and could extend up to today.” Israel made dramatic use of the Pollard material on October 1, 1985, seven weeks before his arrest, when its Air Force bombed the headquarters of the Palestine Liberation Organization in Tunisia, killing at least sixty-seven people. The United States, which was surprised by the operation, eventually concluded that the Israeli planners had synergistically combined the day-to-day insights of the SIGINT Requirements List with the strategic intelligence of the FOSIF reports and other data that Pollard provided to completely outwit our government’s huge collection apparatus in the Middle East. Even Pollard himself, the senior official told me, “had no idea what he gave away.”

The results of President Clintons requested review of the Pollard case by officials in the intelligence community and other interested parties were to be presented to the White House by January 11th. A former Justice Department official told me, “Nobody can believe that any President would have the gall to release this kind of spy.” But as the report was being prepared the nature of the questions that the White House was referring to the Justice Department convinced some intelligence officials that Clinton was considering a compromise, such as commuting Pollard’s life sentence to twenty-five years in prison. The queries about commutation were coming not from Roger Adams, the President’s pardon attorney, but from Charles F. C. Ruff, the White House counsel. “Pollard would get half a loaf,” one distraught career intelligence official told me. The deal believed to be under consideration would provide for his release, with time off for good behavior, in the summer of 2002. The solution had a certain “political beauty,” the official added — in the eyes of the White House. “Pollard doesn’t get out right away, and the issue doesn’t cause any trouble. And getting the United States to bend would be a serious victory for Israel.”

A senior intelligence official whose agency was involved in preparing the report for the White House told me, somewhat facetiously, that he would drop all objections to Pollard’s immediate release if the Israeli government would answer two questions: “First, give us a list of what you’ve got, and, second, tell us what you did with it.” Such answers are unlikely to be forthcoming. The Israeli government has acknowledged that Pollard was indeed spying on its behalf but has refused — despite constant entreaties — to provide the United States with a complete list of the documents that were turned over to it.

The difference with the Israelis on Pollard’s fate. They see Bill Clinton as a facilitator who would not hesitate to trade Pollard to the Israelis if he thought that would push Israel into a peace settlement and result in a foreign-policy success. The officials emphasize that they support Clinton’s efforts to resolve the Middle East crisis but do not think it is appropriate to use Pollard as a bargaining chip. Adding to their dismay, some officials made clear, is the fact that Clinton himself, having studied the case years ago, when he was considering Yitzhak Rabin’s request for clemency, knows as much as anyone in the United States government about the significance of Pollard’s treachery. One informed official described a private moment at the Wye peace summit when George Tenet, the C.I.A. director, warned the President that Pollard’s release would enrage and demoralize the intelligence community. “What he got back,” the official told me, “was ‘Nah, don’t worry about it. It’ll blow over.’ ”

U.S. Is Seen as Laggard as Russia Asserts Itself in Warming Arctic

August 29, 2015

by Steven Lee Myers

New York Times

ABOARD COAST GUARD CUTTER ALEX HALEY, in the Chukchi Sea — With warming seas creating new opportunities at the top of the world, nations are scrambling over the Arctic — its territorial waters, transit routes and especially its natural resources — in a rivalry some already call a new Cold War.

When President Obama travels to Alaska on Monday, becoming the first president to venture above the Arctic Circle while in office, he hopes to focus attention on the effects of climate change on the Arctic. Some lawmakers in Congress, analysts, and even some government officials say the United States is lagging behind other nations, chief among them Russia, in preparing for the new environmental, economic and geopolitical realities facing the region.

We have been for some time clamoring about our nation’s lack of capacity to sustain any meaningful presence in the Arctic,” said Adm. Paul F. Zukunft, the Coast Guard’s commandant.

Aboard the Alex Haley, the increased activity in the Arctic was obvious in the deep blue waters of the Chukchi Sea. While the cutter patrolled one day this month, vessels began to appear one after another on radar as this ship cleared the western edge of Alaska and cruised north of the Arctic Circle.

There were three tugs hauling giant barges to ExxonMobil’s onshore natural gas project east of Prudhoe Bay. To the east, a flotilla of ships and rigs lingered at the spot where Royal Dutch Shell began drilling for oil this month. Not far away, across America’s maritime border, convoys of container ships and military vessels were traversing the route that Russia dreams of turning into a new Suez Canal.

The cutter, a former Navy salvage vessel built nearly five decades ago, has amounted to the government’s only asset anywhere nearby to respond to an accident, oil spill or incursion into America’s territory or exclusive economic zone in the Arctic.

To deal with the growing numbers of vessels sluicing north through the Bering Strait, the Coast Guard has had to divert ships like the Alex Haley from other core missions, like policing American fisheries and interdicting drugs. The service’s fleet is aging, especially the nation’s only two icebreakers. (The United States Navy rarely operates in the Arctic.) Underwater charting is paltry, while telecommunications remain sparse above the highest latitudes. Alaska’s far north lacks deepwater port facilities to support increased maritime activity.

All these shortcomings require investments that political gridlock, budget constraints and bureaucracy have held up for years.

Russia, by contrast, is building 10 new search-and-rescue stations, strung like a necklace of pearls at ports along half of the Arctic shoreline. More provocatively, it has also significantly increased its military presence, reopening bases abandoned after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Russia is far from the only rival — or potential one — in the Arctic. China, South Korea and Singapore have increasingly explored the possibility that commercial cargo could be shipped to European markets across waters — outside Russia’s control — that scientists predict could, by 2030, be ice-free for much of the summer.

In 2012, with great fanfare, China sent a refurbished icebreaker, the Xuelong, or Snow Dragon, across one such route. Signaling its ambitions to be a “polar expedition power,” China is now building a second icebreaker, giving it an icebreaking fleet equal to America’s. Russia, by far the largest Arctic nation, has 41 in all.

The United States really isn’t even in this game,” Admiral Zukunft said at a conference in Washington this year.

He lamented the lack of urgency in Washington, contrasting it with the challenges of the Cold War, when the United States and the Soviet Union confronted each other in the Arctic and beyond. “When Russia put Sputnik in outer space, did we sit with our hands in pocket with great fascination and say, ‘Good for Mother Russia’?”

Polar Opposites

The Arctic is one of our planet’s last great frontiers,” Mr. Obama declared when he introduced a national strategy for the region in May 2013. The strategy outlined the challenges and opportunities created by diminishing sea ice — from the harsh effects on wildlife and native residents to the accessibility of oil, gas and mineral deposits, estimated by the United States Geological Survey to include 13 percent of the world’s undiscovered oil and 30 percent of its natural gas.

In January, the president created an Arctic Executive Steering Committee, led by the director of the White House’s Office of Science and Technology, John P. Holdren. The committee is trying to prioritize the demands for ships, equipment and personnel at a time of constrained budgets.

Dr. Holdren said in an interview that administration officials were trying “to get our arms around matching the resources and the commitment we can bring to bear with the magnitude of the opportunities and the challenges” in the Arctic.

What kind of frontier the Arctic will be — an ecological preserve or an economic engine, an area of international cooperation or confrontation — is now the question at the center of the unfolding geopolitical competition. An increasing divergence over the answer has deeply divided the United States and its allies on one side and Russia on the other.

Since returning to the Kremlin for a third term in 2012, President Vladimir V. Putin has sought to restore Russia’s pre-eminence in its northern reaches — economically and militarily — with zeal that a new report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies compared to the Soviet Union’s efforts to establish a “Red Arctic” in the 1930s. The report’s title echoed the rising tensions caused by Russia’s actions in the Arctic: “The New Ice Curtain.”

Decades of cooperation in the Arctic Council, which includes Russia, the United States and six other Arctic states, all but ended with Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the continuing war in eastern Ukraine. In March, Russia conducted an unannounced military exercise that was one of the largest ever in the far north. It involved 45,000 troops, as well as dozens of ships and submarines, including those in its strategic nuclear arsenal, from the Northern Fleet, based in Murmansk.

The first of two new army brigades — each expected to grow to more than 3,600 soldiers — deployed to a military base only 30 miles from the Finnish border. The other will be deployed on the Yamal Peninsula, where many of Russia’s new investments in energy resources on shore are. Mr. Putin has pursued the buildup as if a 2013 protest by Greenpeace International at the site of Russia’s first offshore oil platform above the Arctic Circle was the vanguard of a more ominous invader.

Oil and gas production facilities, loading terminals and pipelines should be reliably protected from terrorists and other potential threats,” Mr. Putin said when detailing the military buildup last year. “Nothing can be treated as trivial here.”

In Washington and other NATO capitals, Russia’s military moves are seen as provocative — and potentially destabilizing.

In the wake of the conflict in Ukraine, Russia has intensified air patrols probing NATO’s borders, including in the Arctic. In February, Norwegian fighter jets intercepted six Russian aircraft off Norway’s northern tip. Similar Russian flights occurred last year off Alaska and in the Beaufort Sea, prompting American and Canadian jets to intercept them. Russia’s naval forces have also increased patrols, venturing farther into Arctic waters. Of particular concern, officials said, has been Russia’s deployment of air defenses in the far north, including surface-to-air missiles whose main purpose is to counter aerial incursions that only the United States or NATO members could conceivably carry out in the Arctic.

We see the Arctic as a global commons,” a senior Obama administration official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss matters of national security. “It’s not apparent the Russians see it the same way we do.”

Russia has also sought to assert its sovereignty in the Arctic through diplomacy. This month, Russia resubmitted a claim to the United Nations to a vast area of the Arctic Ocean — 463,000 square miles, about the size of South Africa — based on the geological extension of its continental shelf.

The commission that reviews claims under the Convention on the Law of the Sea rejected a similar one filed in 2001, citing insufficient scientific evidence. But Russia, along with Canada and Denmark (through its administration of Greenland), have pressed ahead with competing stakes. Russia signaled its ambitions — symbolically at least — as early as 2007 when it sent two submersibles 14,000 feet down to seabed beneath the North Pole and planted a titanium Russian flag.

Although the commission might not rule for years, Russia’s move underscored the priority the Kremlin has given to expanding its sovereignty. The United States, by contrast, has not even ratified the law of the sea treaty, leaving it on the sidelines of territorial jockeying.

Nobody cared too much about these sectors,” said Andrei A. Smirnov, deputy director for operations at Atomflot, which operates Russia’s fleet of six nuclear-powered icebreakers, “but when it turned out that 40 percent of confirmed oil and gas deposits were there, everybody became interested in who owns what.”

Some have questioned whether Russia, whose economy is sinking under the weight of sanctions and the falling price of oil, can sustain its efforts in the Arctic.

It is rather difficult to find rationale for this very pronounced priority in the allocation of increasingly scarce resources,” said Pavel K. Baev of the Peace Research Institute Oslo. He added that Russian claims that it was protecting its economic interests from NATO were “entirely fictitious.”

The only challenge to Russian exploitation of the Arctic came from Greenpeace,” he said.

American commanders are watching warily. The United States and its NATO allies still have significant military forces — including missile defenses and plenty of air power — in the Arctic, but the Army is considering reducing its two brigades in Alaska. The Navy, which has no ice-capable warships, acknowledged in a report last year that it had little experience operating in the Arctic Ocean, notwithstanding decades of submarine operations during the Cold War. While it saw little need for new assets immediately, it predicted that could change.

Adm. William E. Gortney, head of the Pentagon’s Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command, said that Russia was increasing its capabilities after years of neglect but did not represent a meaningful threat, yet. “We’re seeing activity in the Arctic, but it hasn’t manifested in significant change at this point,” he said in a recent interview.

Despite concerns over the military buildup, others said that some of Russia’s moves were benign efforts to ensure the safety of ships on its Northern Sea Route, which could slash the time it takes to ship goods from Asia to Europe. Russia had pledged to take those steps as an Arctic Council member.

Some of the things I see them doing — in terms of building up bases, telecommunications, search and rescue capabilities — are things I wish the United States was doing as well,” said Robert J. Papp Jr., a retired admiral and former commandant of the Coast Guard. He is now the State Department’s senior envoy on Arctic issues.

Less Ice, More Traffic

Aboard the Alex Haley, the crew made contact with each of the ships it encountered plowing the waters, recording details of the owners, courses and the number of crew members who might need to be plucked from the sea in case of disaster.

The cutter’s captain, Cmdr. Seth J. Denning, was a young ensign when he first crossed the Arctic Circle just north of the Bering Strait 19 years ago. “I never really realized that the Arctic was going to open up as much as it has — enough to allow this much activity,” he said. “I think it surprised many people.”

What had been a brief excursion for Ensign Denning when the Arctic was choked with ice has now become routine.

The Alex Haley — named after the author of “Roots,” who was a 20-year Coast Guard veteran — is one of five ships that the Coast Guard is deploying to the Arctic from June to October. It will be replaced by an advanced cutter, the Waesche, based in Alameda, Calif. The Coast Guard has also stationed two rescue helicopters at the airport at Deadhorse, the town where the Trans-Alaska Pipeline begins.

The deployments are part of an annual summer surge that was started in 2012 when Shell first explored the oil fields off Alaska’s North Slope. The challenges of the new mission have been exacting, given the vast distances and limited support infrastructure on land. For several days this month the Alex Haley’s only helicopter, which operates from a retractable hangar on the ship’s aft was out of service, awaiting a spare part that had to be flown in on several hops from North Carolina.

This year’s deployments are intended to assess the requirements for operating in the Arctic, but the expected increase in human activity there will put new demands on the service.

As a maritime nation, we have responsibility for the safety and security of the people who are going to be using that ocean,” said Mr. Papp. “And we have a responsibility to protect the ocean from the people who will be using it.”

Correction: August 29, 2015

An earlier version of this article misattributed quotations about the United States’ policy in the Arctic. It was Adm. Paul F. Zukunft, the Coast Guard’s commandant — not the former commandant, Robert J. Papp Jr. — who said, “The United States really isn’t even in this game.” And it was Admiral Zukunft who lamented the lack of urgency on the issue in Washington, contrasting it with the early space race.

Steven Lee Myers reported from aboard the Alex Haley; Washington; Kotzebue and Barrow, Alaska; and Moscow and Murmansk, Russia. Eric Schmitt contributed reporting from Colorado Springs; James Hill from Murmansk; and Nikolay Khalip from Moscow.

Is the World Running out of Space?

September 1, 2015

by Rachel Nuwer

BBC

Sometimes it’s difficult to fathom that the world could actually become even more crowded than it is today – especially when elbowing through a teeming Delhi market, hustling across a frenetic Tokyo street crossing or sharing breathing space with sweaty strangers crammed into a London Tube train. Yet our claustrophobia-inducing numbers are only set to grow.

While it is impossible to precisely predict population levels for the coming decades, researchers are certain of one thing: the world is going to become an increasingly crowded place. New estimates issued by the United Nations in July predict that, by 2030, our current 7.3 billion will have increased to 8.4 billion. That figure will rise to 9.7 billion by 2050, and to a mind-boggling 11.2 billion by 2100.

Yet even today, it’s difficult enough to get away from one another. Drive a few hours outside of New York City or San Francisco, into the Catskill Mountains or Point Reyes National Seashore, and you’ll find crowds of city-dwellers clogging trails and beaches. Even more remote and supposedly idyllic spaces are feeling the crush, too. Backcountry permits for the Grand Tetons in Wyoming sell out months in advance, while Arches National park in Utah had to shut down for several hours last May due to a traffic gridlock.

For those who can afford the luxury of occasionally escaping other members of our own species, doing so often requires getting on a plane and travelling to increasingly far-fetched locales. Yet humanity’s footprint extends even to the most seemingly isolated of places: you’ll find nomadic herders in Mongolia’s Gobi desert, Berbers in the Sahara and camps of scientists in Antarctica.

This begs the question: as the world becomes even more crowded, will it become practically impossible to find a patch of land free from human settlement or presence? Will we eventually overtake all remaining habitable space?

Taking a stab at answering these questions requires examining what we know about where people will likely base themselves in the future, and what life will be like then.

Bongaarts says. “But this will become much more difficult in the future.”

The reasons, he says, are three-fold. Wealthy countries are ageing, meaning their rate of growth and innovation will begin to slow. Secondly, the environmental odds of unencumbered growth are stacked against us: we have already used up the most productive land, dammed the most energetically profitable rivers and tapped into the easiest-to-reach groundwater. Finally, inequality is becoming an increasing problem. While the average American’s median income has not budged much in the past few decades, the top 1% is doing increasingly well. “That phenomenon will continue into the future and in part will be driven by environmental issues,” Bongaarts says.

Climate change is another wild card that could have a significant impact on how both developed and developing urban centres play out in the future. Around 60% of all cities that currently have a million residents or more are at risk of at least one type of major natural disaster, many of them climate-related, and even the most well-organised, highly developed cities have yet to fully plan for these threats. “People oftentimes don’t want to have this discussion because it’s associated with an alarmist view of climate change, but it’s worthwhile to consider what catastrophic climate change would mean for habitable space,” says Michail Fragkias, an applied social scientist at Boise State University.

While the impact of many of these issues could lessen with proper planning, outside of a few progressive nations and cities, there is not much evidence that that is occurring. “No doubt the problems will work themselves out, one way or another,” Cohen says. “But likely at a cost of tremendous and avoidable human suffering.”

Cities, however, are not the only places that will experience future change due to growing populations. Rural and remote places that are not strictly protected will likely see a modest increase in human habitation, too. “With a combination of climate change and technology, it’s not unthinkable that Antarctica might become inhabited, although it’s hard to imagine it being densely populated,” Raftery says. This also means that, for those with the means to do so, finding a quiet corner free from humanity’s mark will become even more challenging. There will simply be too many other people with the same idea in mind.

None of this, however, means that we will run out of actual space to live. Around half of the world’s land currently holds around 2% of the planet’s population, whereas only about 3% of total land supports more than half of humanity. But a growing population does mean that the number of relatively pristine places left to visit will also likely decrease, thanks to an ever-increasing demand for resources needed to support urban lives. “I’d say there’s no threat of the world’s rainforests all being taken over by cities,” says Karen Seto, a professor of geography and urbanisation at Yale University. “The bigger threat is the indirect impact of urbanisation on those landscapes.” Indeed, cities require wood for creating buildings and furniture, agricultural land for growing food, space to dispose of tonnes of rubbish produced on a daily basis – and much more.

Eventually, world population will likely level off, Wilmoth says. Even with our numbers skyrocketing into the billions, growth throughout this century is actually already slowing, and is projected to continue to do so. Many decades from now, human population might even begin to decline. For the foreseeable future, however, we are headed toward an increasingly crowded Earth – although the conditions of that world are still uncertain.

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