‘Progressive’ advocate for notorious Israeli spy urges U.S. to use fake ‘Iran terror’ plot to strengthen sanctions
In his testimony before the House Committee on Homeland Security, Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence and Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Management hearing on “Iranian Terror Operations on American Soil,” Lawrence J. Korb counselled against military action, recommending instead that
The Obama administration should use the Iranian plot to convince our allies to recommit themselves to enforcing the current sanctions on Iran. This plot provides evidence of continued hostile Iranian behavior, evidence that should be used to bolster the international coalition against Iran.
Moreover, the United States should strengthen its own sanctions regime and press for stronger international sanctions that can garner the support of our allies in this coalition. The sanctions on Iran draw legitimacy from the fact that they have been approved by the United Nations and even involve some of Iran’s former allies, such as Russia and China. Maintaining the support of this robust coalition should be one of the primary goals of the U.S. response.
Simultaneously, the United States should continue its efforts to engage with the Iranian government. As Adm. Michael Mullen, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, noted last month, “even in the darkest days of the Cold War, we had links to the Soviet Union. We are not talking to Iran, so we don’t understand each other.” Talking to Iran promotes stability in the U.S.-Iranian relationship and, to the greatest extent possible, denies the Iranian government the ability to use the specter of “evil America” as a means of unifying the Iranian people.
Concluding by saying that “Iranian aggression toward the United States cannot be tolerated,” the Center for American Progress senior fellow advised the Congressional hearing that “it is important that the U.S. response to the Iranian plot furthers our long-term goals: deterring Iranian aggression and protecting U.S. national security.”
Korb’s stated concerns for American national security, however, have to be weighed against the two decades the former assistant secretary of defense in Ronald Reagan’s administration has devoted to working for the release of Jonathan Pollard, the Israeli spy who “did more damage to the United States than any spy in history.” In a January 12 Foreign Policy op-ed, Korb revealed his role in Israel’s latest attempt to free Pollard:
On Jan. 4, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stood in front of the Knesset to read a letter that he had sent to the president of the United States, calling for the release of Jonathan Pollard. The Israeli leader admitted that Pollard, a former U.S. naval intelligence analyst serving a life sentence for espionage, “was acting as an agent of the Israeli government.” He nevertheless contended that Pollard’s 25 years in prison represented a sufficient punishment for his crimes and pointed to the support of a number of former U.S. officials and congressmen for clemency.
Netanyahu’s request did not come as a surprise to me. On Dec. 20, 2010, after speaking to the Knesset, I met with the prime minister and urged him to go public with his request. Unless he did so, I argued, the issue would not gain the traction it needed. I also pointed out to him that he needed to publicly apologize and pledge to never again recruit Americans to spy against their country, which would allow supporters of Pollard’s release to respond effectively to the argument that the Pollard case was business as usual for Israel.
Dismissing the concerns of U.S intelligence professionals and prosecutors, Korb cited Netanyahu’s letter, which noted that the United States is “based on fairness, justice, and mercy,” and urged Obama to commute Pollard’s sentence. “It is the right thing to do,” he said.
The Center for American Progress, where Korb is a senior fellow, is funded by major individual donors such as George Soros, Peter Lewis, Steve Bing, and Herb and Marion Sandler. In a February 18 interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, Soros confidently asserted, “I would like to bet that the Iranian regime will not be there in a year’s time.”