The intelligence community would see the release of Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard as a signal of the administration’s willingness to grant clemency to National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, according to former NSA and CIA director Michael Hayden. “They would believe that this kind of behavior could actually be politically negotiated away, and that would be a very disturbing message for the people who provide America with intelligence,” he told Fox News’s Chris Wallace on Sunday.
The Obama administration confirmed that it had considered the early release of Pollard as part of an effort to keep Israeli-Palestinian peace talks alive. It has not indicated it would consider granting Snowden clemency for his acts as part of a larger deal, though attorney general Eric Holder has said he is open to a “conversation” and to discussing a possible plea bargain under which Snowden would return to the United States.
Hayden said the revelation that the administration is considering the release of Pollard is a ”sign of desperation” on the part of secretary of state John Kerry, who is leading the diplomatic push for the United States. “It’s almost a sign of desperation that you would throw this into the pot just to keep the Israelis talking with the Palestinians,” he said.