Perhaps the biggest red flag was that Pollard was known to have disclosed classified information to a South African defense attaché, a violation that evidently alarmed his higher-ups in naval intelligence. Nevertheless, a clinical psychologist judged him to be “grandiose and manipulative” and a high risk for the “unintentional compromise of information” but not for the graver crime of espionage.
Pollard was successfully recruited in 1984 by Col. Aviem Sella, an Israeli air force pilot who had taken part in the famous 1981 raid on Saddam Hussein’s Osirak nuclear reactor. To prove his bona fides, Pollard initially passed along U.S. intelligence on Saudi military capability and ground force logistics as well as American satellite footage of the aftermath of the destroyed Iraqi reactor, which Sella may only have wanted as a personal souvenir. …
Not so, say experts. “The notion that what he did wasn’t very bad because we are an ally of the Israelis is foolishness,” one U.S. counterintelligence official intimately acquainted with the Pollard case told The Daily Beast. “The point of having a security clearance is that you owe your loyalty to one country and one country only. It doesn’t matter what your particular feelings are about Israel. This is a man who was a traitor and who thought that because of his personal views it was permissible to substitute his views for what should be shared with our ally for those of the president or the government in general.”
Spike Bowman also pointed out that Pollard had previously tried to sell information to both Pakistan and South Africa, despite his self-portrayal—and the narrative adopted by his defenders—that he was motivated by an ardent Zionism. “He was scheming any way he could to make money,” Bowman said. “This was his big thing. He just happened to hit upon one that was a well to go to. It was purely mercenary.”