Former CIA Chief: Obama Should Learn to Stick Closer to Israel

February 2, 2012  

Former CIA director R. James Woolsey spoke to Arutz Sheva on Thursday, on the sidelines of the 12th Annual Herzliya Conference.

Addressing the security situation in the Middle East in the wake of the Arab Spring, Woolsey said revolutions are usually divided into three phases: The first phase is very enthusiastic, the second phase is when the liberals take over and look like they’re going to move things well, and the third part is what he called the “non-attractive” part.

“We can hope that a number of these Arab revolutions veer off before they get to a most unattractive phase three,” he said. “There’s been a lot of progress away from dictatorship and toward people being able to rule themselves, but it’s far from perfect and there is a lot of uncertainty. We don’t know where these Arab revolutions – really, any of them – are going.”

Woolsey spoke about the relations between Israel and the United States, and differentiated between the tension with the Obama Administration and the general relationship between the two countries.

“I think there’s still some tension with the Obama Administration. I don’t think there’s fundamental tension between Israel and the United States,” he said, adding that the Obama Administration thought that “making nice” with the Iranians and the Syrians would work, but that did not work.

“It has not worked out well, and I hope that the Obama Administration is learning that one wants to stick closer to one’s friends than to kowtow to one’s enemies,” he said.

Woolsey, who has previously called for the release of Jonathan Pollard from prison, repeated that position in the interview. He noted that Pollard’s sentencing judge laid down three criteria for parole: That Pollard express contrition, that he help the United States understand exactly what was taken and the implications, and that he agree to forego any proceeds from anything written or televised about what he did. That is, if he writes a book about his experiences, the money would go charity.

Woolsey said that he knows that the first two conditions have been met by Pollard but added that he does not know whether the third one has been met. Nevertheless, he said, “He’s now been in prison well over 20 years, well over the time any spy from any friendly country has spent in American prisons, and he didn’t get anyone killed.”

“From my point of view,” Woolsey added, “if he would just satisfy that third requirement it ought to be possible for either parole or some kind of executive clemency to set him free.”

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