In November 1985, a short, bespectacled Navy civilian researcher, with a history of erratic behavior and drug use, was stopped by FBI agents on his way home from work. Allowed to call his wife, he uttered the word “cactus.” After the call, his wife removed a suitcase from their apartment and called some Israeli acquaintances.
The researcher was Jonathan Pollard. The Israelis were his handlers. The suitcase was filled with intelligence materials, which Pollard had surreptitiously removed from his office. The materials represented a small portion of the paper pile Pollard had stolen and provided to the Israelis over the previous 18 months. In total, the purloined documents could fill a space 10 feet by 6 feet by 6 feet – almost as large as the prison cell Pollard was destined to occupy for the next 28 years.