June 1986 – 30 years ago

4 June 1986 – Jonathan Pollard pleads guilty to sabotage

Jonathan Pollard - June 1986
Jonathan Pollard, U.S. Navy I.D. picture. Scanned from Territory of Lies, Wolf Blitzer

Jonathan Jay Pollard is a former intelligence analyst for the United States government. In 1986, as part of a plea agreement, Pollard pleaded guilty to spying for and providing top-secret classified information to Israel, and was later sentenced to life in prison for violations of the Espionage Act. He is the only American who has received a life sentence for passing classified information to an ally of the U.S. He was released on parole on November 20, 2015.

Pollard declared that he committed espionage only because “the American intelligence establishment collectively endangered Israel’s security by withholding crucial information.”

Israel said initially that Pollard worked for an unauthorized rogue operation, a position they maintained for more than ten years. They finally agreed to cooperate with the investigation in exchange for immunity for the Israelis involved. The Israeli government acknowledged a portion of its role in Pollard’s espionage, and issued a formal apology to the U.S.

On June 4, 1986, Pollard pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to deliver national defense information to a foreign government. Prior to sentencing, speaking on his own behalf, Pollard stated that while his motives “may have been well meaning, they cannot, under any stretch of the imagination, excuse or justify the violation of the law, particularly one that involves the trust of government … I broke trust, ruined and brought disgrace to my family.” He admitted and apologized for taking money from the Israeli government in exchange for classified information.

The prosecution answered these statements by saying that the Pollards had continued to violate numerous nondisclosure agreements even as the trial was taking place. The prosecutor noted one in particular, which had been signed in June 1986, alluding to Pollard’s interview with Wolf Blitzer of the Jerusalem Post. The prosecutor concluded:

In combination with the breadth of this man’s knowledge, the depth of his memory, and the complete lack of honor that he has demonstrated in these proceedings, I suggest to you, your honor, he is a very dangerous man.



22 June 1986 – Hand of God goal

There were two sides to England’s FIFA World Cup Quarterfinal against Argentina in Mexico and both sides were Argentinean. To be more specific, both sides were Diego Maradona.

The first was the infamous “Hand of God” goal. Six minutes into the second half, Maradona cut inside from the left and played a diagonal low pass to the edge of the area to team-mate Jorge Valdano and continued his run in the hope of a one-two movement. Maradona’s pass was played slightly behind Valdano and reached England’s Steve Hodge. Hodge tried to hook the ball clear but miscued it. The ball screwed off his foot and into the penalty area, toward Maradona, who had continued his run. England goalkeeper Peter Shilton came out of his goal to punch the ball clear. Maradona reached it first with his outside left hand. The ball went into the goal. Referee Ali Bin Nasser of Tunisia claimed he did not see the infringement and allowed the goal.

Diego Maradona - June 1986
Diego Maradona celebrating the goal with English player Terry Butcher in the background

Maradona later said, “I was waiting for my teammates to embrace me, and no one came… I told them, ‘Come hug me, or the referee isn’t going to allow it.”

At the post-game press conference, Maradona facetiously commented that the goal was scored “un poco con la cabeza de Maradona y otro poco con la mano de Dios” (“a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God”) after which it became known as the “Hand of God” goal.

But Maradona being the gifted footballer he was had more to share. Four minutes after the controversy, came what was later to be known as the “goal of the century”.

Midfielder Héctor Enrique passed the ball to Maradona inside his own half. Maradona then began his 60-yard, 10-second dash towards the English goal, passing four English outfield players – Peter Beardsley, Peter Reid, Terry Butcher (twice) and Terry Fenwick. He finished the move with a feint that left goalkeeper Peter Shilton on his backside, before slotting the ball into the net.

Although the first goal proved highly controversial, Maradona’s second goal was nevertheless recognized all over the world for its brilliance.

Gary Lineker pulled one back for England, but it wasn’t enough. Argentina won 2-1 and went on to win the 1986 World Cup.



27 June 1986 – US advises New Zealand it will not defend NZ if attacked

Anzus - June 1986The relationship between the US and NZ is currently in good shape but tensions thirty years ago made global headlines.

The Australia, New Zealand, United States Security Treaty (ANZUS Treaty) came about following the close cooperation of the United States, Australia and New Zealand during World War II. The treaty was signed in 1951 bound the signatories to recognise that an armed attack in the Pacific area on any of them would endanger the peace and safety of the others. It stated ‘The Parties will consult together whenever in the opinion of any of them the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the Parties is threatened in the Pacific’. The three nations also pledged to maintain and develop individual and collective capabilities to resist attack.

In 1985, due to a current of anti-nuclear sentiment within New Zealand, tension had long been present between ANZUS members as the United States is a declared nuclear power. Prime Minister David Lange barred nuclear-powered or nuclear-armed ships from using New Zealand ports or entering New Zealand waters.

In February 1985, a port-visit request by the United States for the USS Buchanan was refused by New Zealand. As this occurred after the government unofficially invited the United States to send a ship, the refusal of access was interpreted by the United States as a deliberate slight.

After consultations with Australia and after negotiations with New Zealand broke down, the United States announced on 27 June 1986 that it was suspending its treaty obligations to New Zealand until United States Navy ships were re-admitted to New Zealand ports, citing that New Zealand was “a friend, but not an ally”. Despite the ANZUS split, Secretary of State George P. Shultz maintained that the ANZUS structure was still in place, should NZ decide in the future to reverse its anti-nuclear policy and return to a fully operational defence relationship with the US.

New Zealand maintains a nuclear-free zone as part of its foreign policy and is not part of ANZUS, however New Zealand resumed key areas of the ANZUS treaty in 2007 (today bilateral meetings of ANZUS are held between Australia and United States only).



June 1986 – Music, Movies and Books.

Benny Goodman - June 1986June 1986 also saw the loss of the King of Swing, Benny Goodman. The clarinettist and band leader led one of the most popular music groups of the 1930s. He worked with greats like Glenn Miller, Red Nichols and Billy Holiday. Goodman died from a heart attack on 13 June 1986. He was 77.

A Conspiracy of Hope - June 1986Amnesty International’s Human Rights Concerts also kicked off in June 1986. The first tour of six shows was known as A Conspiracy of Hope. It began in California on 4 June 1986 and concluded at the Giant Stadium in New Jersey on the 15th. The concerts featured huge names like U2, Sting, The Police, Bob Geldof, Bryan Adams, Peter Gabriel, Lou Reed, Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell and more.

Whitney Houston - June 1986Back to School - June 1986The New Jersey concert was an all-dayer. In the finale, a “super band” with all the voices performed Bob Dylan’s I Shall Be Released.

There were cynics that the crowds were there just for the music and not the cause but one month after the tour, the membership of Amnesty International in the United States had increased by 45,000 members. Concert-goers had been asked to send appeals for freedom on behalf of six prisoners of conscience, two of whom were released within months after the A Conspiracy of Hope tour.

A Perfect Spy - June 1986A mix bag dominated the music charts in June 1986. Simply Red – Holding Back the Years, Spirit In the Sky – Doctor and the Medics, Edge of Heave – Wham, On My Own – Patti Labelle and Michael McDonald, Touch Me – Samantha Fox and continuing its run, Greatest Love of All – Whitney Houston.

Karate Kid Part II was the Box Office smash of June 1986. The movie earned more at the Box Office than the original Karate Kid. Also doing well at the movies in June 1986 were two comedies – Ronnie Dangerfield’s Back to School and Ruthless People with Danny DeVito and Bette Midler.

Top of the Bestsellers List in June 1986 was A Perfect Spy by John Le Carré. Many have said it was his masterpiece. The “almost” autobiographical book (John Le Carré was an intelligence officer for MI6) has also been regarded as “the best English novel since the war”.



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