Will the next President of the United States
use powers unique to his office to address the
fairness and equity of Jonathan Jay Pollard's
CONTACT: David Reich 718-449-1443
Seymour P. Lachman
State Senator, 22nd District
News from State Senator Seymour P. Lachman
New York State Senate, 22nd District
Date: September 6, 2000
Senator Seymour P. Lachman Queries Candidates in Major November Elections:
Vice President Al Gore and Sen. Joseph Lieberman,
Governor George W. Bush and Richard Cheney,
Green Party Presidential Candidate Ralph Nader,
Hillary Rodham Clinton and U.S. Rep. Rick Lazio
Will the next President of the United States exercise the unique power of the Chief Executive's office to grant clemency to Jonathan Jay Pollard?
Will the next President of the United States exercise his unique power to release to his defense attorneys and the public a secret memorandum authored by former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, which is widely held to be responsible for Pollard's disproportionate Federal prison sentence?
New York State Senator Seymour P. Lachman (22 S.D., Brooklyn) posed these questions on August 30 in letters to seven candidates running in New York this November for major public office: Vice President Al Gore and Senator Joseph I. Lieberman; Governor George W. Bush and Richard Cheney; Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader; and Hillary Rodham Clinton and U.S. Representative Rick Lazio.
"I make this inquiry," Senator Lachman wrote, "because I, along with a growing body of concerned American citizens and voters, believe that our Government is perpetuating a grave injustice by acquiescing in the continued incarceration of Mr. Pollard," who is currently entering the sixteenth year of a life sentence for espionage on behalf of an ally of the United States.
In 1984, Pollard waived his right to trial and acknowledged his spying activities on behalf of Israel during a non-jury appearance in Federal court.
Pollard offered his admission of guilt in belief that he had an agreement with Federal prosecutors: In exchange for foregoing trial in an open court, he would be sentenced to a term in prison comparable to terms served by others convicted of a similar offense.
Indeed, in recent years American citizens sentenced for espionage on behalf of Great Britain, Egypt, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, China, South Korea, Greece and the Philippines have been sentenced to no more than 14 years imprisonment, and many have been released with either no time served or within two years.
"The disparity and severity of the sentence" Pollard received and still serves, Senator Lachman noted, is "far out of proportion to the offenses detailed in the prosecution's indictment."
Pollard's sentence of life imprisonment, the Senator stated, appears "to have been generated by assertions contained in an ex parte memorandum submitted to the sentencing judge, the Hon. Aubrey Robinson, by then-Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger.
"The contents of Secretary Weinberger's memorandum," the Senator explained in his letter to the candidates, "were not made available to Mr. Pollard or his counsel for response or rebuttal." In effect, the presiding judge imposed upon Mr. Pollard "a sentence based upon information and arguments neither contained in the Federal indictment nor shared with the accused."
Noting that there is no question regarding Pollard's guilt - "No questions can be raised, as Mr. Pollard has himself acknowledged his guilt," Senator Lachman stated - questions remain about the fairness and equity of Pollard's sentence, which was evidently based upon secret testimony offered to Judge Robinson by Secretary Weinberger.
"Sentences imposed under such circumstances," the Senator stated, "are a clear violation both of codes governing Federal judicial proceedings and American standards of fair and equal justice."
In letters to Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore and Republican presidential nominee George W. Bush, and Green Party presidential nominee Ralph Nader, Senator Lachman inquired whether, if elected President of the United States:
"1. You would undertake to make public the memorandum submitted to the court by Secretary Weinberger, so that its bearing on the equity of Mr. Pollard's sentence can be assessed by legal authorities, special counsel, and concerned American citizens; and
"2. You would undertake, in the interest of equal justice, to grant clemency or pardon to Mr. Pollard, based upon the circumstances of his sentencing and the amount of time he has served in comparison to that served by others who have engaged in espionage on behalf of an ally of the United States."
Joseph Lieberman and Richard Cheney, vice presidential nominees of the Democratic and Republican parties, and Hillary Rodham Clinton and Rick Lazio, Democratic and Republican candidates for U.S. Senator from New York, were asked whether, if elected, they would recommend to the next President that these measures be taken in Mr. Pollard's case.
To date, none of the candidates have responded to Senator Lachman's letter.
"The question now," said the Senator, "is whether any of the candidates will ever respond."
The Lieberman page
The Senate Race page