Bnai Brith Letter to President Bush
Justice4JP Release - August 29, 2001
The following letter to President Bush by three Presidents of Bnai Brith International - Richard Heideman, Tommy Baer, and Seymour Reich - calling on Mr. Bush to release Jonathan Pollard, was originally intended for President Clinton. For example, the letter refers to the President's release of FALN terrorists and speaks of his 8 year term in office ending. These references are clearly to President Clinton and not President Bush to whom the April 25, 2001 letter is addressed. It is otherwise a well-written letter.
George W. Bush
President of the United States of America
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, 14.W.
Washington, D.C. 20500
April 25, 2001
Dear President Bush:
April 25, 2001
Dear President Bush:
We are writing to you to request on humanitarian grounds that you release Jonathan Jay Pollard from federal prison. Mr. Pollard has served 16 and a-half years of a life sentence for one charge of conveying classified information to a friendly nation. The average time served for those convicted or who plead guilty to this crime is two to four years. Mr. Pollard, whose health is poor, has expressed remorse. Yet the United States government continues to imprison him - on the basis of secret information his lawyers are not allowed full access to but which serves as the basis for repeated leaked allegations against Mr. Pollard..
We requested several times of your predecessor that he release Mr. Pollard on humanitarian grounds, and argued that, in this case, the point at which justice becomes vindictiveness has long since been passed. A comprehensive review of the case was promised - but no results were ever made public.
This request is being made irrespective of the recent court filings to overturn Mr. Pollard's sentence. Instead, we note that this month he entered his 16th year of imprisonment, longer than any other person charged with the same crime. We also note that your eight years as president are drawing to a close. While time is short in which you can act, you enjoy, on the other hand, more freedom to take the long view. And the long view, we believe, argues powerfully for Mr. Pollard's release now. Among other things, it includes:
The hope, expressed to you by Rabbi Alexander Schindler only a few weeks before his death, that you would share his conviction that Jonathan Pollard's incarceration "has long since crossed the line where justice ends and vindictiveness begins." As you recall, Mr. President, that is the position we have held for some years now;
The government's decision to release Wen Ho Lee - indicted on 59 felony counts of copying nuclear secrets - after nine months in jail on suspicion of aiding China's buildup of strategic nuclear weapons. Those weapons are aimed at the United States. Yet Mr. Pollard has now been in prison for 16 years, having pled guilty to one count of conveying classified information to an American ally. The average time served for such a conviction is two to four years. As Rabbi Schindler wrote to you, this arbitrary, excessively harsh treatment of Jonathan Pollard marks the point at which justice ends and vindictiveness begins;
You have, for example, granted amnesty to Puerto Rican terrorists involved in violent attacks against this country. At the same time, U.S. policy has approved Israel's release of hundreds of Palestinian Arab terrorists as a "confidence builder" for negotiations, yet Mr. Pollard - whose crime was non-violent and whose intention was to help an ally, not harm the United States, remains imprisoned;
Mr. Pollard did not, despite some claims to the contrary, commit treason or spy for an enemy;
The "grave damage" he was alleged to have caused U.S. national security has never been substantiated publicly;
He cooperated with investigators after his arrest and accepted a guilty plea in exchange for a "substantial sentence" - usually up to 10 years;
And, his life sentence was imposed only after an unusual intervention with the trial judge by the then-secretary of defense, who filed an affidavit erroneously accusing Pollard of treason. This was done without proper notice to or review by Pollard's counsel, in violation of his constitutional rights.
Many Americans - Jews and non-Jews - and other leading organizations in addition to B'nai B'rith International, have called on you to release Mr. Pollard. We believe this action is long overdue. We urge you not to let your opportunity to do justly in this matter - balancing justice, already served, with mercy, not yet displayed - pass unfulfilled.
We look forward to your affirmative response.
Richard D. Heideman
Tommy P. Baer
Immediate Past President
Seymour D. Reich