By Fax - 2 pages
Mr. Charles Ruff, White House Legal Counsel
March 12, 1999
The White House,
Dear Mr. Ruff,
It has come to my attention that David Sheldon Boone, the former NSA cryptologic traffic analyst, has just received a 24-year sentence for his espionage activities on behalf of the Soviet Union. As you know, this is the same individual whose compromise of U.S. signals collections systems and nuclear targeting plans has been falsely attributed to my client, Jonathan Pollard. Although I raised this issue with you in my letter of January 13, 1999, to date I have received no reply.
The Administration's lack of response suggests a lack of concern regarding the unethical attempts to hold Mr. Pollard responsible for crimes which he never committed. It is deeply troubling to consider that if this were so, the President would then be perceived to be endorsing a double-standard of justice for American Jews and unequal treatment of an ally, Israel. Unfortunately, the two very different sentencing guidelines which the government applied in the Boone and the Pollard cases reinforce this perception.
According to reports in the media, Boone, who was indicted for intending to harm the U.S., could have received a sentence ranging from 24 to 30 years. In spite of the seriousness of his actions, Boone's crimes were considered less serious than those of Aldrich Ames, who was responsible for the deaths of U.S. agents, and of Harold Nicholson, who compromised the identities of new CIA recruits.
If Ames' life sentence and Nicholson's 23-year term were used as the standard against which Boone's espionage was judged, it is reasonable to accept his 24-year sentence as an appropriate one - appropriate for a hostile spy whose actions did not result in the deaths or exposure of U.S. agents.
Mr. Ruff, as you know, my client Jonathan Pollard was not indicted for intending to harm our national security. Neither was he indicted for having caused the deaths of any U.S. intelligence agents. He wasn't even charged with having compromised the identities of American agents. Even though he was not charged with any of these more serious offenses, as were Boone, Nicholson, and Ames, the government reneged on the plea agreement it made with Mr. Pollard and handed him a life sentence without possibility of parole - a much heavier sentence than any of the others received. If the guidelines applied in the Boone case are any standard to go by, Pollard's life sentence violates all standards of equal treatment and proportional justice.
The gross unfairness of Mr. Pollard's sentence is apparent not only when compared with the sentences of hostile agents, as above, but even more so when compared with the treatment of friendly agents, and Mr. Pollard, of course, was a friendly agent.
Take the case of Steven Lalas, a State Department employee who spied for Greece. Lalas received a 14-year sentence instead of a possible life sentence, in spite of the fact that he violated the terms of his plea agreement and compromised the identities of American CIA agents in the Balkans. Given the fact that these agents were deployed in what was essentially a war zone, Lalas' actions placed their very lives in jeopardy. But the Intelligence community evidently felt that his 14 year sentence was sufficiently severe both to punish Lalas for his crimes and to deter others from spying for allies.
What is truly remarkable about this case is that the CIA has consistently refused to comment on Lalas' activities. The CIA's restraint in this case stands in marked contrast to their aggressive pursuit of and public campaign against my client.
The CIA's treatment of my client makes it virtually impossible to ignore its implicit bias against the ally my client served. This discriminatory treatment of Israel is underscored by CIA Director George Tenet's threat to resign if the President honored his promise to free Mr. Pollard as part of the Wye Accords. It would appear that the CIA's determination to prevent the return of an Israeli agent is greater than their regard for the President himself.
The extent of the opposition to the possibility of my client's release is unprecedented and deeply troubling in its implications, particularly since Mr. Pollard did not commit, was not tried for, and was not convicted of, the terrible accusations now being hurled at him. Additionally, the Administration's one-sided review of my client's case is deeply disturbing to our community and has not gone unnoticed by the media.
Mr. Ruff, the Administration thus far does not appear particularly troubled by the National Security establishment's unrelenting assault on my client's due process rights. But unless the White House is prepared to exercise its special constitutional powers to correct what appellate court Justice Stephen Williams described as "a fundamental miscarriage of justice", this injustice will continue to fester, and will remain a blot not only on the integrity of the American system of justice but also on the historical record of the current Administration .
It behooves the Administration to work with us to achieve a just resolution of this case. Fourteen years is long enough.
Very truly yours,
Larry Dub, Esq.