Senator Lieberman's Response to Assemblyman Colman

The Honorable Sam Colman
The Assembly, State of New York
Room 837, Legislative Office Bldg.
Albany, NY 12248

April 3, 2000

Justice4JP Note: See Also: "Colman Demolishes The Lieberman Response"

Dear Assemblyman Colman:

Thank you for your letter of March 8 concerning Jonathan Pollard. I can only speak for myself on this difficult issue, not for anyone else, and certainly not for the Jewish-American community.

I believe that Mr. Pollard's betrayal of his country, his violation of his oath to his employer, and his dishonesty were serious breaches of law and morality. Mr. Pollard's crime strained relations between Israel and its most important ally, the United States. He was tried for his serious offenses, convicted, and sentenced in accordance with our laws.*

Notwithstanding those conclusions about the Pollard case, as a general personal policy, I believe the courts, which have access to the full breath of evidence and testimony in criminal cases, are in the best position to decide matters of guilt, innocence, and sentencing. They should do so without influence from elected legislators, or our courts will not be truly free and independent. Throughout my twelve years in the Senate, I have followed this personal rule of non-intervention in criminal cases, including the post-sentencing parole or pardon phase that the Pollard case is now at, and that is what I am doing in the Pollard case.

Thank you again for taking the time to write.

Joseph I. Lieberman

See Also: Colman Demolishes The Lieberman Response

*Justice4JP Questions for Senator Lieberman:

  1. In his response to Colman,
  2. Lieberman states that Jonathan was "tried in...accordance with the laws of our country."


    Jonathan Pollard did not have a trial. He gave up his right to a trial as part of a plea bargain that was completely violated by the Government.


    Who plea bargains for a
    life sentence?

  3. In his response to Colman
  4. , Lieberman refers to the "offenses" that Jonathan Pollard was convicted of.


    Jonathan Pollard was indicted, and convicted of only one offense - passing classified information to an ally - a crime that usually carries a 2 to 4 year sentence. Jonathan Pollard received a life sentence.


    What about equal justice for all Americans - Jonathan Pollard included - similar sentences for similar offenses?

  5. In his response to Colman
  6. , Lieberman implies that Jonathan Pollard had his day in court and enjoyed judicial equity.


    Jonathan Pollard received an unprecedented life sentence on the basis of secret evidence which he has never been permitted to challenge in a court of law.


    What about Jonathan Pollard's constitutional right to due process?

  7. In his response to Colman
  8. , Lieberman states that he adheres to a strict "personal rule of non-intervention" in the judicial process, "including the post-sentencing parole or pardon phase that the Pollard case is now at".


    Senator Lieberman was the driving force behind a well-publicized January 11, 1999 letter to President Clinton, signed by 60 of his Senate colleagues, imploring the president not to commute the life sentence of Jonathan Pollard.


    What would the Senator call this letter, if not an overwhelming interference in the pardon phase of the Pollard case?

  9. In his response to Colman
  10. , Senator Lieberman describes Jonathan Pollard's actions as a "breach of law and morality."


    Jonathan Pollard never denied that he broke the law, and was always willing to accept his punishment. All he ever asked for was judicial equity and fairness - to be treated the same as all Americans sentenced for a similar offense.
       As his April 3 letter proves, Lieberman is passing judgment on Jonathan Pollard with a seriously flawed understanding of the facts. He does not even acknowledge the blatant judicial inequities that are a part of the open record of the case. As a high ranking public official, his "errors" are robbing Jonathan Pollard of a chance for equal justice, and keeping him in prison.


    What is Lieberman's influential but erroneous position on the Pollard case, if not a severe "breach of law and morality"?


Senator Lieberman's attack on Jonathan Pollard's morality is the height of hypocrisy. During President Clinton's impeachment trial, Lieberman railed against the President's gross immorality, and then turned around and voted to exonerate him. Senator Lieberman is clearly no standard bearer of morality. A recent letter published in the New York Jewish Week (03/24/00) most accurately explains it:

by Minoo Southgate

There The Jewish Week goes again, glorifying Senator Joe Lieberman as the Jewish moral voice of the Senate, a politician with a "reputation for sobriety and rectitude - qualities in short supply in Washington ("Lieberman for Veep?", March 17)."

More than once the paper has expressed such adulation, because shortly after the Clinton sex scandal Senator Lieberman broke ranks with fellow Democrats. And harshly criticized the President's unethical conduct. By taking a moral stand, The Jewish Week believes the senator made all Jews proud. What must have skipped the paper's attention is that shortly after his harsh words, Senator Lieberman backpedalled and moderated his criticism, sacrificing ethical principle to party politics. And at the impeachment trial, he acquitted Clinton rather than put his vote where his mouth had been. Moral cowardice and hypocrisy, not rectitude, account for such chasm between word and vote.

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