Jonathan Pollard & The Weinberger Memorandum
Senator Seymour P. Lachman - The Jewish Press - April 7, 2000
Captain Alfred Dreyfus spent four years imprisoned on Devil's Island because a French military court refused to free him on the basis of "secret" information fabricated to preserve the "honor" of the French Army.
Jonathan Pollard has now served more than 15 years of a life sentence in Federal prisons for unlawfully giving national security data to Israel. Unlike Captain Dreyfus, who was innocent, Pollard freely admitted his guilt. But like Dreyfus, he remains incarcerated on the basis of a memorandum, submitted to the sentencing court by former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger. That memorandum's contents are classified as "secret."
No one knows what is in that memorandum except Secretary Weinberger, the Federal prosecutors who prepared the case against Pollard, the judge who sentenced him, and possibly the President of the United States.
But whatever is in the Weinberger memorandum had a powerful impact on the judge. When Pollard appeared in court and voluntarily entered a guilty plea to one count of conspiracy to commit espionage, he believed he had an agreement with Federal prosecutors to receive less than a maximum sentence in return for admitting his crime.
Instead, the Federal judge who heard the plea cited Weinberger's memorandum and sentenced Pollard to life in prison. That sentence is harsher than sentences handed down during the past 15 years to other spies convicted of the [far more serious ]crime of treason [which Jonathan Pollard was never accused of, or indicted for.]
Over that same 15-year period, Pollard has repeatedly petitioned American Presidents for clemency. But each time a President has reviewed his petition, Pollard's request has been rejected, reportedly on the basis of information contained in Secretary Weinberger's memorandum.
No one questions Pollard's guilt. No one can. Pollard himself admitted it, freely. What is being questioned more vigorously with each passing year - is the fairness and equity of Pollard's life sentence.
The allegation is that Pollard passed information so vital to national security that our nation's security was endangered. But we don't know if that's the case, because the Weinberger memorandum remains a secret more than 15 years after it was submitted to the court at Pollard's sentencing hearing.
Adding to public unease about the inequity of Pollard's sentence and the secret Weinberger memorandum is the fact that while Pollard has repeatedly been denied Presidential clemency, former Secretary Weinberger himself escaped a possible prison sentence for his role in the Iran-Contra cover-up, thanks to a pardon granted by former President George Bush in the final days of his administration.
Jonathan Pollard is not a latter-day Capt. Dreyfus, an innocent man falsely convicted. But Pollard, like Dreyfus, is being refused release from prison on the basis of secret information, which he has never been allowed to challenge in a court of law.
Justice, when served, must not only be just; it must also appear to be just. And given the lengthening time without end Jonathan Pollard is serving.- on the basis of Weinberger's secret memorandum - the "justice" meted out appears, increasingly, to be unjust.
It is time that these questions be put to rest by the release of all available documentation used to determine Jonathan Pollard's sentence. Only when the American people can weigh the evidence themselves will questions about the appropriateness of his sentence be answered. -30-
Seymour P. Lachman is a New York State Senator representing Brooklyn, and a Past President of American Professors for peace in the Middle East.
The Weinberger Memorandum was submitted to the judge at the last moment during Jonathan Pollard's sentencing.
In a recent interview with Middle East Quarterly, Caspar Weinberger indicated that the classified Memorandum was the result of improper ex parte communication he had with the sentencing judge, Aubrey Robinson. Weinberger stated that Robinson had covertly requested the Memorandum from the former Secretary of Defense. Robinson did not advise Pollard or his attorneys that he had requested this submission, and he did not permit them to study the document before the sentencing.
Without the opportunity to pre-view the Memorandum, Pollard was effectively denied the opportunity to challenge it when it was produced on the day of sentencing. Since that day, neither Jonathan Pollard nor his cleared attorneys have ever been permitted to access the Weinberger Memorandum in order to challenge it in a court of law - a clear violation of his constitutional right to due process.