NY State Assemblyman Colman Appeals to 61 Senators

July 31, 2000 - Media Release

The following letter by NY State Assemblyman Sam Colman was recently sent to Senator Lieberman and the 60 signers of the 1999 "Lieberman letter" calling on President Clinton not to release Jonathan Pollard.

Colman asks the 61 Senators to review the facts of the Pollard case and to personally examine the Pollard file, as Senator Schumer has. Senator Shumer recently stated that there is nothing in the classifed Pollard file to justify the Draconian sentence Jonathan Pollard is serving.

Colman urges the Senators to reconsider their position in light of the facts and the latest revelations and to write a new letter to the President calling for the immediate release of Jonathan Pollard. The text of Colman's letter to the Senators follows:

Honorable _____
United States Senator
United States Senate
Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Senator _____,

As a signer on the Shelby-Kerry letter urging President Clinton not to pardon Jonathan Pollard, I thought you might be interested to review the following information explaining how the system didn't work for Jonathan Pollard. It is my hope, that after careful review of the material, you will agree to send another letter to President Clinton, urging him to release Jonathan Pollard immediately.

Senator _____, I hope you are aware that many American Jews are convinced that there is a double standard of justice in our country - one for Jews and one for everyone else. Everything in Pollard's case smells of the double standard.

I am personally convinced that in future years, history will regard the Pollard case as the American "Dreyfuss Affair."

Certainly there are major differences - Pollard is guilty, Dreyfuss was innocent - but Pollard has been sentenced for a crime he was not accused of. Pollard was sentenced as a result of improper ex-parte intervention by Caspar Weinberger with the sentencing Judge. Pollard has been kept in prison much longer than anyone else accused of the same crime and Pollard has been made a scapegoat for failures of the CIA, similar to the scapegoating of Dreyfuss by the French Military Establishment.

With a broken plea agreement, a sentence which bears no relationship to the evidence presented, ex-parte communication between the Government's chief witness and the Judge, gross procedural errors, the use of secret evidence and a false charge of treason - which the government later apologized for at the appellate process, Jonathan Pollard must have his sentence commuted to time served. Any further delay will only exacerbate the tragedy that America has called justice in this case.

It has just been revealed in the Lerner article of the June 21st, 2000 Jerusalem Post, referring to the May 26, 1987 Eban Commission Report, that Israel returned the Pollard documents to the United States on the condition that they not be used against Pollard. The United States did not honor this pledge. In other similar circumstances, similar pledges have been abided by our Country.

When Pollard entered his guilty plea, he was assured that the government would not seek a life sentence. Caspar Weinberger, then Secretary of Defense, injudiciously intervened with the sentencing Judge before Pollard's sentencing and accused him of treason, even though Pollard hadn't been charged with treason. Weinberger's improper and possibly illegal action sealed Pollard's fate. It is well documented that the United States government boldly reneged on its plea agreement and condemned Jonathan Pollard to a life sentence with no chance for parole based on Weinberger's interference.

The appeals process also didn't work for Pollard due to a technicality that the appeal was filed too late. Judge Stephen Williams, in his March 20, 1992 decision dissented, stating that the government's breach of the plea agreement was a fundamental miscarriage of justice requiring relief.

Although Judge Williams acknowledged that something was seriously amiss in the case, he was prevented by law from re-opening it due to the time constraint.

In October 1998, when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received a commitment from President Clinton that he would release Jonathan Pollard as part of the Wye accord, CIA Director George Tenet inexplicably threatened to resign. In an attempt to save face, the President wrote to all senior administration officials, asking for information and advice on the matter and received unanimity from all "informed" national security and legal experts - to keep Pollard imprisoned. As a result, President Clinton reneged on the deal but subsequently released fourteen unrepentant Puerto Rican terrorists, members of the Armed Forces of the National Liberation (FALN). He granted them presidential clemency, despite a solid wall of opposition from Mr. Tenet, Congress, the Justice Department, the Pentagon and intelligence advisors.

Even after Mr. Clinton reneged on his commitment at Wye, he promised to conduct a speedy review of the Pollard case, with the understanding that as additional Palestinian terrorists were released from Israeli prisons, a parallel gesture of good will would be meted out to Pollard. This has not happened, despite the release of numerous terrorists on several occasions.

For years Pollard has been the subject of whispering, innuendo and lies and we have been repeatedly told that "if we only knew what they knew" we would understand why Pollard was sentenced so harshly. Senator Charles Schumer recently had the opportunity to review the Pollard file. The Lerner Jerusalem Post article reveals that the Senator confirms there is nothing in the file to warrant the unprecedented sentence Pollard received.

I respectfully invite you to personally review the Pollard file and share our conclusions with the public.

A life sentence for the perpetrator of treason is imposed when someone spies for an enemy of the United States and refers to wartime activities. In Jonathan Pollard's case, while no one minimizes the seriousness of espionage, his crime didn't meet the legal definition of or criteria for treason. Pollard spied for America's ally and in doing so, he deserved to be appropriately punished after due process.

I am certain you would not have signed the letter had you been aware of all these facts.

In his April 3, 2000 letter to me, Senator Joseph Lieberman wrote "The Courts, which have access to the full breadth 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. Through 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 at now at, and that is what I am doing in the Pollard case."

Had Mr. Lieberman been faithful to his stated philosophy, he would not have signed the letter and he might have even encouraged you not to sign it.

I therefore urge you, as well as all the signers of the Shelby-Kerry letter, to review the entire Pollard file, examine the documents and send a different letter to President Clinton, one that will urge him to release Jonathan Pollard immediately.

Sam Colman
Member of Assembly

See Also:
  • The Lieberman Page