Hevesi/Weiner Letter Urging Bush to Free Pollard

April 16, 2001

Honorable George W. Bush
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We are writing to respectfully urge you to review the case of Jonathan Pollard, who is completing his 16th year of a lifetime prison sentence. We believe compelling reasons exist that warrant Mr. Pollard's immediate release.

Mr. Pollard's sentence is grossly disproportionate to the sentences of others charged with similar crimes. He is the only person in the history of the United States given a life sentence for spying for an ally. Agents who have spied on behalf of enemy nations have not received such a harsh sentence.

In addition, circumstances surrounding Mr. Pollard's sentencing reveal that our government violated fundamental principles of fairness and due process. Mr. Pollard was never accused of nor was he indicted for harming the United States. Yet he was sentenced based upon that unsubstantiated allegation, which was contained in a secret memo delivered to the sentencing judge from then-Secretary of Defense, Caspar Weinberger.

Making matters worse, Mr. Pollard suffered from ineffective legal representation that allowed a number of government abuses to go unchecked. Perhaps the most egregious was his former attorney's failure to file a Notice of Appeal -- a simple and straightforward task that any attorney would have routinely done. This major legal misstep denied Mr. Pollard an appellate review, a crucial component of judicial due process.

As part of their legal efforts to seek a re-sentencing for Mr. Pollard, his new legal team has received top-secret clearance from the Justice Department to read portions of the secret Weinberger documents. However, the United States government is still prohibiting the attorneys from reading all the information that served as the basis for Mr. Pollard's life sentence.

It is crucial that they be allowed to review these secret documents. Jailing someone on the basis of secret evidence is wrong and un-American. It violates every principal of fairness afforded by our system of justice. It has been about 16 years since the secret memo was written and the United States has not provided evidence justifying Mr. Pollard's sentence. Nor has it shown what "irreparable harm" was caused the United States as a result of Mr. Pollard's actions. Quite the reverse, it is now clear that there was no such harm.

Some of us have visited Mr. Pollard. He is in poor health. He is also remorseful and regrets having broken the law. What he did was wrong and he should have been punished -- and he has been -- severely.

He has paid his debt to society. Any reasonable sense of justice warrants his immediate release.


Alan G. Hevesi
New York City Comptroller

Anthony D. Weiner
United States Representative

Seymour D. Reich
Former Chairman, Conference of Presidents
of Major American Jewish Organizations

Rabbi Pesach Lerner
Executive Vice President,
National Council of Young Israel

See Also:
  • Hevesi, Weiner, Jewish Leaders Call On Bush To Free Pollard
  • Calls for Pollard's Release
  • Jewish Unity Page