120. Review Pollard sentence

The Westchester Division of the American Jewish Congress was encouraged and gratified to learn that Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin recently asked President Bill Clinton to cut Jonathan Pollard's jail term. On February 7, the governing council of the American Jewish Congress urged President Clinton that there be an immediate review of the sentence; "Unless good cause to the contrary appears as a result of that review, we further urge that you commute his sentence to time served."

No American has received a jail sentence of more than 10 years when spying for a nation friendly to the United States. Pollard's life sentence is vastly disproportionate in comparison. In fact, Pollard's sentence of life imprisonment is far more severe than the sentence courts have imposed on many defendants convicted of divulging classified information to enemies of the United States.

The U.S. Court of Appeals rejected 2 to 1 Pollard's arguments that the government violated his plea bargain. However, Circuit Judge Steven Williams in his dissent wrote: "Pollard's plea agreement required him to plead guilty and cooperate. On its side, the government made three promises of significance here. First, it would bring to the court's attention the 'nature, extent and value of (Pollard's) cooperation and testimony and would represent that the information supplied was of considerable value to the government's damage assessment analysis, its investigation of this criminal case and the enforcement of the espionage laws.' Second, it would not ask for the life sentence (the promise was implicit but is not contested by the government), though it would be free to recommend a 'substantial period of incarceration.' Third, the government limited its reserved right of allocution to 'the facts and circumstances' of Pollard's crimes. The government complied in spirit with none of its promises; with the third it complied in neither the letter nor the spirit."

We urge Attorney General Janet Reno to seriously weigh the words of Williams when reviewing the case.

John Ethan Baer, Scarsdale

November 22, 1993

(The writer is president of the Westchester Division of the American Jewish Congress.)

For a reply see [121]