September 18, 2000

Hon Bill Clinton
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear President Clinton,

The recent release of Dr Wen Ho Lee, the Asian American scientist who was charged with a fifty-nine-count indictment, held in solitary confinement for nine months, plead guilty to a single count and was sent home with an apology, literally begs comparison to Jonathan Pollard, the former civilian Navy intelligence analyst who has been languishing for almost sixteen years of a life sentence, many in solitary confinement.

Judge James A Parker of Federal District Court in Albuquerque, New Mexico said Dr Lee deserved an apology for harsh treatment that had "embarrassed this entire nation". Mr. President, I appreciate that you were "quite troubled" over Dr Lee's case when you stated "I don't think you can justify the two positions that one day" someone is a "terrible risk to the nation and the next day they're making a plea agreement for an offense far more modest that what had been alleged".

What makes the Pollard case even more critical than Dr Lee's is that Pollard was confined for almost a year in a prison facility for the criminally insane, placed in solitary confinement, plead guilt to a single count of passing classified documents to an ally, fully cooperated with the government, when at time of sentencing, then-Secretary of State Caspar Weinberger improperly intervened with the Judge by producing an 85-page still-secret memorandum accusing Pollard of treason and of compromising codes, even though Pollard didn't have clearance to access that information. This most unusual political act of interference is credited with causing Pollard to receive a life sentence without any chance for parole.

In Dr Lee's case, Judge Parker stated that he felt deeply troubled by the government's consistent pattern of abusive action and even though Dr Lee plead guilty to a serious felony, the Judge expressed his dismay that the government had unleashed the full force of its powers so arrogantly.

After Pollard's life sentence was issued, he was returned to solitary confinement for approximately seven years until he was eventually transferred to a federal facility in Butner, North Carolina. To this very day, unsubstantiated statements about Pollard's guilt and the damage he caused surface every time it appears that his sentence might be commuted.

The appeals process fared Pollard no better as a panel of three Judges ruled against him when he filed one day after the deadline. Appellate Justice Stephen Williams called the case "a complete and gross miscarriage of justice", yet his hands were tied and he could do nothing.

After almost sixteen years, Jonathan Pollard is still behind bars and the simple truth is that he is serving a life sentence for a crime he did not commit - he was never accused of treason and what he was accused of and the one count he plead guilty to do not carry a life sentence.

Pollard was also used by people who had their own political motives. Aldrich Ames, currently serving a life sentence for twenty years of espionage, prepared Pollard's damage assessment, and who it is now known, perpetrated many of the crimes that he accused Pollard of.

Most recently, Angelo Codevilla, a former Senate staffer with access to classified intelligence, stated that the CIA and the FBI lied regarding Pollard's role. Codevilla informed the Washington Post that "what he gave out was satellite pictures. And in terms of satellite intelligence sources, his impact was nonexistent".

For years, I and numerous other elected officials and respected leaders of national, religious and civic organizations have pleaded with you to review the Pollard case and to explain why, with so many examples of how the case was egregiously mishandled, Pollard was treated to a different category of "justice".

President Clinton, you have promised to review the case, but if you continue to delay, justice will continue to be delayed. Now that the Lee case is so blatantly before us and now that you can clearly see how abuses by Federal agencies can and do occur, I plead with you to act on the Pollard matter. I appeal to you to immediately appoint respected Judges who have no bias in this case, to review the entire file. It is my belief, that a fair and unbiased review will reveal the truth. Once the truth is out in the open, I know you will commute Jonathan Pollard's sentence to time served.

Please act now, in the hope that the blatant mishandling of the Pollard matter can finally be put to rest. I look forward to the day when the double standard of justice applied to Jonathan Pollard can be erased and the many of us who are concerned about its implications for Justice in our country can breathe easier.


Sam Colman
Member of Assembly


  • The Wen Ho Lee page