False Charges and Secret Files - An Update

Justice4JP Release - October 4, 2000

The following chronology and update addressed to Esther Pollard was written by her husband's attorneys, Eliot Lauer and Jacques Semmelman.

September 27, 2000

Dear Mrs. Pollard:

I am writing to bring you up to date on the status of our efforts to obtain on-the-air retractions of various misstatements made by Tim Russert about your husband Jonathan Pollard. I also write with regard to our efforts to have the court record unsealed and finally made available to the public.

We firmly believe the two issues are interrelated, in that the very existence of a sealed court record inherently lends itself to speculation about what it may contain and what Mr. Pollard might possibly have done that has never been disclosed to the public. We believe that unsealing the court docketwhatever it may containwill at least enable the public to see the charges and the evidence exactly as presented to the sentencing judge. The public can then form its own opinion based upon court records, not out-of-court conjecture or rumor.

As you know, during the September 13, 2000 Senatorial debate between Mrs. Clinton and Congressman Lazio, the moderator, Tim Russert, introduced a question about your husband Jonathan Pollard by stating that he had been "sentenced to life for espionage and treason."

As your husband has never been charged with or convicted of treason (which entails aiding an enemy of the United States), on September 14 we wrote to Mr. Russert, alerting him to his serious error and demanding a public apology and a retraction.

The following Sunday, September 17, on his Meet the Press program, Mr. Russert stated as follows: "In the debate with Hillary Clinton and Rick Lazio, I raised the issue of Jonathan Pollard, and I said that he had been sentenced to life for espionage and treason. His lawyers wrote me a letter, said: 'No, no. It's only espionage, not treason, because he gave secrets to an ally, not an enemy.' And I stand corrected on my misstatement."

However, Mr. Russert then went on to say that the "chief prosecutor" had called him and said that "agents in the field were identified" by Mr. Pollard.

We reacted promptly by sending Mr. Russert a letter dated September 18 that contained two requests. First, we asked him to identify the "chief prosecutor." Second, we informed Mr. Russert that we had scrutinized the entire public court record of the case with great care, and assured him that nothing in the record contained any allegation that Mr. Pollard had identified agents in the field. We again demanded a public apology and a retraction.

On September 19, Mr. Russert wrote back, informing us that the "chief prosecutor" to whom he referred was Joseph diGenova, and that Mr. diGenova was aware that Mr. Russert was providing us with his name.

We immediately wrote back to Mr. Russert, requesting that he ask Mr. diGenova to show him anything in the record that supports his assertion that Mr. Pollard identified agents in the field. We also wrote to Mr. diGenova asking him to direct us to any place in the court record that supports his statement to Mr. Russert.

Mr. diGenova wrote back on September 20, admitting that it was his "professional opinion" that Mr. Pollard had identified agents in the field. (Emphasis in original.) Mr. diGenova's letter quoted a portion of the government's sentencing memorandum which speculated that someone might infer, from the documents delivered to Israel, the identities of sources of information. However, the government's sentencing memorandum admitted that, as of the date of the memorandum (filed over one year after Mr. Pollard's arrest), no agents had been pressured, strongly suggesting that the hypothetical exercise of inferring the identities of U.S. agents had not resulted in any detection. In the same letter, Mr. diGenova proposed that the court docket be unsealed and made available to the public.

On September 21, we wrote to Mr. Russert, providing him with a copy of Mr. diGenova's letter acknowledging that this is a matter of his professional opinion, as opposed to fact. We have demanded an on-the-air retraction of the charge that Mr. Pollard identified agents in the field.

We have also written to Wilma Lewis, the U.S. Attorney in Washington, D.C., requesting that she consent to unsealing the court docket. We have provided the U.S. Attorney with a copy of Mr. diGenova's September 20 letter, indicating his view that the court record should be unsealed. We hope the U.S. Attorney will consent, so that we can proceed expeditiously to make the court record public.

Jacques Semmelman

cc: Eliot Lauer

Justice4JP Note:

Jonathan Pollard's attorneys' letter to the US attorney requesting that the Pollard secret files be unsealed is in harmony with a similar suggestion made by former chief prosecutor,Joseph diGenova, in his September 20, 2000 letter as referenced above.

Another recent call for the unsealing of the Pollard record was made by NY senate candidate and first lady, Hillary Clinton, as reported in the New York Jewish Week (09/29/00).

Justice4JP notes that as the chief executive officer of the United States,Mrs. Clinton's husband, President Bill Clinton has it fully within his power to instruct the Attorney General and the US Attorney to release the secret documents.

Justice4JP encourages Mrs. Clinton to call on her husband, President Bill Clinton, as chief executive officer of the United States, to direct the Attorney General and the US Attorney for the District of Columbia to:

a) unseal the portion on the record of Mr. Pollard's sentence that is currently under seal and

b) amend the protective order so that Mr. Pollard's attorneys, with appropriate clearances, can immediately see the sealed portion of the record pending its unsealing to the general public.

See related items on the Court Case 2000 Page:

  • Pollard's Attorneys Request Unsealing of Secret Files
  • Attorneys Demand NBC Host Apology and Retraction
  • Attorneys Write to Tim Russert
  • Attorneys' Response to diGenova