Monday, May 11, 2020

PELTIER: COMPASSIONATE DENIAL

Dear Supporters:

On May 1, 2020 Peltier advised that he "...received a denial for compassionate release from the warden. All it said was 'At this time' and no other reasons. Yes it was a disappointment but not a surprise."

On May 4, 2020 Peltier went on to add, "...yes the Compassionate Release denial was a disappointment but it was a long shot but that there are other options for release under the CARES ACT so supporters should continue to let BOP know that they are still advocating 4 me. SO, I WAS (sic) WASN'T SURPRISED AS SO MANY OF US ELDER (sic) IN HERE ARE UP AGAINST IT. Otherwise I'm still alive. We do need more letters to the BOP."

It's generous for Peltier to tell us that he is "still alive," while Jack Coler and Ron Williams are still dead. The last time Peltier saw them was at the front end of his AR-15 as he ended their lives with point-blank blasts to their faces.

Let us not forget that horrible scene: Both were shot in the face, yet when their mutilated bodies were found they had been rolled over to face the ground. The question remains, which one of the AIM cowards did that?

Since Peltier encourages his supporters to write to the Bureau of Prisons for consideration under the CARES ACT, so too can NPPA supporters--Peltier detractors--do the same and explain why Peltier is not a candidate for release, no matter what his age or health issues may be.

The BOP should show Peltier the same level of compassion he gave to two wounded and defenseless human beings: And that would be none.

NPPA supporters please see the April 7th blog and continue to write your own letters to the BOP and Attorney General.

"In the Spirit of Coler and Williams"
Ed Woods

Thursday, April 30, 2020

PELTIER: 20 YEARS LATER

No Parole Peltier Association (NPPA)
Twenty Years Later

April 3rd 2000 marked a significant date in the saga of convicted murderer Leonard Peltier. 

On that day there was a chance meeting with FBI Agent Coler’s son. Paul was but one and a half when his father, Special Agent Jack R. Coler was brutally murdered along with his partner, Ronald A. Williams, in a desolate corner of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota on June 26, 1975.

The brief encounter led to a greater interest in Leonard Peltier and that evening an Internet search revealed a host of websites and references demanding the parole, pardon or clemency of political prisoner Leonard Peltier

Every page of Peltier’s website was downloaded and reviewed. Peltier’s “defense committee” directed its supporters to read In the Spirit of Crazy Horse (ITSOCH) by Peter Matthiessen and watch the “documentary,” Incident at Oglala by Robert Redford. 

At that time Peltier had the Internet to himself except for a section of the FBI Minneapolis website entitled RESMURS (Reservation Murders). That detailed and factual account was also thoroughly reviewed.

However, the problem was that the FBI was not in a position to challenge Peltier in the public domain.

Watching “Incident” nine times (a screenplay of Matthiessen’s book; certainly not a documentary), and focusing on every word in the 634 pages of ITSOCH along with the unbelievable and outrageous claims made in Peltier’s own book, Prison Writings, left no doubt that the myth and folklore surrounding Peltier was unmistakable. These resources provided the public with a skewed and inaccurate scenario, faux facts as it were. There were numerous contradictions, fabrications and some transparent lies of what actually happened that sultry June day on the Jumping Bull property.

The next step was to secure all the appellate filings and decisions, nearly two dozen in all, to factually refute Peltier’s feigned claims of innocence and an alleged wrongful conviction.

What followed was a decision to go public and just twenty-seven days later, on April 30th the No Parole Peltier Association and its companion website were launched.

It was evident that Peltier was incapable of accurately reciting details of his own conviction and appellate history while he changed his account of what happened and fabricated a nearly two-decades-long lie (his alibi) that the phantom “Mr. X” was the one who killed the Agents, driving off in the infamous red pickup. This fiction was publically refuted by another protagonist, Dino Butler, who participated in the carnage that fateful day. Nevertheless, in one of several filmed media interviews Peltier said, “This story is true.” Well, it wasn’t. It remains a lie. A lie Peltier and his supporters try desperately to ignore.

The goal of the NPPA was apparent; to never forget, and to honor the sacrifice in the line-of-duty murders of FBI Agents’ Jack Coler and Ron Williams and to confront—head on—Peltier’s alleged innocence and offensive claims. Claims that Peltier supporters accept without a second thought.

Early on, a logo for the NPPA was created:

Heraldry of the NPPA logo: The colors, deep black contrasted with bright and shining gold represent the divergence of opinions of those on each side of the Peltier issue. Within the logo are two circles representing the narrow and continuous path followed by those in the law enforcement profession as they set aside personal interests in favor of the common good and protecting the life and liberty of the citizenry. A simple, “In Memory” to honor all those who have given their lives in the line-of-duty. The badge, worn proudly by those who raised their right hand and took a solemn oath. A banner, reaching out to touch both sides of the inner circle representing the camaraderie of those who have chosen to be part of a special calling. And, the date, June 26, 1975, of the End-of-Watch of two brave young men carrying out their sworn and lawful duties who were wounded, murdered, and left in an isolated corner of South Dakota.

The first public challenge to Peltier was met with their filing of a federal civil suit naming FBI Director Freeh and others, which would be repeated again along with more threats of court action as well as personal and slanderous anti-NPPA Internet attacks, and the launching of a counterfeit NPPA website. Peltier, his “defense committee” and sycophantic followers had no tolerance to having exposed, or to defend, their erroneous facts. The NPPA prevailed against the federal suits. They were summarily dismissed, the second one with prejudice.

Among many of Peltier’s outrageous claims was:

 “I can’t believe that the FBI intended the deaths of their own agents…nor does it jibe with the fact that scores, even hundreds, of FBI agents, marshals, BIA police…were all lying in wait in the immediate vicinity…they’d barge in on that phony pretext, draw some show of resistance…then pounce on the compound with massive force.” 

On another occasion Peltier claimed that the Agents were shooting when they came onto the Jumping Bull property. Another falsehood.

Over the years Peltier has gone to great lengths to denigrate the memory and sacrifice of Agents’ Coler and Williams. 

But Peltier, as he is wont to do, with a predictably skewed and selective memory ignores the irrefutable fact that there was an eyewitness to exactly how the shooting began. Ron Williams was overheard on the FBI radio that he and Jack Coler were following a vehicle, that it had stopped and the occupants were getting out and appeared to be preparing to shoot at them. They heard Ron’s call for assistance. They heard him say that if they didn’t get there soon they would be dead. They heard him get shot. The transmission ended.

Peltier has feigned innocence and remains wholly unrepentant. These are just a few of his shallow public statements:

And really, if necessary, I’d do it all over again because it was the right thing to do.” (Leonard Peltier, February 2010)

I don’t regret any of this for a minute.” (Leonard Peltier, August 2014)

These statements are not taken out of context. They were made without any exceptions or qualifications and relate directly to the events of June 26, 1975.

As incredible as it may seem, Peltier’s attorneys allowed him to make this startling admission in his latest bid for clemency:

I did not wake up on that June 26 planning to injure or shoot federal agents, and did not gain anything from participating in the incident.” (Emphasis added)

Peltier has offered numerous statements against his own self-interests. One, among many, was made to his biographer Peter Matthiessen:   

I seen Joe (Joe Stuntz) when he pulled it out of the trunk (Agent Coler’s FBI jacket) and I looked at him when he put it on, and he gave me a smile.”

Really? A smile? While two dead and mutilated human beings lay at their feet.

That is the Leonard Peltier everyone must remember.

In 2004 the NPPA made a “Pilgrimage to Pine Ridge.” It was an effort to see where Peltier’s infamy began and life ended for two outstanding young men.

Peltier made a pathetic attempt at an apology to the Agents’ families that was, at best, self-centered, and as the families related, thoroughly insulting.

You, the agents’ families, certainly weren’t at fault that day in 1975, any more than my family was…Let those prayers be the balm for your sorrow, not an innocent man’s continuous imprisonment…I cannot see how my being here, torn from my own grandchildren, can possibly mend your loss. I swear to you, I am guilty only of being an Indian. That’s why I’m here. Being who I am, being who you are—that’s Aboriginal Sin.

Need anymore be said?

Peltier’s conviction and sentence have been upheld during nearly two-dozen appeals, twice reaching the U.S. Supreme Court, which denied certiorari. Among many other court findings is:

“The record as a whole leaves no doubt that the jury accepted the government’s theory that Peltier had personally killed the two agents, after they were seriously wounded by shooting them at point blank range with an AR-15 rifle.” (Rule 35 Motion, Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, December 18, 2002) (Emphasis added)

Along with shallow claims of philanthropic activities, suspicious attempts to claim tax-deductible donations, shameless efforts to raise money for his ‘defense fund,’ seeking special treatment and probably running an illegal business within the prison system, along with other aspects, are the foundation of Peltier’s perpetual myth and folklore. There are additional elements of the Peltier saga and efforts by the NPPA: Presidents’ Clinton and Obama both saw through the ruse and denied clemency, Peltier’s 2009 parole hearing resulted in him being flopped for another fifteen years, along with failed attempts for (an undeserved) compassionate release. 

Peltier’s loathsome and cowardly act makes him no more than a tired metaphor who can be likened to an overripe onion where each layer of myth and folklore hides what lies beneath. But peal away each successive layer until they are all removed and what is left? Nothing. Nothing but a brutal convicted double-murderer; so concluded the Fargo jury and every subsequent court reviewing his conviction and sentence.

Peltier’s repeated response to challenges are convoluted. He at once plays the victim and victor: The innocent Indian who had to pay the government’s price for the Agents’ deaths, or likewise, the wannabe Warrior who stood up for his people. Both claims are meaningless drivel.

The successful objective of the NPPA has been to thoroughly debunk the spurious, disingenuous and often fraudulent claims made by Leonard Peltier concerning his trial, conviction, sentence, the events on Pine Ridge, and beyond.

Peltier will remain serving his justified sentence as the No Parole Peltier Association continues its mission to remember the sacrifice of Jack and Ron and follow any developments relating to the principal coward of Jumping Bull.

“In the Spirit of Coler and Williams”
Ed Woods
 

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

PELTIER: THE CARES ACT

Dear Supporters:

Recently the President signed into law the CARES ACT, which among other requirements, provides for the release of elderly federal inmates who have underlying health issues and may be at higher risk for Covid-19. Part of the intent of the law is to limit the potential spread of the Corona Virus among the inmate population and reduce prison populations.

Peltier believes he is a candidate for release and home confinement. According to his “Defense Committee” Peltier has a “reentry plan” to return to the Turtle Mountain Reservation and allegedly has family land where he can live.

The Defense Committee is asking Peltierites to write the Federal Bureau of Prisons Directors to make a case for Peltier’s release and suggested for them to include this in their letters:

“Mr. Peltier is 75 years old and in very poor health: his only desire is to go home to the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation and live out the remainder of his years surrounded by his family.”

Time for a reality check:

We all know that Jack and Ron were surrounded by their families: 
That was at their funerals in 1975.

Peltier, like many other aged lifers is experiencing the predictable affects of the aging process that everyone must face in time, but he denied that to Jack Coler and Ron Williams.

Does Peltier meet the requirements for release? The answer is No. 

Peltier is long-in-the tooth, has some health issues but was convicted, (a conviction that was upheld at every level, notwithstanding his incessant fabrications, outrageous claims and tacit admissions of guilt), for the brutal and cold-blooded murder of two already wounded and defenseless human beings. Peltier is deservedly serving consecutive life sentences in addition to the seven consecutive years for his armed escape from Lompoc penitentiary. 

Is Peltier a threat to society at this point? Perhaps not as evidenced by the bloated figure seen at his Lewisburg parole hearing in 2009. Nonetheless, he must continue to serve the remainder of his sentence and not seek special consideration to live out the remainder of his years surrounded by his family. His malicious act deprived Jack and Ron from being able to do the same.

Request of NPPA supporters

Supporters are encouraged to write to U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr, BOP Director Michael Carvajal and Regional BOP Director J. A. Keller and express your opinion why Leonard Peltier #89637-132, USP Coleman 1, Coleman, Florida should NOT be considered for release under the CARES ACT.

Any factual references needed can be easily found on the NPPA website: www.noparolepeltier.com

            Hon. William P. Barr
            U.S. Attorney General
            950 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
            Washington, D.C. 20530

            Director Michael Carvajal
            Federal Bureau of Prisons
            320 First St., NW
            Washington D.C.
            20534                                                

            Director J.A. Keller
            Federal Bureau of Prisons
            Southeast Region
            3800 Camp CRK PK SW/Bldg 2000    
            Atlanta, GA 30331 

Everyone, please be safe as we face this unprecedented crisis and pray that America comes out on the other side as the strong and prosperous nation it was.

“In the Spirit of Coler and Williams”
Ed Woods

Saturday, March 21, 2020

PELTIER: HEALTH, PRISON & MORE

Dear Supporters:

As of late messages from Peltier and his Committee have been infrequent. Nonetheless, recent statements relate to Peltier’s health and conditions at USP Coleman. 

Peltier is complaining (again) about having to have a cellmate, as if he has forgotten that he is a lifer doing consecutive sentences. Peltier is not entitled to special treatment (Footnote 1).

Peltier expressed marginal gratitude that his “medicine bundle” was returned and for the “new Sweat Lodge” for himself and other Native American inmates “to practice our religion.”

This raises an important question: As Peltier practices his religion is there any element of spiritual atonement for the brutal slaying of two already wounded and defenseless human beings?

Because Peltier has relied on feigned innocence for so many years the question remains: What will come of the day when he finally meets his Creator? At some point in time—probably in the not too distant future, Leonard Peltier will know whether he will see the proverbial happy hunting grounds or be banished to the Indian equivalent of hell. Peltier may be capable of lying to himself and others, but to the Creator is a entirely different matter. Without sincere atonement for his crimes it will likely be the latter. 

Only assuming for the moment it may be true, Peltier did raise an important issue regarding “closing the Elder and Medical care unit” and moving those inmates into “general population.” Elderly inmates and those in poor health are at greater risk from other violent and younger inmates. Nevertheless, managing the prison is up to the warden, not Peltier.

According to one message Peltier suffers from “prostate issues, aortic aneurysm, extreme arthritis in his hip and knee as well as spots on his lung and kidney.” Peltier has to realize that these are predictable ailments of the aging process. One also has to wonder if Peltier ever considers that Jack Coler and Ron Williams would have been willing to face aging problems rather than be brutally slaughtered by the cowards at Jumping Bull

Peltier has complained for decades, as he continues to do now, that he wants to be transferred to a facility closer to his home turf so family members can more easily visit. As usual, Peltier ignores, or has forgotten, why he may have landed in Florida in the first place (Fn 2).

Without any hint of irony as a result of Peltier’s murderous actions, Jack and Ron are closerto their families. Both are buried in cemeteries in Los Angeles. 

One recent message directed supporters to Peltier’s website so they can read the trial transcript and documents regarding his extradition from Canada. 

It is futile for Peltier supporters to read the trial transcript because he will never be re-tried and the analysis of the testimony and evidence presented has been thoroughly vetted by Peltier’s own attorneys during a lengthy appellate process. Those many attorneys have made countless efforts to challenge the government’s case, all to no avail. Peltierites—if they are indeed capable, need to review the entire appellate history in order to thoroughly understand Peltier’s conviction (Fn. 3).

As for Peltier’s extradition, Canadian authorities have spoken the final words. “As I have indicated above, I have concluded that Mr. Peltier was lawfully extradited to the United States.” (A. Anne McLellan, Minister of Justice letter to U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno, 10/12/99 (Fn.  4).

Peltier advised that they are now selling “hoodies” “to help continue the building (sic) Leonard’s legal fund for the trial in Tacoma, WA in early fall…” (Fn. 5).

It is curious that there was no mention of donations or merchandise purchases—nor for that matter any current reference on Peltier’s website—of being tax-deductible after all the fanfare over becoming a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization.* 
Wonder Why? (Fn. 6)

“In the Spirit of Coler and Williams”
Ed Woods

*Peltier’s March 18thmessage pushing for more money for his defense fund is raffling off, of all things, a satchel. But again, there is no mention that the proceeds would be tax-deductibleIt would be too much to expect Leonard to tell his supporters what actually happened. 

Footnotes:
3) Court and appellate decisions: decisions: http://www.noparolepeltier.com/court.html

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Special Agent Jack R. Coler, R.I.P.

Dear Jack:

Those of us who remain, your family, friends, FBI associates and law-enforcement across the country know that you are looking over us as another year passes.

Many of us believe that you are still the same strong, dedicated, committed and quintessential police officer, then FBI Agent, that you were in 1975.  

It comforts us to keep that memory alive, especially those who knew you personally, that you are ageless and possess an omniscient awareness. As a devoted family man you are no doubt proud to watch over your family and grandchildren.

Today is January 12, 2020, the day you would have turned seventy-three and incredibly four and a half decades since that devastating day on Pine Ridge.

We are grateful to have a guardian angel, a brother in arms, as those in Blue face grave challenges from a growing segment of society that has little respect for those who willingly place themselves in harms way to protect, serve and enforce the laws of this nation. 

As you undoubtedly know, you, Ron and all the FBI Service Martyrs are honored every year with a memorial service. And as an ongoing reminder to all FBI employees and visitors, each office displays the names and photos of those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. You and Ron are also memorialized in a moving film produced by the Society of Former Special Agents of the FBI: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ozhEumzwgKA

Your bravery, dedication and legacy will never be forgotten.

Jack, please continue to look after us and keep those willing to serve from harms way.

“In the Spirit…

Ed

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

PELTIER: COMPASSION & SALES TAX

Dear Supporters:

Peltier is still complaining that USP Coleman is under lock down. This is a result of gang violence and a murder and injuries at the facility. Peltier, who is in the “elder unit,” wants supporters to write the warden to end what he describes as “isolation.” Notwithstanding Peltier’s complaint, the Warden has the responsibility to ensure the facility is secure.

For some time Peltier has sought a compassionate release because of his age, predictable health issues and years of incarceration.  At seventy-five he is getting long in the tooth, but so will everyone at some point. Of course, Jack Coler and Ron Williams, thanks to Peltier, were never able to grow old with their families.

Peltier may be somewhat optimistic since in 2018 President Trump signed the First Step Act (FSA) that has resulted in the release of over 3000 inmates and the reduction of nearly 2000 federal prison sentences. But reviewing the intent of the FSA tells a slightly different story. FSA was intended to address the period of “get tough on crime” and the effects of “three strikes you’re out” (signed by President Clinton in 1994; which he later stated he regretted) that led to stiff sentences for relatively minor offenses and the effect of racial disparities involving non-violent drug offenders.

FSA also adjusted the time-off-for-good-behavior provision from 47 to 54 days per year. But according to the Date of Release described in Title 18 U.S.C. § 3624(b) an inmate may be released by the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) on the date of the expiration of the inmate’s term of imprisonment, less any time credited toward the service of the inmate’s sentence as provided in Subsection B. However, Subsection B, “Credit Toward Service of Sentence for Satisfactory Behavior” is clear that this applies to an inmate who is serving a term of more than one (1) year, “other than a term of imprisonment for the duration of the prisoner’s life.” 

The FSA does not apply to Peltier; he must continue to serve consecutive life sentences and the consecutive seven years for the armed escape from Lompoc Penitentiary.

Another provision of FSA allows the BOP to house prisoners no more than 500 miles from their home area. Peltier and his “Committee” shouldn’t forget that there may be a reason why Peltier is confined around 2000 miles from his native Reservation. While incarcerated at USP Lewisburg there was an incident that landed Peltier in solitary confinement for six months and a subsequent transfer to USP Coleman. It is not known whether Peltier’s subsequent transfer to Florida had anything to do with this incident, but in any case it was the BOP’s decision. (Footnote 1)

On 11/8/19 Peltier’s “Committee” announced that “The National Congress of American Indians at its 2019 National Conference pass (sic) the following resolution and recommitted their efforts to work for Leonard’s Freedom!” However, the problem is that the link to the resolution was to one passed in 2011! That 2011 resolution, as official as it may have sounded, was nothing more than Peltier tripe and regurgitated folklore and myth. We would expect the 2019 resolution, if there is one, would be the same.

The “Committee” also announced an exhibit and sale of his prison art, the proceeds of which will go to Leonard’s Legal Fund.   

This raises a couple of issues:

How does Peltier get away with what certainly appears, (and there have been public statements from the “Committee” regarding this issue), with running an illegal business from prison? This is an issue that has been ongoing for quite some time. (Fn. 2)

Does Peltier charge sales tax on the paintings? Peltier has never divulged how much he has taken in, or more importantly where it actually goes, supporters should ask that question and demand answers. 

There is also the lingering question of “tax-deducible” donations that comes and goes like a ghost in the night. One day they are bragging about it, the next day it’s gone. After all the fuss about becoming a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization why is it that neither the Art Sale nor the current Peltier website (soliciting for donations) doesn’t proclaim the “tax deductible” mantra? This remains more than curious as over the years Peltier has bragged about all manner of charitable and philanthropic activities, and not to mention claims of widespread Native American support. Both of which are fatally flawed. (Fn. 3)

Several months ago the “Committee” announced that an attorney was soon to submit a motion that would bring Peltier’s case back into court. However, there has been no follow up announcements. Reality check!  The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals stated, “Peltier was equally well represented at trial and on appeal.”(Fn. 4)

Over the years Peltier’s case has received intense scrutiny by many very capable attorneys, and some not so, and his conviction and sentence has never been altered. Peltier’s “Legal Fund” is nothing more than a red herring. (Fn. 5) 

“In the Spirit of Coler and Williams”
Ed Woods

Footnotes:
Bob Free, who resigned from the LPDC, was engaged in an ongoing conflict with another LPDC official, Cathy McCarthy. During a heated exchange Bob Free had this to say:
"4) It is very troubling that she is suggesting that Leonard himself is directing a Non Profit organization while still incarcerated. This is potentially a legal problem for Leonard and the LPDC."
And Bob Free was correct, but without belaboring the issue, he was also completely wrong about any such claim to a "non-profit" status. Bob Free and the NPPA recognized it, even if apparently Cathy McCarthy did not; Peltier's activities are illegal on a number of counts.
This is not an isolated incident; Leonard Peltier understands this problem as evident in an exchange from an individual selling Peltier's artwork on the Internet:
From: Codisc1@aol.com
Date: Sun, 8 Feb 2004, 16:56:07 EST
Subject: hello from art-a-mour.com
To: kolahq@skynet.be
just to let you know if you would be interested in helping sell Leonard Peltier's prints please contact me you will be able to buy them at wholesale prices http://www.art-a-mour.com The proceeds to go to the LPDC as he cant run business from prison. This is what he has asked me to do.
Teri Headrick
Peltier, even as an inmate is required to file personal income tax if he has any income. It would be interesting to see, considering all the money raised by Peltier selling his artwork and receiving donations from unsuspecting supporters, whether he has made the required IRS filings. It would be perfectly appropriate for Peltier to make that information available to his supporters.
“Fatally flawed” is a term used against Peltier by the 8thCircuit Court of Appeals:
4) 8th Circuit Decision, 9/14/78, see footnote #5: http://www.noparolepeltier.com/585.html
5) Bruce “I’ll take the Fifth” Ellison;
Eric Seitz, Excerpt from 2009 Editorial Essay #49: Seitz also said that he presented "some additional evidence on Leonard's behalf to the (Parole) board." Evidence? Hardly. Seitz also claimed "…they (the FBI and government) don't have any creativity, they don't come up with anything new. They don't have any greater ability to explain their justification for their position. It's a very wooden position, kill an FBI agent and live the rest of your life in prison. I don't think that's going to impress very many people who aren't already of the same opinion." 
First, and we can overlook that he may have misspoke-it was two agents murdered, not one, but that aside, the government doesn't have to come up with anything "new" and to even suggest as much shows a fundamental lack of insight or professionalism on Mr. Seitz's behalf. All anyone has to do is spend a little time to see just how wrong Mr. Seitz and Peltier really are. This case has been under the proverbial microscope for thirty-four years and every aspect has been reviewed, more than once, and Peltier's attorney's with their oftentimes frivolous legal arguments have lost not because of some grand conspiracy, but because the facts are not supportive of any of Peltier's claims of innocence. And yes, brutally murdering two wounded FBI agents' does warrant spending the rest of one's life in prison.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

PELTIER: REALLY, MR. X IS BACK? PART II

Dear Supporters:

This is a follow up to the September 12, 2019 NPPA blog entitled, Really, Mr. X. is Back?

What follows continues a review of an early August radio interview with one of Peltier’s attorneys, Larry Hildes of Bellingham, Washington. Set forth below are direct quotes followed by factual responses challenging Hildes’ claims:

First Amendment

The Claim: FBI Agents conducted an illegal picket and violated federal law:

Clinton promised to and didn’t in the face of a demonstration, on-duty FBI Agents, several hundreds of them staged a picket, which is illegal under the Hatch Act, demanding Leonard not be released.

The Facts:

This is a classic example of someone exercising their First Amendment right of freedom of speech and expression while publicly denying it to others.

Categorizing December 15, 2000 as a “picket” is disingenuous and against common usage and definition of the term. The term implies protesting and usually denying access, as with a union strike or when Peltier supporters yell, scream and chant (with bullhorns) and carry all manner of signs. This was nothing of the sort.

This is what Hildes is referring to:

On a cold, crisp Friday morning in Washington D.C., a number of FBI Agents gathered at the Law Enforcement Officer’s Memorial where a prayer was offered and the names of FBI Agents killed in the line of duty were read. Later, several hundred (there wasn’t an exact count but estimated at around 500), FBI Agents gathered at Pennsylvania and 15thStreet NW and at noon, two by two, in a dignified and solemn procession walked to the perimeter of the Ellipse, ultimately gathering at the West Gate of the White House. All were in business attire and there was no chanting or verbalizing of any kind. The procession was led by two agents carrying a single large white banner that read, NEVER FORGET  FBI Special Agents, Coler and Williams, Killed June 26, 1975, while two others held large photos of FBI Martyrs, Jack R. Coler and Ronald A. Williams(Footnote 1)

A representative from the group was invited into the White House to deliver over 10,000 signed petitions and signatures asking then President Clinton to fully review the murder of Agents Coler and Williams and to not consider granting clemency to Leonard Peltier.

So much for the “picket” claim and although a large gathering, it was nowhere near the meaning of a “demonstration” either.

It was a legal gathering. The organizers had secured permits from the U.S. Park Police and the Metropolitan Police Department. The organizers gave guidance for those who participated to take Annual Leave for that time, but since it was conducted at noon, some may have used that time as their lunch break.

Hildes opines that this gathering to express the opinion that Peltier should not be granted clemency was “illegal” and violated the “Hatch Act.”

Perhaps Hildes should understand that the Hatch Act prohibits certain federal employees from being viewed as partisan and openly supporting any particular candidate or party and/or using their federal position to engage in a political agenda or activity.

The Constitutional authority to grant federal pardons or clemency rests solely with the President, and is discretionary. Its intent is to be separate from political considerations and based solely on the facts of each petition, it is a legal and not political remedy. 

Hildes is invited to review the list of “Mays and May Nots” available for review on the government Hatch Act website. (Fn. 2) Hildes would be hard pressed to find where the December 15th procession to the White House violated any of those restrictions.

But, we can make it much simpler:

On September 28, 2019 an email was sent to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel describing exactly what is stated above regarding the 12/15/2000 actions of federal Agents bringing the petitions against Peltier’s bid for clemency to the White house.

On September 30, 2019 the following was received:

            Dear Mr. Woods,

            None of the activities described in your email would violate the Hatch Act.

            Kind regards,

            Ana Galindo-Marrone
            Chief, Hatch Act Unit
            U.S. Office of Special Counsel

So much for improperly accusing citizens of violating federal law by exercising their own rights to free speech and expression. (Fn.3) 

The Old Cowboy Boots story

The Claim: The Agents were looking for a man who stole cowboy boots:

(the FBI Agents)…supposedly looking for a man who had stolen a pair of boots and was involved in a minor burglary ring. Not, not Leonard.

The Facts:

This incident, turned fairy tale has been a cornerstone of Peltier folklore. There was no “burglary ring” or “supposedly.” Instead, there was a serious incident in which federal warrants had been issued for Jimmy Eagle and three others. Agents’ Coler and Williams were searching in the Oglala area of Pine Ridge following up on information that the fugitive Jimmy Eagle may have been in that area, which ultimately led to the events of June 26, 1975.

But perhaps the best way to demystify this claim is to provide an excerpt concerning the victims from an Editorial Essay that was posted on the NPPA website in 2000 and updated in 2005 (Fn. 4):  

On the evening of January 17, 2005 Mr. Jerry Schwarting was telephonically contacted and asked if he would be willing to discuss the incident which occurred on June 23, 1975. He agreed. Mr. Schwarting stated that he considered Hobart Horse a family friend and after a day of branding cattle with several other individuals agreed to provide Hobart Horse a ride to the residence of Teddy Pourier. Also at this residence were Herman Thunder Hawk and Jimmy Eagle. Accompanying them to Pourier's residence was a younger male, Robert Dunsmore. Mr. Schwarting is white; the other individuals were Native Americans.

While there, after some prompting and friendly dares from Hobart, Schwarting agreed to wrestle Hobart Horse for fun; he did, and beat Hobart three times. It was at that point the evening turned from an impromptu social gathering into a dangerous and criminal confrontation. Schwarting was beaten by the others, and held, along with the young teenager Dunsmore who was stripped of his clothes. They were both threatened, even with castration, and had guns repeatedly fired over their heads by the others. 

During the telephonic interview, Mr. Schwarting, on his home computer, reviewed the NPPA section (above) concerning this incident and agreed that it was an accurate summary of what had happened. Mr. Schwarting added that at one point they stole his vehicle, jacket and boots, and clarified that the boots were only two months old and cost $200. Two hundred dollars in 1975 was a good sum of money to for a pair of boots.

Mr. Schwarting stated that during this episode he was put in fear for his life, was cut several times by Hobart and still carries the scars to this day…

The fact remains that there was a violent confrontation, felony laws were violated, charges were filed, including robbery and assault with a deadly weapon, warrants issued, and on June 25th, one of the subjects, Teddy Pourier was arrested. Agents Coler and Williams were pursuing a fugitive investigation at that point and were attempting to locate and apprehend Jimmy Eagle on June 25, and at Jumping Bull on June 26. 

To claim that the "Incident at Oglala" was over a stolen pair of old cowboy boots, as Peltier and the LPDC have repeatedly suggested, would be like saying Leonard Peltier has never changed his version of what happened at Jumping Bull that fateful morning.

Life Sentences

The Claim: A Federal life sentence was seventeen years:

And, I will point out that if he had done the standard federal term for murder he would have done seventeen years on each count, he would have been out ten years ago. He’s not out because of his politics

This Federal life sentence premise goes along with a couple of better ones Peltier has offered, all of which are equally untrue:

In October 2018 Peltier claimed:

I have been here too long. The beginning of my 43rdyear plus over 20 years of good time credit, that makes 60+ years behind bars.” 

Work on the math a bit longer: The Bureau of Prisons guidelines just don’t work that way.

In February 2016 Peltier offered (the all-caps are his; bold are editorial comments):

“I HAVE EARNED ABOUT FOUR TO FIVE YEARS GOOD TIME THAT NO ONE SEEMS TO WANT TO RECOGNIZE. IT DOESN’T COUNT, I GUESS? (That’s correct, it doesn’t count) AND WHEN I WAS INDICTED THE AVERAGE TIME SERVED ON A LIFE SENTENCE BEFORE BEING GIVEN PAROLE WAS SEVEN YEARS. (Seven years? Maybe on another planet) SO THAT MEANS I’VE SERVED NEARLY SIX LIFE SENTENCES AND I SHOULD HAVE BEEN RELEASED ON PAROLE A VERY LONG TIME AGO. (Not quite) THEN THERE’S MANDATORY RELEASE AFTER SERVING 30 YEARS. (No, the  “mandatory” Peltier is imagining is “eligibility for parole”) I’M 10 YEARS PAST THAT. THE GOVERNMENT ISN’T SUPPOSED TO CHANGE THE LAWS OF (Sic) TO KEEP YOU IN PRISON—EXCEPT IF YOU’RE LEONARD PELTIER, IT SEEMS. (No, they haven’t for Peltier. Any changes are for the entire Federal inmate population.)

Can’t get the story straight; is it seven years or seventeen as his attorney suggests?

Peltier seems to always forget the fact that he is serving two consecutive life sentences, one each for Agent Coler and Agent Williams. Peltier also conveniently omits that he owes an additional seven consecutive years for the armed escape from Lompoc Penitentiary. 

Here’s a simple offer, provide any proof that a life sentence in 1976 when Peltier was sentenced for murder was seven or seventeenyears.

What will be found is that a life sentence was typically assumed to be thirty years before an inmate would be eligible for parole, with no guarantees at that point either. On balance Peltier is on the hook for sixty-seven (67) years; thirty for each life sentence plus the additional seven. Since the parole board has nixed any chances of release, that leaves roughly 24 years and counting.

He’s not out because of his politics.”

Let’s pretend to understand this premise and try to place it in some context, along with the fact that Peltier has claimed to be a political prisoner almost from day one.

Where was the political connection to what happened at Jumping Bull?

Peltier and those in the camp were AIM members. Peltier et al. would retort with Cointelpro, (omitting that the program had been shut down four years earlier). The FBI did not know that Peltier, a fugitive wanted for the attempted murder of a police officer, was on the Reservation.* There is nothing to indicate that the FBI was aware of the AIM encampment along White Clay Creek adjacent to the Jumping Bull property. Agents’ Coler and Williams were searching for fugitive Jimmy Eagle and followed a red and white vehicle from Highway 18. We do know how things rapidly developed because there was an eyewitness. Agent Williams, describing over the FBI radio that those in the vehicle they followed were about to fire on them. And we do know how it ended that day for Agents Coler and Williams. Later, Peltier was indicted and a warrant issued. He was added to the FBI Ten Most Wanted list, arrested, tried, convicted and sentenced to consecutive life sentences. Nothing politically motivated there. A straight-up criminal case with many appellate decisions to fill in the details, only one of which favored Peltier for a period of time. 

But for the moment let’s play along with the political prisoner fantasy and assume Peltier’s arrest in Canada for the murder of two government agents was motivated by his affiliation with AIM and that the government agents were searching for Peltier all along. If one accepts that premise then the unprovoked attack on the Agents wasn’t spontaneous, but deliberate and planned and the government agents were lured onto the Jumping Bull property to be attacked, with Peltier administering the final coup de grace. Then it follows that Peltier isn’t a murderer after all, but as a political operative he assassinated two government agents. Peltier, the political prisoner is therefore an assassin. If one buys into the political prisoner fantasy then this is the result. You can’t have one without the other. 

Peltier Under Oath

The Claim: Hildes wants Peltier to testify in the Washington State paintings case:  (Fn. 5)

We are going to file a motion in the near future to ask the court to bring Leonard to the trial. I don’t know if we’ll win. We are going to try very hard. Because he has a right to be there. The jury has a right to hear from him personally, and you know, see him, and have him talk about why this was important and his expression, and you know, this case is an opportunity to bring more discussion about Leonard’s case, about who Leonard is, about why he needs to be out, he’s not in good health, he has a long litany of medical problems, and people who have been in the prison system for many years, and he’s been in prison since he was thirty.

There are really two points being made here:

1) To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, any publicity is good publicity, and Hildes is correct that if Peltier took the witness stand in Tacoma, Washington it would generate publicity and “more discussion.” Whether it would be good or bad publicity depends on a number of factors. Considering the location it’s possible that Peltier may add new followers to his dwindling supporter’s network who may go to his website, read the folklore propaganda, accept it at face value and gather around the Peltier campfire. The controversy may cause some to seek out titillating content and for some, heightened public curiosity. The percentage of those who are genuinely interested in the truth and make an effort to do the research and examine both sides, especially the appellate decisions where most, if not all of the spurious Peltier allegations against the government are completely vetted and discounted, may be a smaller percentage. However, those who do will certainly see through the myth.

2) How many attorneys would consider putting someone like Peltier on the witness stand in Federal Court, no matter what his client, Peltier, may want? (It’s likely Peltier would love to get out of USP Coleman for a while with a field trip to Washington State, along with the audience and spectacle of publicity it could generate. It would certainly salve his overbearing ego.) The obvious problem lies with all of Peltier’s baggage, beyond just the murders, conflicting public statements, a narcissistic autobiography drawn from the pages of Alice in Wonderland, the self-incriminating statements, the armed escape, etc., etc.; the list is very long.

There would likely be quite a number of federal prosecutors who would love nothing more than to question Peltier under oath on the witness stand. They would have an absolute field day. Imagine what foundation questions might be asked? (Certainly considering what latitude Judge Leighton may allow the Washington State Assistant Attorney General.) “Mr. Peltier, can you tell the jury where you are currently residing and why you are there?” Peltier could respond, “I’m a political prisoner who was given life sentences for supposedly killing two FBI Agents.” It would be quite a circus and an eye-opener for the jury. The media would salivate over headlines, notwithstanding the issue that the trial actually relates to Peltier-the-painter and his allegedly infringed First Amendment rights that likely would be lost in the ether of the moment. 

Hildes’ comment during the radio interview may have just been bluster or wishful thinking. No attorney in their right mind would put the likes of Leonard Peltier voluntarily before any jury.

* * *

What is clearly evident from Hildes’ radio interview is that he is willing to pontificate about Peltier and offer statements that are difficult or nearly impossible to support, and as a result we have to agree in the undeniable premise that facts do matter.**

“In the Spirit of Coler and Williams”
Ed Woods

Footnotes:
1) FBI Martyrs, Wall of Honor: https://www.fbi.gov/history/wall-of-honor
    This is a ‘must see’ Video honoring FBI Agents Jack R. Coler and Ronald A. Williams: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ozhEumzwgKA
3) 2005 Editorial Essay regarding Peltier’s legal team and the 12/15/00 event:
Update: On 9/16/19, by order of the court, the trial has been postponed until summer, 2020 due to an illness of the State’s attorney assigned to Peltier’s case.

* Peltier was acquitted of this charge. 
** There are still other points to discuss regarding the radio interview that may be topics in Part III.