“From what I understand it’s now been determined that the Mr. X. story was just concocted.”
Thanks to Peltier attorney Michael Kuzma the lie of Mr. X has been officially admitted by the Peltier organization.
On 11/3/12 Michael Kuzma (Kooz-Mah), 1893 Clinton St., Buffalo, New York 14206, (716) 822-7645, email, email@example.com (In case anyone needs an FOIPA lawyer), participated in a 90 minute blog-talk-radio program. The organizers were somewhat unprofessional and disorganized at times and some of the questions posed by the moderators and those who emailed or called-in demonstrated a lack of understanding of the facts surrounding Peltier’s conviction or the function of the government for that mater. (Footnote 1)
Mr. X was the individual in the infamously fictitious red pickup, whom they all knew and was delivering dynamite to the camp that day. He was followed by the agents, engaged them at a distance, wounded them and then approached them both administering the final fatal shots to their faces. Or at least that’s how the legend was offered.
Mr. X, in a very real sense was the first, and then only alibi, offered by Peltier. In other words, where he claimed that he wasn’t responsible, was innocent for the agents’ deaths and someone else did it. It’s not that this was a casual remark easily dismissed, no, this one had legs and took on a long life of its own and permeated nearly everything that followed. For example, a brief review of Peltier’s alibis:
He was eating pancakes and drinking hot coffee in the AIM camp when the shooting started. He fired over their heads. In a CNN interview admitted for the first time firing at the agents. In a Leavenworth interview “I can’t say anything about that Darrin. I haven’t said anything about it for almost sixteen years.” “…because all the media have asked me about this, and it’s the same answer, I can’t say anything about it. I appreciate what he has done.” Robideau’s approximately six minute and fifty-two second detailed description of Mr. X’s actions in the film Incident at Oglala was followed immediately by Peltier’s admission “This story is true.” In the film and Mathiessen’s ITSOCH, both interviewed the phantom Mr. X. Peltier, 50 said during a recent interview at the U.S. Penitentiary in Leavenworth, “I know I’ve said in the past who he is.”
No surprise that Peltier never mentioned Mr. X or the infamous red pickup truck in his autobiography, Prison Writings.
And, of course we will neither forget nor ignore that one of the three principals in this deadly saga, Dino Butler, came out publically in 1995 and said that the entire Mr. X story was not true (Fn. 2).
For a complete review of the Mr. X narrative and lie please see the three sections, “Mr. X the Movie,” “Mr. X the Interview,” and “Mr. X the Lie,” available from the No Parole Peltier Association home page. (This section will also include an updated addendum including Mr. Kuzma’s admission.)
The closest to any official acknowledgement (aside from Peltier’s own statements and Butler’s renunciation) came from the then Leonard Peltier Defense Committee (LPDC) on May 23, 2000, “Mr. X has long been a controversial topic, by both supporters of Leonard Peltier and those who oppose his release.” Only, controversial? (Interesting to note they include “supporters,” implying that even those on his side didn’t buy this lame fabrication.)
That is, until now, and thanks to the unfiltered public admission from Peltier’s attorney, it’s now painfully official. Mr. X was Peltier’s most significant alibi and it has always been nothing more than a lie. The truth though is that Peltier was the real Mr. X.
Thank you Mr. Kuzma.
Which begs the question, if Peltier can foster such a lie for so many years why should anyone believe his other claims or feigned cries of being a political prisoner and innocent?
Mr. Kuzma made a few other significant comments during the broadcast.
If all else fails, use the race card:
Mr. Kuzma called me a racist. Well didn’t actually say racist, but that’s certainly what he intended to convey.
During the podcast Kuzma mentioned a retired FBI agent who runs a website from Cincinnati and then editorialized with “the most segregated city in America.” The reference was obviously to this writer and this website. The implication being that someone living in a particular city he automatically assumes is a racist. Really? Let’s look at this attorney’s professional logic. So, someone gets transferred by his job to a city, buys a home, continues to raise a family, works there for a number of years, retires, starts a second career (another eleven years and still counting) and suddenly, in Mr. Kuzma’s mind that makes someone a racist. That would be like saying people living in Buffalo, NY must be Eskimos. Actually, in a recent study the ranking from least to most segregated cities were: Nassau-Suffolk (which is odd because they are counties comprising what most New Yorkers refer to as Long Island—that, according to native New Yorkers excludes Brooklyn and Queens, which are still part of the Island of Long but are firmly two of the five borrows of New York City proper. No self-respecting Brooklynite or Queens resident would consider themselves residents of Long Island. But, Nassau County’s north shore, The Gold Coast, and Suffolk County’s, The Hamptons are the Mecca of the very rich, the ‘one percenters’ who’s necks are presently on the proverbial chopping block. Kuzma didn’t comment whether they would be racists too.); then there’s, St. Louis, Cleveland, Miami, Philadelphia, Chicago, Newark, New York City, Milwaukee and at the top of the list, Detroit. Nope. No Cincinnati. So, without an ounce of proof, Mr. Kuzma makes a value judgment based on the city where someone happens to live. Maybe he ties that in some way with those who recognize Peltier’s unquestioned guilt. If you oppose Peltier’s freedom because he’s an Indian, perhaps, therefore, and because you happen to live in a particular city, you’re by his definition, a racist. Well, then, we’ll just have to ignore a couple of facts; Kuzma is not a Native American, and my great-grandfather was a full-blood. What this does though is establish a clear line of bias in Mr. Kuzma’s personality and thought process.
Kuzma provided a wonderful endorsement, encouraging everyone, especially the young (those who are uninformed about Peltier’s guilt or the history of his convictions) to watch Incident at Oglala. And for that we applaud and thank him for two reasons. It clearly depicts, because otherwise there would be no point or climax to the film, a hooded Mr. X with Mr. Redford narrating (and Robideau’s explicit description) how he engaged the agents, then shot them and drove off in the infamous red pickup. People should watch and listen carefully to this portion of the film and rampant Peltier folklore (That’s my alibi Leonard is telling us, someone else did it; honest to God it was someone else: and as he says in the film, “This story is true.”) Then let them remember, because we’ll remind them once again, Mr. Kuzma, putting the Mr. X lie exactly where it belongs, “From what I understand it’s now been determined that the Mr. X story was concocted.” So, folks, Peltier supporters or those who want to learn the real facts of what happened at Jumping Bull that day, you can ignore Mr. Concocted. But what you can’t ignore though is the twenty-year lie that Peltier and others proclaimed as the truth. Thanks again, attorney Kuzma.
Under the bus:
Not being shy about demeaning fellow bar members, Kuzma throws Elliot Taikeff (“one” of Peltier’s attorneys at his Fargo trial) and Eric Seitz, who handled Peltier’s 2009 parole hearing, under the proverbial legal bus. Kuzma does soften the blow a bit by saying it’s easy to Monday-morning-quarterback someone.
Kuzma tells us that Seitz was “out-maneuvered.” Gee, really, out-maneuvered; at a parole hearing? Seitz, who had represented Peltier since about 2000, did make some incredibly naïve (if that is the correct and most polite description) public statements after the parole hearing that "…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."
Brilliant conclusion. Yep, kill (actually two) FBI agents and spend the rest of your life in prison. Makes sense to most people. Besides, that wasn’t true, the government witnesses did introduce additional evidence, not the least of which was testimony from the 2004 trial of Arlo Looking Cloud where Peltier was quoted making some specific admissions about killing the agents. There was other information provided as well, public statements that Peltier himself has made which further support his conviction and solidify his guilt. (Fn. 3) Seitz’s Witnesses included Peter Matthiessen who has dug himself such a deep hole he can never climb out or overcome the severe criticism of In the Spirit of Crazy Horse by Alan Dershowitz that his tome is embarrassingly sophomoric and not only fails to convince but inadvertently makes a strong case for Peltier's guilt. Seitz’s other witnesses contributed little more, a philosophical argument, and a place to stay on the Reservation.
Seitz may well have been trying for Everest or Suribachi. He had a tough burden to overcome…but perhaps Kuzma was correct after all; he forgot his climbing gear. The decision was upheld on appeal as well.
The parole hearing itself has been a previous topic of discussion with Peltier making claims about what allegedly was said. Peltier was even challenged to put all the critics and naysayers in their place and post the hearing transcript on whoisleonardpeltier.info. Justice and the truth demand it. So it was very interesting, compelling really, to hear Mr. Kuzma say that he has a recording of the hearing that he received through the FOIA (presumably with his client’s permission), and that he has played the recording in public (presumably with his client’s permission), or at least at a monthly meeting of the Leonard Peltier Support Group in Buffalo, NY at the Burning Books book store (sounds charming). Kuzma didn’t say whether the recording was edited. Odds are that it was…but there’s no proof at the moment.
So, let’s ask Mr. Kuzma to do what Peltier wouldn’t, put the recording on the website. Let’s see how far Kuzma and Peltier are willing to go to make sure everyone hears what actually transpired, without the myth filter. Let President Obama and the rest of us hear what was offered by both sides so they can make their own decision about Peltier’s guilt. (If there isn’t a transcript, I will offer to transcribe the recording…free of charge…just send a copy.)
As for Elliott Taikeff, Kuzma is taking a cheap shot because he wasn’t alone at the defense table. He had plenty of help and support. Reading the transcripts, and listening to him in Incident at Oglala, attorney John Lowe was pretty aggressive. Matter of fact, as related in the Editorial Essay, Critical Witnesses Against Peltier (Fn. 4), it was difficult not to conclude that Lowe’s aggressiveness passed the decorum threshold reaching a level of sarcasm and unprofessional demeanor that I personally have never seen in a federal courtroom.
Then there’s Bruce Ellison, the sideshow mouthpiece who has some skeleton’s in his closet according to those who know much more about Annie Mae Aquash’s murder. Where was he during all this?
But to place this kind of criticism in its proper perspective the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in a unanimous Direct Appeal judgment, Circuit Judges, Gibson, Ross and Stephenson summed it up best. “We have carefully examined the record in the trial court and on appeal, and have concluded that the defendant’s trial counsel were aggressive, capable and informed, and engaged in sophisticated trial decisions on strategy.” “The allegation of Peltier’s counsel on appeal amounts to no more than hindsight and second-guessing by one lawyer concerning the trial tactics used by another lawyer. Peltier was equally well-represented at trial and on appeal.” (Fn. 5)
If it fails again, play the conspiracy card:
As if the fog of folklore surrounding Peltier wasn’t thick enough, Kuzma adds this most bizarre and astonishing claim to the list:
“…because we’ve learned that after Judge Heaney, for example, started speaking out regarding Leonard and his case and how he really didn’t get a fair shake, he got a visit from the FBI. So if we could prove that during one of Leonard’s, say appeals, that Judge Heaney was improperly approached, now that might be something that would get a court interested in Leonard’s case…”
This is analogous to the shooter on the grassy knoll and begs to be examined in greater detail to demonstrate that Kuzma has not only taken a full measure of Peltier Kool Aid, as he criticizes other Peltier attorneys, but takes a giant leap off the cliff of reality and ignores the real history of this case.
First, Kuzma would be challenged to produce anything, other than his own ramblings, that there is one scintilla of proof that Judge Heaney was improperly approached by the FBI. Kuzma’s first response, presumably, would be that the proof is being withheld by the FBI and Department of Justice by not releasing all the contested documents. Perhaps Kuzma imagines a memo, teletype or FD-302 stating that Eighth Circuit Court Judge Heaney was visited by FBI agents and told to back-off from his public statements that seem to support Peltier. But that’s not what Kuzma claims…he states that they already have it; proof that something like this actually happened. Kuzma says, “because we’ve learned.” So, put it up for all to see, what exactly have you learned and from what source? If you can’t, or won’t, then we’ll have to plant this little seed of folklore-lie somewhere on the grassy knoll where it belongs.
Judge Gerald Heaney was a member of the Greatest Generation. As an attorney during WWII he could have opted for a safe stateside assignment, but instead became an Army officer, participated in the D-Day invasion and other campaigns and later became a respected jurist.
The key Eighth Circuit decisions and a timeline regarding Judge Heaney in the Peltier case follows:
Direct Appeal; September 1978, Judges, Gibson, Ross and Stephenson
Remand; April 1984, Judges HEANEY, Ross and Gibson
Appeal of Hearing; September 1986, Judges, HEANEY, Ross and Gibson
Movie; Incident at Oglala, 1991, in which Judge HEANNEY appears
Letter; From Judge HEANEY, April 1991 to Senator Inouye.
Changed Theory; July 1993, Judges, McMillan, Friedman and Arnold
Letter; From Judge HEANEY, October 2000 to Senator Inouye
Rule 35; December 2002, Judges, Hansen, HEANEY and Arnold
Let’s start by noting Peltier’s conviction and sentence have never been overturned.
Trying to follow Kuzma’s logic here is like doing a Rubik’s cube in the dark. At what point would Judge Heaney, according to Kuzma, been compromised (threatened, intimidated, coerced) into not ruling against Peltier? Judge Heaney was part of the three-judge panel and authored one of the arguably most critical decisions against Peltier; the appeal of the evidentiary hearing in 1986. Judge Heaney, as he clearly explained in the 1999 film Incident at Oglala, that his decision was based on the law, the Bagley test. Notwithstanding, he had some strong personal feelings about the treatment of Native Americans and their history in general, he nonetheless decided on the law, which wasn’t a technicality as Peltier folklore would want us to believe.
In April 1991 Judge Heaney wrote a letter to then U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye on the Select Committee on Indian Affairs.
One would have to assume that this would be the time that Kuzma fantasizes about the FBI’s move against Judge Heaney.
But then what happens? Judge Heaney writes a follow-up letter to Senator Inouye dated October 24, 2000, referencing his first letter from 1991. (That’s nine years later if Kuzma is counting.)
And, in yet another appeal to the Eighth Circuit in December 2002, Judge Heaney, in another unanimous decision, rules against Peltier…again…on the facts and the law.
So what happened to Kuzma’s revelation that “we’ve learned” that the honorable judge was “visited” by the FBI? Under other circumstances most would dismiss Kuzma’s outlandish allegation as simply frivolous, but since it has no basis in fact, or logic based on the timeline, it’s just plain dimwitted.
Besides, Judge Heaney never implied that Peltier didn’t get a “fair shake.”
Judge Heaney's letter listed several mitigating reasons why he believed Peltier should be afforded some consideration of leniency: "At some point, a healing process must begin," he said. Something he obviously felt very strongly about.
He added, "My thoughts on these other aspects result from a very careful study of the records..." but throughout this letter Judge Heaney never suggested that Peltier was innocent. Quite the contrary, he had this to say on the issue of Peltier's guilt: "Third, the record persuades me that more than one person was involved in the shooting of the FBI agents. Again, this fact is not a legal justification for Peltier's actions, but is a mitigating circumstance." (Fn. 6)
And, in an offhanded remark, it was Mr. Kuzma during the program who said the FBI is engaging in a major disinformation campaign about this case. Really? Kuzma ought to know about his own disinformation; he has a pretty good handle on that process. This is a coffee and kettle scenario for sure.
Frank Deluca, aka Frank Blackhorse:
Kuzma spent much time on what appeared to be a compulsion about the Jewish-Italian wannbe Indian who seemed to be on every law-enforcement radar yet kept dodging confinement. Devoting, apparently, much time using his FOIA skills, Kuzma is trying to determine whether or not Frankie was “one of their guys” (the FBI), of which Kuzma had no doubt. “Walks like a duck, quacks like a duck…I think he was a fed.” By “Fed” Kuzma must mean an FBI informant who he suspects of infiltrating and instigating the noble aims of AIM (no pun intended). Frankie is arrested, not prosecuted, does this and that and gets away with it. The “guy just vanished” and that Kuzma just “might learn the truth about this character.”
Much of what Kuzma repeats comes straight from the Peltier playbook, namely, Matthiessen’s, In the Spirit of Crazy Horse and it’s no secret that that Deluca was arrested with Peltier in Canada.
With all the angst Kuzma expresses over who or what Deluca was or wasn’t and why he is still roaming free above the 49th Parallel, he omits that Peltier himself knew who gave him up to the Canadian authorities. (According to Rogue Duenas via Matthiessen) “And finally we moved him (Peltier) over the mountains to Alberta, to Smallboy’s camp, way out in the bush. Black Horse was with him and there was another guy there, too, but we don’t work with him no more. Because they got there on a certain night, and the very next day the Mounties were right on top of them. (ITSOCH, p. 251) And identifying this other guy, ““Peltier himself says that “the person who was responsible for our arrest was the old man Yellow bird who we learned later was paid for his work by the R.C.M.P.; because of this traitor, Smallboy’s camp nearly split up.”” (ITSOCH, p. 403)
Nowhere throughout Kuzma’s ranting about the activities of Deluca does he connect him with Peltier and the murder of Coler and Williams. It’s like he’s spun-off in several different directions at once. But Kuzma knows, as we all do as well, that Deluca—for whatever he may eventually turn out to be, wasn’t at Jumping Bull on that most critical day. It was Peltier, Robideau and Butler, among other AIM members, not including Deluca, who first mortally wounded both agents and that Peltier (which was the government’s argument of the case and one that many people believe is true), fired the final fatal shots to the faces of Coler and Williams. (Further, I would personally want to know which of the brave warriors—an oxymoron in this instance—rolled the mutilated bodies over to face the ground. Maybe it was Joe Stuntz after he stole Coler’s jacket and put it on giving Peltier a smile.)
And, throughout the 90-minute discussion, Kuzma failed to mention anything pointing to Peltier’s alleged innocence in all this. Not one single word to support the notion that Peltier is not as guilty as sin.
“In the Spirit of Coler and Williams”
1) A co-host actually made the statement referring to President Obama that “…he ..should get bolder…and would not be so accommodating to the far right?” Really, has the co-host paid any attention to the campaign over the past year?
5) USCA, 8th Circuit, 585 F.2nd 314, 1978, September 14, 1978, Fn. 5.