Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Amnesty International & Leonard Peltier; NPPA Response 7/31/13

Dear Supporters:

What follows is a response to an Amnesty International blog post on 7/17/13:

It’s apparent that Zeke Johnson needs to do more research for A.I.; there is much more than just the Peltier folklore-rhetoric-talking points. As for the five reasons, let’s add the following:

1) Poor Bear:  The final word on Peltier’s extradition comes not from Peltier but the Canadian government and the Minister of Justice who stated “…that Mr. Peltier was lawfully extradited to the United States.”  Poor Bear did not testify against Peltier at trial, and for good reason as noted from the trial transcript by the 8th Circuit; ““Her testimony was at times very vague, and she often responded that she could not remember. Indeed, the defense counsel, anticipating that she would be called as a witness for the government, described her in his opening statement as a “witness whose {F.2nd 333} mental imbalance is so gross as to render her testimony unbelievable”” Yes, let’s repeat that, “the defense counsel,” Peltier’s attorney, threw her under the proverbial bus when they thought she would be a witness against Peltier. On direct-appeal the 8th Circuit stated regarding extradition; “Peltier’s claim is, on its face, lacking in substance.” This may be a good time, as well, to review the critical witnesses against Peltier, those who, besides the other evidence, the jury had to consider in their guilty verdict.

2) FOIPA: The document was a preliminary FBI Laboratory report that the District Court did not believe was discoverable, however, the 8th Circuit sent it back to the District Court for a three-day evidentiary/ballistics hearing, something which Peltier and others always fail to mention. At that hearing Peltier had a firearms expert in the courtroom, but did not call him to testify nor did they offer any contrary evidence. The court decision (authored by Judge Heaney, infra) made it fairly clear that, “When all is said and done, however, a few simple but very important facts remain. The casing introduced into evidence had in fact been extracted from the Wichita AR-15. This point was not disputed; although the defense had its own ballistics expert, it offered no contrary evidence.” And also during the direct appeal the 8th Circuit stated “The evidence of Peltier’s guilt was strong.”

3) Judge Heaney: Understand that he made his decision based on the facts and the law, which was confirmed in his cameo appearance in the film (not documentary), Incident at Oglala, notwithstanding, that he later expressed his own personal feelings about Native rights. Note, however, he never said or implied that his decision was wrong (or denied on a technicality as Peltier professes), nor that Peltier was innocent. Quite the contrary, “…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.”

4) U.S. Parole Commission: If the parole hearings allegedly provide such a powerful inference of Peltier’s innocence, then there is a very simple solution. Have him post on the LPDOC website the transcript of the 2009 hearing. That way, people can judge for themselves the truth and depth of Peltier’s guilt and claims of innocence. But that would never happen because it would divulge much too much and Peltier would never want all that to come out.

5) Coleman: Peltier may have infrequent visits from family members, is approaching age 69, in poor health, suffering from diabetes, but that hasn’t stopped him from continuing the folklore. do we get beyond Peltier’s own self-incriminating statements, changing stories and the two decade old fabricated alibi that someone else, the phantom Mr. X. in the infamous red pickup truck was the one who killed the agents? Even his own attorney recently admitted that was a lie.

If A.I. has studied this case as it claims, then why are the specifics of the legal history being ignored in favor of the folklore? Making this an alleged political issue instead of the criminal act it was, weakens a meaningful discourse.

Yes, correctly pointed out, the legal remedies have been exhausted; and Peltier should be given as much humanity as he gave Jack Coler and Ron Williams.  Justice is being served with consecutive life sentences, and which Peltier ignores, the additional seven consecutive years for the armed escape from Lompoc.

In addition to the conviction, Peltier himself has proven his guilt beyond all doubt. How else can reasonably intelligent people get beyond statements like ““I seen Joe when he pulled it out of the trunk and I looked at him when he put it on, and he gave me a smile,” Leonard remembered. “I didn’t think nothing of it at the time; all I could think of was, we got to get out of here.” (ITSOCH, p.552) (As they were standing over two mutilated bodies of the men they had just shot and killed.) Or, in a public statement on February 6, 2010, “I never thought my commitment would mean sacrificing like this, but I was willing to do so nonetheless. And really, if necessary, I’d do it all over again, because it was the right thing to do.”

“Because it was the right thing to do” shows no remorse, no civility, no compassion, no rehabilitation, however, it is an admission of guilt.

“In the Spirit of Coler and Williams”
Ed Woods