March 29, 2015
Honorable Deborah Leff
Pardon Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C., 20530-0001
Re: Leonard Peltier
Dear Ms. Leff:
President Obama recently announced criteria for clemency considerations that included, nonviolent crimes, those who have already served long sentences and those who have shown that they have been rehabilitated.
Leonard Peltier meets but one of these. As of February this year he has served thirty-nine years for murder and aiding and abetting in the murder of FBI agents Jack R. Coler and Ronald A. Williams. Peltier is serving two consecutive life sentences for those crimes in addition to seven consecutive years for an armed escape from FCI Lompoc during which guards were shot at and one inmate was killed.
Has Peltier been rehabilitated? No, as evidenced by his own public statements;
February 6, 2010, on the anniversary of his arrest in Canada, in a public, press-release statement, Peltier stated, "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." [i]
September 12, 2014, “I don’t regret any of this for a minute.” Peltier, in a public statement, made this admission and by using the pronoun “any,” without qualification, reservation, or exclusion, certainly includes the events of June 26, 1975 and the brutal murders of Special Agents Jack Coler and Ron Williams.[ii]
There is no uncertainty regarding how the shooting began around noon on the Jumping Bull property, Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, June 26, 1975. We know precisely how it started from one of the victims. Agent Williams was overheard on the radio describing that they were about to take fire, the shooting began, his attempt to describe their location and when he was shot, probably for the first time.*
To demonstrate just a sample of Peltier’s disregard for the law and his criminal acts:
The agents were first attacked and severely wounded and then executed with point-blank shots to the face, killing them instantly and obliterating their faces. Peltier’s reaction to this, while American Indian Movement (AIM) members were stealing their weapons, is very telling. One accomplice, Joe Stuntz, took agent Coler’s FBI raid jacket from the trunk of the Bureau vehicle and put it on. “I seen Joe when he pulled it out of the trunk and he gave me a smile.”[iii] A smile, while two dead and mutilated human beings lay at their feet. Stuntz was killed later that day while shooting at responding law enforcement officers. He was wearing agent Coler’s FBI jacket.
During Peltier’s escape with other AIM members from Pine Ridge, he bragged about what happened at the agent’s vehicles. This came out in sworn testimony in trials in 2004 of Arlo Looking Cloud and 2010 of John Graham for the murder of AIM member Anna Mae Aquash; “He (Peltier) said the (Obscene Expletive) was begging for his life, but I shot him anyway.” [iv]
Was Peltier lawfully extradited from Canada?
In an October 12, 1999 letter from the Canadian Minister of Justice to then U.S. Attorney General, Janet Reno, the Minister stated: “As I indicated above, I have concluded that Mr. Peltier was lawfully extradited to the United States. In my opinion, given the test for committal for extradition referred to above, constituted sufficient evidence to justify Mr. Peltier’s committal on the two murder charges.” [v]
Did Peltier receive a fair trial?
Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge Gerald Heaney, who later wrote an impassioned letter on Peltier’s behalf, but who had twice denied Peltier’s appeals based on the law, was asked, during a pathetically inadequate and unprofessional 1992, 60-Minutes segment, whether Peltier received a fair trial. Judge Heaney replied, “I believe he got a fair trial. Not a perfect trial, but a fair trial.”[vi]
Please find enclosed, “A Concise History of Guilt,” including sixty footnotes reviewing Peltier’s conviction and numerous appeals. The legal history of the Peltier matter has undergone intense scrutiny, has never been altered, and established his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
An innocent person would have no difficulty consistently repeating the actual facts. Peltier has changed his version of the events many times. An innocent person would not have offered varying and conflicting alibis, all of which have been proven false.[vii]
Peltier’s ingratitude is also documented. When President Clinton did not grant him clemency, Peltier referred to the President as a “sleazebag.” [viii]
What Peltier and his avid supporters are trying to do is change the narrative.
They attempt to distract and divert attention away from Peltier’s criminal acts of June 26, 1975 and in some perverse way try to make him into what he is not; a martyr, or better yet for them, a political prisoner. Over these years they have created myths and folklore that are far removed from the facts. Peltier has claimed that he acted that day for his people; a disgraceful distortion and denigration of an otherwise proud Native American heritage. Peltier has sullied that proud history for his personal, pathetic and selfish ends. Peltier has also used those sympathies to illegally garner financial support, the proceeds of which are part of an elaborate sham and never divulged to the unsuspecting and uninformed sympathizers.[ix]
Peltier’s release would send the wrong message; that the killing of law enforcement officers in the performance of their official duties, is acceptable.
There, no doubt, may be Native American inmates who are deserving of review for leniency. However, Leonard Peltier is the last person who can atone for any historical injustices toward Native Americans.
The President should show Peltier as much mercy as Peltier gave to FBI Agents Coler and Williams as in his own words, he “shot him anyway;” and that would be none.
Respectfully, Peltier should not be recommended for clemency consideration. Thank you for your time and attention in this extremely important matter.
1-Society of Former Special Agents of the FBI, 3717 Fettler Park Dr., Dumfries, VA.22025
1-FBI Agents Association, P.O. Box 320215, Alexandria, VA 22320
1-FBI, Director, James B. Comey, 935 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, D.C. 20535-0001
1-Former FBI Director, Louis Freeh, Freeh Group International, 3711 Kennett Pike, Suite 130, Wilmington, DE 19807
1-Hon. John Barrasso, U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, 838 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510
1-Hon. Timothy Q. Purdon, U.S. Attorney, District of North Dakota, 655 First Ave. North, Suite 250, Fargo, ND 58102-4932
1- Hon. Randolph J. Seiler, Acting U.S. Attorney, District of South Dakota, P.O. Box 2638, Sioux Falls, SD 57101-26381-Leonard Peltier, #89637-132, P.O. Box 1033, USP Coleman 1, Coleman, FL 33521
[i] The entire statement can be seen here; http://noparolepeltier.com/confession.pdf
(Last accessed 3/16/15)
[ii] In order to place this admission in its proper context, Peltier, on September 12, 2014, made a public statement on his 70th birthday and clarified that “I am very proud to have fought what we call ‘the good fight’ for our future generations.” Peltier stipulates that this has been the case “…since day one to now almost 40 years later.” Viewing his “I don’t regret any of it for one minute,” statement without qualification and referencing forty years ago, and not excluding any of the events, particularly those at Pine Ridge, this admission of guilt, by a clear inference, must include his actions on June 26, 1975 and the brutal slaying of FBI agents Coler and Williams. The entire 9/12/14 public statement can be seen here: http://freepeltiernow.blogspot.com/2014/09/12-september-2014-statement-from.html (last accessed 3/26/15) For a further review of this statement, please see http://wwwnoparolepeltiercom-justice.blogspot.com/2014/09/peltier-update-broken-record-with.html (last accessed 3/26/15)
[iii] Peter Matthiessen, In the Spirit of Crazy Horse (New York: Penguin Books, 1991) 552. A direct quote from Peltier to biographer Matthiessen.
[iv] Anna Mae Pictou-Aquash was an AIM member suspected of being an informant. On orders of AIM leadership she was kidnapped, raped, murdered and dumped in a ravine on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Sworn testimony at both trials attested to Peltier’s description of the murder of Agent Williams. http://www.noparolepeltier.com/debate.html#paroledenied see footnote 5. http://www.jfamr.org/doc/kmtest1.html testimony of Darlene Nichols, 2/3/04 (Last accessed 3/29/15).
[vi] http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xc9ofu_leonard-peltier-with-steve-kroft_news (A fatally flawed segment, however, presents Judge Heaney’s definitive statement. Last accessed 3/29/15.) This segment airs one of the longest standing lies from Peltier, the totally disproven alibi that someone else “Mr. X” killed the agents and drove off in the infamous red pickup. See http://www.noparolepeltier.com/lie.html for additional details regarding “Mr. X.” Further discussion regarding Judge Heaney at http://wwwnoparolepeltiercom-justice.blogspot.com/2014/12/peltier-we-will-too.html
[vii] See Section 16 “Alibi’s” of the enclosed, A Concise History of Guilt. Also available at, http://www.noparolepeltier.com/debate.html#critical