Sorry, but there is no other way to broach this subject (again), but to call it exactly what it is.
(Actually, the foundation for this blog can be found in a previous blog, below, dated September 12, 2015, entitled, “The Letters.” That blog was the most important one of the previous six years and 124 entries. Please read that blog, and then continue.)
In a letter to President Obama dated October 7, 2015, the National Lawyers Guild (NLG), consisting of “thousands of lawyers,” who have “been at the forefront of political struggles of ordinary people,” urges the President to grant Peltier clemency. (Footnote #1)
There are a number of serious issues with this letter, not the least of which is that Peltier is no “ordinary” person and is not a “political” prisoner.” (Fn: 2)
The author, and NLG president, Ms. Azadeh Shahshahani, a 2004 graduate of the University of Michigan Law School, must have been absent on “corroboration & research” day because she regurgitates Peltier folklore that makes her and the NLG look, at a minimum, uninformed, but more so, foolish, by offering—quotes and facts —that have been repeatedly proven to be out-of-context fallacies. The kind Peltier and Peltierites adore.
It’s not difficult or requires digging too deeply to see what NLG is all about. Any organization that holds the likes of Wesley Cook in awe, to the point that he’s their “Jailhouse Lawyer Vice President,” is fundamentally clueless about crime and true justice. (Fn. 3) The only thing missing from the brutal, cold-blooded murder of Philadelphia, Police Officer, Daniel Faulkner by Wesley Cook, aka Mumia Abu Jamal, was a video. (Fn. 4)
This is really a waste of time because it covers the same ground for the umpteenth time, but nevertheless, to prove the point to Ms. Shahshahani, TLG. (Jennifer Harbury, Cynthia K. Dunne, Bruce “I’ll take the Fifth” Ellison, ET. AL.. Fn: 5), here are some key points they conveniently overlook (e.g. ignore):
● ”…the concealment of a ballistics test reflecting his (Peltier’s) innocence:”
Innocence? Really? What about the October 1984 three-day evidentiary hearing (the ballistics hearing regarding the meaning of the October 2, 1975 teletype), where Peltier had a ballistics expert who was not even called as a witness and no contrary evidence was offered? (Fn: 6) And when the appeal went back to the Eighth Circuit (Judge Gerald Heaney, a member of that court, infra.), there was this priceless response; "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..." and, "The trial witnesses unanimously testified that there was only one AR-15 in the compound prior to the murders, that this weapon was used exclusively by Peltier and carried out by Peltier after the murders." (Fn: 7)
This had nothing to do with innocence…far from it…it reinforced Peltier’s guilt.
What part of “a few simple but very important facts remain” does Ms. Shahshahani fail to grasp? Apparently, all of them. Findings of fact are evidently (no pun intended) elusive little details to the NLG as well.
● “The FBI used improper tactics in securing Peltier’s extradition from Canada and in otherwise investigating and trying the Peltier case” (quoting a 1991 letter from retired Eighth Circuit Court Judge, Gerald Heaney. Fn: 8).
With all due respect to the late Judge Heaney, the Poor Bear/extradition matter was finally settled in 1999 in a letter from the Canadian Minister of Justice to U.S. Attorney General, Janet Reno stating, "As I have indicated above, I have concluded that Mr. Peltier was lawfully extradited to the United States," and "That the record demonstrates that the case was fully considered by the courts and by the then Minister of Justice. There is no evidence that has come to light since then that would justify a conclusion that the decision of the Canadian courts and the Minister should be interfered with." (Fn: 9)
Further, in that impassioned letter Ms. Shahshahani selectively quotes, Judge Heaney never suggested or implied that Peltier was innocent. To the contrary, he stated “No new evidence has been called to my attention which would cause me to change the conclusion reached in that case…” and "…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. 10) (The logic of “more than one person” points to Dino Butler, Bob Robideau, and other AIM members from the camp along White Clay Creek.)
And, in a nationally televised “60-Minutes” segment, Steve Kroft asked if Peltier received a fair trial to which Judge Heaney replied, “I believe he got a fair trial. Not a perfect trial, but a fair trial.” (Fn. 11)
(Please watch this segment Ms. Shahshahani. If you don’t do any serious research take just fourteen minutes to hear the lies from Peltier and Robideau and Matthiessen, as a starter, concerning Peltier’s only real alibi that someone else did it, (Mr. X). This has been proven time and again to be a total fabrication. (Fn: 12)
Finally, aside from receiving years of intense scrutiny upholding Peltier’s conviction, it was the same jurist that Ms. Shahshahani invokes on Peltier’s behalf, who, along with other Eighth Circuit judges in unanimous decisions, denied Peltier’s appeals four times (1978, 1984, 1986, 2002), based on the facts and the law. (Fn: 13)
● “Much of the government’s behavior at the Pine Ridge Reservation and in its prosecution of Mr. Peltier is to be condemned…”
Would it come as a surprise to Ms. Shahshahani that this gratuitous and oft repeated quote had—nothing—to do with Peltier’s guilt, conviction or sentence?
This one comes from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2003 when Peltier filed a motion for a Writ of Habeas Corpus seeking immediate release on parole and challenged the record before the U.S. Parole Commission.
However, just prior to this rebuke, that Ms. Shahshahani apparently (maybe) overlooked, the same appellate court said:
"Previous federal court decisions provided the (Parole) Commission with ample facts to support its conviction that Peltier personally shot Agent Coler and Williams." And further, "While Mr. Peltier, asserts 'the Commission identified no plausible evidence that [he] shot the agents after they were incapacitated,' this statement is simply not true. The evidence linking Mr. Peltier to these crimes is enumerated above.” (Fn: 14)
● “…the prosecution admitted that it could not prove who actually shot the FBI agents or what participation he may have had in their deaths.”
Would it shock Ms. Shahshahani that the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals (yes, including Judge Heaney) had this to say about that alleged fact:
"Peltier's arguments fail because their underlying premises are fatally flawed. (A) The Government tried the case on the alternative theories; it asserted that Peltier personally killed the agents at point blank range, but that if he had not done so, then he was equally guilty of their murder as an aider and abettor." (Fn: 15)
What part of fatally flawed, equally guilty, or as an aider and abettor is a University of Michigan law school graduate unable to grasp?
Ms. Shahshahani’s/NLG’s letter is as fatally flawed as any belief that Peltier is innocent of cold-blooded murder. It is nothing more than unsubstantiated rehashing of tired and disproven Peltier rhetoric, myth and folklore.
Besides, Peltier has repeatedly admitted his own remorseless guilt in his unfiltered public statements: To Peter Matthiessen: “I seen Joe when he pulled it out of the trunk and gave me a smile” (June 26, 1975, ITSOCH p. 552; while two dead and mutilated human beings lay at their feet). After thirty-five years, “And really if necessary I’d do it all over again because it was the right thing to do.” (2010), and after thirty-nine years, “I don’t regret any of this for a minute.” (2014). Responsible attorneys would admit that those are tough admissions to overcome, let alone justify when trying to argue someone’s alleged innocence.
Rest assured, Ms. Shahshahani, that the President, Attorney General and Pardon Attorney are well aware of these admissions.
A letter to President Obama based on the facts and history of Peltier’s conviction, and setting forth the arguments against clemency, can be found here: http://noparolepeltier.com/obama.pdf
But what of Peltier’s victims?
Ms. Shahshahani laments Peltier’s age, “deteriorating health and inability to protect himself in a maximum security prison” yet hasn’t the decency to even mention the names of Jack Coler and Ron Williams. She grieves over Peltier’s condition while shamelessly omitting that Coler and Williams were robbed, by Peltier, of their opportunity to age and share productive lives with their loved ones and friends.
Ms. Shahshahani has been duped by the ongoing myth of Leonard Peltier. (Fn: 16)
Reaching out for a dialogue with Ms. Shahshahani would be as wasteful as the attempts to contact attorneys’ Jennifer Harbury and Cynthia Dunne. Their efforts are futile so there’s no need to try to educate those who’s ideology blinds them to the facts while no amount of reason can dissuade them.
“In the Spirit of Coler and Williams”
1) NLG letter last accessed 10/9/15; http://www.whoisleonardpeltier.info/general/nlg-urges-pres-obama-to-free-leonard-peltier/; NLG website; http://www.nlg.org/
2) Peltier. Political prisoner? http://wwwnoparolepeltiercom-justice.blogspot.com/2014/06/peltier-political-prisoner-june-26-1975.html
3) NLG re Wesley Cook, aka Mumia Abu Jamal; http://www.nlg.org/national-campaigns
See also, Peltier, McVeigh & Mumia, In Select Company: http://www.noparolepeltier.com/debate.html#10
4) Police Officer Daniel Faulkner: http://danielfaulkner.com
5) Harbury, Dunne, and “The Letters:” http://wwwnoparolepeltiercom-justice.blogspot.com/2015_09_01_archive.html
6) The District Court decision for Ms. Shahshahani to peruse:
7) U.S. v. Peltier, U.S. Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit, 800 F.2d 772, 21 Fed. R. Evid. Serv. (Callaghan) 1017, 1986; U.S. App. Decision, September 11, 1986: Sections: “The .223 Casing,” and “The AR-15.” http://noparolepeltier.com/800.html
8) Appellate Court Judge Gerald Heaney (1918 – 2010) was truly a member of America's Greatest Generation. At the outbreak of World War II, as a young lawyer, he could have avoided the heat of battle and probably used his legal talents in a safe stateside assignment. Instead, he sought a U.S. Army commission and became a young infantry officer participating in the D-Day invasion and several significant battles leading to the end of war in Europe. His courage can be neither denied nor ignored.
(This writer proudly shares a small part of Judge Heaney's background, having also graduated from the United States Army, Infantry Officer’s Candidate School, Ft. Benning, Georgia, although twenty-four years and several conflicts later.)
Judge Heaney was a jurist of impeccable reputation and experience. His character was irreproachable and unquestioned, and we know this, at an absolute minimum, because of several very specific examples from the Peltier case.
9) Canadian Minister of Justice A. Anne McLellan, to U.S. Attorney General, Janet Reno dated October 12, 1999, available online at http://www.noparolepeltier.com/canadaletter.html
10) Heaney letter: http://www.noparolepeltier.com/heaney.html
11) 60 Minutes, Steve Kroft, Judge Gerald Heaney (last accessed 10/14/15)
12) Mr. X the lie: http://noparolepeltier.com/lie.html
Peltier attorney admits Mr. X was a lie: http://wwwnoparolepeltiercom-justice.blogspot.com/2012/12/peltier-kuzma-closes-circle-much-more.html
13) Court decisions: http://noparolepeltier.com/court.html
14) 10th Circuit: http://www.noparolepeltier.com/tenth_circuit.html (see II)
15) Eighth Circuit decision regarding Peltier’s “fatally flawed” argument: http://www.noparolepeltier.com/997.html
16) The myth of Leonard Peltier: http://noparolepeltier.com/myth.html