In 2014 President Obama announced a program to become more proactive with his singular Constitutional clemency authority to address non-violent and excessive drug related sentences that were subsequently reformed with the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010.[i]
Leonard Peltier could care less about receiving a Pardon, forgiving the offense and restoring all his civil rights (because he does not consider himself an American citizen[ii]), and that would never happen anyway. What he seeks is commutation, the suspension of the remainder of his consecutive life sentences for the murder of FBI Agents Coler and Williams in 1975, and the seven consecutive years for the armed escape from Lompoc Penitentiary in 1979.
On its website, the U.S. Department of Justice (USDOJ) maintains a list (The List) of those granted commutation.[iii]
No doubt with mere weeks remaining until January 20, 2017, Peltier is praying that his name will also appear on The List.
A review of The List is telling in that it is confirming the President’s criteria and desire to reduce the sentences of minor drug offenses that would have been far less than those given during the war on drugs in the 80’s and 90’s.[iv]
It is with great interest that Peltier and the ILPDC[v] monitor this list, although in reality Peltier and his attorneys from the law firm of Dewy, Fleeceum and Howe[vi] would likely know before it’s publicized on the USDOJ website.
A review of the growing list is compelling and quite varied as to the range of the total amounts of controlled substances involved and the varying, mostly lengthy, sentences that were, or are, being commuted. Some have been previously released as early as 2011, many still have time to serve and a number will receive early gifts and be out by Christmas.
Reviewing The List begs the question; where does Peltier stand in all this?
Interestingly, The List contains more than a few convicted of possession or use of a firearm, although there is no indication in the underlying charges what the actual statutory definition of the term…use…means. Had the weapon actually been used, e.g., fired, in the commission of the drug offense it goes without saying that additional charges relating to murder or attempted murder, or homicide would have certainly been included. So in that regard, possession and use are synonymous, e.g., that a weapon was present during the commission of the underlying offense.
For example, Carolyn Yvonne Butler’s sentence of 48 years was commuted to 24 years for a 1992 conviction for three bank robberies and using a firearm during a crime of violence (e.g., armed bank robbery). Butler was granted clemency and released by the President on April 16, 2016. Certainly, had Ms. Butler shot at, or shot someone during any of those robberies, her name would not be on The List.
So that Peltier doesn’t get his hopes up too high, the only one who received commutation was one, Gerardo Hernandez, sentenced to life for a 2001 conviction not involving drugs but for fraud and national defense violations…and… conspiracy to commit murder.[vii] Part of a prisoner swap, Hernandez was released in 2014.
The operative word here for Peltier obviously being, conspiracy.
The conspiracy, to be clear, was Hernandez’s alleged knowledge of the shoot-down of two civilian planes by the Cuban Air Force.
Score one for Peltier. There is one political prisoner on The List.
Peltier has buffaloed (no pun intended) far too many into the sham of being a political prisoner. If there was a shred of reality to that specious claim then what happened on June 26, 1975, the deaths of Agents’ Coler and Williams, would have been an assassination instead of cold-blooded murder by Peltier and the other AIM cowards, including Joe Stuntz.[viii] But then Peltier has always tried to have it both ways—a living oxymoron as it were, a warrior/victim.
Fear not, Peltier’s unrepentant, self-incriminating that he’d, do it all over again because it was the right thing to do, and doesn’t regret any of this for a minute, public statements are well known to the Pardon Attorney, Attorney General and the President, along with the multiple supporting appeals that confirmed Peltier’s guilt well beyond a reasonable doubt.
Back to, The List.
Leonard, notice what is not on The List?
Leonard, notice who will never be on The List?
That’s right, a cop killer.
“In the Spirit of Coler and Williams”
[ii] Leonard Peltier, Prison Writings (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1999) 63
[iv] Regretfully, we are losing or already have lost that war. Since 9/11 many limited resources have been directed toward anti-terrorism efforts at the expense of combating the importation of controlled substances so that the once substantial costs have plummeted increasing both abundant supplies and a growing market. Heroin use and overdoses, once the frequent and presumed venue in the larger inner cities, is now endemic in small cities and towns across America. We have nearly become a drug-laden society. The early war on drugs, with the common idea of being tough on crime, resulted in extraordinary sentencing for even minor drug offenses that later resulted in a bipartisan effort to correct what was viewed as unjust sentencing for low-level drug crimes.
[v] http://www.whoisleonardpeltier.info/ (No reluctance here to direct anyone to the ILPDC so they can see the fabrications for themselves. Question: See if you can find any reference to Peltier’s only alibi, the decade’s long lie of Mr. X? http://www.noparolepeltier.com/lie.html Hint: Actually, it is there (sort of, but not as prominent as it used to be) in Redford’s bogus mocumentary, Incident at Oglala.
[vi] Martin Garbus, Cynthia K. Dunne, Carl S. Nadler who collectively and publically aired all of the myth, folklore, fabrications and lies by releasing Peltier’s clemency petition. Not a smart move at all. And, of course, Bruce “I’ll take the Fifth” Ellison. Question: Who was one of the last people to see Anna Mae Aquash alive at the Wounded Knee Legal Defense/Offense Committee office and later “took the fifth” when questioned about it? Hint: It was not to protect a client.
[vii] https://www.yahoo.com/news/the-cuban-spy-at-the-center-of-the-obama-castro-deal-185349758.html?ref=gs (Last accessed 9/6/16: Hernandez was part of a Cuban prisoner exchange. No irony that Peltier attorney, Martin Garbus was part of this exchange.)