Dear Supporters: [i]
Within days the final crossroad of the Peltier saga will be reached by January 20th and there’s no surprise that the Peltierite rhetoric has been ratcheted to vacuous levels.
Fact remains though that The List is growing, and according to the President’s plan for commutations, does not include unrepentant cold-blooded murders.
Recently, in The Guardian, the latest round of Peltier attorneys, Martin Garbus and Cynthia K. Dunne make another feckless attempt to justify Peltier’s criminal acts with their own misplaced sympathies. [ii]
Their not so clever move to publicize Peltier’s clemency petition—a document filled with the same decades-long myths, folklores and outright fabrications (a polite way of saying they have no issue with continuing to spread the lies), continues unabated.[iii]
They erroneously claim, again for perhaps the ten-thousandth time in the Peltier narrative, “He remains in jail today primarily because of an “accomplice” theory of liability which was included in the written charges but not argued to the jury, that he allegedly assisted someone in an unidentified way.”
Really? Perhaps Marty and Cynthia missed this; the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals stated in 1993:
"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." [iv]
Exactly what part of “fatally flawed” are Garbus and Dunne (and Nadler) incapable of understanding that this baseless argument failed before, as it does now. Peltier and his attorneys can repeat this claim a thousand more times and it will never be true.
They also offer some obvious, perhaps unrecognized, contradictions:
“Under the FBI’s exclusive jurisdiction for the prosecution of major crimes…” and, “On 26 June that year two FBI agents entered private property in unmarked cars and gunfire erupted. By the end of the incident, Agents Coler and Williams died, as did Native American Joseph Stuntz, although no charges were brought against anyone for his death.”
It’s alarming how dense some tunnel-visioned attorneys can be.
Yes, the FBI has exclusive jurisdiction, and in pursuit of a suspected felon Jack and Ron did follow, not Jimmy Eagle as they thought, but Leonard Peltier (along with Norman Charles and Joe Stuntz), driving Sam Loud Hawk’s red and white suburban off Highway 18 onto what turned out to be the Jumping Bull property. No incident then occurred, but a deliberate attack on two federal agents. We know this because of an eyewitness. Ron Williams was on the Bureau radio telling those near enough—exactly—what was happening—before the first shot was fired, at them. It was common knowledge on the Reservation that white guys in civilian clothes driving late model sedans with antennas, were the Feds. (And really, when is the last time Garbus and Dunne saw a ‘marked’ FBI vehicle?) Besides, Peltier knew he was wanted for the attempted murder of a Milwaukee police officer and naively (wrongly) thought they were coming for him. As for Stuntz, the same person quoted by Peltier, “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.”[v]
As Stuntz smiles two dead and mutilated human beings (who had been moved by the way—rolled over to face the ground, and they hadn’t just “died” but were murdered), he steals and puts on Jack Coler’s FBI raid jacket and then proceeded to shoot at responding agents and officers. For that felonious act, Stuntz was shot and killed and no charges needed to be brought against officers defending themselves and responding appropriately to deadly force. Fact remains, Stuntz’s blood is on Peltier’s hands.[vi]
Marty and Cynthia also offer, “Federal agents…deliberately withheld critical ballistic reports in order to gain an unfair advantage at trial.”
Standing alone, this out-of-context and oft-repeated fallacy has been another focal point of the Peltier myth.
Attorneys Garbus and Dunne would dare not proffer the rest of the story fearing that anyone could understand that this statement is not only false, but also without foundation:
Simplified: Peltier is convicted. Later, through a Freedom of Information Act request, Peltier is provided with an October 2, 1975 FBI teletype; Peltier moves for a new trail, which is denied by the District Court and he then again appeals to the 8th Circuit; The 8th Circuit (including Judge Gerald Heaney) remands the case back to the District Court for an evidentiary (ballistics) hearing. A three-day hearing is held. Not entitled to relief, Peltier appeals yet again to the 8th Circuit (that includes Judge Gerald Heaney) authoring a decision that concluded:
“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 it’s own ballistics expert, it offered no contrary evidence.” [vii] (Judge Heaney then rules against Peltier based on the law.)
It’s bewildering that practicing attorneys can become so unmoored from the facts.
Garbus and Dunne repeat another tired refrain, “Mr. Peltier is old, ill and a threat to no one.”
As to being a physical threat to anyone is arguable. Certainly the bloated figure I sat next to at USP Lewisburg would have a hard time getting out of his own way. But the central point is that he owes a debt for his crimes that has not been fully repaid.[viii] As to his age and ill health, then ask the important question: Would Jack Coler and Ron Williams prefer to be seventy today facing the aging process that we all must endure at some point? Ask their families about the years they missed with Jack and Ron since Peltier robbed them of that in 1975.
Curiously, they quote Peltier, “I did not wake up ... planning to injure or shoot federal agents, and did not gain anything from participating in the incident … “ (The ellipses are theirs, for whatever the gaps contained, as Peltier provides a shallow explanation we’ve heard countless times before.)
But offering this Peltier quote as they do, it becomes tantamount to another admission of guilt; whether planning to or not, Peltier was there and participated in the murder of two federal agents. (They all need to wake up to that reality.)
There is little for the President to consider. Peltier is not a prospect for commutation. Once carefully reviewed, the Peltier record speaks for itself. However, Peltier’s own words speak louder and he is the last person deserving of consideration.
Peltier has been hiding behind the veil of the mistreatment of Native Americans but his actions that June day in 1975 had nothing to do with that history but instead the actions of a merciless killer and we need only look to his recent public statements for definitive proof.
Dear President Obama:
If you consider Peltier’s petition at all, please consider the following:
“The direct and circumstantial evidence of Peltier’s guilt was strong…”
(8th Circuit Court of Appeals)[ix]
“And really, if necessary, I’d do it all over again, because it was the right thing to do.”
(Leonard Peltier, February 2010)
“I don’t regret any of this for a minute.” (Leonard Peltier, August 2014)
Peltier does not fit into the category of those who received excessive sentences for relatively minor drug offenses, but remains a remorseless and unrepentant cold-blooded murderer.
“In the Spirit of Coler and Williams”
[i] To all those on the NPPA lists: Thank you for your continued support over the past nearly seventeen years. There are a number of Peltier supporters on the lists as well (while they block NPPA access to their online postings, we do not block them). But for everyone; all the best for the holidays and a healthy and happy New Year. We collectively continue this battle from opposing sides. But, that will end, one way or the other, by January 20th. No matter what the outcome, honoring the memory and sacrifice in the line of duty of Jack Coler and Ron Williams will continue.
[iii] http://wwwnoparolepeltiercom-justice.blogspot.com/2016/06/peltier-clemency-application-part-3.html The Garbus/Dunne piece states “The clemency petition does not reargue the verdict, but rather, it sets forth the facts and is supported by the FBI’s own records.” Not even close, please also see Parts 1 & 2 for a review of a hopelessly defective document.
[v] Peter Matthiessen, In the Spirit of Crazy Horse (New York: Penguin Books, 1991) 552. Throughout his extensive research, Matthiessen had the benefit of being able to interview most of those involved in this incident. It is reasonable to assume from his reporting that Agent Williams' attempt to surrender ("Perhaps he waved it [his shirt] as a white flag of surrender…") was related to him during at least some of those interviews. Had this not been the case, noting that Matthiessen reported most of what he was told, it would not have been included within the text. It is reasonable to conclude that this-waving of the shirt, did, in fact, happen. This was not a random inclusion of prose by Matthiessen, it had a purpose. For a further discussion of the initial shooting, please see:http://www.noparolepeltier.com/flag.html
To demonstrate that even Matthiessen had his doubts about Peltier’s version of events, this is offered: Matthiessen, In the Spirit of Crazy Horse, p.544. "On the other hand, the evidence suggests - to me at least - that Coler and Williams had indeed been chasing one or more vehicles, and that whether or not those being pursued stopped at the Y-fork above the junked cars (not wishing, apparently, to lead the FBI cars either down toward the camp or up into the compound), the agents pulled up in that vulnerable place down in the pasture because they heard a warning shot or came under fire; if there is another persuasive explanation of the location and position of their cars, I cannot find it."