Sunday, August 28, 2011



In a recent brief online video ( the narrator begins with the typical and tired Peltier folklore that we’ve been hearing for decades (none of which is worth repeating here), then goes on to pass along more Peltier fabrications.

The focus of the piece is Bruce Smith who introduces himself as a former U.S. Bureau of Prisons (BOP) corrections officer between 1982 and 2003 at Leavenworth Penitentiary.

Bruce Smith describes, and the narrator clarifies, two “shots” (prison term for an inmate’s violation of prison rules) received by Peltier on 6/27/11 that landed him in solitary confinement for six months. Six months in the “hole” is pretty serious by all accounts.

Smith begins by claiming that the FBI “calls all the shots,” and is the “ultimate authority” within the BOP. This is a ridiculous conclusion that cannot be supported whether Smith spent twenty-one years at Leavenworth, or not. Although the BOP is part of the Department of Justice (as is the FBI), an FBI agent (or two) from a nearby FBI office is assigned to the institution to investigate crimes by and against inmates and personnel. Other than presenting the results of those investigations to the appropriate United States Attorney’s office, they have no control or authority in the prisons.

Smith and the narrator describe the two violations, possession of currency (a 20-pound Scottish note) and an assault on a guard. The video briefly displays two prison incident reports.

Although the video only shows excerpts of two written reports, it was encouraging to find both documents on the LPDOC website…so we can get to the actual facts and truth of these incidents.

Smith describes the “bogus” shot of possessing money because Peltier’s mail would routinely be processed from the mailroom to “SIS.” According to Smith, the intelligence unit reviews the mail before being sent to the inmate. Which is a true statement.

However, the actual report from Officer Wagner reveals that Peltier was sending a letter to someone that included a 20-Pound Scottish currency bill and that, “In the enclosed letter, inmate Peltier admits to receiving the bank note in the mail.”

So, if Bruce Smith is correct and SIS allowed the currency to get to Peltier and then Peltier was given a “shot,” or punished, for possessing currency, then that would be troubling. However…that’s assuming—of course—that Peltier is even telling the truth in his letter about how he got the Scottish note in the first place. Peltier telling the truth has always been a problem and assessing his truthfulness would be like trying to measure the immeasurable with a rubber ruler. Just ask him about Mr. X.

Smith, and the narrator, then criticize another officer for touching “wires leading to a light fixture,” describing “bare wires on a light fixture,” and according to retired corrections officer Bruce Smith, his fellow officer was “not smart enough to realize that two bare wires will shock you,” and that the officer himself should get the “shot” (punishment) instead of Peltier.

Well, that’s not quite what happened. Officer Hamilton’s report stated, “The wires were located on the wall above the corner post of the upper bunk. I attempted to pull the wires out of the wall. Due to my correctional experience in the past I have witnessed inmates conceal contraband in the wall of a cell and attach a wire, or string to the contraband. This is so the item may be retrieved at a later time.” Then, while attempting to pull the wires from the wall, Officer Hamilton received an electric shock.

Smith and the narrator pointed out that another inmate had been removed from Peltier’s cell two weeks before. Assuming that was the case, and if Peltier is innocent of rigging the wires to the light fixture in the first place…then why, when his cellmate left, didn’t he point out the dangerous wires to prison authorities? He would have then been viewed as cooperating with prison rules and looking out for the officer’s safety. But then being a good-guy and doing the right thing has never been a Peltier virtue…that is, to anyone but himself and his own selfish and egotistical perceptions and self-importance.

So, are we to assume that for those two weeks in that small cell he didn’t see the wires at all, or know that his cellmate may have previously rigged them? It would be hard to miss. But then again, now, Bruce Smith, the narrator and the LPDOC have more folklore to twist around the Peltier myth. And that’s what they like to do, and right now, that’s just about all they have left.

Or, lets consider another likelihood. Peltier, after his roommate departed, rigged the wires himself to deliberately create a circumstance where he can pretend he’s being singled out by prison authorities. (The date itself is hardly insignificant. Had this happened the day prior it would have been on the 36th anniversary of the murder of two FBI agents at Pine Ridge and given Peltier even more cause to claim he was being singled out for harsh treatment.) This is not beyond the realm of possibilities because there have been a number of incidents were Peltier always claimed that he’s the victim. Peltier’s undeserved popularity has long since waned, so anything that can bring attention to him (for Peltier and the LPDOC), is helpful in their minds. Peltier loves playing the victim card.

Former corrections officer Bruce Smith talks of Peltier with an affectionate reverence, referring to him almost like a dear old friend and claims that these recent incidents are deliberate and part of a governmental plot to force this poor old, infirmed inmate into health failure, even death. “They want him to die,” Smith says.

Actually, Lewisburg officials would be content if Peltier would just follow the simple rules and not create administrative problems they constantly have to deal with. But Peltier has always made a habit of placing demands on the system by claiming a special status.

Bruce Smith adds that his father and grandfather would have been proud to see him speaking up on Leonard’s behalf. But would they? And as we are now asking…What took you so long, Bruce? You were in the BOP, in the system for 21 years, you’ve been retired for 8 years. How many times did you go on record to support the claims you now make? None would be a first guess. So now if you want your 15 minutes (actually 8 minutes and 50 seconds) of fame, or shame, you’re adding nothing to the Peltier cause. Where was Bruce Smith when Peltier has been in solitary previously, or during the fuss raised when he was transferred from Leavenworth?

Fact is that no one, especially within the Native American communities, really cares about Peltier at this point…the vast majority have seen that he and the American Indian Movement added nothing positive to Native American culture.

One last thing, Bruce Smith never mentioned why Peltier is serving consecutive life sentences (plus another seven consecutive years for his “armed” escape from Lompoc), so we will…

“In the Spirit of Coler and Williams”
Ed Woods