Sometimes Peltier just makes it too easy.
Peltier’s attorneys, Martin Garbus, Cynthia Dunne and Carl Nadler may arguably be decent attorneys but would make terrible poker players.[i] In this high stakes gamble for Peltier’s continued incarceration vs. freedom they gave up their hole cards before the game is over. Not a smart move at all.
Perhaps Marty felt he would gain some public support or sympathy by doing an interview with Mother Jones where he makes erroneous allegations based on the myth and folklore we have heard countless times before, but then publically offers the letter to President Obama along with the forty-four page application for clemency.[ii] Marty though, may just be blinded by his own misplaced passion.
The NPPA has previously offered that it would be extremely beneficial to know exactly the approach Peltier has taken in this last ditch effort for clemency and freedom.[iii] This should have been a well kept secret between Peltier, his attorneys, and the President. But thankfully the legal scream team (and maybe one other from the Left Coast) didn’t think this one through very well. Now, publically, and responding to the President, they have provided the opportunity to dispel the mythology and distortions, point-by-point, with the facts.
Rest assured that many follow-up letters will also be sent to the USDOJ Pardon Attorney, Attorney General Lynch and President Obama. So, thank you for that.
(This will be a multi-part blog dismantling the letter to the President and clemency application. References will be to the page numbers of each document.)
“Mr. Peltier has repeatedly expressed remorse, regret and sadness that the events of June 26, 1975 led to the deaths of young men engaged in their official duties. He is particularly sad that the events of that day led to continuing pain for the families of Agents Coler and Williams.” (Letter p.1)
Absolute nonsense. The closest Peltier ever came to barely even a hint of remorse was in his jailhouse book, Prison Writings where he said “To the still-grieving Coler and Williams families I send my prayers if you will have them. I hope you will. They are prayers of an entire people…if I could have possibly prevented what happened that day…I certainly did not pull the trigger that did it. May the Creator strike me dead this moment if I lie…I am guilty only of being an Indian. That’s why I’m here.”[iv] (The lies, like one of the big ones, Mr. X, will be addressed later and Peltier should be careful about his wishes.)
Marty, the President will see through this when Peltier publicly states as late as 2010, “And really, if necessary, I’d do it all over again because it was the right thing to do,” and even more recently in 2014, “I don’t regret any of this for a minute.” And so this is not taken out of context, in each instance Peltier was referring to that day at Jumping Bull.
Remorse, regret, sadness? Absolutely, that he got caught and spent the remainder of his life behind bars. Remorse? Not even close, but remaining an unrepentant murderer Peltier will say anything at this point. It’s far too late in the game for that. Notice too that there has never been an apology of any sort attached to these crocodile-tear pleadings. However, even if Peltier mouthed the words, it would not be acceptable.
“…had killed 50 members of the Lakota Tribe.” (Letter p.1)
This figure has changed many times over the years, reaching at one point 70, now down to 50, but it’s a sure bet that Marty, Cindy, or Carl never looked at the list.
A review of the list paints an entirely different picture than the one offered by Peltier and now his attorneys. Readers are encouraged to review the list and come to their own conclusions about deaths on Pine Ridge during the 1973-75 period.[v] (Missing from this early Editorial Essay are the convictions for the AIM directed murder of Anna Mae Aquash. You know, the one who Peltier stuck a gun in her mouth.)
Peltier, early on, evokes the name of Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Gerald Heaney (much will be referenced to Judge Heaney in later blogs), and points out accurately that he “presided on two appellate panels that considered Mr. Peltier’s appeals at different stages (and authored one of the decisions),” and quotes a letter later written by Judge Heaney calling for “a healing process.” (Letter p.2)
Again, much will be quoted from Judge Heaney, but let the record be clear from the beginning that Judge Heaney ruled against Peltier at every juncture based on the facts and the law. No misunderstanding, no nuance, no technicalities. Of critical importance here is that Judge Heaney never said or implied that Peltier was innocent.[vi]
Quite the contrary, Judge Heaney’s letter invoked by Peltier ignores the Judge’s critical conclusions; “No new evidence has been called to my attention which would cause me to change the conclusion reached in that case.” And, as a mitigating factor that others may have been involved in the shooting of the FBI Agents that “…this fact is not a legal justification for Peltier’s actions.”
And, during a televised “60-Minutes” segment when asked if Peltier received a fail trial, Judge Heaney replied, “I believe he got a fair trial. Not a perfect trial, but a fair trial.”[vii]
This is just the beginning and barely scratching the surface of a letter and application from Peltier and his attorneys that cannot withstand critical scrutiny.
This starts with Peltier’s first lie (Application p.3), “I will not re-argue my case,” which is precisely what he then proceeds to do with more of the same that we’ve seen from the beginning, redirecting attention away from the facts and what really happened on June 26, 1975 while attempting to portray himself as a martyr and in some perverse way trying to convince the President that granting him clemency would result in some manner of reconciliation. Peltier continues to work the system when the reality is that Native America has long recognized that Peltier’s actions and those of AIM during the late 60s and 70s did nothing for the betterment of Native American culture.
But, Marty, thanks for the mistake of releasing these documents and providing the opportunity to respond in-kind to the President. Much appreciated. We could not have gotten it any other way.
“In the Spirit of Coler and Williams”
This was just too easy not to make a quick add-on. Low hanging fruit as it were and one has to wonder what the attorneys were thinking (or not) to end their letter with “…that after serving forty years in maximum security prisons (and approximately five years in solitary confinement)…” (Letter p.4)
It doesn’t take a genius, or a band of learned counselors to understand that one convicted of a double homicide and involved in an armed prison escape would serve his sentence(s) in a maximum security facility. But here’s the rub that the Pardon Attorney, Attorney General and the President already know, or if not, Peltier’s lawyers just told them, that Peltier was not a model inmate. Having served “approximately five years” in solitary confinement pretty much tells everyone that Peltier was a problem on either side of prison walls. One of the many prison disciplinary incidents was likely the reason why he ended up down south in USP Coleman.[viii]
[i] The exception being Cynthia Dunne who has already proven she is borderline incompetent and clueless when it comes to the Peltier matter. http://wwwnoparolepeltiercom-justice.blogspot.com/2015/10/peltier-national-lawyers-guild-really.html
[ii] http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/05/leonard-peltier-clemency-obama-aim-wounded-knee (Last accessed 5/20/16) Commenting on the reporting by AJ Vicens is irrelevant and inconsequential because it simply regurgitates erroneous claims by Garbus without any effort to balance the article with some documentable facts. It is simply a Peltier puff-piece. An offer made to Mother Jones for a rebuttal went unanswered. Apparently they are not interested in the facts or balanced reporting. No surprise there.[iii] http://wwwnoparolepeltiercom-justice.blogspot.com/2016/04/peltier-another-felony.html (“We would offer, challenge actually, to be able to review that application factually, which would doubtless reduce it to a pile of worthless paper.”)
[iv] Leonard Peltier, Prison Writings (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1999) 15
[vii] http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xc9ofu_leonard-peltier-with-steve-kroft_news (last accessed 10/14/15)