Saturday, December 24, 2016


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”
Ed Woods

[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] 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:
      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."

Tuesday, December 13, 2016


Dear Supporters:

The No Parole Peltier Association was recently contacted by a reporter from South Dakota Public Broadcasting requesting an interview regarding Leonard Peltier’s pending clemency petition.

Several emails were exchanged providing Peltier background and answering some questions. A date was arranged and there were no qualifications or restrictions on the questions to be asked by the reporter. The reporter advised that he had already interviewed Peltier’s attorney(s).

What follows is the transcript of Ed Woods’ portion of the interview (Part 1). Part 2, responding to the comments made by Peltier’s attorney(s), will be the subject of a subsequent blog.

* * *

Interviewer: Can you give me your name again, title in relation to the Leonard Peltier case?

Ed Woods: It’s Ed Woods and I’m the founder and creator of the No Parole Peltier Association and the associated website that was launched on April 30, 2000.

Interviewer: And can you give me your thoughts on a potential clemency
/compassionate release, push for Mr. Peltier?

EW: Well based on the past sixteen and a half years of reviewing the Peltier matter in great detail, Leonard Peltier isn’t qualified for any compassion under the President’s current program and I agree with the President’s program that the war on drugs and the sentencing guidelines back in the eighty’s were very extreme, so I recognize that. His program does not include cold-blooded convicted murderers, unrepentant convicted murderers, for commutation.

As far as a compassionate release because of his health, I’d say that I would be 100% accurate thinking that Jack Coler and Ron Williams wouldn’t mind being seventy years old today and facing whatever life brings them in terms of health, and of course, being robbed of the opportunity to spend the rest of their lives with their family and grandchildren. So, from the health perspective that’s just a matter of the aging process, and whether Leonard Peltier was in USP Coleman or out in the street. If you read his book he wanted to become an artist and he’s been doing that in prison. Maybe he would have been successful doing something else, but the fact of the matter remains that we all get old, we all have to face those issues. He has to face them where he is.

Interviewer: The last time this sort of came up was during the Clinton administration and 500 FBI agents marched around the White House, as that was being contemplated do you foresee anything like this happening if Obama would consider a Peltier release? 

EW: Quite frankly, as a matter of fact it was closer to 700 agents and I was there that day, December 15, 2000, and it wasn’t a march around the White House. We gathered at the law enforcement memorial, we had a collective prayer, we read the names of those who were killed in the line of duty and it was a very dignified. I wouldn’t call it a march, a procession to the White House to express our collective request of the President that he not consider clemency or commutation for Peltier. And the president of the FBI Agent’s Association was allowed into the White House, and gave them well over 10,000 signed petitions. Now, to answer your question, no, I don’t believe there would be another gathering like that this time.

Interviewer: Certainly, certainly, I have one more question, just based on a lot of things I’ve heard, I’ve been down to Pine Ridge and stuff like that, Amnesty International has called Leonard Peltier a political prisoner, I think various other groups have as well, and they say he’s been in prison for longer than Nelson Mandela, and that he should be let go, and that he is no longer a harm to society and that sort of thing. Could you, could you, respond to some of those statements that people are saying around here?

EW: Well, they’re entitled to their, their opinions obviously, but, and I’ve been through this many times, I would throw back, or offer back to them, look at the record. Look at what’s happened. I’ve read every word of testimony, all the appeals. If a man was truly innocent, he’s not a political prisoner. He was captured and convicted, went through dozens of appeals for the cold-blooded murder of two already wounded FBI agents. So, they’re entitled to their opinion. Peltier isn’t a political prisoner, although that’s the route that he’s gone down and quite frankly that’s his only defense. And a truly innocent person wouldn’t change his story about what happened that day a half a dozen times. He wouldn’t also, for the better part of twenty years, claim his only alibi was Mr. X. That somebody else who was delivering dynamite to the AIM camp that day, was followed by the agents, shot the agents, killed them and drove off. That was proven to be a lie, and yet, if you look at Redford’s movie where Robert Robideau goes on for six and half minutes and describes this elaborate chase and the shooting, and Mr. X drives off into the distance. And in the very next frame, Leonard Peltier says, “This story is true.” Well, it wasn’t true and we know it wasn’t true because Dino Butler, one of the other AIM members, came out publicly in 1995, I believe, and said it was a lie.

So there’s no politics involved here. It was a straight up criminal conviction of somebody who, I wouldn’t call it an ambush; I think Peltier just over-reacted because he knew he was wanted for the attempted murder of a Milwaukee police officer and at that moment probably felt, and he shouldn’t have, that the agents were coming for him when they were actually looking for Jimmy Eagle. So, and then you come down to the final part of that, you have two wounded agents, and the final killing shots, I would say, I would almost call that an assassination. I’ve taken the position that maybe in Peltier’s mind, maybe he panicked, I don’t know, but certainly he may have thought that dead men make poor witnesses.            

And to go back to the actual events of that day, we know what happened. There was no, there was no secret because there was an eye witness that was telling everybody on the radio, that was Ron Williams, exactly what was about to happen before any of the shooting started. And I’ve been through Peltier’s 44 page petition for clemency and I’m still shocked to this day that Martin Garbus, Cynthia Dunne and Carl Nadler would actually put this stuff in writing, things that have been totally disproven over the years. So I know that’s a long answer to your question, but no, this is a criminal case. Peltier was—even Judge Heaney, said that Peltier got a fair trial, not a perfect trial, because those kinds of trials are very difficult, you don’t have DNA evidence, you don’t have video, but even Judge Heaney said—and Judge Heaney never even implied for a moment that Peltier was innocent in that letter. But he did in that 60-Minutes interview say that Peltier got a fair trial, not a perfect trial, but a fair trial. And he’s where he belongs.

From where I stand, Peltier should finish out the remainder of his two consecutive life sentences, which, if you go back historically, were averaging 30 years each, plus the seven consecutive years he got for the armed escape from Lompoc Penitentiary where guards were shot at. So, there was no politics involved here, it’s a straight adulteration of an otherwise proud Native culture where Leonard Peltier and the American Indian Movement did absolutely nothing to help their own people.

Interviewer: Ed, thank you very much for answering my questions. And I know you’re really busy, but I did, I was wondering out of curiosity what got you involved in this, on the Peltier case?

EW: There is only one place on the website that I talk about myself and it’s an editorial essay called Pilgrimage to Pine Ridge and I just give my background and what prompted this was I just coincidentally met Jack Coler’s youngest son. Jack had two sons when he was murdered, one was three the other was one and a half. And in—on April 1st 2000, I just happened to meet Jack Coler’s youngest son.[i] And based on that meeting I did a search of the Internet that night, saw what was out there, and quite frankly—and I was in the FBI for 29 years, and I had no idea the kind of stuff that was out there. I read through it all, I downloaded every page in the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee website. I read it, they said “read the book,” I mean, “watch the film” Incident at Oglala, I rented it; they said “read the book,” In the Spirit of Crazy Horse, by Peter Matthiessen, I also got Peltier’s book, Prison Writings, and I went through all of it. And as I went through it I saw all the lies, the myths and the folklore that have been following Peltier and that’s what prompted me launching, 27 days, 29 days later, the website.

Interviewer: Very nice. Well, I don’t want to keep you or anything, and I wish you a happy retirement.

EW: All right, thank you, and best for the holidays and if you have any other follow-up please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Interviewer: That email would be the best?

EW: Yes.

Interviewer: OK, perfect, thank you very much.

EW: Have a good day.

Interviewer: OK, you too.

EW: Bye.

Interviewer: Bye.

* * *

“In the Spirit of Coler and Williams”
Ed Woods

[i] The actual date of meeting Jack Coler’s younger son, was April 3, 2000. The NPPA website was launched 27 days later on April 30th.