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Leonard Peltier for President!

Re: Steve Argue's opposition to Leonard Peltier's presidential bid based on Peltier's alleged support for a UN occupation instead of a US occupation...

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Original posting which Steve is using to justify his position:

From: Chad Hagedorn - Leonard Peltier Defense Committee

Hello

I spoke with Leonard this morning regarding his
position on the war in Iraq. He gave me a short
response, but not a full statement:

"The [Iraq] war is unjust. People were lied to;
Congress and the Senate were lied to. All should
immediately be turned over to the United Nations to
form a proper and democratic government."
- Leonard Peltier

Is a full statement on the war necessary? Leonard is
always rather busy, but if this is crucial we can make
it happen.
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Replies to Steve Argue:

FYI -
Kevin Akin is State Chair of the Peace and Freedom Party
Barry Bachrach is one of Peltier's lawyers and his earlier VP running mate
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1)

From Barry Bachrach

...in a nutshell, Mr. Peltier did not support substitution of un occupation for us. he demanded a un inquiry into us actions. thanks.

2)

From Barry Bachrach

I stand by my statement. You can continue battling with the wrong people or
you can turn your efforts against those who deserve it.

3)

From Barry Bachrach

now that I have seen the statement, this is a clear example of
someone misconstruing a statement for ulterior motives. Anyone reading this
with a clear mind can see that leonard is demanding that the issue of the
american invasion be taken to the un for castigation of our so- called
democratic govt. we obviously are not a democratic govt and things must be
changed. This kind of smear campaign by people obviously incapable of
reading and who do not contact me or leonard first is just the kind of
behavior that runs rampant in this country. If we lose your vote so be it,
but don't create hoaxes to cause people to doubt leonard. this is reminiscent
of our country's stance on the weapons on mass destruction and its use of
patriotism to support wars we should never have been in. I am disgusted by
what is occurring in this country and by people who circulate these
misstatements, statements that strike leonard in the heart because, in the
end, for him to say what was supposedly attributed to him would justify the
genocide of the american indian. If you want to talk about the issue call me
directly at xxx-xxx-xxxx and please stop circulating this type of smearsay
on the internet.

4)

From: Kevin Akin

Comrades,

OK, let's step back a minute and look at this again. If Leonard Peltier said exactly what he is quoted as saying, he still did not say what we are told he said. He did not endorse a UN occupation of Iraq. He did not endorse sending any foreign troops at all to Iraq. Suggesting turning things over to the UN to set up a proper democratic government does not presuppose sending UN troops, peacekeeping or otherwise, to Iraq. It would appear to mean having elections (something few of us oppose). When looking for an appropriate body to run elections, the UN certainly does leap to mind. It is very unlikely that any of the folks we might sympathize with in Iraq would oppose UN international involvement in elections - - in fact, most Iraqi factions are demanding it, in contrast to US-run elections (not only do they not trust greedy aggressors, they have heard of Florida, even in Iraq).

Angrily rejecting Peltier because of something he DID NOT SAY tells more about the person doing the rejecting than it does about Peltier.

When Bush says he is for democracy, we know he is a sneaky malicious liar. When Peltier says he is for democracy, I think he means something very, very different, and is being honest about it.

Leonard Peltier may not have phrased his statement very clearly, or with the details we might like to hear, but there is nothing actually objectionable in the words he used.

Just what international body would comrades prefer Peltier to suggest help hold elections in Iraq? Nato? (It has been suggested.) The Second International? (Or Third, or Fourth, etc.) Rotary International? The simple fact is, and Peltier may well know more about this than the comrades who object, that the United Nations has helped hold a number of elections in various countries over the last couple of decades, and usually does a good job. They don't always come out the way we might want, but the votes appear to be counted correctly. (Proportional representation has sometimes been used, too, as it is the international standard.)

Peltier has made it plain that he opposed the aggression, he wants US troops out, and saying that something he said means that he really want other foreign troops to go continue the aggression is offensive. He just didn't say that.

5)

From: Kevin Akin

Comrades,

I repeat, Peltier did not say the UN should send in troops or occupy Iraq. (I am confident he would not say this.) It is absurd for us to develop a program for what the Iraqis should do. Peltier understands, as certain comrades appear not to understand, that UN (ie, international) involvement in restoring Iraqi rule over Iraq is necessary - for one thing, presently-operative UN resolutions need to be changed, that relate to trade, etc. The UN is the only forum for the needed international discussions. The UN has been involved in running elections in several countries without UN troops being present, so how is mentioning this "self-serving?" The fantasists who have put words in Peltier's mouth owe him an apology.

Just about the only thing we can sensibly say about Iraq is "out now." We have a responsibility to insist on the immediate withdrawal of US troops, with no preconditions. How the Iraqis choose to run the place is nothing we can influence, and drawing up programs for it just looks silly. Once out, the US should arrange to pay reparations for aggression and war crimes, but this must not be linked to withdrawal. While I would love to send Bush and Cheney to the Hague, (a UN body again), the fact is that only the American people can effectively deal with these criminal scum, and we certainly should continue to demand impeachment, and criminal charges against the liars, thieves, murderers, and other high US officials involved in the aggression. But as for the Peace and Freedom Party developing "principle and program" on what should happen in Iraq, we might as well tell the Martians how to run Mars. Just an exercise in fantasy.

6)

From: Kevin Akin

What is "obvious" to Steve is just not apparent at all to reasonable people. Steve probably did not know about the UN-run elections that did not involve UN occupations, but when informed of them, just ignores what doesn't fit into his notions. Steve invents another fiction in the heading of his e-mail, which says "UN Democratic? What nonsense is this?" No one, certainly not I, said anything about the UN being democratic. Just another straw man.

Peltier did not say he favored a UN occupation (or any other kind). He did not even imply it. His friend Bachrach denies it indignantly. It is relatively easy to slander a man who is confined in prison, because of the delays involved in replies. I am disappointed that some (a very few) have been willing to believe Steve's distortion.

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The Ultimate Protest Candidate: Leonard Peltier for President

www.sf-frontlines.com/modules.php

A vote for him will signify much more than just a protest vote against the ruling class politics of war, unemployment and racism. You may advance the cause of his freedom, even help save his life with your vote. Peltier is probably the oldest political prisoner in the United States.

"My name is Leonard Peltier. I am a Lakota and a Anishnabe. And I am living in the United States penitentiary, Which is the swiftest growing Indian reservation in the country..."--Leonard Peltier

If you are profoundly disgusted with the bipartisan political regime’s war parties and the candidates of the duopoly: George W. and John “I will carry out the war better? Kerry, you may consider voting for the Nader-Camejo ticket which will appear on the ballot in 35 states across the country.

In California, however, you will not have that option, courtesy of the Democratic Party’s undemocratic campaign to keep Nader-Camejo off as many ballots as possible and the actions of a handful of Demogreens.

Demogreens were acting on behalf of the Democrats, to keep the Nader-Camejo ticket off the Green Party ballot line in California and 21 other states. They did so by subverting internal party democracy and packing the Green Party National Convention with pro-Kerry supporters and nominating David who? to be their presidential candidate.

Nader-Camejo are planning a write-in campaign in California, but there is no mass movement behind it, so the results will be disappointing as a message to the system. However Leonard Peltier offers the ultimate protest vote opportunity.

Why? Because he is on the ballot—only in California—thanks to the Peace & Freedom Party.

And thus a vote for him will signify much more than just a protest vote against the ruling class politics of war, unemployment and racism. You may advance the cause of his freedom, even help save his life with your vote. Peltier is probably the oldest political prisoner in the United States.

On February 6, 1976, Leonard Peltier was arrested by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police at Smallboy’s Reserve in southwest Alberta, Canada for the deaths of two US FBI agents. Thus began Leonard’s life in prison. For the next 9 years, Leonard Peltier was moved from prison to prison, and finally to Leavenworth, Kansas, where he still resides today, in the US maximum security penitentiary.

Over the last 30 years, document after document, admission after admission, fact after fact have been brought to light clearly proving Peltier’s innocence. Every single complaint filed by Peltier’s attorneys have shown constitutional violations on the part of the US Government, so far, to no avail.

September 12, 2004 was Peltier’s 60th Birthday. There were no parties for him. No cake, no presents, no friends or family. This man, who has spent half of his life behind bars, is a warrior for his people. He deserves our attention and maybe the vehicle for this is to take a principled position come this Election Day.

Momentum for his plight has slowed, media attention is nil and spirits are getting low. The Leonard Peltier Defense Committee invites every one of his supporters to reaffirm their commitment to Peltier and to join us in a worldwide birthday celebration.

If you are willing to challenge the system and channel your outrage against a war-driven, unemployment-prone and environmentally hostile bipartisan political regime, you may do so by voting for Leonard Peltier for President, on the Peace & Freedom Party’s line of the California ballot.?


Statement from Leonard on His Birthday
Sept. 12, 2004

The concern you’ve shown me and to get together on my birthday touches my heart more than you could ever know. I know many of you probably were not born or were small children when this struggle began. It makes it even more impressive to me that you have gathered.

There are things I would like to say, but even more, it would be so wonderful to just shake your hand and see your smile. Many times people expect me to say something profound or enlightening, but I am just an ordinary man caught up in an unordinary battle, doing the best I can. All too often people get involved in something expecting it to be over like a T.V. series, but the struggle against the powers that would enslave can be a lifetime endeavor.

There are books on top of books telling of what should be. I’m referring to religious material that I’ve come across lately. There are those who pit one against the other in the name of the creator, but these are just inspirations of men.

If we look around, we can see the things that the creator has given us. I am not a religious person, but a spiritual person. I religiously put on my shoes every day. (Just in case you thought, I was trying to preach to you.)

We see the abuse the world powers heap upon the common people and our Mother Earth. We must ever be vigilant of the deceivers who exploit the earth and us for they are in charge of the media. When you read something or hear something weigh it against the right or wrong of contributing to life or death as the creator has given us.

Many times, people called us revolutionaries. I like that, although it often seems used in a negative sense, by the deceivers. Revolution refers to something traveling in a circle. All the Creator’s work seems to be in a circle, the Earth, the Moon, the Seasons, or a Man’s life.
As Native people of this land, we started in Freedom and were receptive to others who came here for the same.

This portion of our Mother Earth was clean and nature was in balance. I wish to see things revolve back to a situation like that again. If in my life, I am a part of that process, if my imprisonment in any way has brought a view to the public of how we should stand together, how we need to protect our freedoms and regain what we have lost, then I feel honored. There is no reason why technology can’t ultimately be used to protect our Mother Earth.

Let us be revolutionaries in such a way we enhance the circle of life. Let us be revolutionaries that our children, generation after generation shall enjoy freedom and a healthy clean Mother Earth. Let our lives be based in the circle not some straight line that has a dead end.

There are speakers and doers. If you can speak, then speak. If you can carry out the work, do so. If you can do both, so much the better. Again, I want to say I am deeply honored to be among you in spirit even though I am not there physically. The years roll by faster than you would realize.

Life isn’t all that long so be good to one another, be true to yourself, seek harmony with the Creator and know that I appreciate you. I’m somewhat at a loss for words so I’ll close for now. Stay strong.

Thank you so very much for your time.
In the spirit of Crazy Horse, a famous Native doer.

Your friend always,
Mitakuye Oyasin

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Leonard Peltier for President?

Socialist Action 298 Valencia St., San Francisco CA
94103 <www.socialistaction.org/>
Date: Sat Aug 28, 2004
Subject: Socialist Action/U.S. on presidential elections

Leonard Peltier for President?

With elections coming up again a lot of politically
conscious people are hitting the pavement to campaign
for their candidates. Voter registration drives,
leafleting and yard sign distribution have become the
order of the day for many activists.

Many progressives, from anti-war activists to trade
unionists, and going all out to beat President George
Bush in November. They point to the attacks on working
people, huge unemployment, and occupation of Iraq and
the Patriot Act as reasons we all need to get behind
the "Anybody But Bush" bandwagon.

But is John Kerry any better? He supported the war
with Iraq, and supports the occupation. He supports
the Patriot Act, Plan Columbia, Ariel Sharon's
"settlement plan", the campaign against Hugo Chavez,
free trade, and the continued dismantling of social
welfare. And he has won the endorsement of over 200
billionaires and multi-millionaires, which raises
doubt about how much he on the side of working people!

We in Socialist Action refuse to support candidates
like Bush and Kerry, who are bought and paid for by
big business. We believe working people need their own
party, and their own candidates. That's why we support
the idea of a Labor Party.

However, the November elections are coming up, and we
have no Labor Party yet in this country to campaign
for. But, fortunately there are several working class
candidates that we feel are worth supporting. We have
endorsed three socialist election campaigns, and urge
you to vote for one of them, depending which is on the
ballot in your state: Leonard Peltier of the Peace &
Freedom Party, Roger Calero of the Socialist Workers
Party and John Parker of the Workers World Party.

Sure, these campaigns are small, but by supporting
them we'll be able to register our support for working
class politics, and our rejection of the politics of
big business. It's important for people to vote for
what they stand for. As Eugene Debs once said, "I'd
rather vote for something I want and not get it, than
vote for something I don't want and get it."

Electing John Kerry won't stop the war on working
people at home and abroad. Only mass social movements
in the street have the power to do that. Don't get
sucked into the shell game of lesser evil politics.
Register a protest vote for working class politics,
and instead of wringing door bells for
multi-millionaire candidates who support war, recommit
yourself to organizing. Join the anti-war movement,
the labor movement, the abortion rights movements, and
all of the other social movements that are our best
bet of defending ourselves against whichever
Republicrat occupies the White House after November.

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The Case for Peltier for President

By Paul Burton

When California voters go to the polls on election day they will see a candidate listed for president whose name is vaguely familiar but unmentioned in any media coverage of the 2004 campaign. As the candidate of the Peace and Freedom Party, Leonard Peltier may be the first presidential candidate since Eugene Debs in 1920 to be locked in a jail cell while running for president.

Some will recall that Peltier has been serving a double-life sentence in federal prison since his conviction in 1976 for the murders of two FBI agents on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota in June of 1975. A Chippewa/Lakota activist with the American Indian Movement, Peltier is one of many political prisoners still doing time as a result of the U.S. government's notorious Counter Intelligence Program of the 1960s and1970s that spied on and disrupted the Black Panther Party, AIM, and other groups fighting for justice. While some who were wrongfully convicted as a result of official misconduct, like Panther Geronimo Pratt, have been released after decades of legal lobbying by supporters, Peltier remains locked up in Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary as one of America's longest held political prisoners. He turned 60 September 12.

A Political Prisoner for President

Peltier's nomination by the Peace and Freedom Party was hoped to shine new light on his case and his campaign for Executive Clemency-a presidential pardon. The P&F Party's Sate Chair, Kevin Aiken of Riverside, said that party leaders had discussed running a political prisoner for President last year. "We have been frustrated by the difficulty of getting traction on this issue, and with the difficulty in getting fair hearings in the courts for people who spend decades in prison for 'crimes' they did not commit because they are effective enemies of the corrupt rulers of our country," said Aiken.

But so far, little has been written about Peltier's nomination for president and the media continues to black out, with a few rare exceptions, any coverage of his case. He received a brief flash of coverage after the 2000 election when then-President Clinton was rumored to be considering granting Peltier a pardon at the end of his term. More on that matter later in this article.

Peltier bested Socialist Party candidate Walt Brown in the P&F primary in March and officially became the P&F nominee at their convention at the end of July after the party rejected a request by the Green Party's Peter Camejo to run Ralph Nader and Camejo as the P&F presidential ticket. In rejecting Nader and affirming Peltier, the party stuck with its commitment to put the cause of Peltier's freedom before voters, at least in California.

Peltier's running mate, Janice Jordan, said the Peace and Freedom Party also will continue to challenge the policies of the two major parties. "The current situation of international violence and occupation could have been avoided through dialogue and diplomacy, approaches that Leonard Peltier and I take pride in as social justice and human rights advocates," said Jordan, a San Diego activist. "There is only one political party in power (the Republicans and the Democrats) in the United States, and unfortunately diplomacy, justice, civil rights and human rights take a backstage to unregulated military spending, unchecked human rights violations and police crime. The United States is not a leader in democracy or freedom; it has alienated itself from the rest of the world and from many of its own people."

In his candidate statement Peltier says, "I am a Native American, deprived of my language, culture, and traditions; yet, I have survived the genocidal government policies against Indigenous Peoples. I will ensure equal rights to liberty, education, employment, housing, and health care, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, or sexual orientation. I will work towards conflict resolution without the use of violence and ensure self-determination for all peoples.

"I live with injustice every day. Caged for over 28 years for a crime I did not commit, I am a political prisoner wrongfully convicted by a government that indisputably withheld and fabricated evidence, as well as coerced witnesses. No branch of the government will correct this injustice. At the root of this injustice are the oppressive policies of the U.S. government against people of color and those with dissenting opinions."

While Peltier's chances of becoming President are slimmer than Ralph Nader's, his supporters have tried to use the electoral arena over the years to lobby for his release through a presidential pardon. After the Supreme Court refused to consider overturning a ruling by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in 1988 that upheld Peltier's conviction, only three avenues of action remain for winning freedom for Peltier: a re-opening of his case because of new evidence, a presidential pardon, or parole.

Even though he remains in prison, Peltier has been an advocate for his people and has kept active through a national support group network. He was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize this year and has been recognized by human rights groups internationally for speaking out about conditions still suffered by indigenous peoples around the world. He sponsors an annual holiday food and clothing drive for Native American children on Pine Ridge.

Wrongfully Convicted, Fighting for Justice: Peltier's Case

The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota remains today the poorest county in the United States. Conditions that have existed for decades remain: unemployment rates of up to 75%, rampant alcoholism, teenage suicide, and a sense of desperation among the disenfranchised native peoples, the Oglala Lakota-despite the mineral wealth of the land and the perception that modern Native Americans have all benefited from the expansion of casino gambling on Indian reservations.

Indeed, since the treaty of Fort Laramie in 1868 which guaranteed the Lakota ownership and control of the Black Hills, outsiders have exploited the wealth of the land, beginning with the discovery of gold which brought settlers to the area, and into the mid 1970's when corrupt tribal leaders sold off large sections of Lakota territory to the U.S. Government and multinational corporations. On June 25, 1975, the same day that then-Tribal Chairman Dick Wilson negotiated the transfer of 133,000 acres of Lakota territory to the U.S. Interior Department, the FBI sent two agents onto the reservation, ostensibly to pick up an Indian boy suspected of stealing a pair of cowboy boots.

When agents Jack Coler and Ronald Williams approached the Jumping Bull Ranch, where AIM members were camped, a shootout ensued which resulted in the death of the two agents and one Native American, Joe Stunz. Although the death of Stunz was never investigated, the FBI launched a massive manhunt for the murderers of the agents, finally capturing four members of the American Indian Movement.

AIM had been called to the reservation by traditional tribal elders who had been threatened and shot at because of their resistance to selling off Lakota land for mineral exploitation. In what many locals described as a "reign of terror" during the mid 1970's, Pine Ridge became the murder capital of the U.S., with more killings per capita than Detroit. Most of the victims were members or supporters of AIM. And in a documentary aired on PBS several years ago, one member of a paramilitary group on the reservation set up to counter AIM admitted that his group got their weapons from federal law enforcement agents. The FBI refuses to release several thousand pages of documents that could shine light on their role in fomenting the violence.

After the firefight, Peltier fled to Canada, fearing he would be prosecuted and not receive a fair trial. Two other AIM members, Bob Robideaux and Dino Butler, were arrested after a massive manhunt by the FBI and Tribal Police but were acquitted by a jury on the basis of self-defense.

Peltier was subsequently captured in Canada and extradited back to the U.S. on the basis of false statements made by an Indian woman, Myrtle Poor Bear, who claimed that Peltier had told her he had killed the agents. When Poor Bear later tried to recant her testimony, saying that she had been threatened by the FBI and coerced into testifying against Peltier, she was ruled incompetent and not allowed to appear before the court. Several members of the Canadian Parliament have called for Peltier's release over the years and launched official inquiries into the U.S. government's falsified evidence that led to the illegal extradition.

Peltier's conviction was largely based on the testimony of an FBI firearms expert who claimed that the agents were killed by shots fired from Peltier's rifle. In fact, the FBI had conducted ballistics tests and found that Peltier's rifle could not have fired the fatal shots.

But the test results were withheld from Peltier's defense team and did not come to light until 1981, four years after Peltier's conviction. Documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act also confirmed that Peltier was a target of the FBI's notorious Counter Intelligence Program (Cointelpro) which targeted AIM members as well as anti-war activists and Black Panthers.

Nonetheless Peltier's conviction was upheld in three different appeals, including a 1986 decision that found the U.S. government admitting they "do not know who killed the agents." Prosecutors in essence changed their theory that Peltier was the shooter, stating that he was guilty of "aiding and abetting."

While the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Peltier's conviction, it stated there was "clear abuse of the investigative process" which "casts strong doubts on the government's case." Judge Gerald Heaney would later write to Senator Daniel Inouye of the Senate Select Committee on Indian Affairs that Peltier deserved a new, fair trial and that "the FBI and the American Indians were equally responsible" for the murders at the Jumping Bull Ranch.

In the summer of 1990 Inouye urged President George H.W. Bush to meet with him to discuss granting Peltier Executive Clemency, Peltier's only hope for freedom after exhausting his appeals through the courts. Although Bush was not receptive, Peltier's supporters held out hope that a new Democratic President would be.

The Campaign for Clemency

In 1993 the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee launched an Executive Clemency campaign, targeting President Bill Clinton with letters, faxes and calls for Peltier's freedom. Lisa Faruolo, a spokesperson for the LPDC at the time, told this writer in 1997 that the committee had hoped that their efforts would have paid off sooner. "We hoped we would get something after Clinton's re-election last year [1996] because it would be a safe time for him to grant clemency," she said. Those hopes were dashed again when Clinton failed to act at the end of his second term.

A 1997 report by the Justice Department's Inspector General that the FBI crime lab produced scientifically flawed reports and inaccurate testimony in several major federal cases sent shock waves through the legal system. Peltier's supporters hoped then that evidence of the lab's slipshod performance on high profile cases like the Unabomber trial and the bombings of the Murrah Federal building in Oklahoma City would shine new light on many older cases that have relied on the FBI's forensic expertise.

"We've been screaming this for 20 years," said Faruolo. "This isn't recent news to us." The LPDC renewed its call for a Congressional investigation into the role of the FBI in the Peltier case and others involving members of the American Indian Movement. Amnesty International and dozens of members of Congress have supported that call over the years. Others who have called for a new trial or a pardon for Peltier include Nobel Peace Prize winners including Nelson Mandela and the Dalai Lama; Bishop Desmond Tutu; the European Parliament; former U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson; the Green Party USA; former Soviet Prime Minister Mikhail Gorbachev; and dozens of artists, musicians, writers, and celebrities.

The call for clemency for Peltier reached a critical point during the 2000 election when President Clinton made an Election Day phone call to Pacifica Radio's Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now. Goodman asked Clinton if he would pardon Peltier and Clinton said that it was among the cases he was considering.

Clinton had delayed acting on the request for Executive Clemency and claimed he hadn't heard about it, despite having been lobbied by Peltier's supporters during the 1992 election campaign. During the 2000 Democratic Primary, support groups in New England spoke out at events in New Hampshire, urging candidates Bill Bradley and Al Gore to take a stand. Bradley was somewhat supportive, Gore was non-committal.

But after Clinton mentioned the possibility of a pardon, the FBI stepped up its campaign to lobby against Peltier's release. They organized a small vigil at the White House in December 2000. The media gave the FBI's event prominent coverage but totally ignored the much larger rally in New York City on Human Rights Day, Dec. 10, by Peltier's supporters. When Peltier's name was not on the list of those given pardons at Christmas time, many hoped he would be offered a pardon at the last minute. The waiting and the false hope Clinton offered amounted to torture for those of us hoping against hope that he would for once do the right thing. Instead Clinton pardoned a host of political allies and his own brother, and would have pardoned himself if not for the deal that saved his own skin.

Vernon Bellecourt of AIM blamed South Dakota Senator Tom Daschle as one of the people who persuaded Clinton to deny Peltier a pardon. Clinton was also pressured by the FBI and by William Janklow, the Republican Congressmember from South Dakota who served as state Attorney General in the 1970s despite accusations that he had raped an Indian woman while working as the tribal attorney for the Rosebud Sioux. Janklow was convicted last December of second-degree manslaughter, reckless driving, running a stop sign and speeding for a crash that killed motorcyclist Randy Scott in South Dakota.

Time to Set Him Free

In June of 2001, Peltier supporters lobbied Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy to look at the FBI's role in the Peltier case as part of Senate Judiciary Committee hearings into the agency's mishandling of several high profile cases. Leahy said he intended to hold "very serious hearings" into the "egregious problems" within the FBI. "I think it is time that Republicans and Democrats, using the Judiciary Committee, do an overall look at the FBI, an in-depth look," he said on CBS' "Face The Nation" news program.

"The bureau lives sometimes as an isolated area where they forget that they're responsible to the attorney general and they're responsible to the Congress," Leahy said. But the Democrats lost control of the Senate after the 2002 election and Peltier's case was never brought up. The FBI failed again on September 11, 2001. After the terrorist attacks Peltier's Attorney, Bruce Ellison, warned that the kinds of measures being proposed by the PATRIOT Act had already resulted in wrongful convictions of political activists and dissenters like Peltier. The precedents set in his case, even the kinds of government misconduct condemned by Congress and the Courts, would be codified as official policy under Attorney General Ashcroft. It is in the name of "national security," that the U.S. government still holds Peltier in captivity.

As part of their ongoing campaign to uncover new evidence that could lead to a new trial, the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee has fought for the release of documents that the FBI has kept from Peltier's defense. The Buffalo Times reported on September 14 that Peltier's attorney Michael Kuzma was in court arguing for the release of a 1975 teletype sent from the FBI's Buffalo office to FBI headquarters that showed that the agency was trying to infiltrate AIM's defense team. Then-FBI Director Clarence Kelley admitted that the government used informants against the American Indian Movement.

"If we can show that had a destructive role or impact on the defense or the attorney-client relationship, it could blow the case open," Kuzma told the newspaper.

Barry Bachrach, Peltier's lead attorney, said the new information "would be grounds for a new trial, one which we'd relish because we know they couldn't prove Leonard did it. It could even be grounds for an outright reversal."

Author Harvey Arden, who edited a book of Peltier's prison writings, "My Life is a Sundance," as well as the recently published "Have You Thought of Leonard Peltier Lately?" called upon candidate John Kerry to openly support clemency for Leonard Peltier.

"Among the great tasks now facing you, I ask, I pray, that you consider the fate of one Native American man named Leonard Peltier-a symbol to millions around the world of America's continuing injustice toward its indigenous Peoples," Arden wrote. "Now that the dereliction of the FBI on 9/11 has been formally confirmed by the Kean Commission, I recall with a chill how, in December 2000-even as the terrorists were already in our cities fine-tuning their attacks against our Nation-some 500 FBI Agents found the leisure and spare time to spend a day staging an FBI march of intimidation in front of the White House, demanding that President Clinton NOT grant long-expected and well-deserved executive clemency to wrongfully imprisoned Native American Leonard Peltier.

"Leonard remains in prison, torn from his People and his grandchildren, recently refused by the courts even a hearing on parole until December 2008-even though he fulfilled all requirements for parole a dozen years ago.

"I am compelled to wonder if the efforts of those 500 FBI agents might not have been better spent that day on protecting our Country against our real enemies instead of continuing their 30-year unlawful vendetta against a Native American man they know to be innocent, but whose false imprisonment conceals the many, many crimes of Agency personnel on the Pine Ridge Reservation during the 1970's Reign of Terror authorized by the FBI's illegal COINTELPRO program. The Agency has spent countless thousands of hours over the decades constructing a Wall of Lies & Silence against Mr. Peltier. For the sake and safety of the American People, this shameful vendetta must cease.

"I ask you, I plead with you, President Kerry, as part of your coming re-organization of the FBI, that you immediately issue an order for an absolute end to the Agency's ongoing and self-serving vendetta and disinformation campaign against Leonard Peltier and other members of the American Indian Movement. I pray you will give him immediate executive clemency, or at least allow him a new-and this time fair and unstaged-trial, which would clearly reveal the FBI's own innumerable crimes against him and many others."


Peace and Freedom for Leonard Peltier

But while Peltier's case has slowly moved through the courts and languished on the desks of two presidents, the Peace and Freedom Party has decided to put Peltier at the top of their ticket as a way to remind Americans that Peltier is still in prison despite evidence that should free him, and that he represents a call for justice for all oppressed people.

On the eve of the 40th Anniversary of the Free Speech Movement at UC Berkeley, the Peace and Freedom Party re-released their original statement of principles, drafted by FSM leaders Mario Savio, Marvin Garson and Mike Parker, which says, in part: "The main task of the Peace and Freedom Movement is to organize people to begin to gain real and concrete power over the institutions which control their everyday lives. One important way to accomplish this is to project into the electoral arena the voices of people fighting for human dignity, to make it clear that the demand for human dignity is at root a demand for power and that the people will have this power only when we all can democratically assure that our economy works to fulfill human needs rather than to increase the power and profit of a small minority. The function of Peace and Freedom candidates is to act as the tribunes of Americans who have begun to fight back."

A warrior for his people who still hopes to be united with his children and grandchildren, an artist and writer with dreams of teaching oil painting, raising buffalo, and continuing to help Indian people, Peltier quotes Luther Standing Bear, a Sioux Chief, who stated: "Out of the Indian approach to life came a great freedom, an intense and absorbing love for nature; a respect for life... and principles of truth, honesty, generosity, equity, and brotherhood as a guard to mundane relations."

"These values will guide me as president," says Peltier.

Leonard Peltier's long struggle to fight back against the powers that be who wrongfully sent him to prison will continue after election day, but a vote for Leonard will surely show that he is not forgotten and deserves justice, peace, and freedom.


Paul Burton is a co-founder of the Indigenous Resistance Resource Network, which was part of the Leonard Peltier Support Group Network from 1985-1999, and a long-time active member of the Peace and Freedom Party. He was active with the Leonard Peltier Support Group of Greater New England in western Massachusetts as well as the Massachusetts Green Party from 1996 until 2003, where he actively campaigned for Ralph Nader. He currently lives in Oakland, California, and works as Managing Editor of San Mateo Labor, the newspaper of the San Mateo County Central Labor Council and Building & Construction Trades Council (who support John Kerry for President!). He will be voting for Leonard Peltier this year.

For information about Peltier's case, see www.freepeltier.org
For information on the Peace and Freedom Party, check www.peaceandfreedom.org
 


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