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~*~Open Letter to President Obama on Leonard Peltier~*~

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L. Coyote Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-02-09 07:55 PM
Original message
~*~Open Letter to President Obama on Leonard Peltier~*~
E-mail from: "Harvey Arden"

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~*~Open Letter to President Obama on Leonard Peltier~*~

Dear President Obama,

On behalf of myself, friends, family and literally millions of people all across the United States and the world, I am writing you today concerning an urgent and heartfelt request: to consider the case of Leonard Peltier. For thirty-three years Mr. Peltier has been incarcerated in various American prisons for a crime that there is ample evidence to substantiate he did not commit. For thirty-three years Mr. Peltier, his lawyers and supporters have appealed to the powers that be in Washington to re-open, to re-try the case of the U.S. vs. Leonard Peltier. For thirty-three years these pleas have fallen on deaf ears. Now, at age 64, Leonard Peltier is approaching the end of his life and is in poor health, and those of us who are interested in Native American issues of social justice are trying one last time, when hope has returned to the American spirit and we have a president who espouses transparency and equanimity of policy and practice, to appeal to your sense of compassion and justice in a case that for many represents an opportunity to finally bridge the gap of broken treaties and broken trust between the First Nation peoples of this country and their government. We truly hope that with your new administration and its progressively positive attitudes of equal rights for all peoples, races, religions and economic status, that a time of reconciliation has finally arrived and some of the injustices of the past can be put right, with critical bridges crossed and war wounds healed.

Rather than laying out the long history of the case of the U.S. vs. Leonard Peltier, I prefer to point you in the direction of Mr. Peltiers book My Life Is My Sun Dance, a book he has written that was published in 1999 to universal acclaim and rave reviews (see enclosure), and which I had the great honor to edit. This book contains his full account of the events surrounding his arrest, his trial, his incarceration and the more than twenty-three years that followed. Also, you might want to consult your colleagues Senator Inouye and Gov. Bill Richardson on this case, as they are familiar with it and are supporters of the world-wide movement to reconsider, re-try and release Leonard Peltier from his incarceration as a political prisoner, wrongly convicted.

To this end I would like to ask of you a favor by granting an audience to Chief Arvol Looking Horse, 19th-Generation Keeper of the Sacred White Buffalo Pipe of the Great Lakota Nation, and myself, that we may deliver a message to you on behalf of all those concerned people around the world who have worked--by marching in protest, by contacting their representatives in government, by signing petitions, by writing letters, by working for his legal defense--so hard for Mr. Peltiers freedom. We would be happy to meet with you, Vice President Biden, Sec. Hillary Clinton, Gov. Bill Richardson, Sen. Inouye, Jodi Archambault Gillette from the Office of Inter-governmental Affairs and anyone else you feel would appropriately need to be involved in such a meeting and any discussions that might occur to shed a brighter light on this matter. Such a meeting, we believe, would not only be a true sign of your willingness to begin a dialogue with Native peoples on issues of overlooked urgency and importance, but would go a long way, in good faith, to showing us that Democracy and Justice still have a meaning in America.

Mr. President, it is with great hope and great expectations that my colleagues and I await your word in response to this letter of inquiry and appeal. Not only does the future of Leonard Peltier depend upon it, but also our hopes for a greater nation where there is truly liberty and justice for all peoples, including First Nation peoples.
Respectfully yours,

Harvey Arden
with assistance from Thomas Rain Crow

~ Please send a copy of this to http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact / ~
and to folks on your personal email list,
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dem629 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-02-09 08:04 PM
Response to Original message
1. For those who aren't familiar with the case, here's a summary.
Edited on Sat May-02-09 08:06 PM by dem629
On June 26, 1975, Special Agents Jack R. Coler and Ronald A. Williams were searching for a young Pine Ridge man named Jimmy Eagle, wanted for questioning in connection with the recent assault and robbery of two local ranch hands. Eagle had been involved in a physical altercation with a friend, during which he had stolen a pair of cowboy boots. Williams and Coler, driving two separate unmarked cars, in piggy-back fashion, observed and followed a red pick-up truck which matched the description of the one belonging to Eagle. At the time, Peltier was a fugitive, with a warrant issued in Milwaukee charging unlawful flight to avoid prosecution for the attempted murder of an off-duty Milwaukee police officer, of which he was later acquitted.

Williams radioed that he and Coler had come under high-powered rifle fire from the occupants of the vehicle and were unable to return fire to any effect with their .38 pistols and shotguns. FBI Special Agent Gary Adams was the first to respond to Williams' call for assistance, and he also came under intense gun fire from Jumping Bull Ranch.

The FBI, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), and the local police spent much of the afternoon pinned down on U.S. Route 18, waiting for other law enforcement officers to launch a flanking attack. At 2:30 p.m., a BIA rifleman shot one of the shooters, Joe Stuntz, and killed him.

At 4:30 p.m., authorities recovered the bodies of Williams and Coler at their vehicle, and at 6 p.m. laid down a cloud of tear gas and stormed the Jumping Bull houses, finding Stuntz's corpse clad in Coler's green FBI field jacket.

The others, authorities later reported, had slipped away from the compound after Stuntz's death, to cross White Clay Creek and hid in a culvert beneath a dirt road. With police focused on the storming of Jumping Bull, the group made a break for the southern hills. In the following days, they split into smaller groups and scattered across the country, setting off a nationwide manhunt that lasted eight months.

The FBI reported Williams had received a defensive wound from a bullet which passed through his right hand into his head, killing him instantly. Coler, incapacitated from earlier bullet wounds, had been shot twice in the head execution style. In total 125 bullet holes were found in the agents' vehicles, many from a .223 (5.56 mm) rifle. The FBI investigation concluded the agents were executed at close range by the same .223 caliber rifle.

Aftermath

On September 5, 1975, Agent Williams' handgun, and shells from both Agents' handguns, were found in a vehicle near a residence where Dino Butler was arrested.

On September 9, 1975, Peltier purchased a Plymouth station wagon in Denver, Colorado. The FBI sent out descriptions of it and a recreational vehicle (RV) in which Peltier and associates were believed to be traveling. An Oregon State Trooper stopped the vehicles based on the descriptions and ordered the driver of the RV to exit, but after a brief exchange of gunfire, Peltier escaped on foot. Authorities later identified the driver as Peltier. Agent Coler's handgun was found in a bag under the front seat of the RV, where authorities reported also finding Peltier's thumb print. On December 22, 1975 he became the 335th person named by the FBI to the Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list.

On September 10, 1975, a station wagon blew up on the Kansas Turnpike near Wichita, and a burned-up AR-15 was recovered, along with Agent Coler's .38 Special revolver. The car was loaded with weapons and explosives which were apparently accidentally ignited when placed too close to a hole in the exhaust pipe. Present in the car among others were Robert Robideau, Norman Charles, and Michael Anderson, said to be associates of Peltier.

Peltier fled to Hinton, Alberta, Canada, where he hid out at a friend's cabin. He was eventually apprehended by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) on February 6, 1976. Peltier was not armed at the time of his arrest.

Peltier fought extradition to the United States, a decision that backfired when Bob Robideau and Darelle "Dino" Butler, AIM members also present on the Jumping Bull compound at the time of the shootings, were found not guilty on the grounds of self-defense by a federal jury in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. As Peltier fled to Canada and then fought extradition, he arrived too late to be tried with Robideau and Butler and was tried separately.

At his trial in United States District Court for the District of North Dakota in Fargo, North Dakota, a jury convicted Peltier of the murders of Coler and Williams and the judge sentenced him in April 1977 to two consecutive life sentences. After a series of appeals, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals reaffirmed Peltier's conviction in July 1993.

Alleged trial irregularities

There has been debate over Peltiers guilt and the fairness of his trial. Several allegations have been made by Peltiers supporters which they claim point to his innocence, and all of these have been disputed by the FBI:

* An FBI agent who testified that the agents followed a pickup truck onto the scene (a vehicle that could not be tied to Peltier) is alleged to have later changed his account to describe a red and white van, a vehicle type which Peltier did drive. Further, as the FBI did not record radio communications in 1975, there was an unresolved discrepancy between Agents as to whether Williams said he was pursuing a "red and white van" or "pickup truck."

* Three witnesses testified they saw Peltier approach the slain officers' vehicle. They later alleged that the FBI had threatened and forced them to testify. The FBI answered that the witnesses' testimony was not necessary for conviction.

* An FBI ballistics expert testified that a shell casing found near the dead agents' bodies matched the gun tied to Peltier. Critics argued that an FBI teletype stating the firing pin of the recovered weapon did not match the shell casings proved that Peltiers weapon was not the murder weapon. It was counter-argued in testimony by the FBI that although the marks from the firing pin did not match those on the casing, the firing pin had probably been replaced after the murders, and that the marks made by the rifles extractor were an exact match to the recovered weapon.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonard_Peltier
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truedelphi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-02-09 09:03 PM
Response to Reply #1
4. Thank you so much for taking the time to
Write out that entire synopsis.

Peltier was featured in Matthiessen's book "In the Spirit of Crazy Horse."

And at the conclusion of the book, the Native Americans see to it that Matthiesen meets the man who was really responsible for the shooting. It wasn't Peltier. But Peltier doesn't want that man apprehended for the crime either, is my understanding
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Chemical Bill Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-03-09 11:00 AM
Response to Reply #1
13. This doesn't begin to list the problems...
with the arrest, extradition, and trial of Leonard Peltier. Just as one example, he was extradited from Canada based on testimony of Myrtle Poor Bear, testimony which was later discredited so badly that Canada has tried to have Peltier returned to that country, where he would be a free man.

Bill
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YDogg Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-02-09 08:35 PM
Response to Original message
2. I was thinking about Leonard Peltier this morning.
Just kind of randomly.
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druidity33 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-02-09 08:54 PM
Response to Original message
3. kicking to the Greatest...
A truly excellent letter.

His case is LONG overdue for a re-look.

(What else would you call it?)


:shrug:




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Bobbieo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-02-09 10:21 PM
Response to Reply #3
5. Will Obama buck the FBI for Leonard? Bill Clinton wouldn't!
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ProgressiveProfessor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-03-09 12:04 AM
Response to Reply #5
6. I would not hold my breath over it
There is another side to the Peltier story, and lawyers tend to respect verdicts. I could also be crass and point out that there is no political capital to be made and some to be lost.
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Bobbieo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-03-09 02:07 AM
Response to Reply #6
7. I do believe that Obama is sympathtic to the Peltier case but as
you sagely point out - there are limitations.

I also believe when the FBI moved Leonard to USP Canaan in late January of this year they knew he would be beaten by the younger inmates. I also believe it was Obama who had him moved back to USP Lewisburg and safety within a few days after the assault.

I think this is the limit of Obama's involvement with the case.
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ProgressiveProfessor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-03-09 08:25 AM
Response to Reply #7
9. I *might* believe that a political appointee intervened, but would have a hard time
believing it was Obama himself. Peltier is so far off the national agenda and focus and doing anything about it traceable to him would be a politically disadvantageous.

Yep that is a cynical view, but when it involves pols it means I am rarely disappointed
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ConsAreLiars Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-03-09 02:12 AM
Response to Original message
8. I wrote Clinton asking him to show some sign of courage and integrity
and pardon Peltier. Of course, lacking both, he did not.
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G_j Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-03-09 08:34 AM
Response to Reply #8
10. my greatest disappointment with Clinton
he had a chance to effect major healing with the Native American community.

I don't think I'll ever be able to forgive that.
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conscious evolution Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-03-09 09:20 AM
Response to Original message
11. K&R
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pleah Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-03-09 09:40 AM
Response to Original message
12. K&R
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Chemical Bill Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-03-09 11:04 AM
Response to Original message
14. K&R
It is a shame what happened to Leonard Peltier, but more so it is a tragedy what happened, and obviously from this case, still happens to indigenous people in the Americas.

BTW, does anybody else notice that the illegal immigrants that are the target of so much right wing snot are indigenous people from Central America who have been forced from their land by U.S. interests?

Bill
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lunatica Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-03-09 11:09 AM
Response to Original message
15. High ranking politicians rightfully avoid hot potatoes that may backfire on them
It's called survival and job security. It's also called governing from the center.
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rcrush Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-03-09 11:12 AM
Response to Original message
16. K&R with The Rage Against the Machine video Freedom.
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ooglymoogly Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-03-09 03:03 PM
Response to Original message
17. KR for justice. nt
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G_j Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon May-04-09 03:41 PM
Response to Original message
18. Kick
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Lilith Velkor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-05-09 02:02 AM
Response to Original message
19. kicky wicky
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EFerrari Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-05-09 02:07 AM
Response to Original message
20. Too late to rec. I've been thinking about Leonard ever since the inauguration.
:kick:
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