Open Letter To President Obama: Free Leonard Peltier (Update)

( – promoted by buhdydharma )

Mr. President,

It is with a great sense of urgency that I ask you to free Leonard Peltier. Peltier was recently attacked,   was prevented from speaking to his attorney on January 23 after he was attacked, and he is now just permitted one phone call every thirty days. Honestly Mr. President, this does not surprise me. Before proceeding, I honor you for and am grateful beyond words for the immediate changes you have made.

Crossposted at Native American Netroots

Mr. President, these truths should be factors in your decision in my opinion: the historical context of the Indian Boarding Schools which closed in the early 70’s, and the Forced Sterilizations of Indigenous Women in the mid 70’s. Both are not separate from being major contributing factors to the circumstances at the time of Peltier’s false arrest. They, in conjunction  with the obvious genocidal colonial practices that preceded Indian Boarding Schools and Forced Sterilizations, created the violence. Correspondingly, you may not know of the CIA’s influence over some journalism and book publications in academia; consequently, I believe that should also be a factor in your decision to free Leonard Peltier.

Amnesty International urges Clinton to grant pardon to Leonard Peltier

Amnesty International is today calling on President Clinton to grant Leonard Peltier presidential pardon before leaving office. Leonard Peltier, a Native American Indian, has been in prison for 23 years for the murder of two Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents.

– snip –

Amnesty International believes that the evidence that Peltier shot the two FBI agents is far from conclusive. One of the organization’s pivotal concerns was that his extradition from Canada was on the basis of a testimony by an alleged eye-witness who was coerced by the FBI into making false statements. In a recent public hearing in Toronto, Canada, Myrtle Poor Bear reasserted that her original claim — that she was Peltier’s girlfriend and that she saw him shoot the agents — was false, and was a result of months of threats and harassment from FBI agents. She had also said that she had been 80 kilometers (50 miles) away from the scene at the time of the shooting.

Amnesty International has repeatedly voiced serious concerns over the fairness of the legal proceedings which led to Leonard Peltier’s conviction and sentence, and believes that political factors may have influenced the way in which the case was conducted.


Key witnesses were banned from testifying about FBI misconduct & testimony about the conditions and atmosphere on the Pine Ridge Reservation at the time of the shoot-out was severely restricted. Important evidence, such as conflicting ballistics reports, was ruled inadmissible. Still, the U.S. Prosecutor failed to produce a single witness who could identify Peltier as the shooter. Instead, the government tied a bullet casing found near the bodies of their agents to the alleged murder weapon, arguing that this gun had been the only one of its kind used during the shootout, and that it had belonged to Peltier.

Mr. President, every time I have heard about the FBI agent who wrote “American Indian Mafia” and has written in favor of keeping Peltier in prison, I think about this.…

The CIA also developed remarkably close ties to journalism and, during the period 1947 – 1977, some 400 American journalists “secretly carried out assignments” for the agency, according to a classic investigative study by Carl Berstein…CIA influence extended to book publication…

The article states that it’s not specifically pertaining to “American Indian politics,” but does explore what it calls “close connections” with the CIA’s influence over some journalism and book publications in academia with the fact that the “victors have been writing the history.” That to me, Mr. President, is an indisputable fact. What’s more, is the reason “victors have been writing the history” is to acquire Tribal Lands and the natural resources on them.

Mr. President, have you ever heard of Alex White Plume?


Alex White Plume, a Lakota living on the Pine Ridge Reservation, has grown industrial hemp on his land since 2000. That year, the DEA, with helicopters and machine guns, confiscated the crop (legal in the sovereign nation in which it was grown), costing taxpayers more than $200,000.00.

In 2001, the DEA came only with side arms and weed eaters, this time simply destroying the crop.

In 2002, Alex and his family again planted fields of industrial hemp, but were unable to complete their contract by delivering the crop to the Madison Hemp and Flax Co., because U.S. District Judge Battey (in Rapid City, So. Dak.), issued a civil injunction stating that if Alex so much as touches his hemp, he will be held in contempt of court and jailed for up to six months without a trial or a jury. As a result, the hemp was cut and piled by people unknown; the pile lying in silent testimony between Alex and the Madison Hemp & Flax buyer Craig Lee, both barred from touching it by the government. Delivery was made, but the deliveree could not accept the product.

He was and is innocent, and that’s why you should free Leonard Peltier. I have one more question with all due respect – when does it stop?

(Emphasis mine)

Subject: Protection for Mato Paha (Bear Butte)

Despite protests of American Indian People and other supporters, the county has granted alcohol licenses to the bars. Recently, a corporation has purchased majority ownership in the bar closest to Mato Paha and they are going to have helicopter rides over the butte. We are informed this corporation is affiliated with or are former Blackwater high clearance mercenaries and have already strong armed some American Indians who were on public land taking pictures.

When does it stop?

Even John Coltrane said,

“I’ve found you’ve got to look back at the old things and see them in a new light.”

and while he was obviously referring to music; I think it also applies where “victors have been writing the history” – especially since music is a universal language.



AIM West, The Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee, The Leonard Peltier Support Group of Northern California, POOR Magazine and members of the community demonstrate in front of the Federal Building to protest the assault on Leonard Peltier in the US Penitentiary Canaan in Waymart, PA. Leonard Peltier is an elder, a political prisoner who has been wrongfully incarcerated for more than 3 decades. The people demand that he be given proper medical care, nutrition and that President Obama give this the attention it deserves by granting Leonard Peltier his freedom.




Skip to comment form

    • sharon on January 25, 2009 at 1:21 am

    clemency written by former congressman don edwards?  it may be worth asking him to sign the open letter if he has not already.  edwards was the chair of the hjc subcommittee on the constitution, civil rights, and civil liberties.  his signature may carry some weight.  he is in his 90s and does not hear well, but when i was in touch with him and his wife a year or so ago, he was healthy and responsive re impeachment.  it might be worth a try.

    December 21, 2000

    In response to the inbalanced national media’s coverage of last Friday’s FBI march to oppose clemency for Peltier, while the larger pro-Peltier Rally was basically ignored, consider submitting an OpEd piece or Letters to the Editor to your newspaper / TV / radio / news-website. This can provide them with a counterpoint balance to their coverage. Please use the powerful rebuttal statement given last Friday at the National Press Club in Washington DC, by former Rep. Don Edwards, who was also a former FBI agent. The text of his statement follows.

    Hon. Don Edwards

    P.O. Box 7151

    Carmel, CA 93921


    As a former Congressman from California for over thirty years, a former FBI agent and a citizen committed to justice, I wish to speak out strongly against the FBI’s efforts in opposing the clemency appeal of Leonard Peltier.

    I served as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights in the U.S. House of Representatives. I took a personal interest in Mr. Peltier’s case and became convinced that he never received a fair trial. Even the government now admits that the theory it presented against Mr. Peltier at trial was not true. After 24 years in prison, Leonard Peltier has served an inordinate amount of time and deserves the right to consideration of his clemency request on the facts and the merits.

    The FBI continues to deny its improper conduct on Pine Ridge during the 1970’s and in the trial of Leonard Peltier. The FBI used Mr. Peltier as a scapegoat and they continue to do so today. At every step of the way, FBI agents and leadership have opposed any admission of wrongdoing by the government, and they have sought to misrepresent and politicize the meaning of clemency for Leonard Peltier. The killing of FBI agents at Pine Ridge was reprehensible, but the government now admits that it cannot prove that Mr. Peltier killed the agents.

    Granting clemency to Mr. Peltier should not be viewed as expressing any disrespect for the current agents or leadership of the FBI, nor would it represent any condoning of the killings that took place on Pine Ridge. Instead, clemency for Mr. Peltier would recognize past wrongdoing and the undermining of the government’s case since trial. Finally, it would serve as a crucial step in the reconciliation and healing between the U.S. Government and Native Americans, on the Pine Ridge Reservation and throughout the country.


    [signature] Don Edwards (D-CA), ret. Member of Congress, 1963-1995


  2. He was given the name Black Eagle and welcomed into the Blackfoot Nation. Can those people talk to him about this?

  3. would also help.  Voice your outrage to your representatives — let them know how you feel at this injustice!

    It’s not a difficult thing to do!  If nobody speaks out for the plight of this already damaged soul, he will be lost — that is our society — so, please speak out LOUD!

    Thank you, Winter rabbit, for your on-going and ceaseless efforts to call long overdue attention to the REAL original inhabitants of this land!

Comments have been disabled.