[Ppnews] Rebuttal to the No Parole Peltier Association

PPnews at freedomarchives.org PPnews at freedomarchives.org
Tue Apr 26 08:38:40 EDT 2005

Rebuttal to Comments Made by the No Parole Peltier Association
April 22, 2005

The Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to
Intelligence Activities, or the Church Committee, investigated the
counterintelligence activities of the Federal Bureau of Investigation
(FBI) over a 25-year period, from 1956 to 1971. The fact is that, with
regard to its COINTELPRO operations, the Church Committee found the
Bureau responsible for violating & ignoring the law, exceeding its
powers with regard to domestic intelligence activity, using excessively
intrusive techniques against United States citizens, using covert action
to disrupt & discredit domestic groups, abusing intelligence information
for political purposes, & having inadequate controls, as well as no

The FBI conducted more than 2000 COINTELPRO operations before the
programs were officially discontinued in April of 1971, after public
exposure, in order to "afford additional security to [its] sensitive
techniques & operations."  While the programs themselves were
discontinued, the practices that the Church Committee found so
objectionable were not.  The FBI's intent was/is to continue such
practices as deemed necessary & completely at its own whim.  That intent
was clearly stated by the FBI in April 1971.  It's a matter of public

The Church Committee had intended to investigate the American Indian
Movement (AIM) as another dissident group targeted by the Bureau.
Witnesses had been investigated by congressional staff & called to
provide testimony.  However, one day after the incident at Oglala, the
Church Committee cancelled the hearings.  That's why official misconduct
against AIM & regarding Wounded Knee is not part of the Committee's
findings & could not be highlighted in our essay.

That's also why we've requested that Congress complete the work of the
Church Committee.  A thorough congressional investigation is long
overdue, don't you think?  If you're truly interested in the truth, your
organization might join with us in calling for congressional hearings
into these matters.  Together we might bring closure to what was perhaps
the most turbulent era in U.S. history.

Barry Bachrach has challenged numerous mainstream media & other
purveyors of fiction to come to his office to review the facts of this
case & examine primary documents.  No one has ever taken up his offer.
Why?  Are they afraid to find out the truth?

Without getting into all of the instances of government misconduct,
let's visit the undisputed facts in Mr. Peltier's case.

1.        When Mr. Peltier was arrested in Canada, Frank Blackhorse was
also arrested. Blackhorse was listed in FBI documents as a key suspect
in the shoot-out.  Yet, while Mr. Peltier was extradited & tried, Mr.
Blackhorse was allowed to disappear never to be heard from again.  A
warrant had already been issued for Blackhorse's arrest in connection
with Wounded Knee II.  Despite this, Blackhorse disappeared into the

2.        The U.S. government had informants in the Wounded Knee Legal
Defense/Offense Committee (WKLDOC) during the mid-70s, we now know.
Documents also reveal that the FBI had informants in the WKLDOC at or
about the time of Leonard's capture - a critical time, i.e., while a
defense was being mounted.  We suspect that if the government were
required to produce the names of these informants & fully reveal the
information they provided, that the evidence would show that Mr.
Peltier's defense team was infiltrated & the prosecution received
first-hand information concerning the defense, a clear violation of
Leonard's constitutional rights.

3.        The U.S. government conspired with Canadian authorities to
extradite Leonard Peltier to the United States.  The extradition was
based on fraudulent affidavits of Myrtle Poor Bear, an individual with a
history of mental health issues.  The U.S. attorneys, together with Paul
William Halprin (the U.S. prosecutor in Canada) conspired with the FBI
to coerce Myrtle Poor Bear to sign affidavits stating she was Leonard
Peltier's girlfriend & a witness to Leonard's shooting of the agents.
In fact, three affidavits were prepared.  The U.S. attorneys & Halprin
chose to submit only two of the three affidavits & deliberately chose
not to submit an affidavit in which Myrtle Poor Bear indicated she was
not present, but that Leonard had only told her he had shot the agents.
The affidavits were coerced by Special Agents Gary Adams & David Price
who held Myrtle Poor Bear in a hotel room for a lengthy period &
threatened her by, among other things, showing her photos of the severed
hands of Anna Mae Pictou Aquash.  The government has since admitted that
Poor Bear didn't even know Leonard Peltier.

4.        Documents released through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
requests unequivocally establish that Hultman, together with Halprin,
was involved in choosing two of the three affidavits to submit to the
Canadian court.  In denying he had involvement with the creation of the
Poor Bear affidavits, U.S. Attorney Evan Hultman intentionally misled
the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.  Hultman's behavior
constitutes a fraud on the court & should be sanctioned. Instead,
Hultman has suffered no repercussions whatsoever for his fraudulent

5.        The FBI had analyzed the Robideau-Butler trial & determined
what would be needed in Peltier's trial so as to win a conviction.  The
FBI met secretly & exparte with Judge Benson prior to trial.  There are
no notes of these meetings but, not surprisingly, all the FBI could wish
for came to fruition during the trial.  Judge Benson's rulings were made
almost always in favor of the prosecution.  The FBI should never have
been allowed to have exparte communications with the judge trying the
case.  This is outrageous conduct & not justified by the FBI's alleged
security precautions in connection with the Peltier trial.  Somehow the
government permitted this to happen with impunity.  We believe a full
investigation of this occurrence should be conducted.

6.        Three teenagers involved - Michael Anderson, Norman Brown &
Wilford Draper - were indisputably intimidated by the FBI & consequently
provided false testimony against Mr. Peltier that was key to the
prosecution's theory of the case.

7.        Contemporaneous FBI transmissions indicate that the FBI was
following a red pickup on to the Jumping Bull Compound.  Agent Gary
Adams' testimony in the very beginning of Peltier's trial revealed that
Coler & Williams were following a red pickup onto the Jumping Bull
Compound because Jimmy Eagle was supposedly in a red pickup.  Somehow
the government turned that red pickup into a "red & white van" & claimed
that it was Leonard Peltier's van.  Comparison of FBI 302 reports that
were accepted into evidence at the Robideau-Butler trial (but not
permitted in the subsequent trial except in a very few instances) to FBI
agents' testimony given at the Peltier trial shows that these agents
committed perjury at trial.

8.        One of the falsehoods introduced at the trial of Leonard
Peltier was Frank Coward's testimony that he was able to see Peltier at
the site of the shoot-out, some 700 feet away, using the telescopic lens
on his rifle.  Judge Benson would not allow for any actual test of that
claim.  Any gun expert would have been able to testify, however, that
Coward could not have identified any person from a distance of 700 feet.
Yet, Coward's testimony was allowed into evidence & was used as a basis
to support Peltier's conviction.

9.        The lynchpin of the case as indicated by the Eighth Circuit
was a link between a mysterious casing found a few days after the
shooting in the trunk of Agent Coler's vehicle.  The FBI lab purportedly
linked this casing to an AR-15 alleged to have been wielded by Leonard
Peltier (although there was no testimony presented that linked Peltier
to the weapon).  After Leonard's conviction, FOIA documents released by
the FBI unequivocally showed that the FBI lab had in fact conducted
tests early on which demonstrated that there was absolutely no link
between the casing & the AR-15.  This withheld evidence meant that the
government had no proof of Peltier's direct connection to the shooting.
Nevertheless, despite acknowledging that the withheld evidence casts
serious doubts on the government's case, the Eighth Circuit refused to
provide Mr. Peltier a new trial.

10.     In the same Eighth Circuit decision, however, the court
acknowledged there was clear evidence of FBI misconduct.  The court
refused to grant Mr. Peltier a new trial because it preferred not to
impute further misconduct to agents of the FBI.  The bottom line here is
that the court decided it was better to keep Leonard Peltier in prison
than to risk exposing further FBI misconduct in this case.

11.     In addition, during trial, the FBI produced approximately 3,500
documents & claimed that these were all the documents in existence.
After the trial, through a FOIA request, the Peltier attorneys
discovered that some 12,000 documents had been withheld.  Six thousand
documents were then released.  More recently, despite the FBI's claim
that only 6,000 full documents related to this case remained undisclosed
- & that these are merely "administrative" documents, of no use to the
defense team - we discovered that the government continues to withhold,
nearly 30 years after the FBI opened its file, over 140,000 documents
concerning the Peltier case.

12.     There also is evidence that the FBI has destroyed documents.
Specifically, the FBI has destroyed key field office documents in San
Francisco, Portland & Pittsburgh.  Other field offices, such as that in
Manhattan (New York), claim to have been unable to "locate" documents
though they do claim the documents have not been destroyed.  These are
documents that should have been produced over 28 years ago.  In light of
the fact that continuing misconduct is being found with the further
production of documents, the spoliation of evidence documents compels
the conclusion that the government has destroyed documents which could
prove Peltier's innocence.

13.     The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms destroyed whatever
records it had on Peltier.  Again, these documents should have been
produced at trial.

14.     The South Dakota Highway Patrol & the State Attorney General
possess records on AIM & Leonard Peltier.  These documents are being
withheld because South Dakota has no Freedom of Information Act which
would allow Peltier & his attorneys access to these documents.

There was NO witness testimony that Leonard Peltier actually shot the
two FBI agents.  There was NO witness testimony that placed Mr. Peltier
near the crime scene before the deaths occurred.  Those witnesses
placing Peltier, Robideau, & Butler near the crime scene after the
killing were coerced & intimidated by the FBI.  There was NO forensic
evidence as to the exact type of rifle used in the shootings.  Several
different weapons present in the area during the shoot-out - evidence
now shows that there were other AR-15 rifles in the area - could have
caused the fatal injuries.  In addition, the AR-15 rifle claimed to be
Mr. Peltier's weapon was found to be incompatible with the bullet casing
allegedly found at the scene.  Also, although other bullets were fired
at the crime scene, no other casings or evidence about them were offered
by the prosecutor in this case.  In short, there was NO reasonable
evidence that Mr. Peltier committed the crimes for which he was tried.

This is just a microcosm of the egregious misconduct in Mr. Peltier's
case.  It does not even begin to address the misconduct by the
government on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation as recognized as
recently as November 2003 by the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals:  "Much
of the government's behavior at the Pine Ridge Reservation & in its
prosecution of Mr. Peltier is to be condemned.  The government withheld
evidence.  It intimidated witnesses.  These facts are not disputed."

Given the pattern of misconduct against a whole array of dissident
groups as revealed by the Church Committee investigation, why wouldn't
one find it at all plausible that the same disruptive methods -
including media manipulation - have been employed against AIM?  We
suggest that people take the guess work out of this discussion.  Do your
homework. Review the pertinent government documents, as we have, from
the time the Movement was first targeted by the FBI.

But why depend solely on the FBI's own documents?  Or on congressional

The detail our essay lacked would fill a book.  But why would we write
such a book when one already exists?  You may have disdain for In the
Spirit of Crazy Horse by Peter Matthiessen, but the fact is that this
definitive work on AIM & the Peltier case was successfully defended
against lawsuits brought by former Governor & Congressman Wm. Janklow
from South Dakota (recently convicted of criminal charges, jailed, &
forced to resign his congressional seat in disgrace) & FBI Special Agent
David Price in three different states, surviving an eight-year
litigation.  As acknowledged by the courts, Matthiessen's reputation for
not being sensationalistic or scandalous is well known.  He is a highly
respected author & his works have received wide acclaim.

We find it interesting how a fine author like Peter Matthiessen is
impugned, while mainstream America remains ignorant of the true facts of
this case.  Why is that?  Who controls the mainstream media?  We believe
that to be a rhetorical question.

Moreover, the deposition of Agent Price in his lawsuit is entirely
inconsistent with the facts as they have since come to light.  Did Agent
Price believe the facts would never come out?  Did he believe he could
speak with impunity without regard to the truth? The fact he lost the
case probably says it all.

The Church Committee uncovered a 25-year pattern of media manipulation
by the FBI against political activists & dissident organizations, but
some would have the public believe that this mode of operation suddenly
ceased in 1971 &/or that AIM was somehow the exception to the rule.

Washington has been feeding "packaged news" to the American people for
decades - it's called propaganda.  Just such behavior on the part of the
White House has been revealed to the American public within the past
year.  Further, government agencies routinely employ staff to create a
positive image of the agency & present issues in a certain light.  The
FBI is no exception.

Early FBI press releases regarding the incident on June 26, 1975, spoke
of bunkers that didn't exist & the need for heavy military force
(reminiscent of Wounded Knee II, government strategy which was
subsequently ruled unconstitutional).  Then the government's propaganda
campaign blamed the incident on "rogue" Indians despite AIM members
having been invited onto the reservation to protect traditionals against
vigilantes sponsored by our government.

The cozy relationship between the FBI & the Guardians of the Oglala
Nation (GOON) squads was verified by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights
shortly after the incident.  The Commission's report was highly critical
of the FBI's paramilitary operations in Indian Country.  Was this report
taken seriously by the media?  Obviously not, because they failed to
expose or prevent the continued official misconduct on the Pine Ridge

What Americans were not told (and still are not told) is that the FBI
sent two young & relatively inexperienced agents to their deaths.  Why?

Let's not pretend that official misconduct on the part of the FBI is a
thing of the past either.  In recent years, landmark civil rights
lawsuits against FBI agents have been won in Boston, Chicago & Oakland,
CA, to name only a few.

We did "leap ahead some twenty-plus years to President Clinton & the
clemency issue" to make our case.  With good reason. the instances of
media manipulation were so overt so as not to be ignored.

The Washington Post ad?  We disagree that the ad simply stated the
salient facts surrounding the deaths of Agents Coler & Williams.

.          The third paragraph of this ad stated as fact that Mr.
Peltier was in the vehicle pursued onto the Jumping Bull Ranch the day
of the tragic shoot out, & that he & the other passengers abruptly
stopped their vehicle & began firing at the FBI agents.  This isn't
explained as an unproved prosecutorial theory & Mr. Peltier has always
insisted that he was already on the ranch when the shooting broke out.
At Peltier's trial, despite descriptions of the vehicle as a pick-up
truck for a nearly two-year period following the shootings, the
description of the vehicle suddenly changed to that of a "red & white
van".  There is no untainted evidence to establish that Mr. Peltier was
pursued onto the ranch, or that the pursued vehicle was the red & white
van he sometimes drove.  To make such a flat assertion of "fact" without
reference to the conflicting & contradictory information is prejudicial
& deceptive.

.          In the fifth paragraph of the paid ad, the FBI agents wrote:
"Three shots were fired from Peltier's rifle. Williams, kneeling, was
shot in the face... Coler, still unconscious, was shot twice in the head
at close range."  It is important to note here that U.S. Attorney Lynn
Crooks has stated on several occasions that no one knows who in fact
fired those close-range fatal shots.  This admission was inevitable in
light of the clear language of Mr. Hodge's ballistics report stating
that the bullet casing used as evidence in Peltier's trial was simply
incompatible with the firearm claimed to have been Mr. Peltier's weapon.
The agents responsible for composing this ad knew or should have known
about these matters.  The highly inflammatory language was intended to
misinform & confuse the public, to cover up for former FBI misconduct, &
to deprive Mr. Peltier of fair consideration of his legal claims.  We
believe that serious legal & ethical questions were raised by this

.          In paragraph six of the paid ad, it is claimed that Mr. Color
& Mr. Williams had only fired five shots, while the AIM members fired
125 rounds at them.  First, several eyewitness accounts suggest that the
agents in fact fired more than five rounds.  Also, from the record, it
appears that several of the weapons belonging to the agents were taken
by persons fleeing the ranch & were only recovered long afterwards by
the FBI.  The weapons may have been fired, reloaded & fired several
times again since that day.  We also understand that the casings
recovered at the crime scene did not account for all of the shots fired.
How, then, is the number of rounds fired on that particular day - & by
whom - known?

.          This paid ad also stated as fact a number of instances in
which Mr. Peltier allegedly carried out violent actions.  Many of these
cited instances are highly suspect, & appear to be but one more example
of government distortion of the evidence against Mr. Peltier.  They also
make reference to former criminal charges of which Mr. Peltier was
acquitted.  We noted the claim of Canadian Officer Golden Doll that Mr.
Peltier stated that he would have blown the arresting Canadian officers
"out of their shoes".  It is significant that such a violent statement
was not included in Mr. Golden Doll's report at the time of the arrest
or even during the extradition hearings.  Mr. Golden Doll made no
mention of this alleged statement until Mr. Peltier's trial nearly one
year later.  Given the repeated instances of FBI coercion of witnesses &
use of tainted witnesses in other AIM cases, this late statement is
highly suspect.  Mr. Golden Doll's testimony was also uncorroborated
despite the presence of other officers at the time of Peltier's arrest.
It was improper to present this statement as a fact while never
mentioning the surrounding circumstances.

.          The ad also oversimplified the judicial history of this case
in an inappropriate manner.  Noting that Mr. Peltier lost his appeals,
the ad stated that there are no new facts.  "The old facts have not
changed & Peltier is guilty as charged." Again, this statement, together
with its serious omissions, was highly deceptive & therefore improper.
There were indeed many new facts, including but not limited to the
discovery of the concealed ballistics test & the revelations of coercion
by various witnesses.  The accurate version of the judicial history is
that Mr. Peltier was denied a new trial despite the new information, as
a result of the strict Bagley standard set by the courts in previous
opinions.  It should also be noted that Judge Heaney, who wrote the
denial in Peltier's appeal, also wrote to support clemency for Mr.
Peltier.  And one can't forget that over 100,000 FBI documents remain
concealed to this day.  We believe those documents contain many new
facts of importance to this case.

.          The ad also claimed that Mr. Peltier "openly states he feels
no guilt or remorse or even regret for the murders."  Once again this
statement was intentionally inaccurate, inflammatory & self serving.
Mr. Peltier has in fact on a number of occasions stated that he regrets
the loss of life & the pain caused to the agents' loved ones, even as he
maintains that he is not the one who committed the killings. The FBI
statements in this ad placed Mr. Peltier in the untenable position of
either admitting to a crime he did not commit, or else being vilified as
a remorseless brute.

.          Lastly, one of the final paragraphs stated that "Leonard
Peltier is a vicious, violent & cowardly criminal who hides behind
legitimate Native American issues.  Leonard Peltier was never a leader
in the Native American community.  He is simply a brutish thug &
murderer with no respect or regard for human life."  Not only are these
statements intentionally geared to promote fear & confusion, they once
again omit key facts. The FBI & other officials have long recognized Mr.
Peltier as an AIM leader, as is reflected in their own investigation
files & other statements.  More importantly, Mr. Peltier has enormous
support from many Native American communities.

The Peltier March in New York City on December 10, 2000?  Members of the
Peltier Legal Team were present at the march - as were many mainstream,
concerned citizens - & we can assure you that the number of participants
has not been at all exaggerated.  (Search & find photographic evidence
on the Internet.)  Again, we urge you to do your homework & deal in

We, too, marched in a dignified manner - unless one finds traditional
American Indian songs, drums, & prayers not to be so - albeit not in
business suits, but then it wasn't a business day, was it?  And, surely,
no one would suggest that a former Attorney General of the United States
or Lakota elders from the Pine Ridge Reservation were anything other
than dignified.

December 10th was International Human Rights Day.  Even more reason to
question why a demonstration that partially shut down the streets of New
York City & a well-attended rally that took place in front of the United
Nations building was not covered by the media.  Not one sound byte
appeared on network news broadcasts.  How curious is it, in particular
when New York City is one of the top three media centers in the U.S.,
that there was not one mention of this event.  No black out, you say?
It is essential that all of the Church Committee's documentation be read
before people make judgments about what is or isn't possible where the
FBI is concerned.

The FBI's demonstration on December 15, 2000?  The venue itself made the
event unprecedented - & apparently much more worthy of the media's
attention, too.  And we're talking about a march on the White House.
You can't get much more political than that.

The march was performed on the tax payers' dime, too, wasn't it?  It's
great agents took annual leave to attend, but who pays for that benefit?

Federal workers engage in political activities all of the time, as you
yourself pointed out, but never in their official capacity as government
employees whether in their free time or not (so as to avoid the
appearance of expressing the views of an entire government agency,
partisan or otherwise).  Active agents didn't march as private citizens
that day, but as current members of the FBI.  We stand by our assessment
that this was an abuse of power & a violation of our client's Due
Process rights.

Of course, we are aware that the debate over clemency did not take place
in a courtroom.  However, clemency involves a legal process & confers a
legal status - why else does the Pardons Attorney's office operate under
the auspices of the Department of Justice?  It's not so dissimilar to
parole in that regard.  These are constitutionally protected elements of
our justice system, too.

"[Clinton], an attorney himself, listened to reasoned counsel &
understood the facts.  He recognized Peltier's guilt & decided that he
was not worthy of clemency."  How can one know that?  This is not fact,
but speculation.  And logic suggests that, if this were true, Clinton
would have denied clemency, when in fact he didn't officially decide one
way or the other.

The Bill of Rights & the fact that Bill Clinton designated December
15th, the day of the FBI march on the White House, as Bill of Rights
Day?  No accident there although an occurrence certainly open to
interpretation.  But let's talk about the Bill of Rights for a moment.
As regards Clinton's awards of Executive Clemency when leaving office,
former President Carter availed himself of his right to free speech &
used "disgraceful" to label the actions & the man.  Yet, you object to
Peltier's comment at the time.  Peltier used a more colloquial yet
synonymous term - understandable given the fact that White House sources
had led us to believe that an award of Executive Clemency was imminent.
Besides that, criticism of public officials - even the President of the
United States - about how well or badly they carry out their official
duties, strikes at the heart of the First Amendment.  It is this form of
speech which the framers of the Bill of Rights were most anxious to
protect.  Criticism of government is entitled to the maximum protection
of the First Amendment.

We respectively suggest that the FBI's (and the NPPA's) primary goal has
been & will continue to be to prevent Peltier's release from prison.
Given the fact that, since 1985, the prosecutors in this case have
admitted that they do not know who shot Agents Coler & Williams & they
did not & cannot prove Peltier's guilt, we believe such actions to be
based on vengeance & not on the precepts of equal treatment, fair
consideration, or reasonable doubt - in short, not on justice at all.

In regard to:

"But these examples are merely a prelude to an immense leap of faith the
[Peltier Legal Team] expects from its adherents.  They excoriate the
federal prosecutors in last year's trial of Arlo Looking Cloud who was
convicted for his participation in the gangland style murder of AIM
activist Anna Mae Aquash in December, 1975.  They complain that the
trial was more about the denigration of AIM & Peltier than it was about
the specific facts relating to Looking Clouds' complicity.  Much of the
testimony resulted in media attention that they believed was unfavorable
to AIM & Peltier."

In a statement made in February 2003 & again in the above referenced
essay, we wrote concerning this debacle because it was clear that the
mainstream media wanted only to focus on inadmissible hearsay &
irrelevant testimony rather than the issue at hand.

In regard to:

"If the so-called ranting of all the members of Peltier's legal team on
this issue really point to some multifaceted conspiracy to 'destroy
support for Peltier & prevent his release on parole in 2008,' they
failed to prove their case.  These obviously mature, experienced, &
educated attorneys have careened down the slippery slope of
uncontrollable paranoia (while perhaps surrounded in their offices by
dark shadows), but neglected to bring with them some facts."

As Barry Goldwater once said, ".extremism in the defense of liberty is
no vice. moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue."

His Legal Team will continue to fight unknown & unseen forces that have
& will continue to deny Mr. Peltier justice.  We refuse to submit to
unjust practices &, in the face of the failure of government & other
official agencies to act, yes, we will take direct action against
injustice because as Martin Luther King, Jr., once wrote:  "Injustice
anywhere threatens justice everywhere."

The problem is that Peltier's Legal Team is fighting shadows & windmills
created by the government's propaganda puppets - mainstream media &
purveyors of fiction.

In addition, the federal government refuses to produce all of the
documents related to this case or conduct hearings by which Mr.
Peltier's Legal Team could put form to those shadows.

For the sake of the open government recently extolled by President Bush
& the integrity of the nation's system of justice, we urge you to
support our FOIA actions & ask your former agency to release all of the
documents related to this case.

Also urge Congress to hold hearings on the events on the Pine Ridge
Reservation during the 1970s.

Only then can the truth - the whole truth - be revealed.

In the Spirit of Crazy Horse & Leonard Peltier,

Barry Bachrach
Delaney Bruce
The Peltier Legal Team

The Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 863-9977
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