TOP TEN REASONS LEONARD PELTIER SHOULD BE FREED, IN THE WORDS OF THE GOVERNMENT
10. "The United States government must share in the responsibility for the June 26 firefight... It appeared that the FBI was equally to blame for the shootout..."
- Gerald Heaney, Senior Judge in the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, in a letter supporting clemency for Leonard Peltier.
9. "We can't prove who shot those agents... Aiding and abetting whoever did the final shooting. Perhaps aiding and abetting himself. And hopefully the jury would believe that in effect he had done it all. But aiding and abetting nevertheless."
-Prosecutor Lynn Crooks in Court of Appeals, October 15, 1985.
8. "But can't you see... that what happened happened in such a way that it gives some credence to the claim... that the United States is willing to resort to any tactic in order to bring somebody back to the United States from Canada. And if they a re willing to do that, they must be willing to fabricate evidence as well."
-Judge Donald Ross, Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, referring to the coerced and perjured affidavits used to extradite Leonard Peltier from Canada. Transcript of the proceedings (oral arguments) in US v. Peltier, CR C77-3003 "Motion to Vacat e Judgement and for a New Trial," at 7326-7.
7. Federal Bureau of Investigation teletype dated October 2, 1975, indicating that (FBI ballistics expert) Evan Hodge had performed a firing pin test on the Wichita AR-15 (claimed by the government to have been Leonard Peltier's) immediately after h e received it and compared it to the cartridges found at the scene. Contrary to his trial testimony that the test was inconclusive, this memo conclusively stated that the rifle contained "a different firing pin" from the weapon used in the firefight. Th is exculpatory evidence was withheld from the defense, and only discovered years after the trial with the release of documents via the Freedom of Information Act.
6. "There are only two alternatives... to the government's contention that the .223 casing was ejected into the trunk of Coler's car when the Wichita AR-15 was fired at the agents. One alternative is that the .223 casing was planted in the trunk of Coler's car either before its discovery by the investigating agents or by the agents who reported the discovery. The other alternative is that a non-matching casing was originally found in the trunk and sent to the FBI laboratory, only to be replaced by a matching casing when the importance of a match to the Wichita AR-15 became evident."
- Judges of the Appeals panel, Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, "Appeal from the U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota," op. cit., p. 16. The Court recognized that key evidence against Leonard Peltier could only have been fabric ated, but went on to say "We recognize that there is evidence in this record of improper conduct on the part of some FBI agents, but we are reluctant to impute even further improprieties to them."
5. "The jury agreed with the defense contention that an atmosphere of fear and violence exists on the reservation, and that the defendants arguably could have been shooting in self-defense. While it was shown that the defendants [Dino Butler and Bo b Robideau] were firing guns in the direction of the agents, it was held that this was not excessive in the heat of passion."
-Jury Foreman Robert Bolin, after the acquittal of Butler and Robideau for their roles in the firefight.
4. Leonard Peltier was targeted for "neutralization" by the FBI years before the firefight; in 1972 two off-duty Milwaukee police officers beat Peltier and then had him charged with attempted murder. This occurred after one of the officers had show n a picture of Peltier to his girlfriend and boasted of "catching a big one for the FBI." (U.S. v. Peltier, CR 77-3003-1, U.S. Court for the District of North Dakota, November, 1990, p. 12). Both incidents were entirely consistent with the FBI's COINTEL program, which targeted any individuals or groups with political voices.
3. "...[L]ittle has been done to solve numerous murders on the reservation, but when two white men are killed 'troops' are brought in from all over the country at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars."
- Civil Rights Commission Chairman Arthur J. Flemming on the reaction to the FBI agents' deaths in (his words again), "an extreme over-reaction which takes on aspects of a vendetta...a full scale military type invasion" of Pine Ridge Indian R eservation.
2. "... the FBI [was] determined to get the AIM movement and completely destroy it."
-Judge Fred Nichol, after presiding over the "Wounded Knee Leadership Trial," quoted in NY Times, Sept. 17, 1974.
1. "We don't know who shot those agents"
- Prosecutor Lynn Crooks in Court of Appeals, Nov. 9, 1992, p. 12 of oral arguments transcript.