Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Primum Non Nocere

27 January 2009

You’ve perhaps heard the news today. Before he left office, George W. Bush denied Leonard Peltier’s petition for clemency. That petition had been active for over 15 years. A sobering moment.

It’s easy to blame Bush. And we will. It makes us feel better.

Over the years, many have learned that there are no coincidences when it comes to the case of Leonard Peltier. That's worth remembering.

To illustrate, a little game of connect-the-dots:

--On January 1, it was discovered that Paul DeMain had been lurking and spying on Peltier support group activity on MySpace. Several days before, he posted a slanderous comment on the Web site to discourage support for Peltier. That organization had invited regular folks to nominate issues and collectively vote on the issues that would be brought to Obama’s attention on Inauguration Day. A popular issue was clemency for Leonard Peltier. Who is Paul DeMain? DeMain is a yellow journalist and editor/owner of News from Indian Country. Supporters may recall that on May 1, 2003, Leonard Peltier filed a civil complaint against Paul DeMain. Statements were authored by DeMain that were false, defamatory, and malicious. They were then circulated by DeMain's newspaper with reckless disregard and with the knowledge that they were false. A settlement was reached in 2004, i.e., DeMain signed and published a statement in which he retracted his published claims. However, since that time, DeMain has continued to undermine efforts to free Peltier, to the extent that he now openly works with former agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

--On January 11, former FBI agent Ed Woods (No Parole Peltier Association) released one of his nonsensical newsletters, along with a gleeful teaser, i.e., that an important press release would be released in several weeks.

--On or around January 13, Leonard Peltier was attacked at USP-Canaan and has been isolated from family, friends and—to a large extent—his attorneys.

--On January 16, former director of the FBI and J. Edgar Hoover clone Louis Freeh, the man who made it his mission to prevent Peltier’s release during the Clinton Administration, was in Washington, DC, testifying on Capital Hill. Ironically, his testimony was in regard to Bill Clinton’s last-minute awards of clemency.

--On the very same day, former FBI Special Agent in Charge (Minneapolis Field Office) Joseph Trimbach issued a scathing “press release” against Leonard Peltier allegedly to prevent Peltier's release by Obama. He encouraged his former colleagues to call the White House to urge Obama not to give Peltier clemency. Just one problem with that—Obama didn't, as yet, reside at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. George W. Bush was the occupant at that point in time.

--The very next day, on January 17, Bush denied Leonard Peltier’s petition for clemency, an event confirmed by the U.S. Department of Justice on January 27, 2009.

--On January 22, Ed Woods—smug and in rare form—launched an attack on Betty Ann Peltier-Solano for defending her brother Leonard. The self-satisfied Woods titled his filth "Peltier smack-down; FBI conspiracy".

We can affirm the past, detect the present, predict the future... But we must also habitually do two things.

First, help. Help to educate the public. Expose the FBI to public understanding. Help the public act in its own best interest. As Howard Zinn has said:
"They have to be exposed, brought down from that hallowed point where they once were. And, by the way, they have been brought down. That's one of the comforting things about what has happened in the United States in the last 30 years… They know they've come down in the public mind and so now they're trying to look kinder and gentler. But they're not likely to merge with the American Civil Liberties Union. They're more likely, whatever their soothing words, to keep doing what they're in the habit of doing, assaulting the rights of citizens. The most important thing you can do is simply to continue exposing them. Because why does the FBI do all this? To scare the hell out of people… Are they going after whoever their current target is because the country is in imminent danger, internal or external? No. They are doing it because they don't like these organizations. They don't like the civil rights organizations, they don't like the women's organizations, and they don't like the anti-war organizations… They don't like social movements. They work for the establishment and the corporations and the politicos to keep things as they are. And they want to frighten and chill the people who are trying to change things. So the best defense against them and resistance against them is simply to keep on fighting back, to keep on exposing them.” (Howard Zinn. “Federal Bureau of Intimidation,” A People’s History of the United States: 1492-Present. New York: HarperCollins, 1980, 1995, 1998, 1999, 2003.)
Second--Primum non nocere, i.e., do no harm. How many of our mothers or fathers said, "The road to hell is paved with good intentions"? One must wonder... With all the frenetic activity since early November, did we lull ourselves to sleep? By all appearances, we left the right flank unprotected. Again. The enemy, always at the gates of the White House, slipped through unnoticed. So busy were we in courting the favor of the president-elect that we forgot he didn’t yet hold the reins of power. Amidst numerous warnings of possible last-minute rules, regulations, executive orders, and presidential memos by George W. Bush, it was never once considered by most of us that one such as these would strike at the heart of Leonard Peltier.

We're at a place and time when it's often difficult to see. Difficult, but not impossible. And despite one's inclination to do so, one mustn't close one's eyes or look the other way. Be watchful, alert for trouble. Plan your move, but develop contingency plans. Block and counter and block again.

Sometimes, we can't see what's dark and hidden. We have other senses, however, by which to know the rattlesnake has come into the lodge. Remember always that we're supposed to crush the serpent… because it knows the way in. An old Lakota expression. We must sense his presence. We must respond to the danger, but intelligently. Avoid his bite, reject his venom.
If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle. (Sun Tzu, ca. 500 BC)
This day is destiny. Prepare... Be quick and sure in fighting each skirmish. Fight on every front. Defeat this enemy—with the strength of your own being and the power you carry in your own spirit.

Leonard would do no less for you.

Leonard has done no less for you.

Friends of Peltier
Time to Set Him Free... Because it’s the right thing to do.


Visit our Wall of the Shame: the FBI at There are numerous articles and such all over the Internet. Separately, they don't tell the story of the real FBI. Together, they'll be hard to ignore. If you want to help collect material for inclusion on the blog, send information you find or links to the same to

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