Friday, September 11, 2009

Call to Action: Demand an Executive Review of the Peltier Case

Executive Review


An innocent man, Leonard Peltier was wrongfully convicted in 1977 and has served over 30 years in federal prison despite proof that he was convicted on the basis of fabricated and suppressed evidence, as well as coerced testimony. This is not just whimsy on the part of Peltier supporters, as some claim. These are facts acknowledged by the courts and even our politicians... and, yet, all have refused to take corrective action.

On June 23, 1995, Amnesty International submitted a letter of concern about the Peltier case to then Attorney General Janet Reno. The world renowned human rights organization sought but failed to obtain an Executive Review of the case.

On August 21, 2009, upon hearing the news that Leonard Peltier had again been denied parole, Friends of Peltier renewed the call for an Executive Review of the Peltier case by the U.S. Department of Justice. We want justice... EQUAL justice... and we want it now.

This past April, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced that he had ordered the dismissal of the indictment against former Senator Ted Stevens on corruption charges. Stevens had been tried and found guilty, but hadn't been sentenced; Holder's action effectively vacated Stevens' conviction. Holder was reportedly very angry that the prosecutors had withheld potentially exculpatory evidence from Stevens' attorneys. After the prosecutors had been held in contempt of court for failing to turn over required documents, Holder replaced the entire trial team. Soon afterward, the Justice Department discovered a previously undocumented interview with the prosecution's star witness. In the interview, the witness gave statements that directly contradicted his testimony at trial.

This statement made by Stevens' attorneys is reminiscent of the Peltier case.

"This jury verdict was obtained unlawfully. The government disregarded the Constitution, the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, and well-established case law ... which require the government to reveal to the defense all evidence that demonstrates the innocence of the accused...The misconduct of government prosecutors, and one or more FBI agents, was stunning. Not only did the government fail to disclose evidence of innocence, but instead intentionally hid that evidence and created false evidence that they provided to the defense."

What’s the saying? If it’s true, you’re not paranoid. And what is the truth? If it happened to Mr. Peltier, it can happen to anyone... even a U.S. Senator.

By nearly all accounts, Holder wanted to send a message that he would not tolerate any behavior he deemed to be prosecutorial misconduct. The following interview confirms those accounts. (We recommend that you watch this video in its entirety.)


On April 8, 2009, Attorney General Eric Holder sat down with Katie Couric (CBS) to discuss the direction he wants to take the DOJ. (Note: Holder, as he states in this interview, admires former Attorney General Elliot Richardson (deceased) and here’s why. In October 1973, after just five months as Attorney General, Elliot Richardson resigned rather than disobey President Nixon's order to fire the top lawyer investigating the Watergate scandal, Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox. Richardson had promised Congress he would not interfere with the Special Prosecutor.)



CALL TO ACTION

Join with us in calling for an Executive Review of the Peltier case.

Write to the Attorney General and demand an Executive Review of the Peltier case because—how did he put it—oh, yes, because it is “the RIGHT thing to do”.

Also please sign the online petition.


PETITION


September 12, 2009


Attorney General Eric Holder
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001

Dear Attorney General Holder:

Thank you for taking the necessary steps to investigate and vacate the conviction of Senator Ted Stevens because of misconduct by federal prosecutors. We the undersigned, in the interest of EQUAL justice, now ask that you undertake an Executive Review of COINTELPRO-era politically motivated cases, starting with the case of Leonard Peltier.

In 1975, the Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities (also known as the Church Committee) investigated the counterintelligence activities of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) over a 25-year period. With regard to its COunter INTELligence PROgram, or COINTELPRO, operations, the Church Committee found the Bureau responsible for: violating and 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 and discredit domestic groups; abusing intelligence information for political purposes; and having inadequate controls, as well as no accountability. As you know, COINTELPRO was centrally directed and targeted a range of political dissidents and organizations. The stated goals of COINTELPRO were to "expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize" those persons or organizations that the FBI found objectionable, i.e., a threat to the status quo. The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., was one of the most notable of these COINTELPRO targets.

During the 1970s, the American Indian Movement (AIM) also was a target of the FBI. AIM activist Leonard Peltier was wrongfully convicted in 1977 in connection with the shooting deaths of two FBI agents and has served over 30 years in federal prison despite proof that he was convicted on the basis of fabricated and suppressed evidence, as well as coerced testimony.

The United States Courts of Appeal have repeatedly acknowledged investigative and prosecutorial misconduct in this case—evident from the time of Peltier's extradition from Canada to his trial and subsequent sentencing.

Peltier also has been denied fair consideration for parole by unscrupulous, untruthful, and overzealous prosecutors who know parole authorities do not consult the court record and will therefore take on faith any false statements the prosecutors care to make.

On June 23, 1995, Amnesty International submitted a letter of concern about the Peltier case to then Attorney General Janet Reno. The world renowned human rights organization sought but failed to obtain an Executive Review of the case.

We agree with senior deputy director of Amnesty International-USA Curt Goering who, after the U.S. Parole Commission denied Peltier parole in August 2009, stated: “Given that the case against Peltier unraveled years ago, his continued imprisonment is only protracting a grave miscarriage of justice... When you consider the concerns that plague the case... it is unconscionable that Leonard Peltier should continue to suffer behind bars. It is high time for the U.S. government to... right the wrongs of the past.”

We call on you, Mr. Holder, to conduct an Executive Review of the Peltier case without delay, one that addresses:

--> FBI agents' use of improper techniques or coercive tactics, as well as fabricated evidence;

--> FBI laboratory personnel's use of poor scientific techniques, mishandling of evidence, provision of skewed or completely false testimony to support prosecution claims, or providing fabricated evidence; and

--> prosecutorial misconduct such as courtroom misconduct; mishandling of physical evidence (hiding, destroying, and/or tampering with evidence, case files or court records); failing to disclose exculpatory evidence; threatening, badgering, and/or tampering with witnesses; and using false or misleading evidence.

This review also should include examination of post-conviction actions on the part of FBI officials and agents, as well as prosecutors, to prevent fair consideration of Peltier's applications for parole and Executive Clemency.

It is long past time to rectify an immense and evident injustice. The politically-motivated prosecution of Leonard Peltier is an abuse of power at least as troubling as that in Senator Stevens' case.

Conduct an Executive Review of the Peltier case now. Only through such honorable action, which is wholly in your power, can we be sure that justice will, at last, be done.


Friends of Peltier
Time to set him free... Because it's the RIGHT thing to do.
www.FreePeltierNow.org


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