Thursday, November 12, 2009

More injustice for Leonard Peltier

More injustice for Leonard Peltier
Posted by Bob Richard on November 6, 2009

Yesterday President Obama made a show of support for justice for Native Americans. Here’s a place for him to start.

This escaped my attention when it was in the news last summer, until I saw Peter Matthiessen’s article in the November 19 New York Review of Books (payment or subscription required):

On Friday, August 20, federal inmate #89637-132 received terse notice that his petition for parole had been denied: not until his “15-year Reconsideration Hearing in July 2024,” he was informed, would he become eligible to be turned down again. In the unlikely event that he lives long enough to attend that hearing, Inmate Peltier will be eighty years old.
The article is provides a good summary of Leonard Peltier’s long ordeal as a political prisoner of the U.S. government, and brings us up to date through his parole hearing last summer. Matthiessen concludes:

Americans—those in public office especially—should inform themselves about this painful case and demand an unbiased investigation that might start with one simple question: If, in the thirty-three years since his trial, reputable evidence has ever emerged that Leonard Peltier was the lone killer and deserves to be in prison for life, why hasn’t the Justice Department produced it?

Without public protest, Peltier will not be granted a fair hearing since his prosecutors know that in the absence of honest evidence, “the only one we got” would be set free. Instead, this man’s life leaks away behind grim concrete walls for the unworthy purpose of saving face for the FBI and a US Attorney’s Office that together botched the famous ResMurs case and mean to see somebody pay. And who better for this fate than a “radical” AIM Indian who dared stand up to “legally constituted authority” in defense of his humiliated people, as he was doing with such tragic consequences on that long-ago June day?

In reviewing this case with an open mind, as surely he must in fulfilling his oath of office, Attorney General Eric Holder (the assistant attorney general in 2001) might reflect on his own role in the clemency bestowed by Clinton on Marc Rich, the notorious “fugitive felon.” He might consider, too, Rich’s consequent evasion of even a single day in prison in the harsh light of the eleven thousand days already served by a penniless American Indian who remains innocent before the law, having never been proven guilty.

From the Blog for Peace and Freedom
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