Friday, January 30, 2009

BREAKING NEWS: Peltier Transferred Back to USP-Lewisburg


Leonard has been transferred back to USP-Lewisburg and released to the general population. He was welcomed back not only by the brothers at Lewisburg, but by all of the prisoners. Leonard wishes to thank all of his supporters for standing with him during this difficult time. But we need to finish the job. Take Action.

Leonard's address:

Leonard Peltier
#89637-132
USP-Lewisburg
US Penitentiary
PO Box 1000
Lewisburg, PA 17837


Parents proud, son Barack Black Eagle enters White House


Parents proud, son Barack Black Eagle enters White House
By Ashutosh Bhardwaj, Today correspondent


HELENA, Mont. – While the world celebrated as an African American assumed the highest office in the United States, Barack Obama was accompanied by his adopted parents, brother and clan members of the Apsaálooke, or the Crow Nation.

Twenty-four Crow members traveled from Montana to Washington D.C., hauling horse trailers and traditional regalia to participate in the inaugural parade Jan. 20, after Obama became the first U.S. president to belong to an Indian tribe.

Last May, then-presidential candidate Obama paid a campaign visit to Crow Agency, arguably the first stop at an Indian reservation by any presidential candidate since Robert F. Kennedy’s visit in 1968 to Pine Ridge, S.D.

Before the rally Mary and Hartford Black Eagle formally adopted Obama into the Crow Nation, conferring an honorary tribal membership. They gave him a family name, Barack Black Eagle, and a Crow name, Awe Kooda Bilaxpak Kuuxshish, which translates as “one who helps people throughout the land.”

“I like my new name,” said Obama then. “That is a good name,” he told the cheering crowd of nearly 5,000 people.

“It’s something out of this world to have a son in the White House,” said Mary Hartford just before Inauguration Day. “After the adoption, when I asked Obama would he remember me after becoming the president, he replied, ‘You will be right there with me, mom.’

“Obama lost his parents much earlier; I am honored to be his mother. In July, he introduced me to his wife and daughters. My husband gave a Crow name to Michelle: ‘Arrowhead Woman.’”

Hartford Black Eagle reflected on the historic inauguration.

“It’s a moment of pride not just for our family but for all Native Americans,” he said.

Obama’s adoptive brother Cedric Black Eagle commented on the turn of events since May.

“When he visited us, we did not know he would go on to become the president,” he said. “My family adopted him because he shared concerns of Native Americans.”

Valerie Taliman of the Indian Law Resource Center, a nonprofit law and indigenous rights advocacy organization, said the adoption was not symbolic.

“It carried immense spiritual and social connotations and constituted permanent familial and emotional bond between Obama and the Black Eagle family,” said Taliman, a member of the Navajo nation.

American Indian tribes have huge expectations for the new president. Obama often refers to “First Americans” and has acknowledged that the federal government “has ignored their needs and has not been honest to them.” He told the Crow gathering that his “government would ensure [First Americans] have a voice in the White House.”

“We hope the president fulfills his electoral promises and changes discriminatory laws against the natives,” said a beaming Cedric Black Eagle as fellow tribal members made their way to Washington for the inauguration.

“Native Americans have been suppressed by the federal government for over a hundred years,” noted Taliman. “Jan. 20 was a historic moment for America; and for the world.”

Source URL:
http://www.indiancountrytoday.com/politics/38693927.html

This Week from Indian Country Today

Appropriations committee directs $2.8 billion to tribal economic recovery
WASHINGTON – Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., announced Jan. 27 that his and other senators’ calls to include investments toward Indian country economic recovery are reflected in legislation approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee. In a press release, Dorgan said the goals of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act are to create jobs and invest in national infrastructure. To specifically address these concerns in Indian country, the bill includes more than $2.8 billion in improvements for Indian health care, education, roads and bridges, water, public safety and housing...

Headlines

Judge issues new injunction against cigarette tax law
Letter to the world from rural Alaska
Richard Pound on the s-word
Natives participate in Inauguration festivities
Canadian chiefs deliver warning to Obama’s transition team
NMAI highlights chiefs’ 1905 inauguration visit
Michigan tribe files multimillion fraud claim against Mexican casino magnates

More

Northeast
Southeast
Great Lakes
Midwest
Plains
Southwest
Northwest
Alaska/Hawaii

Lead Editorial

Meeks: In today’s economy, we can’t afford to waste a penny
Jan. 30 is Earned Income Tax Credit Awareness Day. It is more important now than ever before in these times of economic downturn that tax payers are aware of credits they are qualified to receive. EITC refunds can help individuals in Native communities jumpstart their financial goals and even just make ends meet. At Oweesta we work with Native communities to help them build financial assets, and we’ve seen firsthand the impact EITC refunds can have. Because of this, we are partnering with the Internal Revenue Service to promote awareness of the EITC. Read more »

For news you won't get from Indian Country Today, see Censored News.


News from Indianz.Com


Larry EchoHawk won't comment on BIA nod (1/30)

Rep. Baldwin asks Salazar to reconsider casino (1/30)

Kevin Abourezk: The Year of the Indian just starting (1/30)

Mary Kim Titla: Reflecting on the inauguration (1/30)

Opinion: Indian Country stimulus a good start (1/30)

Lynne Harlan: Eastern Cherokees shape future (1/30)

Letter: Being Indian more than just blood quantum (1/30)

Cayuga Nation to reopen disputed smoke shops (1/30)

Two dozen indicted in Turtle Mountain meth ring (1/30)

NMAI launches website to showcase collection (1/30)

Haskell regents to meet with BIA in Washington (1/30)

Probe into beating of eagle on Swinomish Reservation (1/30)

Hopi Tribe to elect chairman and vice chairman (1/30)

Columbia River tribes warn states about fish catch (1/30)

Column: Schaghticoke Tribal Nation needs state help (1/30)

Opinion: Studies back removal of Klamath River dams (1/30)

Editorial: Tough job ahead for Salazar at Interior (1/30)

Ex-staffer linked to Abramoff took two salaries (1/30)

Blog: Lobbyist finally caught in Abramoff scandal (1/30)

Turtle Talk: Trouble ahead in Supreme Court case (1/30)

Tohono O'odham Nation seeks off-reservation casino (1/30)

Thousands seek Nottawaseppi Huron casino jobs (1/30)

Mohegan Tribe reports drop in gaming revenues (1/30)

More headlines...

30 Jan 2009: Today's Democracy Now!


Long Cleared of Terrorism Charges, Uyghurs Languish in Gitmo Prison and Albanian Exile
Uyghur prisoners at Guantanamo have long been determined to be not guilty of terrorism. But seventeen of these ethnic Muslim Chinese are still imprisoned at Guantanamo after almost eight years. Five were forcibly resettled in Albania, isolated and away from their families. We speak with their lawyer, Sabin Willett, and PBS FRONTLINE reporter Alexandra Poolos, who has followed their story for a new report. [includes rush transcript–partial]

Obama Continues Bush Policy of Deadly Airstrikes in Pakistan
In Pakistan, outrage continues to mount over a U.S. military attack approved by President Obama. Last Friday unmanned US Predator drones fired missiles at houses in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas, or FATA, killing as many as 22 people, including at least 3 children. We speak to Pakistani scholar Sahar Shafqat.

Despite Pledge to Limit Role, Lobbyists Still a Presence in Obama White House
Despite President Obama’s pledge to restrict former lobbyists in the White House, several are set to play key roles in his administration. The National Journal is reporting 14 of the 112 White House staffers that Obama has named had been registered as lobbyists at some point since 2005.

Obama Signs Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act
Obama Denounces “Shameful” Wall Street Bonuses
Lobbyists Grossed Record $3.2B in 2008
Senate Backs Child Healthcare Expansion
Blagojevich Removed from Office in Unanimous Impeachment
Israeli Peace Offer Would Maintain 230,000 West Bank Settlers
Israeli FM Promises “Maximum Settlers” on Palestinian Land
French Workers Hold Nationwide Strike
Army Suicides at Record High
RNC Protester Accuses Informant of Entrapment
10 Arrested Blocking AIPAC Gala


Thursday, January 29, 2009

Leonard Peltier and me


Leonard Peltier and me
by Mike Palecek


My family is from South Dakota. My mother and father grew up in Winner, South Dakota, home of Frank Leahy, the famous Notre Dame coach.

They moved to Nebraska later. That's where I was born. But Nebraska is not that far from South Dakota.

I remember an uncle from Winner visiting us in Norfolk once. He's now the only surviving brother. He served in the Navy, in the Pacific, during World War II.

Once Jimmy was telling a story and as an aside said something about noticing "a dead buck in the ditch."

He didn't mean a deer. He meant an Indian.

And then he went on with his story, and we all just listened. No big deal, I guess.

As a small-town journalist in the early '90s in southeast Minnesota, I was the publisher of a tiny newspaper along with my wife, Ruth, and I assigned myself to drive to Leavenworth, Kansas, to interview Leonard Peltier.

His case was then being reviewed by the federal appeals court in Saint Paul.

I walked up the steps to the penitentiary that I had walked up just months before as a scared, chained prisoner in the rain at midnight.

I talked to Leonard, face to face, with the guard standing close by.

I then drove to Minneapolis to talk to the head of the Midwest FBI office, the same man who had just months before been the head of the Omaha FBI office and had been pursuing me as I was underground after skipping a federal court date for protesting at Offutt Air Force Base in lieu of seeking sanctuary in the Omaha Cathedral, a scheme to try to get the Omaha bishop to speak out against war, nuclear weapons, to no avail.

Okay, I sat with Nick O'Hara in the FBI office, and on the way in, on the wall, were the photos of the two agents, Ron Williams and Jack Coler, who were killed at Oglala, supposedly by Leonard Peltier.

I had spent a lot of time studying about the case, read In The Spirit of Crazy Horse, knew something about the ballistics evidence, the shell casings.

I listened to O'Hara tell me point-blank eye to eye, that Peltier did it, that he was a murderer, and that the shell casings found were proof, etc.

I admit that when I left I didn't know who was telling the truth. I talked to FBI agents in Rochester, Minnesota, about eight miles from where we were living and had our newspaper in Byron.

One had been at Wounded Knee, the other in the office was the infamous David Price, but he was not in the office on the day that I visited.

And I called a Goon from Pine Ridge, and interviewed him on the phone. I think his name was David Brewer. Not sure who else I talked to, but it was everyone I could think of.

And I wrote this long, detailed article for our weekly with 1,100 circulation, along with a photo of Peltier that was too light, not the right flash or the right whatever under the enlarger in our basement darkroom.

I received a letter from O'Hara inviting me to his FBI retirement party. Is that weird or what? He had been chasing me months before. In the Omaha World-Herald that I read in a cafe while being pursued, I read that O'Hara had likened me to Charles Starkweather. WTF?

Well, I continued to pay attention, sort of. I traveled to Oglala, to the Jumping Bull Compound where the shootout occurred. I stood in the spot where the agents had died by their car. From my reading I could look around and imagine how it had happened, and where Peltier and Robideux and Butler and the others had miraculously escaped. Very cool.

[I just said "Compound." That's just what the FBI wants us to think, to say. It was a ranch, a farm, their home.]

I later ran for Congress, got the Democratic Party nomination for the U.S. House for my district. I wrote to O'Hara, now working for the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension or something-something in St. Paul.

I told him that I thought he was lying, and that if I ever got to Congress I would serve with a very dim view of the FBI.

Why had I decided that he was lying? I don't really know. I guess I just decided. I guess I just decided in my heart that O'Hara was the lying murderer, and that Peltier was the hero freedom-fighter.

That's allowed.

You can just decide what you believe. That's what I did.

He wrote back saying that I had regressed, gone back to my protester-days mentality.

Thank God.

Leonard Peltier is a common man, a good old boy, of sorts, that's my impression. He is also a hero. He fought the FBI, the U.S.A. He fought for the poor, against a government that wanted to bulldoze yet another bunch of nobody's in order to get uranium to make whatever, to make yet more money.

And Peltier and the rest said, uh-huh, not gonna happen.

He puts me to shame, puts us to shame. That's what I think now.

I wonder if or when Leonard Peltier dies in prison how many of us will think "it's just another dead buck in the ditch."

-----

Mike Palecek Lives in Sheldon, Iowa, with his family. He works at a group home. He has been a federal prisoner for peace. He met Fr. Dan Berrigan while in the Catholic seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. Berrigan told him things about America and the Catholic Church that changed Mike's life. So, Mike went to jail, went crazy, went home, like that.

And Mike has worked as a reporter, editor, publisher on small-town newspapers in Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota. The small newspaper Mike & Ruth owned and operated in southeast Minnesota won the Minnesota Newspaper of the Year Award from the MNA in 1994, and went out of business later that year. Mike was the Iowa Democratic Party nominee for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2000. He received 65,000 votes in a conservative district on an anti-military, anti-prison, pro-immigration platform, even after endorsing Ralph Nader over Al Gore.

One thing you might not know about Mike Palecek: He once spent an overnight in Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary and did not like it.

Check out the
books Mike has authored and visit Mike's new site The New American Dream at www.newamericandream.net.

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NCAI PDF: Tribal priorities for 111th Congress (1/29)

Jodi Rave: Star quilt ready to be sent to Obama (1/29)

S.E. Ruckman: Putting 'Great White Father' to rest (1/29)

New York counties launch site against land-into-trust (1/29)

Salt River Tribe votes on liquor sales at restaurants (1/29)

EPA backs Alaska Native village in subsistence study (1/29)

BIA sued over energy project on Ute reservation (1/29)

Jar returned to Acoma Pueblo after attempted theft (1/29)

Indian arts group reports first surplus in years (1/29)

Police recover jewelry stolen from Nighthorse gallery (1/29)

Colville Tribes focus on renewable energy (1/29)

Editorial: Open doors to Mohegan Tribe's court (1/29)

Editorial: Salmon runs hurt by mining activity (1/29)

Editorial: Move quickly on Chinook recognition (1/29)

Editorial: Indian mascots a complicated issue (1/29)

Blog: Salazar calls for review of Interior Department (1/29)

Another former Abramoff associate charged (1/29)

Bill seeks to limit Lytton Band casino expansion (1/29)

Berry Creek Rancheria lays off 50 casino workers (1/29)

Arizona tribes see big drop in gaming revenues (1/29)

Alabama governor claims bingo machines are illegal (1/29)

Gaming opponents in Michigan turn focus to compact (1/29)

More headlines...

29 January 2009: Today's Democracy Now!

Economic Stimulus Moves to Senate Following House Approval
The House has passed an $819 billion stimulus package, marking one of the most expensive pieces of legislation ever to move through Congress. Not a single Republican voted for the bill. We speak to William Greider, national affairs correspondent for The Nation magazine. [includes rush transcript]

Food Safety: Georgia Plant Knowingly Shipped Contaminated Peanuts; Study Links Corn Syrup to Toxic Mercury
We look at two stories on food safety. The FDA has issued one of the largest food recalls in history after eight people died of salmonella poisoning. A Georgia peanut plant knowingly shipped products contaminated with salmonella on a dozen occasions over the past two years. And a pair of new studies has revealed traces of toxic mercury can be found in many popular food items containing high-fructose corn syrup. The sweetener has become a widely used substitute for sugar in processed foods, including many items marketed toward children. [includes rush transcript]

House Backs Economic Stimulus
IMF: Global Economy to See Lowest Post-War Growth
7 Palestinian Girls Wounded in Israeli Attack
Israel: Gaza Borders Closed Until Captured Soldier Freed
Israeli West Bank Settlement Expansion Grew 57% in 2008
Hamas Official: “We Accept a State in ‘67 Borders”
UN: 250,000 Trapped in Sri Lanka Fighting
Iraq Won’t Renew Blackwater License
Iran Calls for US Apology for 1953 Coup, Jetliner Attack
CIA Algeria Station Chief Accused of Raping 2 Women
Holder Denies Assuring No Torture Prosecutions
Penn. Judges Accused of Taking Kickbacks for Jailing Youths in Private Prisons
Union Membership Grew in 2008
SEIU Removes Leadership at Dissident California Local


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Drinan: Lawmaker, priest, and target of FBI scrutiny


Drinan: Lawmaker, priest, and target of FBI scrutiny
By Michael Paulson, Bosto Globe, January 28, 2009

It remains one of the stranger episodes in the annals of congressional-FBI relations: In the winter of 1975, US Representative Robert F. Drinan was touring the FBI headquarters when he broke away and opened a drawer to find a set of index cards under his name.

A three-month battle ensued between the Massachusetts Democrat and the federal law enforcement agency over access to the file. When Drinan finally got a redacted copy of his own record, he pronounced it garbage, filled with news clippings in which the names of people already published in the newspapers were carefully blacked out by federal officials.

Now, on the second anniversary of his death, a copy of Drinan's FBI file, obtained by the Globe through a Freedom of Information Act request, provides a bookend to the story.

The file is unlikely to reshape history's view of the only Jesuit priest to serve in Congress, but it provides a backstage look at the dispute between the congressman and the agency and a reminder of how much the FBI changed over the second half of the 20th century.

In the 1970s and before, the FBI clearly viewed the congressman as potential trouble. At one point, when Drinan was quoted by a news service denouncing Attorney General John N. Mitchell as "the most dangerous attorney general that we have ever had," an FBI official scribbled on a document, "This fellow Drinan is like McGovern + Anderson - anything to get publicity."

The document does not make clear who McGovern and Anderson are, but the references seem likely to be to Senator George S. McGovern and either US Representative John B. Anderson or Jack Anderson, a syndicated newspaper columnist.

But by 1994, when the FBI was asked to do a background check on Drinan for a possible federal appointment, the tone was completely different. The file is packed with testimonials from Drinan's colleagues describing him in highly laudatory terms.

"Twenty-seven persons . . . were interviewed," the FBI reported. "They provided favorable comments concerning Father Drinan's character, associates, reputation, and loyalty."

Drinan, born in Boston in 1920, had served as a professor and dean at Boston College Law School from 1956 to 1971, when he began a decade in Congress after being elected in 1970 as an antiwar candidate. Drinan was an outspoken liberal, a critic of the Vietnam War, a forceful advocate of civil liberties, and, to the dismay of church officials, a supporter of abortion rights. He was also the first member of Congress to call for the impeachment of President Nixon.

Drinan announced he would not seek reelection in 1981 after Pope John Paul II decreed that priests should not serve in elective office. Drinan then taught at Georgetown Law School from 1981 until his death in 2007.

The file indicates that the FBI had run its first check on Drinan in 1960, a decade before his election to Congress; upon his election, a note indicates that the bureau's files "reflect that the Reverend Drinan has been active in civil rights matters."

In 1971, a suspicious nun wrote FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, saying, "I had doubted Father Drinan's authenticity as a Catholic priest because I had read of certain views he expressed that seemed to be un-American, as well as unorthodox, from a religious standpoint. If he is someone who has been 'planted' in the church, he could do great harm."

In 1975, the FBI investigated an anonymous death threat against several public figures, including Drinan, from someone purporting to represent "antiliberal and anti-Communist groups."

But the heart of the file is the history of the dispute that began in February 1975, when Drinan took a congressional tour of the FBI and discovered 20 to 30 3-by-5 cards with his name on them in a file. Drinan demanded to know how the FBI could justify collecting information on private citizens, and said, "I assure you I shall work to prevent the FBI from further engaging in the practice of attaching a stigma to persons whose political or social views may be at variance with the temporary majority of the nation."

"I have never at any time been involved in anything related to criminal prosecution," Drinan wrote to the FBI. "Consequently I was astonished and chagrined to discover the surveillance of a political nature."

The FBI accused Drinan of having ignored instructions and "delved into a file drawer containing index cards" and refused to honor Drinan's timeline for releasing his files, saying that would amount to special treatment for a congressman.

After considerable back-and-forth and for a fee of $8.10, the FBI released a redacted version of Drinan's file three months after his tour; he quickly made it public and denounced it.

"In his view, they had stepped across the line into violating the civil liberties of citizens by keeping track of what he was doing," said Arthur D. Wolf, a law professor at Western New England College School of Law in Springfield. Wolf was a special counsel to Drinan from 1973 to 1978. "He thought the FBI should concentrate on crime and not worry about people exercising their right to speech."

By the time the FBI next scrutinized Drinan, in 1994 with his consent, the tone had completely changed. The agency reported two minor issues: In 1975, there had been an unsubstantiated complaint that Drinan had improperly solicited disabled veterans for a campaign, and in 1985 he had been arrested for protesting apartheid in front of South Africa's embassy.

But the file is overflowing with praise from Drinan's co-workers, supervisors, and fellow Jesuits, all of whom were asked about Drinan's loyalty to the United States, a standard question in background checks.

"No derogatory or negative information was revealed," the Newark office reported to FBI headquarters, while the Kansas City office said simply, "All made favorable comments regarding the candidate."


Source URL: http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2009/01/28/drinan_lawmaker_priest_and_target_of_fbi_scrutiny?mode=PF

The Prime Directive: Survival


On January 13, 2009, 64-year-old and ailing Indigenous activist Leonard Peltier was transferred to USP-Canaan, a maximum security facility in Waymart, Pennsylvania. Not long after his arrival, Peltier was attacked by two young inmates and sustained a number of injuries. Proven to be the victim of the attack via videographic evidence, Peltier is nevertheless being held in solitary confinement and is unable to contact family but once a month. Peltier's attorneys were denied access to their client for four days. A protest in support of Peltier, a member of the American Indian Movement, occurred in San Francisco on January 23. Other protests are being planned in Colorado and elsewhere on or around February 6, the 33rd anniversary of Peltier's arrest in connection with the shooting deaths of two agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Peltier's Nation, the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, passed a resolution late last year requesting Peltier's transfer into their custody to serve the remainder of his sentence. Family members are supportive of such a transfer. Alternatively, family members want Peltier transferred closer to home, either to FCI Sandstone (MN) or FCI Oxford (WI). Peltier's security rating has been greatly reduced by the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) in recognition of his model behavior for the past 30 years.

The fact is that Peltier is an innocent man. He should be given his freedom. All that aside, his current security rating means he shouldn't even be in a maximum security prison anymore. In light of this incident, we know that the BOP cannot ensure Leonard's safety in a maximum-security environment.

Any oppressed peoples will tell you that the path to freedom is long. Therefore, our most pressing concern now must be for the safety of Leonard Peltier. Contact the BOP in support of Leonard's transfer to a safer environment.

Harley G. Lappin, Director
Bureau of Prisons
U.S. Department of Justice
320 First Street., NW
Room 654
Washington, DC 20534
Phone: (202) 307-3250
Fax: (202) 514-6878
E-mail: hlappin@bop.gov

A sample letter (that you can adapt and use for a telephone script, as well) follows.

RE: Leonard Peltier #89637-132

Dear Sir:

I was outraged to learn that, on January 13, Leonard Peltier was transferred to USP-Canaan in Waymart, Pennsylvania, where he was immediately attacked and injured by young gang members. Your inability to protect Mr. Peltier in this or any other maximum security facility is clearly evident.

I understand that last August Mr. Peltier properly submitted a formal application for transfer to an institution close to his home in North Dakota—either the low-security prison at Sandstone, Minnesota, or the medium-security facility in Oxford, Wisconsin. Such an assignment, I know, would comply with Program Statement 5100.08 which states that the BOP is to make every effort to keep prisoners within a 500-mile radius of their homes so that prisoners can maintain ties to their families and home communities. In reviewing Mr. Peltier's places of confinement during the past 33 years, however, I was shocked to discover that he has never received such consideration. Apparently, your rules don't apply to Mr. Peltier and never have.

In addition, in late 2008, the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians also sent a resolution to you offering a third option, i.e., that their tribesman Peltier be transferred to that Nation’s custody to serve the remainder of his sentence.

Leonard has been a model prisoner for the past 30 years. In recognition of this, the BOP has greatly reduced his security rating. Peltier shouldn’t be imprisoned in a maximum security facility anymore. His reduced security rating, Peltier’s application, and his Tribal Council’s request should have been but clearly weren't taken into account in the BOP’s recent decision to transfer Peltier to yet another maximum security prison—and one where his safety and wellbeing were put in such serious jeopardy.

The only remedy to the current situation is for you to immediately transfer Mr. Peltier to one of the above, more appropriate facilities. I strongly urge you to do so.

Sincerely,



(Your Name)
(Your Street Address)
(Your City, State and Zip Code)


Statement of Support for Peltier by Cynthia McKinney


Date: Wed, 28 Jan 2009 16:29:58 -0500
From: HQ


Today, I sent this message to the President:

"Mr. President, Justice delayed is justice denied. Leonard Peltier's family report that he has been brutally beaten while in custody. Peltier should be released. He has become a global symbol of injustice and prison abuse. Imprisoned in the late 1970s, Peltier has never been given a fair trial. Yet he has been a model prisoner. In April he wrote: "Given the choice of lying down to die or standing up to live, we chose to live." Let Peltier live. Please free Leonard Peltier now."

It's easy to send a message to President Obama to help him deliver on the hope and change he promised. Now is the time for us to act.

Unfortunately, the President has already signed an order allowing the continued bombing of Pakistan and his promised Afghanistan surge is underway. What that means for all of us is more war.

If we are to have true and lasting peace, it should be clear by now that we won't get it by confining our electoral choices to only the ones presented to us in sophisticated, highly managed public relations campaigns. True and lasting peace will come only with justice. Freeing our political prisoners, including Peltier, Mumia, Sundiata, Mutulu, Imam El-Amin, our Puerto Rican political prisoners, and so many more is but a down payment on the path of justice and reconciliation that our country so sorely needs.


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Yellow Bird: Threat of global warming is real (1/28)

Winona LaDuke: Obama must include Indian Country (1/28)

Kara Briggs: We can do better for inauguration (1/28)

Judge grants injunction on New York tobacco tax (1/28)

Santa Fe Indian School sued over alleged rape (1/28)

Turtle Mountain man credited with saving life (1/28)

Shakopee Tribe plans for growing population (1/28)

Arapaho inmate files suit against prison officials (1/28)

Indian inmates in Alabama sue over long hair policy (1/28)

BIA delays decision on Little Shell recognition (1/28)

Letter: Racism alive in border town in New Mexico (1/28)

Bush denied clemency request for Leonard Peltier (1/28)

Interior ignored science for Grand Canyon water (1/28)

Quechan Nation plans February 13 casino opening (1/28)

Eastern Cherokees weigh sites for Class II casino (1/28)

Enterprise Rancheria continues push for casino (1/28)

Mohegan Tribe denies rumors of casino layoffs (1/28)

More headlines...

28 Jan 2009: Today's Democracy Now!

Obama to Face Test on Executive Privilege After Rove Subpoenaed Again Over Attorney Firings, Siegelman Prosecution
The chair of the House Judiciary Committee, John Conyers, has subpoenaed former White House adviser Karl Rove to testify next week about the Bush administration’s firing of nine US attorneys and the prosecution of former Alabama governor Don Siegelman. Rove previously refused to appear before the panel, and former President Bush upheld his legal position. Rove’s attorney, Robert Luskin, said he would consult with President Obama’s White House counsel to determine the Obama administration’s stance. We speak with attorney Scott Horton and former Alabama governor Don Siegelman. [includes rush transcript–partial]

Bush's Secret Counterterrorism Law Book—and the Demands to Release It
We take a look at the Bush administration’s secret Justice Department memos on detention, interrogation, surveillance and prosecution. These opinions were issued by the Office of Legal Counsel and advised the executive branch on the legality of a range of tactics in fighting the so-called “war on terror.” A few of these records have been made public, but many remain secret, including those relating to the Bush administration’s domestic surveillance program. The investigative website ProPublica has compiled the first public database of all that is currently known about these memos.

Sanders Votes No on Geithner: "[He's] More of a Part of the Problem...Than the Solution"
We speak with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–VT) about his decision to vote against Tim Geithner as Treasury Secretary, Obama’s $825 billion economic stimulus plan, and why the $700 billion financial bailout amounts to “the greatest financial scandal in the history of this country.”

House to Vote on Nearly $900B Stimulus Package
Hundreds Flee Latest Israeli Bombings
Gaza Sewage Plant Suffers Extensive Damage
Gates Warns of Iran Role in Latin America
Report: Obama Admin to Pressure Karzai
9th World Social Forum Kicks Off in Brazil
Report: Bailed-Out Banks Joined in Planning on Defeating Union Bill
3 Indicted for Election Night Church Arson


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 change.org 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.
www.FreePeltierNow.org

-----

Visit our Wall of the Shame: the FBI at http://fbiwallofshame.blogspot.com/. 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 info@FreePeltierNow.org.

Native Americans and supporters outraged at FBI and George W. Bush


MEDIA ADVISORY
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
27 JANUARY 2009

Contact: Kari Ann Cowan
Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee
PO Box 7488
Fargo, ND 58106
Phone: 701-235-2206
www.whoisleonardpeltier.info


Native Americans and supporters outraged at FBI and George W. Bush

Fargo, North Dakota — The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) recently influenced the federal prison system to transfer elder Native American, Leonard Peltier, to a facility for young gang members whereupon his arrival he was immediately attacked and severely beaten. He was thrown into solitary confinement and denied proper medical care and food. The FBI has put out a letter encouraging others to indulge in whatever activities they can to block a possible pardon by President Obama for Leonard Peltier.

The latest ploy of that faction of government has been to enlist the help of George W. Bush by getting him to sign a clemency denial that could possibly stave off Peltier’s release. This action is an extreme outrage to all the people who believe in freedom and justice for ALL. It is an outrage to all the people who are aware of the true facts of Leonard Peltier’s innocence. The George W. Bush Administration and its followers obviously are trying to set a stage for anything that could possibly expand into some kind of incident that would mar President Obama, President Obama’s Administration and the Democratic Party.

This incident, attacking a 64 year old Native American is unjustified and immoral. People consider Leonard Peltier an extension of themselves and his plight if allowed to continue jeopardizes the freedom of all men. If his case is allowed to stand as it has for 33 years, then no one is guaranteed a fair trial. Some might have a dream – we have a reality. We sincerely ask President Obama to intercede in hopes that this nightmare for American Indian people will end.

For more information contact David Hill, National Coordinator of the Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee, (218) 790-6035.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Bush denied clemency for some high-profile figures


www.baltimoresun.com/news/nation/politics/bal-pardons0127,0,5478821.story

baltimoresun.com
Bush denied clemency for some high-profile figures
Cunningham, Milken, Lindh among those whose petitions were rejected
By Josh Meyer

Tribune Washington Bureau

12:32 PM EST, January 27, 2009

WASHINGTON

President George W. Bush, on his last full day in office, formally struck down the petitions for clemency of some high-profile politicians and businessmen, including convicted lawmakers Randall "Duke" Cunningham, Edwin Edwards and Mario Biaggi, and "junk bond" financier Michael Milken, the Justice Department said today.

The chief of the Justice Department's Office of the Pardon Attorney, Ronald Rodgers confirmed the denials through a spokeswoman, in response to queries from the Tribune Washington Bureau.

The Justice Department said Bush also denied petitions for clemency for two men who became highly polarizing symbols of their eras. One of them was John Walker Lindh, the young American serving 20 years in prison for aiding the Taliban in Afghanistan at a time when it was fighting U.S. military forces just after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Bush also denied one of the longest-standing petitions for clemency, for Leonard Peltier, a Native American activist sentenced to two consecutive terms of life imprisonment for the murder of two FBI agents during a 1975 shootout on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. His application had been under consideration since 1993, current and former Justice Department officials said.

Such denials can be a serious setback for those intent on clemency. After a denial, a petitioner must wait two years to reapply for a pardon and one year for a commutation of a prison sentence, although they can also circumvent the Justice Department and appeal directly to the White House whenever they want. In some cases, a presidential denial can be a setback in other ways, as well, and make it harder politically for the next administration to approve it, according to several current and former administration officials involved in the pardon process.

Bush, who has not spoken publicly about the denials, did not make formal rulings on some other well-known figures, leaving their petitions alive. That long list includes former Illinois Gov. George Ryan, then-Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, U.S. Navy spy for Israel Jonathan Pollard, media mogul Conrad Black and telecommunications executives Bernard Ebbers and John Rigas.

Bush also denied clemency last Dec. 23 for Justin Volpe, the New York City police officer convicted of sodomizing Haiti immigrant Abner Louima with a broomstick, Justice Department spokeswoman Laura Sweeney said today.

Many advocates for those denied clemency had forcefully lobbied the Justice Department and White House, arguing that their prison sentences -- and the underlying charges -- were unfair in comparison to others accused of similar wrongdoings, especially when various forms of good behavior were factored in. Some said those seeking clemency were victims of political scapegoating.

Bush historically has been stingy in his issuing of pardons and prison commutations, issuing far fewer than many other presidents in recent history.

During the Bush administration, 2,498 pardon and 8,573 commutation applications were submitted, Rodgers said today. Bush granted 189 pardons and 11 commutations, and denied 1,729 pardon applications and 7,498 commutation applications. Additionally, 464 pardon applications and 2,222 commutation applications were closed administratively without presidential action, Rodgers said.

For the most part, Bush granted pardons and commutations to obscure federal offenders and not high-profile, politically connected applicants, as was the case with President Bill Clinton and some other previous presidents. He did shorten the sentences of two former U.S. border patrol guards involved in a controversial shooting of a drug smuggler coming across the Mexican border.

"He seems to go out of his way to deny the high rollers, the prominent people," one U.S. official familiar with the pardon denial list said of Bush.

Clinton created a storm of controversy over some clemency grants that continues to this day, in part because Attorney General-nominee Eric H. Holder Jr. played a role in some as deputy attorney general.

Bush's formal denial of clemency for the high-profile applicants raised questions about why he didn't simply pass them along to the Obama administration as he did with so many others, some current and former Justice Department officials said.

Many past presidents also have simply passed along such political hot potatoes on their way out of office, leaving the potentially controversial petitions for their successors to grapple with.

The Justice Department declined to comment on any details of the cases. The White House had no comment, before the inauguration, on who might be granted clemency, or why.

After Bush issued a pardon to Isaac R. Toussie, a 36-year-old New York developer who pleaded guilty in 2001 to making false statements in a Long Island mortgage fraud case, critics said he did so because Toussie was represented by former associate White House counsel Bradford Berenson. After information surfaced that Toussie's application bypassed the Justice Department and that his father was a major donor to Republican causes, Bush took the unprecedented step of trying to revoke the pardon.

But Bush said he was "very proud" of not issuing pardons to the politically well-connected, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in an interview with CNN's Larry King.

"He said people who have gotten pardons are usually people who have influence or know friends in high places," a route that is "not available to ordinary people," Pelosi said, recounting an Inauguration Day conversation with the president. "He thought that there was more access for some than others and he was not going to do any."

The pardon power was created to allow the president to redress injustices that the judicial system is unable to remedy or for other reasons, such as Jimmy Carter's pardon of Vietnam-era draft resisters in an effort to restore domestic tranquility.

The Justice Department's Office of the Pardon Attorney traditionally issues a formal recommendation based on a thorough investigation of the applicant and the case. But over the past two decades, more and more applicants have gone directly to the White House, citing a huge backlog of cases at the Justice Department.

In the end, the president alone has the ultimate power to grant or deny pardons or keep them alive.

Some of those denied by Bush had been considered likely candidates for some kind of clemency, in part due to the length of the prison terms, their contributions to society and their extensive lobbying campaigns.

Milken, in particular, has been trying for at least a decade for a presidential pardon with the help of many influential business, community and religious leaders in Los Angeles and elsewhere.

He was charged with a litany of misconduct, including insider trading, stock "parking," tax evasion and repayment of illicit profits. As part of a plea agreement, Milken agreed to pay $200 million in fines, repay $400 million to investors and to accept a lifetime ban from any involvement in the securities industry.

He was sentenced to 10 years in prison but served less than two. After his release, supporters say, he has spent considerable time and money on improving the lives of the less fortunate, including those diagnosed with cancer, through his Milken foundation.

Milken hired former Bush administration solicitor general Theodore Olson to help shepherd his petition through Justice and the White House. Olson had no comment on Bush's denial of a pardon for Milken.

A lawyer for Cunningham, James B. Craven of Durham, N.C., said the former California lawmaker deserved a shorter prison sentence, in part because of his service to the country as a congressman and a war hero.

Cunningham pleaded guilty to accepting at least $2.4 million in bribes from defense contractors while being a member of the powerful House appropriations and intelligence committees, and was sentenced to eight years and four months in prison in 2006.

Craven said many influential people had been lobbying aggressively in behalf of Cunningham, including Duncan Hunter Sr., the former California Republican congressman, and that he had thought Bush would grant him clemency.

"Randy is 67 and not in great health. He's already served damn near half of his sentence with good time. It's not like he's been in two weeks and wants to go home," said Craven.

Influential former politicians also pushed hard for clemency for Edwards, a colorful four-term governor of Louisiana intermittently from 1972 to 1996. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison on racketeering charges in 2001. In recent years, his clemency was supported by two men whom Edwards defeated in Louisiana elections, David C. Treen and J. Bennett Johnston Jr., and a third who was Edwards' protégé, John B. Breaux.

Supporters of Lindh, the so-called "American Taliban," say that he got far too extreme a sentence for an impressionable young man captured during a violent prison uprising where CIA officer Johnny "Mike" Spann was killed, especially in comparison to some others who were freed from U.S. custody despite far more significant links to terrorists.

And supporters of Peltier have waged a decades-long campaign to free him, saying he was a political prisoner given his support of the American Indian Movement, and that there is considerable debate over his guilt and the fairness of his trial.

Biaggi, a Democratic congressman from New York, was sentenced to eight years in prison following his 1988 conviction in the Wedtech scandal of bribery, extortion, racketeering, filing a false tax return, mail fraud and other charges.


Today on Native America Calling


Paroling Peltier - Leonard Peltier’s sister says she received a letter from her brother last week that informed her that he had been attacked and beaten a day after he was transferred to Canaan Federal Prison in Pennsylvania. She thinks the attack was perhaps encouraged by prison officials seeking to discredit Peltier as he comes up for parole. What’s the latest on his parole? Invited guests include Betty Ann Peltier-Solano (Anishinabe). 1:00-2:00 p.m. (EST) Listen

Federal court rules for mining to move forward in Western Shoshone Mount Tenabo case


Monday, January 26, 2009
Federal court rules for mining to move forward in Western Shoshone Mount Tenabo case
BREAKING NEWS: DECISION ON SHOSHONE BARRICK GOLD BLM MT. TENABO CASE:
Mining Going Forward

By Lisa J. Wolf, Correspondent
Censored News
http://www.bsnorrell.blogspot.com/


RENO, Nev. -- Monday, January 26, 2009 at 3:00 p.m., Judge Larry Hicks "denied the Plaintiffs' motion for a Preliminary Injunction in its entirety on the grounds that the Plaintiffs had not demonstrated likely success on the merits to warrant the extraordinary remedy of a Preliminary Injunction, according to Chris Worthington, Planning & Environmental Coordinator for the Bureau of Land Management's Battle
Mountain Mt. Lewis Field Office.

Said Worthington, "That means basically they [Barrick Cortez] can go ahead and start up." Worthington expects Hick's written rule on Tuesday, January 27, 2008.

Worthington said, "On the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA Claim), the Court found that, based on the Navajo Nation Case, a substantial burden was not demonstrated in this case; and then he considered it significant that Plaintiffs would continue to have access to areas they claim for religious and spiritual purposes," including the top of Mt. Tenabo, the White Cliffs, and Horse Canyon. "He concluded that their spiritual experience may be diminished by the project, but that does not amount to a substantial burden."

Worthington, who received the legal synopsis from Donna Fitzerald, Justice Department Attorney who represented the BLM in the case, related that "On the NEPA claims, the Court described the EIS [Environmental Impact Study] as very thorough and obviously the product of thousands of hours of analysis and expertise by either the BLM or the contractor. He further concluded that BLM gave all of the
relevant issues raised by this type of project the requisite `hard look.'"

"On the FLPMA [Federal Land Policy Management Act] claim," Worthington related that "the Court reviewed the requirement that BLM take any action necessary to prevent unnecessary or undue degradation to the public lands and determined that based on what had been presented in the Government's brief and arguments, the Agency had satisfied the standards."


Grounds for Suspicion


Grounds for Suspicion

A cofounder of the Katrina relief organization Common Ground is revealed as an FBI informant, leaving members angry ­ and wary.

By David Winkler-Schmit


Brandon Darby, who helped found Common Ground with Malik Rahim and Scott Crow, confirms he is an FBI informant. This photo was taken in 2006.
Photo by Ann Harkness

Brandon Darby is proud of his work in New Orleans. As one of the cofounders of the organization Common Ground, formed in the days after Katrina and the levee failures, he and the group's volunteers were among the first to distribute water, food and essential supplies. In the months after the storm, Darby, along with hundreds of Common Ground organizers and volunteers, established health clinics in the city, provided legal services and gutted homes.

And, at some point, Brandon Darby ­ once a self-proclaimed anarchist who advocated for overthrow of the U.S. government ­ became an informant for the FBI.

That much is public record. But when Darby became an informant ­ and whether he was keeping tabs on Common Ground for the federal government ­ is still a mystery.

When Malik Rahim found out Brandon Darby was an FBI informant, "It broke my heart," he says. Rahim, a New Orleans community organizer, former Black Panther and recent Green Party candidate for the U.S. Congress, formed Common Ground with Darby and Scott Crow, activists from Austin, Texas, on Sept. 5, 2005, less than a week after the levee failures. Headquartered in Rahim's house in Algiers, Common Ground became one of the first large-scale, nongovernmental relief efforts and has had more than 22,000 volunteers work for it since.

Darby, who says he was "very radical" when Common Ground started, served as the organization's interim director, but left when he became disillusioned with some of the group's anti-government leanings. According to him, he was approached by the FBI in late 2007 and asked to infiltrate a group of Austin activists planning to disrupt the 2008 Republican National Convention (RNC) in Minneapolis, Minn. Based on information Darby provided, FBI agents arrested and charged two men in a plot to firebomb a parking lot. One of the suspects, Bradley Crowder, has pleaded guilty, and the other suspect, David McKay, is scheduled for trial this month. (In an article by David Hanners in the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Darby said he contacted the FBI because activists were planning violence; however, in a more recent interview with The Gambit, Darby claimed the FBI approached him and insisted "The investigation wasn't into a threat of violence."

Darby says he didn't start working with the FBI until November 2007, but Rahim and Crow suspect his spying began as early as the founding of Common Ground. Darby denies this, and says Common Ground has never been the focus of an investigation, though he adds, "However, because (Common Ground) is a large organization and there are a lot of people who have sometimes come through ­ just like any other organization ­ who may or may not be wrapped up in a separate investigation, then it's not like investigating on [sic] Common Ground people."

Darby had an off-again, on-again history with the group he helped found. When he first arrived in New Orleans from Austin, he was an anarchist and believed in the overthrow of the government. His views changed, he says, as the community began to accept the organization and he started to feel he could work with the government and not against it. When he left New Orleans for Austin in early 2006, he was at odds with some of those in Common Ground, but says he was asked to return in November 2006 as the group's interim director.

His tenure didn't last long. Lisa Fithian, an Austin activist and early Common Ground organizer who left the group in October 2006, says she began hearing numerous complaints from personnel about Darby in December, only weeks after he took his new position. Fithian says many volunteers described Darby as a divisive force ­ pitting people against one another, carrying guns, verbally abusing women and purging the volunteer ranks of those who didn't agree with his methods ­ and the organization started to fall apart.

Fithian returned to New Orleans in January 2007 for an emergency meeting of Common Ground leaders. She says Darby screamed at her and Crow during the meeting and accused them of conspiring against him.

"Man," Fithian recalls telling a friend, "this guy's not only crazy, but this is COINTELPRO."

Former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover started the FBI's Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) in 1956. It was intended to undermine dissident political organizations by using covert operations to, as Hoover's directive stated, "expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize." Bureau agents used the tactics against groups including the Black Panthers, Martin Luther King Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, women's liberation organizations and Vietnam War protest groups ­ and used counterintelligence techniques in order to degrade members, spread false rumors, harass and prevent exercise of the First Amendment rights of speech and association.

The program's activities were exposed in 1971, and the U.S. Senate's Church Committee, named for chairman Sen. Frank Church (D-Idaho), held hearings on COINTELPRO. After studying more than 20,000 pages of FBI documents and testimony from agents and the program's targets, the committee concluded in its report: "Many of the techniques used would be intolerable in a democratic society even if all of the targets had been involved in violent activity, but COINTELPRO went far beyond that. The unexpressed major premise of the programs was that a law enforcement agency has the duty to do whatever is necessary to combat perceived threats to the existing social and political order."

Although COINTELPRO was officially terminated in 1971, many activists, including Crow, Rahim and Fithian, believe the FBI still employs similar tactics.


Scott Crow (left) and Brandon Darby were photographed together on Nov. 3, 2007, at a party in Austin hosted by KUT Radio.

(The Gambit asked the FBI's New Orleans field office if Common Ground Relief was being investigated. Spokesperson Sheila Thorne says the FBI will not announce an investigation until there is something in a public record, or until a suspect has been charged.)

Crow and Fithian now believe Darby was an FBI informant since at least early 2006, a charge he denies. Darby dismisses Fithian's accusations of undermining Common Ground, and says he worked as an FBI informant for less than two years. He won't elaborate on whom he's informed, but he offers a rationale, which ironically uses the First Amendment to justify the FBI's involvement: "Any time a group of people get together and organize with an expressed intent, a publicly expressed intent, to prevent other people from exercising their constitutional right to assemble and say they're going to stop it by any means necessary, it is the responsibility of the federal government to look into it."

Fithian and Crow are members of the Austin Informant Working Group, an Austin-based group of community organizers. The group has examined 74 pages of FBI documents pertaining to Darby's informing, and Fithian says the documents prove Darby reported on conversations she and Darby held while they both still worked with Common Ground. She adds she was involved in the RNC protests, but did nothing illegal.

When accusations of Darby's involvement first surfaced, Crow confronted Darby, who said he didn't want to talk about it. When Crow asked again, Darby admits he lied and said the rumors were false. Today, he won't say whether or not he informed on Crow, but he does say his former friend was indirectly involved in the RNC protest.

"I don't have that much to say about him," Darby says. "Some of his views are a little concerning, but I don't consider him a violent person."

Now that Darby's role in the arrests of Browder and McKay has been confirmed, Crow is looking back at the three years since Hurricane Katrina and says he finds it unusual that he ­ a self-proclaimed anarchist for 20 years ­ wasn't considered a public threat until he became a part of Common Ground. He points to a specific example.

For a number of years, Crow was on the approved visiting list for Herman Wallace, who, along with two other prisoners, was accused in the 1972 stabbing of an Angola guard. Wallace was convicted and has spent three decades in solitary confinement. In September 2006, Crow received a letter from the prison saying his name had been removed from the approved visitors list because of information from an outside law enforcement agency.

Nick Trenticosta, Wallace's attorney, says there was a hearing that month about Wallace's incarceration, and due to security concerns, a judge decided to hold the hearing in the prison instead of a Baton Rouge courthouse. Prior to the hearing, Trenticosta says, he was shown a document stating the FBI provided information of potential trouble at the hearing. The reason given was that Crow had recently purchased a rifle. When the hearing was held, supporters weren't allowed in and SWAT teams were posted outside, something Trenticosta believes is directly related to Darby's informing: "There's not a chance that the ATF (U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) would have flagged Scott Crow buying a rifle," Trenticosta says. "Somebody had to do that."

Fithian says she will make Freedom of Information Act requests to determine when Darby became an informant. With so much information redacted because of ongoing investigations, though, she says uncovering the truth will be a challenge. As for Common Ground, she feels Darby's behavior as interim director had long-term consequences for the organization and made it less effective.

Darby maintains it is only because of his association with the FBI that his associates in Common Ground have turned against him and tainted his reputation there. Besides, he hints, he may not have been the only the one supplying the FBI with information:

"I will also say if you are called a 'reliable source' by the bureau, that means that info you have given has been cross checked by other sources."

(The Gambit called Darby on Tuesday for a follow-up interview. His phone had been disconnected, and there was no forwarding number.)

URL for this story:
http://bestofneworleans.comhttp://bestofneworleans.com/gyrobase/Content?oid=oid%3A49882

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