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LPDC Update/Action Alert - July 20, 2002
Dear Supporters of Leonard Peltier,
This update has several sections, and we at the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee (LPDC) hope you can read them all. Two are updates, followed by three items that require action. Consider them, and budget your time in an effort to give these urgent situations your attention:
- Leonard denied parole on July 9, 2002
- Peltier Forum in Lawrence, KS to be webcast Sat., July 20, 2002
- Urgent Action: Leonard's Health neglected by prison bureaucrats
- Solidarity Needed: The Carson City Ten
- FBI/CIA attacks Peltier attorney Jennifer Harbury
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1. Leonard denied parole on July 9, 2002
Leonard had for his interim parole hearing on the morning of Tuesday, July 9th, 2002. In attendance were his attorneys, Carl Nadler and former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark, his daughter Marquetta Shields, former Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) teacher Paul Berg, and a paralegal.
The examiner began by informing those gathered that a group opposing parole for Leonard had been given an earlier hearing that day. Ramsey Clark challenged the propriety of that, and was quickly instructed by the civil servant that he, Ramsey Clark, was only being allowed in the hearing as a representative of Mr. Peltier, not as his attorney. The group was informed that they would have been welcome to sit in on that phase of the hearing. That would have been difficult, though, as the government never told Leonardıs legal team that the earlier hearing was scheduled, and, in fact, told the team not to arrive before 9:30 AM (presumably after the opponents had left).
The Parole Commission examiner then began to interrogate Leonard regarding the specific events of the day of the shootout, June 26, 1975, in essence attempting to get Leonard to confess. Leonard maintained his position throughout, that he was on the Pine Ridge Reservation with AIM to support the traditionalists and defend the elders, women and children, and that he was innocent.
Attorney Carl Nadler spoke, reiterating the long history of Leonardıs model conduct, his human rights record, the fact that the Parole Commission was in violation of its own guidelines, especially relating the its failure to recognize the prosecutionıs admission that it does not know who shot the agents. He pointed out the close to 10,000 letters in support of parole collected from around the world, which were carried into the hearing room, in addition to being sent earlier to the Parole Commission in Maryland.
Leonardıs daughter, Marquetta, spoke eloquently of the loss her family has felt living without a father, and how her prayers have daily gone out to the families of Agents Coler and Williams. She described the history of violence on Pine Ridge, and how her father was there to defend the people of the Oglala Nation.
Paul Berg, the former BIA teacher, described his personal experiences witnessing out-of-control FBI agents on Pine Ridge, around the Wounded Knee occupation and afterwards, and especially relating to the murders of traditionalists Sandra Wounded Foot, his student, and Hobart Horse, his friend. Both were violently murdered, and the perpetrators were given light sentences of several years, demonstrating the double standard of justice that exists with respect to indigenous people.
Ramsey Clark spoke further of Leonardıs character and the lack of justice in his case, as well as the necessity to seek healing and reconciliation with indigenous people, given the US governmentıs role in ongoing genocide. He told the examiner that Leonard was the single-most well-known indigenous person globally, and that his release would do much to restore faith in US justice and the US governement.
The examiner was also provided a medical update provided by Doctor Monica Peek, who volunteers with the human rights group Physicians for Human Rights (http://www.phrusa.org) The report reiterated the findings in 2000, that Leonardıs health continues to decline, and that he receives, overall, suboptimal care for chronic hypertension, hyperlipidemia, complications due to stroke and diabetes, and the painful bone spur in his foot and consequent inability to exercise.
While the examiner mulled over the statements, Leonard enjoyed a few moments of laughter with Ramsey Clark, discussed his case with Carl Nadler, and spoke at length with Paul Berg about their shared time on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Paul and Leonard had never met in person before the hearing.
The examiner summoned Leonard and his attorneys back to the room, where he announced that he would recommend no change in Leonardıs status, indicating that an interim hearing would be scheduled for 2004 with the full hearing set for 2008. Leonard will appeal the examinerıs decision. Leonard has had a habeas corpus suit filed with the District Court in Kansas since 1999, specifically challenging the US Parole Commissionıs failure to follow its own guidelines. Leonardıs attorneyıs will pursue a hearing on this case very soon, as the Court appears reluctant to try it.
2. Peltier Forum in Lawrence, KS to be webcast Sat., July 20, 2002
The latest on the 30,000 pages of FBI documents just obtained
Listen Live Sat July 20, 7:30 PM Central Time, at http://www.wbix.org/
While the parole hearing was disappointing but no surprise, such efforts are necessary to fully expose the inherent bias and corruption of the system. With the bad news, though, comes the good news that the FBI was forced to release close to 30,000 pages of documents relating to Leonardıs case, called by the FBI "RESMURS," for Reservation Murders. The documents were released to Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA), who said he was "only doing his job" by responding to constituent requests for the release of the documents. This is an excellent example of how sustained grassroots organizing, letter writing and lobbying can ultimately gain significant advances.
While the efforts to get the withheld documents has been an ongoing campaign of the LPDC, under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the FBI released these, technically, under an Executive Order issued by Pres. Clinton. However, the LPDC has a growing FOIA legal team, many members of which are convening on Lawrence, Kansas to assess the level of disclosure the FBI has made, to look for prospects for new openings in the case, and to strategize on how best to analyze these. As well, plans to go after the additional documents, which the FBIıs lead FOIA agent says may number close to 100,000 pages, and to sue the FBI to force removal of much of the redactions, or "blacking out" of the documents, will be discussed.
The group will speak at a public forum in Lawrence, Kansas, Saturday night, 7:30 PM Central Time, at 925 Vermont Ave, at the Plymouth Congregational Church. Thanks to dedicated community radio activists, the event will be audio webcast live at the internet radio site WBIX.org, short for WBAI Radio in Exile, http://www.wbix.org/ WBIX.org formed in 2001 when NYCıs Pacifica station WBAI 99.5 FM was taken over by hostile management. This internet radio station is hosted by long-time Peltier supporters, and gives a great opportunity for people globally to tune in and enjoy the program.
Note: bold text below made bold by webmaster of this siteOne aspect of the FOIA strategy will be to digitize the FBI documents and create a searchable database of all the documents that define the record of Leonard's case, from court transcripts, affadavits and filings to FBI teletypes and memoranda. This will be achieved with, first, the acquisition of a very high-quality scanner, and then with open source software being developed principally by a consortium of libraries globally to make digital archives available over the web. Look for sample documents on our website in the near future.
The LPDC needs immediate donations in order to move this document archiving process forward. Please see below for details, or got to http://www.freepeltier.org. Please call or email if you have access to such a scanner that can be loaned, or if you have expertise in document digitization.
3. Urgent Action: Leonard's Health neglected by prison bureaucrats
Three weeks ago the LPDC issued an alert about a painful bone spur in Leonard's foot that is causing him extreme pain, especially as he is forced to work in the Federal Bureau of Prison's UNICOR factory system. We thank the many people who wrote, called, and emailed the Director of the Bureau of Prisons, and who forwarded much valued medical advice and personal experience with bone spurs.
In response to the public demand for attention to Leonardıs condition, the Bureau of Prisons provided a new pair of what they describe as orthopedic shoes. While this has lessened the chronic pain that Leonard suffers, it is insufficient care, and we ask that you take the following action to continue pressing BOP Director Kathleen Hawk Sawyer for remedy. While she is reportedly out of the DC Headquarters of the BOP until July 24th, please direct your calls, emails and faxes to:
Capt. Newton E. Kendig II, Medical Director
Health Services Division
Bureau of Prisons
Demand immediately at least the level of care recommended by their own clinician in Leavenworth to the painful bone spur that is currently causing suffering to Leonard Peltier, USPL #89637-132.
Send a copy of your letter to:
Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations
Fax: (630) 792-5636
4. Solidarity Needed: The Carson City Ten
10 Young Native American Indians Are Facing Two Consecutive Life Sentences
In A Racist Frame-Up In Carson City, Nevada.
Trial Set for July 22, 2002
During the evening of August 22, 1998, Jessica Evans, a young Native American woman was assaulted by a member of a Carson City gang while attending a party at a local motel. Jessica notified the Sheriffıs Deputies, but they refused to take action despite visible injuries to her face as well as blood stains on her sweatshirt. This inaction by the police reflects a long history of negligence in conflicts involving the Latino and Native American communities, which often leads to an escalation of hostilities between them. As a result, Jessica returned home where several of her family members and friends decided to confront her attacker at the motel. Local police arrived shortly thereafter. According to police reports the defendants had already left and the gang members were still alive. The reporting officers stated that they had to restrain Sammy Resendez, gang member, who later died from head injuries so severe that he would have been in no condition to struggle against the officers. Jessica Evans, her family members and friends who returned to the motel are now being charged with the murder of Resendez.
There is no physical evidence linking any of the defendants to the crime.
At the time of the incident, the Carson 10 ranged in age from 14-20, along with one 24 year-old. Six were under 18. In an effort to break solidarity among the defendants, the State of Nevada has split the m into four groups. Just yesterday, defendant Rocky Boice, Jr. was severed from his group of codefendants, and will now face the prosecution alone, with the State hoping to pit different defendants against one another. Rocky and his family had previously filed complaints against the Sheriffıs department, which were ignored, and Rocky was continually harassed by Police.
The Carson 10 American Indian Defense Committee has formed, and has asked the for the following support;
- consider coming to Carson City, Nevada (30 miles south of Reno) to attend all or some of the trial. The trial begins Monday, July 22, and is expected to last three weeks. Local people have opened up a local gymnasium with ample padded floor space for sleeping, and arrangements are being made for solidarity meals and activities throughout the trial.
- Make a contribution, payable to: Carson 10
387 Colorado Street
Carson City, NV 89701
- Contact the local government officials and voice your concerns regarding this case.
Noel S. Waters
885 East Musser Street, Room 2030
Carson City, NV 89701
Rod Banister, Sheriff
901 E. Musser Street
Carson City, NV 89701
(775) 887-2020 ext. 1900
Board of Supervisors
2-1 North Carson Street, Suite 2
Carson City, NV 89701
Contact the Committee at email@example.com, 775-883-6505 in NV or
firstname.lastname@example.org 415-648-5936 in California.
6. 5. FBI/CIA attacks Peltier attorney Jennifer Harbury
We were very alarmed to receive this report from one of Leonardıs attorneys. Jennifer Harbury. Jennifer is a renowned human rights attorney whose efforts exposed the role of the CIA in the torture and murder of her husband in 1992, at the hands of the Guatemalan military. She has tirelessly devoted herself to human rights work, and was a key legal strategist, organizer and spokesperson in Leonardıs drive for executive clemency during Pres. Clintonıs administration. Her call to action is at the bottom. She will appear at the July 20th forum (see above).
July 10, 2002
I am writing today because I would like all of you to be informed about some very disturbing information I received last week . September 11 was certainly one of the most horrifying tragedies we have ever witnessed on our own soil, but I fear it is being badly exploited by certain government officials in order to justify both human rights violations abroad, including torture, as well as extreme repression against our own citizens. Our civil rights are eroding with a speed which I find frightening.
Given the situation, I have not been a bit surprised to find myself a target. Not long after Sept. 11, various government officials, including many of the CIA people exposed in Everardo's case, began to publicly insist that it was all my fault. When asked again and again if the tragedy did not represent the biggest failure of our intelligence system in U.S. history, they replied that I was to blame, that CIA operatives in the field had been afraid to aggressively seek out information from unsavory characters. In fact, the 1995 reforms simply required an operative to inform his superiors before hiring a known human rights abuser, and the CIA itself admits that permission has never been denied. Nevertheless the accusations were made again and again, especially on a lengthy BBC program. I took all this with a grain of salt and figured things would come out in the wash. They did indeed....I know that all of you have seen the lengthy disclosures about exactly how much the CI A and FBI did in fact know, but somehow never acted upon. Similarly, I have not been particularly upset by harassing phone calls or right wing articles which have appeared in remote publications.
I was however, very taken aback by the most recent news I received, specifically, that an FBI official told an Amnesty International staffer that they consider me a top suspect in the death threats and assaults against Barbara Bocek. Barbara is the Amnesty worker who has received death threats for a year now and who has been assaulted twice, once in Guatemala and once in Washington state. All threats have made it very clear that she is being targeted for her work for Guatemalan human rights. The FBI has made it very clear that they do not believe her at all. As in the case of Sister Diana Ortiz, there seems to be a government effort to suggest that Barbara somehow, inexplicably, assaulted and threatened herself, not once but twice. I am sure most of you saw the recent New York Times article. Now, apparently, the story has shifted a bit to suggest that I have carried out the threats, to somehow make my own case stronger. In fact, as a matter of law, the assaults on her, so me ten years after Everardo's abduction, has a legal relevance of zero for my own case. I have, however, been outspoken in my support for her, which is evidently more than enough. I get the message : Shut up about the Guatemalan terrorists here in the US who happen to CIA links, or else suffer the consequences.
Barbara first began receiving threats a year ago when she wrote an op ed piece about the Bishop Gerardi murder trial. When she went to Guatemala with a delegation in June 2001 she was assaulted outside her hotel room and left bound and gagged at the bottom of a stairwell. Her abductors were telling her she would be tortured and killed for her human rights work. Clearly, a warning was being sent to the international human rights community. Foreigners should not feel safe, even members of the highest level ngo's could and would be attacked and perhaps killed whenever the killers so desired. The Guatemalan response was predictable. It didn't happen, or else she did it to herself for whatever reason. The U.S. government response was a throwback to the not so good old days. No real action was taken and slowly but surely we began to hear insinuations that perhaps Barbara indeed was either fabricating the threats or staged the abduction.
While this was going on, my own witness was having grave problems as well. He is living here in the US with his family, and began to receive very frightening death threats against himself and his children. His friends and family back in Guatemala too were having the same problems. Upon the request of an Amnesty staffer , we did go to the FBI offices to give them the details. The response was shocking. The officer read through a few lines of the police report and asked if the assertions were true. He then stated that no threats had been made, only obscenities. When we pointed out the portion of the report specifically describing the threats, he refused to accept them, stating that the witness should have mentioned them earlier in the interview. The witness, however, was never asked. Later, an FBI agent approached the witness at home, stating that he had spoken with local Guatemalans, and none had noticed any military types or death squad members around town. This was rathe r laughable, and the witness asked that he not be contacted again.
I was particularly incensed by this because it was more of the same from the mid-1990s. In the spring of 1995 just after the disclosures by Sen. Torricelli, the FBI arrived late at night on my doorstep in Texas to let me know that the Guatemalans were hiring a hit man to kill me. The iron security door of the Guatemala Human Rights Commission was torn off its hinges and left in the street. Only the answering machine was taken. A few months later, in January 1996 my lawyer, Jose Pertierra, had his car firebombed at his Washington D.C. home, and the religious community where I was living in D.C. was shot at by someone in a pickup truck with dark glass windows. The FBI agent in charge opened the case under potential international terrorism. We also received a tip from a high level insider, indicating a Guatemalan military person who fought in Vietnam, owned a car repair shop, a luxurious home, and had unexplained income. The FBI agent was very interested but was swiftly tran sferred off the case. None of us ever received any further communications from the FBI, although some truly foolish statements have come back to me through the grapevine.
When I heard about the incipient smear campaign about Barbara, I immediately sent in all of this information as to the same or similar events to corroborate her story. The Guatemalan army clearly has a modus operandi of sending or hiring people here to terrorize human rights activists and witnesses living in this country. And our own government has a practice of looking the other way when the perpetrators happen to be working with the CIA.
Things went from bad to worse. Barbara was attacked again, this time in the United States near her place of work. She was returning home one night and heard a grating sound beneath her car. When she got out to investigate, a car with its headlights off pulled up behind her and she was seized and tied up and told not to return to Guatemala for the investigation as planned, or she would be killed. The men spoke in Spanish. Her eyes were taped, she was gagged, and she was locked into her car where police found her later, semi-conscious. According to the New York Times article which followed, the police found her story questionable. Yet most of their questions could have been easily answered had they spoken with Barbara. But they failed to do so.
Barbara was also sent to the FBI to give her story. As soon as she arrived it became clear that she was a suspect and not the victim. Her sister had accompanied her but was not allowed to attend the "interview". Instead, Barbara was given a hostile interrogation of many hours, and then told that she was probably fabricating the whole story. What on earth her motive would be has never been elucidated.
Barbara is a quiet and mature woman who has a PhD from Stanford which she is too shy to mention, and who worked for several years in Guatemala. She then chose to return to the U.S. and do public service work for Native Americans in a remote northwestern reservation. This is clearly not a woman seeking attention for herself. This is a modest and courageous woman who has long dedicated herself to working for the human rights of others with little or no recognition for herself.
Now I learn that because I have outspokenly defended her and offered up evidence of the same and similar events when her credibility was questioned, that I too have become a "suspect". Evidently these statements were made some time ago. It is clear to me that I have not only received an insult, but also a direct threat. Silence about these matters, or else. Since I am not too good at silence, I am considering my legal alternatives at this time. But most importantly, I wanted to keep all of us in the network fully informed. I have no doubt that more is coming.
Should you wish to call anyone in Congress in this regard, I would recommend three Members on the Judiciary Committees who have been truly heroic on the issues of human rights : Rep. Conyers, Rep. Frank, and Senator Leahey. If you call them, please remember that they are our friends, and simply call their attention to yet one more example of abuse of power by government officials. They have long been very interested and supportive. The Congressional Switchboard telephone number is 202-224-3121.
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Until Freedom Is Won!
The New Leonard Peltier Justice Campaign
Leonard Peltier Defense Committee
PO Box 583
Lawrence, KS 66044
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