by Michael Gaddy
June 22, 2009
"Someday They'll Break From the Weight of Their Sins"
~ Silent Bear
On July 27, 2009, a parole hearing will be held for Leonard Peltier.
Mr. Peltier has served 33 years in federal confinement for a crime I
believe he did not commit. The preponderance of evidence supports my
belief. Peltier's last parole hearing was held in 1993.
Leonard Peltier is not in prison for killing the two Federal Bureau
of Investigations (FBI) Agents as is alleged, he has been
incarcerated for 33 years because he belonged to a group (American
Indian Movement) that dared to challenge the federal government and
their lies. When one has the audacity to challenge the fedgov, he/she
becomes a target for malicious prosecution, fabricated evidence,
witness tampering and illegal imprisonment. Leonard Peltier has
experienced all of these in the extreme.
AIM was founded in 1968 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In 1972, AIM
staged a "Trail of Broken Treaties" march that terminated in
Washington, D.C. They simply marched to demand a series of treaties
that had been signed between various American Indian Tribes and the
fedgov be honored. A revolutionary idea is it not to demand the
fedgov honor its promises! The fedgov negotiated with AIM, not to
honor the treaties, but to end their occupation of the Bureau of
Indian Affairs (BIA) building, which was rapidly becoming a major
embarrassment for the government.
The fedgov promised to "look into AIM's grievances." Like the
previous treaties, this promise too was broken.
AIM quickly became the target of the FBI; the agency's corrupt and
illegal activities in this matter are well documented.
On June 26th, 1975, two FBI agents, supposedly in pursuit of a thief
who had stolen a pair of boots, entered the Jumping Bull Ranch
(private property) on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. They were in
civilian clothes, driving an unmarked car. This act in itself is
suspicious, for the FBI is tasked with investigating felonies on
Indian Reservations and their pursuit of someone who had stolen a
pair of cowboy boots does not ring true. Most FBI agents consider
themselves above pursuit of a common thief. Perhaps this was a ruse
to check out members of AIM who were camped on the Jumping Bull Ranch.
There is no record of who fired the first shot, or why the firing
started. A family with children reportedly yelled they were under
attack and many present at the time rushed to their defense. When the
shooting stopped, the two FBI agents and a young Indian laid dead.
All were shot through the head. Ironically, there has never been an
investigation into the murder of the young Indian.
In what, almost two decades later, would be seen at Ruby Ridge and
Waco, the FBI surrounded the area with SWAT teams and agents.
Reportedly, for the next few days FBI agents terrorized local
residents with no-knock raids and home and property searches, all
While there will be some who question my assertions of illegal
activities by federal agents, I would suggest any who fall into that
camp read this 10 part investigative article on federal law
enforcement and prosecutorial misconduct. http://www.post-gazette.com/win/
This quote from that article tells it all: "They lied, hid evidence,
distorted facts, engaged in cover-ups, paid for perjury and set up
innocent people in a relentless effort to win indictments, guilty
pleas and convictions, a two-year Post-Gazette investigation found."
Without any corroborating evidence, warrants were quickly issued for
Leonard Peltier, Darrelle "Dino" Butler, Bob Robideau and Jimmy Eagle
for murder. Prosecutors would later drop the charges against Eagle
when it was proved he was not even on the reservation the day of the
shooting. Since no warrant shall issue without probable cause,
supported by oath or affirmation, someone lied to obtain the warrant
on Eagle. Why, then, should anyone believe the facts presented in the
warrants for the other three?
Butler and Robideau would stand trial separately from Peltier because
Peltier had fled to Canada. The FBI reverted to standard operating
procedure (SOP) by demonizing the suspects before their trial in
Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Local authorities were told by the feds that
large groups of AIM members/terrorists (they love that word) would be
descending on the town. Employees in the Court House were told to
prepare for shooting incidents and the seizing of hostages by
The trial began on June 7, 1976 with Judge Edward McManus presiding.
McManus, under vigorous objections of federal prosecutors, allowed a
broad range of evidence to be introduced. Testimony was given
concerning the "Reign of Terror" in and around Pine Ridge Reservation
and the FBI's tactics operating under their COINTELPRO directives.
During the trial, a federal witness admitted to being threatened into
changing his testimony by FBI agents and to have provided testimony
as instructed by those agents.
The jury returned a verdict of innocent, ruling there was no evidence
shots fired by Butler and Robideau killed the two FBI agents and
furthermore, their return fire was an act of self-defense.
Leonard Peltier was captured in Canada in 1976 and extradited to the
US. The affidavit for extradition was one of three prepared by the
FBI. In the affidavit finally filed with the Canadian government,
focus was directed towards eyewitness statements from Myrtle Poor
Bear, who claimed to have been Peltier's girlfriend and present at
the time of the shooting. It was necessary for the FBI to provide
this testimony to the Canadian authorities, for it was their (Canada)
legal position the FBI did not have enough evidence to warrant extradition.
It is important to note that Poor Bear later sought to recant her
testimony (she claimed she was coerced and threatened by FBI agents)
and appear as a defense witness at Peltier's trial. The trial judge
ruled she was mentally incompetent and could not be called as a
witness. The fedgov today admits Poor Bear was not present at the
Jumping Bull Ranch on the day of the shooting. They obviously
fabricated evidence and suborned perjury to facilitate Peltier's extradition.
In March of 1977, Leonard Peltier was found guilty of the murder of
two FBI agents and given two life sentences. Peltier was found guilty
without any witness testimony placing him as the shooter of the two
agents. Exculpatory ballistics evidence was withheld and the new
judge refused to allow testimony showing FBI tampering or witness
intimidation. In short, Peltier was found guilty on the same
testimony that set Butler and Robideau free. The difference was in
the evidence that was allowed by the judge in Peltier's trial.
Famed attorney, William Kunstler, would discover in 1982, in a
telephone conversation with Judge Edward McManus, (who had presided
over the Butler/Robideau trial) that McManus, not Benson, had been
scheduled to try the Peltier case. Judge McManus had been astonished,
he said, to find himself arbitrarily removed in favor of Judge Benson.
There exists zero evidence that Leonard Peltier was responsible in
any way for the deaths of those two FBI agents. He has spent the last
33 years in confinement because the fedgov found it necessary to
cover its crimes and malicious prosecution and to "get" someone for
the deaths of two agents who were operating outside of the law and
their oath to "uphold and defend" the constitution.
When President Reagan and Soviet Premier Gorbachev discussed human
rights and political prisoners, Mikhail Gorbachev evoked a wave of
protest from the U.S. press when he responded to Reagan's "human
rights agenda" by suggesting the U.S. clean up its human rights
violations, citing Indians in general and Leonard Peltier in particular.
I enthusiastically support the immediate release of Leonard Peltier
and the prosecution of those who wrongfully caused his imprisonment.
What I do vehemently oppose is the allegation by many American
Indians that Leonard Peltier was convicted and imprisoned because of
the color of his skin and that President Obama, himself a victim of
racial prejudice, will move to pardon Peltier. Is it not absurd to
claim the elected leader of the "free world" to be a victim of racial
prejudice? Does his white half discriminate against his black half?
I would remind those who believe Leonard Peltier was targeted because
of the color of his skin that Samuel Weaver, who was shot in the back
by federal agents at the age of 14, was white. It was a federal agent
(FBI agent Lon Horiuchi) who later shot his mother, Vicky, in the
face, as she held Samuel's younger sister; both were white. Although
there were several minorities among the men, women and children
incinerated or shot by federal agents at Waco, the majority of the 82
who died were white.
Indians, your fight is with the federal government, not a race of
people. To allow your fight to be framed by those who profit from the
polarization of the races is pure folly and plays into the federal
government's hands; it is possible Leonard Peltier will remain in
prison as long as the race card is employed, because, to do so
benefits those who put him there.
It is obviously hard for American Indians to challenge and lay at the
feet of the federal government the blame for the above listed
atrocities, considering a large number of American Indians are in the
employ of the fedgov. The great majority of Indians employed by the
fedgov have those jobs because of "Indian preference" hiring
policies. Simply stated, many have these jobs, not because of their
qualifications for the job, but because of the color of their skin.
Has the fedgov purchased the right to wrongfully imprison Indians
because they provide many of them with a paycheck?
Is it not racism when one reads the following in published employment
ads: "We are an equal employment opportunity employer (EEO), Indian
preference observed?" Does this mean a less qualified person should
have the job if they are of the preferred skin tone? (Would Indians
accept this practice in their brain surgeon; they accept it in those
who teach their children.) It is impossible to claim racism when one
claims preference in anything because of the color of their skin.
Only the federal government could get away with claiming racism while
It is imperative all races stand together for justice and place the
blame for corruption and criminality where it belongs. A thorough
reading of the investigative articles in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
will show the victims of fedgov misconduct and criminal activity to
be of all races; a large number of them white.
Michael Gaddy, an Army veteran of Vietnam, Grenada, and Beirut, lives
in the Four Corners area of the American Southwest.