[Marxism] Leonard Peltier

John E. Norem jnorem at cox.net
Sun Sep 13 06:25:11 MDT 2009


  /*The Denial of My Parole */


  I Am Barack Obama's Political Prisoner Now

By LEONARD PELTIER

The United States Department of Justice has once again made a mockery of 
its lofty and pretentious title.

After releasing an original and continuing disciple of death cult leader 
Charles Manson who attempted to shoot President Gerald Ford, an admitted 
Croatian terrorist, and another attempted assassin of President Ford 
under the mandatory 30-year parole law, the U.S. Parole Commission 
deemed that my release would “promote disrespect for the law.”

If only the federal government would have respected its own laws, not to 
mention the treaties that are, under the U.S. Constitution, the supreme 
law of the land, I would never have been convicted nor forced to spend 
more than half my life in captivity. Not to mention the fact that every 
law in this country was created without the consent of Native peoples 
and is applied unequally at our expense. If nothing else, my experience 
should raise serious questions about the FBI's supposed jurisdiction in 
Indian Country.

The parole commission's phrase was lifted from soon-to-be former U.S. 
Attorney Drew Wrigley, who apparently hopes to ride with the FBI cavalry 
into the office of North Dakota governor. In this Wrigley is following 
in the footsteps of William Janklow, who built his political career on 
his reputation as an Indian fighter, moving on up from tribal attorney 
(and alleged rapist of a Native minor) to state attorney general, South 
Dakota governor, and U.S. Congressman. Some might recall that Janklow 
claimed responsibility for dissuading President Clinton from pardoning 
me before he was convicted of manslaughter. Janklow's historical 
predecessor, George Armstrong Custer, similarly hoped that a glorious 
massacre of the Sioux would propel him to the White House, and we all 
know what happened to him.

Unlike the barbarians that bay for my blood in the corridors of power, 
however, Native people are true humanitarians who pray for our enemies. 
Yet we must be realistic enough to organize for our own freedom and 
equality as nations. We constitute 5% of the population of North Dakota 
and 10% of South Dakota and we could utilize that influence to promote 
our own power on the reservations, where our focus should be. If we 
organized as a voting bloc, we could defeat the entire premise of the 
competition between the Dakotas as to which is the most racist. In the 
1970s we were forced to take up arms to affirm our right to survival and 
self-defense, but today the war is one of ideas. We must now stand up to 
armed oppression and colonization with our bodies and our minds. 
International law is on our side.

Given the complexion of the three recent federal parolees, it might seem 
that my greatest crime was being Indian. But the truth is that my 
gravest offense is my innocence. In Iran, political prisoners are 
occasionally released if they confess to the ridiculous charges on which 
they are dragged into court, in order to discredit and intimidate them 
and other like-minded citizens. The FBI and its mouthpieces have 
suggested the same, as did the parole commission in 1993, when it ruled 
that my refusal to confess was grounds for denial of parole.

To claim innocence is to suggest that the government is wrong, if not 
guilty itself. The American judicial system is set up so that the 
defendant is not punished for the crime itself, but for refusing to 
accept whatever plea arrangement is offered and for daring to compel the 
judicial system to grant the accused the right to right to rebut the 
charges leveled by the state in an actual trial. Such insolence is 
punished invariably with prosecution requests for the steepest possible 
sentence, if not an upward departure from sentencing guidelines that are 
being gradually discarded, along with the possibility of parole.

As much as non-Natives might hate Indians, we are all in the same boat. 
To attempt to emulate this system in tribal government is pitiful, to 
say the least.

It was only this year, in the Troy Davis, case, that the U.S. Supreme 
Court recognized innocence as a legitimate legal defense. Like the 
witnesses that were coerced into testifying against me, those that 
testified against Davis renounced their statements, yet Davis was very 
nearly put to death. I might have been executed myself by now, had not 
the government of Canada required a waiver of the death penalty as a 
condition of extradition.

The old order is aptly represented by Supreme Court Justice Antonin 
Scalia, who stated in his dissenting opinion in the Davis case, “This 
Court has never held that the Constitution forbids the execution of a 
convicted defendant who has had a full and fair trial but is later able 
to convince a habeas court that he is 'actually' innocent. Quite to the 
contrary, we have repeatedly left that question unresolved, while 
expressing considerable doubt that any claim based on alleged 'actual 
innocence' is constitutionally cognizable.”

The esteemed Senator from North Dakota, Byron Dorgan, who is now the 
chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, used much the same 
reasoning in writing that “our legal system has found Leonard Peltier 
guilty of the crime for which he was charged. I have reviewed the 
material from the trial, and I believe the verdict was fair and just.”

It is a bizarre and incomprehensible statement to Natives, as well it 
should be, that innocence and guilt is a mere legal status, not 
necessarily rooted in material fact. It is a truism that all political 
prisoners were convicted of the crimes for which they were charged.

The truth is the government wants me to falsely confess in order to 
validate a rather sloppy frame-up operation, one whose exposure would 
open the door to an investigation of the United States' role in training 
and equipping goon squads to suppress a grassroots movement on Pine 
Ridge against a puppet dictatorship.

In America, there can by definition be no political prisoners, only 
those duly judged guilty in a court of law. It is deemed too 
controversial to even publicly contemplate that the federal government 
might fabricate and suppress evidence to defeat those deemed political 
enemies. But it is a demonstrable fact at every stage of my case.

I am Barack Obama's political prisoner now, and I hope and pray that he 
will adhere to the ideals that impelled him to run for president. But as 
Obama himself would acknowledge, if we are expecting him to solve our 
problems, we missed the point of his campaign. Only by organizing in our 
own communities and pressuring our supposed leaders can we bring about 
the changes that we all so desperately need. Please support the Leonard 
Peltier Defense Offense Committee <http://www.whoisleonardpeltier.info> 
in our effort to hold the United States government to its own words.

I thank you all who have stood by me all these years, but to name anyone 
would be to exclude many more. We must never lose hope in our struggle 
for freedom.

In the Spirit of Crazy Horse,

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

For more information on Leonard Peltier visit the Leonard Peltier 
Defense-Offense Committee website <http://www.whoisleonardpeltier.info>.

http://www.counterpunch.org/peltier09112009.html





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