INJUSTICE AGAINST LEONARD PELTIER<br><br>Beginning in January 1975, the Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental<br>Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, known as the "Church<br>Committee" (named after its chairman Frank Church), took public and private<br>testimony from hundreds of people, collected huge volumes of files from the<br>Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and many other federal agencies, and<br>issued 14 reports.<br><br>Since the passage of the JFK Assassination Records Collection Act in 1992,<br>over 50,000 pages of Church Committee records have been declassified and<br>made available to the public. These files contain testimony and information<br>on the FBI's counter- intelligence programs and related topics.<br><br>As discovered by the Church Committee and reported in 1976, the goals of the<br>coounter intelligence programs of the period from 1956 to the mid-1970s were<br>to "expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize" those<br>persons or organizations that the FBI decided were "enemies of the State."<br><br>The COINTELPROs were designed to "disrupt" groups and "neutralize"<br>individuals deemed to be threats to domestic security. The law - in<br>particular, the U.S. Constitution - was simply ignored. There was a general<br>attitude that intelligence needs were responsive to a higher law. According<br>to the Church Committee: "Whatever opinion one holds about the policies of<br>the targeted groups, many of the tactics employed by the FBI were<br>indisputably degrading to a free society."<br><br>One of the most effective tactics used, as documented by the Church<br>Committee, was the use by the Bureau of the media to not only impact on the<br>public image of the FBI, but also to disrupt the public communication<br>channels of targeted individuals and dissident groups, as well as spread<br>mis- information about them so as to adversely affect public perceptions and<br>attitudes.<br><br> Planting a series of derogatory articles about Martin Luther King, Jr.,<br>and the Poor People's Campaign. In anticipation of the 1968 "Poor People's<br>March on Washington, DC," Bureau Headquarters granted authority to furnish<br>"cooperative news media sources" an article "designed to curtail success of<br>Martin Luther King's fund raising." Another memorandum illustrated how<br>"photographs of demonstrators" could be used in discrediting the civil<br>rights movement. Six photographs of participants in the poor people's<br>campaign in Cleveland accompanied the memorandum with the following note<br>attached: "These photographs show the militant aggressive appearance of<br>the participants and might be of interest to a cooperative<br>news source." Information on the Poor People's Campaign was provided by the<br>FBI to friendly reporters on the condition that "the Bureau must not be<br>revealed as the source."<br><br> Soliciting information from Field Offices "on a continuing basis" for<br>"prompt... dissemination to the news media... to discredit the New Left<br>movement and its adherents." The Headquarters directive requested, among<br>other things, that specific data should be furnished depicting "the<br>scurrilous and depraved nature, of many of the characters, activities,<br>habits, and living conditions representative of New Left adherents... Every<br>avenue of possible embarrassment must be vigorously and enthusiastically<br>explored."<br><br> Ordering Field Offices to gather information which would disprove<br>allegations by the "liberal press, the bleeding hearts, and the forces on<br>the left" that the Chicago police used undue force in dealing with<br>demonstrators at the 1968 Democratic Convention.<br><br> Taking advantage of a close relationship with the Chairman of the Board -<br>described in an FBI memorandum as "our good friend" - of a magazine with<br>national circulation to influence articles that related to the FBI. For<br>example, through this relationship, the Bureau: "squelched" an "unfavorable<br>article against the Bureau" written by a freelance writer about an FBI<br>investigation; "postponed publication" of an article on another FBI case;<br>"forestalled publication" of an article by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; and<br>received information about proposed editing of King's articles.<br><br>As these instances demonstrate, the FBI has covertly influenced the public's<br>perception of persons and organizations by disseminating derogatory<br>information to the press, either anonymously or through "friendly" news<br>contacts. The impact of those articles is generally difficult to measure,<br>although in some cases there are fairly direct connections to injury to the<br>target. Beginning immediately after the shoot-out at Oglala, in force during<br>his trial, and continuing into recent history, this is particularly true in<br>the case of Leonard Peltier. Yes, this tactic continues to be used against<br>Peltier today.<br><br>In 1993, Leonard Peltier requested Executive Clemency from then President<br>Clinton. Peltier's petition was not seriously investigated or considered<br>until the year 2000.<br><br>In 1999-2000, an intensive campaign was launched - supported by Native and<br>human rights organizations, members of Congress, community and church<br>groups, labor organizations, luminaries, and celebrities. The Peltier case<br>became a national issue.<br><br>On November 7, 2000, during a live radio interview, Clinton stated that he<br>would seriously consider Peltier's request for clemency and make a decision<br>before leaving office on January 20, 2001.<br><br>In response, the FBI launched a major "disinformation" campaign in the<br>media, and among key government officials and members of Congress.<br><br>Many citizens were highly disturbed by a number of public statements and<br>actions by various FBI officers in 1999-2000. These officials, by the way,<br>publicly announced that their one and only goal was to block the release of<br>Mr. Peltier, whether through parole or clemency.<br><br>At the outset, the propriety of members of the Department of Justice <br>engaging in such a public campaign was questionable. Parole and clemency<br>decisions are largely determined at various branches of the Justice<br>Department and neutrality and fairness in the handling of such matters must<br>be above reproach. Having members of one branch of the Department engaged<br>in vigorous lobbying on these matters (to Congress and the American people)<br>certainly raised serious questions.<br><br>Many of the statements made by DOJ officials during the Peltier clemency<br>campaign (and since) were false, intentionally misleading, or omitted highly<br>relevant information with the intent of deceiving the public. Still other<br>statements were highly emotional and dramatic, if not near hysterical, in<br>nature. These constant declarations were clearly intended to misinform the<br>public and create an atmosphere of fear and confusion, all with the goal of<br>depriving Mr. Peltier of a fair and reasoned consideration of his legal<br>requests for parole and clemency.<br><br>Most notable, in November 1999, during efforts by a number of Mr. Peltier's<br>supporters to disseminate information and increase public awareness about<br>his case, the Federal Bureau of Investigation Agents Association placed a<br>large paid advertisement in the Washington Post. This ad intended to mislead<br>the public and obstruct full and fair consideration of Peltier's parole and<br>clemency requests with statements that were inappropriate, inaccurate,<br>deceptive, and inflammatory.<br><br>Similar public statements were made by individual FBI agents, as well as the<br>organizers of a Web site dedicated to denying a fair consideration of Mr.<br>Peltier's requests for parole.<br><br>But nothing was more bizarre than the event of December 15, 2000. In an<br>unprecedented event, over 500 FBI agents marched in front of the White House<br>to oppose clemency for Leonard Peltier. The agents claimed to be exercising<br>their First Amendment rights and argued they were acting as private citizens<br>on their own time despite the fact that this march took place during<br>standard business hours. FBI agents are law enforcement officers, it should<br>be remembered. As such, they are generally considered to be always on duty.<br>They also are officers of the court and on ethical grounds should have<br>refrained from out-of-court communication, verbal or otherwise.<br><br>The marchers risked disciplinary action (which never materialized, despite<br>the concerns of then Attorney General Janet Reno) for one purpose, we<br>believe, i.e., to garner media attention. Indeed, the media paid special<br>attention to the staged event, with segments airing on evening news programs<br>of all the major television networks. There appeared to have been a news<br>blackout, however, with regard to the event five days earlier when THOUSANDS<br>of people marched in support of Leonard Peltier in front of the United<br>Nations building in New York City.<br><br>All of the above tactics proved successful. Despite indications from the<br>White House that clemency was imminent, on January 20, 2001, the list of<br>clemencies granted by Clinton was released to the media. Without<br>explanation, Peltier's name had been excluded.<br><br><br>State ethics rules prohibit prejudicial statements by attorneys in a case.<br>These rules apply in both state and federal court, and to prosecutors and<br>defense attorneys alike. The Supreme Court in Gentile v. State Bar of Nevada<br>noted that "few interests under the Constitution are more fundamental than<br>the right to a fair trial by impartial jurors," and such ethics rules are<br>necessary to uphold that right.<br><br>The American Bar Association's Model Rule 3.6, on Trial Publicity, sets the<br>standard. It prohibits an attorney who is participating in a case<br>investigation or litigation - as well as any lawyer in the same firm or<br>government agency - from making an out-of-court statement that would have<br>the substantial likelihood of prejudicing "an adjudicative proceeding" in<br>the matter.<br><br>In early February 2004, a murder trial was held in Rapid City, South Dakota.<br>Arlo Looking Cloud was charged in the murder of Anna Mae Pictou Aquash in<br>1976.<br><br>During the trial, it is true that the U.S. prosecutor refrained from making<br>out-of-court statements. However, the majority of the testimony presented by<br>the U.S. prosecutor during the four- day trial concerned the American Indian<br>Movement (AIM), in general, and Leonard Peltier, in particular, and had no<br>relevance to the government's case.<br><br>There is no ethics rule to prevent in-court statements. Reporters observing<br>the trial were treated to a barrage of prejudicial information that served<br>to sensationalize the proceedings. This clearly had an effect on jurors, but<br>we believe the real target audience was the media and, by extension, the<br>American public.<br><br>The style and content of the articles published by the media during the<br>February trial of Arlo Looking Cloud were alarmingly similar to those<br>published by the media at the request of particular FBI agents during<br>Peltier supporters' campaign for Executive Clemency in 1999-2001.<br><br>Since the Looking Cloud trial, the media mentions about Peltier have<br>increased, as well as highlighted and exaggerated the testimony given during<br>the trial, to the extent that now it is claimed that Peltier may have<br>ordered the murder of Annie Mae.<br><br>What the media does not report is that Leonard Peltier simply did not have<br>the authority within AIM to order any such action. At the alleged time of<br>the murder, Peltier was himself a prisoner in a Canadian prison and mostly<br>isolated from the happenings in South Dakota. Leonard did not learn many of<br>the details of Annie Mae's death until he was extradited to the United<br>States in December 1976, nearly one year after her murder occurred. Leonard<br>Peltier simply had nothing whatsoever to do with Anna Mae Aquash's murder.<br><br>Nearly 30 years after the incident at Oglala, the FBI and government<br>prosecutors still engage in vengeful acts. They carefully avoided<br>out-of-court statements this past year, However, they did use actual court<br>proceedings, primarily for the benefit of the media, to intentionally<br>provide as fact false information to the public on AIM and Leonard Peltier.<br>This has the effect of rewriting history with regard to AIM, in general, and<br>Leonard Peltier, in particular, so as to prejudice the public against them.<br>The sensational claims of witnesses - some of them paid informants - were<br>widely reported in the press. As other prosecutions with respect to the<br>Aquash murder are pending, such behavior has the appearance of having been<br>done for the purpose of prejudicing the public against AIM in a state where<br>anti-AIM sentiment and racism against Native Americans already runs very<br>high. In our considered opinion, these actions have been taken to influence<br>the outcome of pending federal prosecutions by potentially poisoning the<br>jury pool, as well as destroy support for Peltier and prevent his release on<br>parole in 2008.<br><br><br><br>