Clinton should free Peltier

I am writing about the recent New York Times article that ran in The Herald regarding the clemency request for Leonard Peltier currently being considered by President Clinton (“FBI chief denounces Clinton’s willingness to review Peltier case,” news story, Dec. 8).

True to form, the FBI continues to spread misinformation about Mr. Peltier’s case. Hopefully, President Clinton will not succumb to the FBI’s desperate attempt to distort the truth.

Mr. Peltier never received a fair trial. The witnesses were intimidated and coerced by the FBI, false testimonies were utilized and a ballistics test reflecting his innocence was concealed from the defense. U.S. Attorney Lynn Crooks now admits no one knows who killed the two agents.

Judge Gerald Heaney, who authored the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ denial of a new trial, has himself written to express his full support for a grant of clemency. He condemned the FBI’s tactics in the overall investigation and prosecution of the case. Furthermore, Heaney stated that favorable action by the president in this case would be an important step in the healing process between the United States and the Native American community.

While the deaths of special agents Ron Williams and Jack Coler are a terrible tragedy, it is also a tragedy to imprison an individual for nearly 24 years who was so obviously never granted a fair trial.

Mr. Peltier’s clemency supporters includes the National Congress of American Indians, Nobel laurete Rigoberta Menchu, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama, Robert Redford, the National Council of Churches, Amnesty International and many others.

As president of the United States, it is Clinton’s duty to mitigate injustices. Granting clemency to Leonard Peltier is not only morally right, but necessary.


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