Read the poignant story of Leonard Peltier, whose birthday is today. This proud Indian has been allowed to rot in jail so long, that time and history seem to have forgotten him.
Leonard has spent more than 31 years in some of the cruelest prisons in the United States, unjustly condemned to a double life sentence for the shooting death of two FBI agents in 1975.
My crime's being an Indian. What's yours?
In his autobiography 'My Life Is My Sun Dance', Leonard explains that his bloodline is mainly Ojibway and Dakota Sioux and that he was adopted by the Lakota Sioux and raised on their reservations in the land known to you as America... but I don't consider myself an American.
I know what I am. I am an Indian-an Indian who dared to stand up to defend his people. I am an innocent man who never murdered anyone nor wanted to. And, yes, I am a Sun Dancer. That, too, is my identity. If I am to suffer as a symbol of my people, then I suffer proudly. I will never yield.
The Leonard Peltier case, since its inception, has been an international blot on the US justice system. Even Canada's premier right-wing columnist (to Wizbang classic he would be considered a liberal wimp) was so appalled he wrote a column in 2002, urging Peltier's extradiction back to Canada, where Peltier had fled, believing and quite correctly, as it turned out, that he would not receive a fair trial in the US.
The Right Thing By PETER WORTHINGTON Toronto Sun November 29, 2002
Sometimes, something should be done just because it's right, and not because it will be successful or popular.
Having repeatedly corrupted itself (false evidence, a mythical bullet, altered testimony, etc.), the FBI will fight adamantly to keep Peltier in jail. It dare not face its own perjury.
There is no logical or humane reason for Peltier not to be paroled, even if one considers him guilty of shooting when everyone else was also shooting.
Even a token gesture by the Canadian government might tip the scales in the U.S. But only opposition MPs seem to have the integrity and courage to do what's right. For shame.
It was widely believed that Peltier was in line to be pardoned by (BIll) Clinton who, when he was campaigning for the Democratic nomination, hinted that freeing Peltier was one of his priorities. On leaving office he chose to pardon one who was on the FBI's most wanted list; he pardoned his deadbeat brother, suspect drug dealers, and assorted campaign donors and unworthy people. But not Peltier.
Was it because Peltier wasn't a campaign donor? Maybe Clinton feared FBI wrath? The aging generation of bitter FBI agents and those who manipulated evidence against Peltier are periodically summoned to smear and distort the case.
Only Bill Clinton knows why he didn't pardon Peltier...Was it as Worthington suggests that aside from FBI anger, (politicians aren't known for their personal courage in the face of law enforcement intimidation) Peltier and his supporters were not big campaign donors? Maybe, but we do know that David Geffen was.
The next parole hearing for Leonard Peltier is scheduled for December, 2008.
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