Leonard Peltier #89637-132
PO Box 1000
Leavenworth, KS 66048-1000
September 19, 2003

Greetings Sisters, Brothers, Friends and Supporters,

Well, we have just completed another round in the courts. I understand oral arguments went very well in Denver today. Barry, one of my attorneys, was able to brief me on the legal issues that were argued before the court.

The one legal issue that I was most concerned about was the secret parole hearing that was held without my or my attorneys’ knowledge.

Let me explain.

In 1995, I went before the Parole Commission for my 2-year interim hearing. Before this hearing I obtained a copy of the U.S. Attorney’s memorandum opposing my release on parole. U.S. attorney Lynn Crooks continued to take the position that I executed the agents. At that time, a prisoner was allowed to confront the evidence being used against him to block parole, so my lawyers immediately presented trial records where Crooks had stated (before the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in 1986), that the government did not know who killed the agents or what participation I “may have had in it.” Under questioning by the parole examiner, Crooks again admitted the government had no proof that I killed anyone. The examiner was shocked and ruled that there was insufficient evidence to support the Commission’s sole finding that I shot the agents. I was told the examiner stated he was going to recommend parole.

Not satisfied with the examiner’s decision, the Commission referred the matter to legal staff. The legal staff said the examiner had exceeded his authority and provided several options, one of which was to require a rehearing. Without a hearing, however, the Commission affirmed its prior decision that I shot the agents and consequently would not be considered for parole until 2008. Of course, they wrote the denial of parole using the false information they continue to use today. To make matters worse, the Commission added a reference that I would be held in prison for the same time solely as an aider and abetter. This was all done secretly and without my right to notice and to be heard.

Under the laws written by Congress, this action was illegal. Under the law, I am entitled to legal representation and to be present to defend myself against their accusations. Because of the U.S. Parole Commission’s clear and deliberate violation of the law, in the real world, this appeal should be an open and shut case and I should be released immediately on parole. But this is not the real world, it is my world. Remember? The U.S. Parole Commission was dissolved in 1987 and ordered by Congress to give all prisoners sentenced under the old laws their parole dates. It’s 2003. The Commission still has not done this. The Commission remains in power and is being allowed to violate the law of the land.

Now, we wait once again to see what the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals will do. Will they follow the laws they are sworn to protect or will they instead continue to protect those who are clearly in violation of your Constitution?

We now hear Norman Zigrossi who was involved back in the 1970s state publicly that my case was a complicated one, that they presented the evidence as they knew it. And because it was not an easy case, if anything was withheld, it was done inadvertently. Inadvertently? You are now expected to believe that the wrong doing in my prosecution — the manufacturing of witness Myrtle Poor Bear; the fabrication of ballistics evidence; the outright fraud committed by U.S. Special Prosecutor Evan Hultman (who we now have proof lied to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals) and much , much more — is okay, because it was all done by accident. Inadvertently. How insulting is that, may I ask?

I wish I could predict a favorable outcome to this hearing, but I am afraid even with it going so well, that the Justice Department and the FBI will pressure the court and the judges will rule against me. I pray to Wakan Tanka that I’m proven wrong.

All of you, from all over the world, can ensure that the judges follow the law. Demand justice. Flood the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals with letters. But quote the facts. Pleas for humanity do not work in the halls of justice.

Reading this letter you might think I’m being negative. That’s not at all true. I have not and will not give up. Support for my cause continues to grow. I receive more and more letters from people who have just learned of this outrageously wrong conviction. I continue to receive letters from people who have always been there for me. The miraculous thing is that I’m now receiving letters from conservatives who never thought they could be convinced that their government would behave as they have towards me. I, of course, know this is the result of your efforts — you who have supported me, proclaimed my innocence, and advocated for my release for 27+ years. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

We have a strong, positive momentum going right now and it is building. We’re moving forward. This forward momentum is not moving without our normal problems, I have to tell you. Funding is always needed and we’re still short handed. We have 2 full time staffers and a couple of interns, but there’s so much work to be done. We need funds and the assistance of our volunteer support network more than ever.

Our voting initiative is taking off and building rapidly. More and more people are supporting and helping us to build voting blocks. Just in the last couple of weeks, presidential candidate Carol Moseley Braun stated that she supports clemency and would approve my petition. She is only one of the presidential candidates. Most people feel she’s unlikely to receive her party’s nomination, but the fact is that she can and will gather a significant number of voters. The last presidential election proved that the politicians can’t take votes for granted. The frontrunners will be jockeying for support. If we can get hundreds of thousand of voters to make my continuing imprisonment a campaign issue, other politicians also will support my release.

With your continued support and efforts, I could very well walk out of this prison. I know you may never be able to pull off the campaign that Nelson Mandela’s supporters did, but I have confidence that you — the People — can and will launch a freedom campaign that will be heard all around the world.

Thank you for everything, my friends.
Mitakuye Oyasin.
In the Spirit of Crazy Horse,
Leonard Peltier

Appears in Issue: