Decision near on Peltier
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DECEMBER 22, 2000

Its now, or possibly never, for imprisoned activist Leonard Peltier, as the White House on Thursday said President Bill Clinton would soon decide one way or another on his request for clemency.

But as Peltier supporters around the world hope for the best, the chances of him being set free appear dim. According to White House sources, Clinton's recent meeting with South Dakota Governor Bill Janklow has the President leaning towards rejection of Peltier.

For many in Indian Country, Janklow is a reminder of the turbulent times on the Pine Ridge Reservation in the 1970s. He was the state's Attorney General in 1975, the year two FBI agents were killed on the reservation.

Nicknamed the "Indian Killer," Janklow has never had a positive image in the American Indian community. Allegations of racism and rape have plagued his career, but don't appear to have hurt him politically, then or now.

His most recent criticisms came when he initially rejected a report on racism in his state as "garbage." Attorney General Janet Reno has since declined to investigate more fully the claims of unequal justice for Native Americans.

Even without Janklow, however, the movement against Peltier has been powerfully displayed by FBI agents themselves. Last Friday, about 500 marched to the White House, hoping to send a message that Peltier should not be released.

The group planned on presenting Clinton with a letter signed by about 9,000 current and former agents. But White House security wouldn't accept it, due to standard policy. It is unclear whether or not the agents later mailed it to Clinton.

Still, not everyone is convinced by the FBI's recent actions, especially those of Director Louis J. Freeh. After Freeh made public a series of letters he wrote to Clinton on the issue, Reno mildly, but clearly, criticized his move.

"I think these matters should be confined to discussions with the President," said Reno, when asked about Freeh's public disclosure.

Also, since two others accused of killing the FBI agents were acquitted, many say the FBI has carried a personal vendetta against Peltier far too long.

"The FBI continues to deny its improper conduct on Pine Ridge during the 1970's and in the trial of Leonard Peltier," said retired California Congressman Don Edwards, who served as chairman of the House Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights.

"The FBI used Mr. Peltier as a scapegoat and they continue to do so today," he added.

So for now, Peltier, imprisoned in Leavenworth, Kansas, for nearly 25 years, awaits Clinton's decision, which is expected on or around Christmas.

Related Stories:
FBI protests Peltier today (The Talking Circle 12/15)
Anti-Peltier protest planned (The Talking Circle 12/14)
Peltier extradition defended(The Talking Circle 12/12)
Supporters march for Peltier (The Talking Circle 12/11)
Reno mum on Peltier details (The Talking Circle 12/8)
Pro-Peltier student targeted by feds (12/6)
FBI still wants Peltier behind bars (The Talking Circle 11/29)
US judge won't extradite Native man (Tribal Law 11/24)
Peltier fast held in Denver (The Talking Circle 11/24)
Mandela asked to help Peltier (The Talking Circle 11/22)
Clinton: I'll decide on Peltier (The Talking Circle 11/09)
Text of Clinton's remarks on Peltier (The Talking Circle 11/09)
In Television: Peltier subject of documentary (Arts and Entertainment 10/16)
FBI recalls Oglala shootout (The Talking Circle 06/26)
FBI: 'Brutal slaying' at Oglala (The Talking Circle 06/26)
Group seeks Peltier clemency (The Talking Circle 05/17)
FBI Promises to Prevent Peltier Pardon (The Talking Circle 04/21)
Peltier supporters respond (The Talking Circle 04/21)

Relevant Links:
Free Leonard Peltier -
The Leonard Peltier File, FBI -
The No Parole Peltier Association -