Reno mum on Peltier details
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DECEMBER 8, 2000

Attorney General Janet Reno on Thursday said the Department of Justice has made a recommendation to President Bill Clinton on whether or not Leonard Peltier, imprisoned for the murders of two FBI agents, should be set free.

But while refusing to disclose particular details about the recommendation or the clemency process, Reno expressed concerns about a series of letters FBI Director Louis J. Freeh made public on the issue.

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

With the holidays fast approaching and Clinton's time in office running out, a decision on Peltier is expected soon. In an attempt to push his influence on the issue, Freeh wrote letters to Clinton and Reno. Representative Henry Hyde (R-IL) on Wednesday made them available to the media and on the website of the House Committee on the Judiciary, which he chairs.

In those letters, Freeh emphasized the belief that widespread opposition exists within the FBI to Peltier's release.

"I have spoken to many, many people within our organization about the possibility Peltier would be freed," wrote Freeh to Reno. "Our employees' request to you is that you do everything in your power to persuade the President not to take this action.

Additionally, he relayed the sentiments expressed in a 1994 letter written by the widow FBI Agent Jack Coler, Peggy. "The thought of Peltier going free makes me sick," wrote Mrs. Coler to Freeh. "How could anyone let him go free?"

Coler and Agent Ron A. Williams were shot on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota in 1975. Three men were charged with the crime, but only Peltier was convicted using evidence many believe was inadequate.

Peltier, 56, has now served almost 25 years in federal prison in Leavenworth, Kansas. Denied parole in June, his health is also failing.

In the past, the Justice Department has opposed any attempts to review Peltier's case. In appeals Peltier made to the Supreme Court in 1979 and in 1987, the Department filed opposition briefs. Both times, the Supreme Court declined to review Peltier's appeal, but didn't issue any comments on the issue.

Read Reno's Comments on Peltier:
Reno's Comments on Clemency for Peltier (The Talking Circle 12/8)

Read Freeh's Letter to Clinton:
Freeh: Peltier a Cold, Hardened Criminal (The Talking Circle 12/7)

More Peltier Letters:
Freeh to Rep. Henry Hyde, Freeh to Attorney General Janet Reno (FBI Office of the Director 12/5)
Hyde Opposes Clemency for FBI Agent Killer Leonard Peltier (Rep. Henry Hyde 12/6)
FBI: 'Brutal slaying' at Oglala (The Talking Circle 6/26)

Related Stories:
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 -