Peltier blasts decision against him
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JANUARY 30, 2001

After a little over a week of public silence on the issue, Leonard Peltier on Monday criticized President Bill Clinton's decision not to grant him executive clemency.

In doing so, the imprisoned American Indian Movement activist focused on accusations made by others that many of Clinton's last-minute decisions were based on politics and not facts. Many Republicans and some Democrats have pointed out the ties between campaign contributions and those who benefited from Clinton's pardons and commutations.

"We can see who was granted clemency and why," said Peltier from his Leavenworth, Kansas, jail cell. "The big donors to the President's campaign were able to buy justice, something we just couldn't afford. Meanwhile, many political prisoners continue to languish unjustly, proof that this nation's talk about reconciliation is nothing but empty rhetoric."

Convicted for the 1975 deaths of two FBI agents on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, Peltier has served almost 25 years for the crimes he and others say he didn't commit. He has attracted a large number of supporters worldwide, all of whom expressed hope that Clinton would grant him clemency before he left office on January 20.

But Peltier says that day "came and went" without any news from the White House. Peltier said he and his family had prepared for his release because they expected it.

"What Bill Clinton did to us was cruel," said Peltier when he finally learned of the decision. Meanwhile, Clinton pardoned a number of individuals with personal ties to his family.

One was Marc Rich, a wealthy commodities trader who was indicted in 1983 of more than 50 counts of wire fraud, racketeering, tax evasion, and illegal trading with Iran. He was pardoned despite fleeing the United States and never facing charges for his alleged crimes.

In addition to donating hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Democratic party, Denise Rich, Rich's ex-wife, has donated to the campaigns of Clinton and recently elected Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY). Although President George W. Bush has expressed concerns, he said on Monday he wouldn't seek to overturn the Rich decision.

Peltier said he is now focusing on own "personal plan" while he remains in prison. He said he wants to help build a school and a community center on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

Peltier also said his legal defense team is developing new strategies in an attempt to gain him freedom.

Get Peltier's Statement:
Peltier on clemency decision (The Talking Circle 1/30)

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

Related Stories:
Clinton passes over Peltier clemency (The Talking Circle 1/22)