Bush to keep Peltier foe in FBI
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JANUARY 5, 2000

Louis J. Freeh, the FBI director who vehemently opposes clemency for imprisoned activist Leonard Peltier, is being asked to stay on with the George W. Bush administration, advisers said on Thursday.

But the decision to keep Freeh on board isn't necessarily indicative of his views on Peltier or his frequent disagreements with President Bill Clinton. Freeh is in his eighth year of a 10-year term and advisers said Bush just wants him to finish his job.

Over the years, Freeh has openly clashed with the Clinton administration, including outgoing Attorney General Janet Reno, on everything from the Peltier case to investigations of Clinton's fund-raising efforts. During her weekly news conference, Reno on Thursday commented on her relationship with Freeh.

"I think the world of Louis Freeh," said Reno. She added: "He and I have discussions and disagreements and arguments."

One such disagreement came last month, when Freeh made public a series of letters urging Clinton not to grant clemency to Peltier, convicted for the 1975 deaths of two FBI agents. Reno said the disclosure was not particularly appropriate.

"I think these matters should be confined to discussions with the President," said Reno.

Other White House officials, however, haven't been as diplomatic. "The manner in which [Freeh] offered his advice . . . was just small-minded," a source told The Los Angeles Times last month.

Still, Reno, praised Freeh's "candor" yesterday.

"Louis Freeh is a person I could count on to tell me what he thought," said Reno. "America's fortunate when they have people like that."

Whether or not Peltier supporters are fortunate for Freeh's outspoken views on whom he calls a "hardened criminal" is another question, however. On the 25th anniversary of the shootout on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, Freeh in June called on the American public never to forget Peltier's "cold blooded crime."

And as efforts to have Clinton grant Peltier clemency have stepped up, Freeh has done the same, releasing last month the letters which led to the White House criticisms. So far, Clinton has yet to issue a decision on Peltier.

But Peltier supporters remain hopeful. The White House said Clinton plans on issuing another round of pardons and commutations before he leaves office.

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