"The House Government Reform Committee is holding hearings on FBI misconduct relating to wrongful convictions. The hearings were prompted by the release of two Boston men who were framed by the FBI and held wrongfully in prison for more than 32 years. Their two co-defendants, also innocent, died in prison. Congressman Burton, who chairs the committee, said on 60 Minutes
recently that he will be looking into other cases. Let's let him know about Leonard Peltier! Write, and ask your friends, family, and neighbors to write letters now. Below is a sample letter which you are welcome to use.
Honorable Dan Burton
Chairman, Government Reform Committee
2157 Rayburn House Office Bldg.
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Congressman Burton,
Recently you spoke out about the case of James Salvati, who was imprisoned for 32 years for a crime the FBI knew he did not commit. This is a terrible miscarriage of justice and I am grateful that you will be pressing for further investigations regarding this and other injustices of a similar nature.
I would like to bring your attention to a case remarkably similar to that of Mr. Salvati's: the case of American Indian Movement activist, Leonard
Peltier. Leonard Peltier has been imprisoned for 26 years, following his highly controversial conviction of the 1975 murders of two FBI agents.
Amnesty International, the Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Coretta Scott King, amongst many other human rights leaders, consider Mr. Peltier a political prisoner and have called for his immediate release.
During Mr. Peltier's trial, the FBI and U.S. Prosecutors emphatically swore that every FBI document had been handed over to the defense. Yet, a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit would force the release of over 12,000 FBI documents that had in fact been withheld. Had the jury been able to consider this evidence at trial, Mr. Peltier would undoubtedly be free.
Among the documents was a formerly concealed ballistic test, which proved that the fatal bullets could not have come from the gun tied to Mr. Peltier at trial. The exposure of the test prompted the U.S. Prosecutor to admit during subsequent oral arguments, "we can't prove who shot those agents". The Eighth Circuit found that "There is a possibility that the jury would
have acquitted Leonard Peltier had the records and data improperly withheld from the defense been available to him in order to better exploit and reinforce the inconsistencies casting strong doubts upon the government's case." Yet, a new trial was denied. Judge Heaney, who authored the denial now supports Mr. Peltier's release, stating that the FBI used improper tactics to gain Mr. Peltier's conviction.
Moreover, the FBI continues to withhold over 6000 documents pertaining to the Peltier case today. We are convinced that these files contain even more critical information. We also note that Mr. Peltier's conviction is deeply rooted in a three year period of intense political violence on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. During this period, the FBI cooperated with a brutal tribal chairman and his hired vigilantes who sought to rid the reservation of American Indian Movement (AIM) activity and sentiment. More than 60 traditional tribal members and AIM activists were murdered and scores more were assaulted or otherwise terrorized.
Given all of the above, I am asking you to include the Peltier case in your investigations. We also request the subpoena of the 6000 FBI documents that remain secret. Thank you for your time and consideration to this matter and we hope your efforts to bring about accountability in the Salvati case are successful.
Until Freedom Is Won!
The New Peltier Justice Campaign
Leonard Peltier Defense Committee
PO Box 583
Lawrence, KS 66044