It’s not every day that FBI agents put on their trenchcoats, go to the White House and march in a demonstration.
What has the Man so riled up?
They’re demonstrating on Dec. 15 to pressure their boss. President Bill Clinton, not to grant executive clemency to Leonard Peltier.
Described as the U.S. version of Nelson Mandela, Peltier has been in jail since 1976 for the murders of two FBI agents – a crime there is little evidence he committed. Clinton has said he will give Peltier’s clemency request an “honest look-see” before he leaves the White House.
FBI Director Louis Freeh has strongly protested the idea. So has the FBI Agents’ Association, which is organizing the rally. Such a protest is extremely rare.
One agent told ABC News, “It will be a very dignified and quiet gathering of a couple hundred people in raincoats.”
Meanwhile, Peltier’s case has just got another boost from Canada.
Fred Kaufman, a retired judge of the Quebec Court of Appeal, says evidence against Peltier was falsified. He has written asking Clinton to free Peltier.
In October, Kaufman held an inqui-ry into Peltier’s case in Toronto on behalf of the Innocence Project, a group that attempts to expose wrongful convictions.
In eight years, the group has freed 38 people, including four on death row.
Kaufman, a judge for 14 years, previously headed an official inquiry into the wrongful conviction of Guy Paul Morin.
Kaufman heard testimony from five people, including a key witness, Myrtle Poor Bear.
Poor Bear’s testimony in 1976 was key in getting Peltier extradited from Canada to the U.S. for his trial.
She claimed at the time that she saw the FBI agents get shot, and also that Peltier spoke to her about it afterward.
In Toronto, Poor Bear said she had fabricated her story under pressure from FBI agents. Poor Bear claimed the FBI kept her apart from her family for long periods and threatened her life in an attempt to coerce her to give false testimony.
The Toronto hearing was the first time Poor Bear had testified in any venue about the case.
Poor Bear was mysteriously dropped from the prosecution’s witness list at Peltier’s 1977 double murder trial. A district attorney told the court only that she was no longer considered “competent.”
Once in the U.S., Peltier was convicted of the double murder largely on the basis of ballistics evidence, which has since been brought into doubt.
According to a report in the Globe and Mail, Kaufman judged Poor Bear to be a credible witness this time around. “I say without hesitation that each of the witnesses appeared honest and credible,” he wrote in a letter to President Clinton about his investigation.
“As you can see from her evidence, she acted under duress at the time, and much of what she said was false,” Kaufman wrote.
“I am satisfied that if this had been known when the extradition hearings took place, the request to extradite Peltier would likely have been refused.”
You too can stick it to the Man. Help Clinton help Peltier out of jail by calling the White House Comments Line at (202) 456-1111.