Dear Democracy Now! Visitor: We are an independent, ad-free daily news program that serves millions of viewers and listeners each month. In this US election year, Democracy Now! is more important than ever. For 20 years, we’ve put a spotlight on corporate and government abuses of power. We lift up the stories of ordinary people working to make change in extraordinary times. We do all of this with just a fraction of the budget and staff of a commercial news show. We do it without ads, corporate sponsorship or government funding. How is this possible? Only with your support. A generous funder will match your donation dollar for dollar if you donate right now. That means when you give $10, your donation will be worth $20. Pretty exciting, right? So, if you've been waiting to make your contribution to Democracy Now!, today is your day. It takes just a couple of minutes to make sure that Democracy Now! is there for you every day.

Your Donation: $

FBI Withholds Documents and Campaigns Against the Release of Leonard Peltier

May 16, 2001
Story
WATCH FULL SHOW

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill yesterday slammed the FBI for investigative breakdowns, slipshod evidence handling, and information control problems that they say led to the FBI’s failure to turn over thousands of pages of documents in the case of Timothy McVeigh.

Some lawmakers fear McVeigh and his attorneys will argue that, as a result of the FBI’s mistakes, he did not receive a fair trial, challenging the Federal Governments death sentence against the man convicted of the Oklahoma City bombing.

FBI Director Louis Freeh will appear before a House panel today to explain the incident. Freeh discussed the case in private yesterday with the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL), said afterward the FBI has "too many failures, too many blunders" of late. Shelby says that’s helped to undermine the confidence the American people have in the agency, and has called for a "broad review of the FBI, its mission, its problems and some solutions.

But there has been relatively little public outcry over the FBI’s withholding of documents in the cases of people who claim to be innocent.

For more than 25 years advocates of Leonard Peltier, have asserted that the FBI’s inadequate investigation, the withholding of thousands of relevant documents, and slipshod evidence handling resulted in an unfair trial and unjust imprisonment of the Native American activist .

Peltier has been in prison for almost a quarter of a century after being convicted of killing two FBI agents on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota. He has always maintained his innocence. His advocates have long highlighted the problems raised by his case to urge executive clemency for Peltier.

This week the Colorado Daily News published an in depth account of the debate in the Clinton Administration over granting executive clemency to Leonard Peltier. Reporter Michael de Yoanna reveals that advocates for Peltier, who lobbied President Clinton in the waning days of his administration, were so confident that Peltier would be granted clemency that they drafted a clemency statement for the President to deliver.

But the FBI, its Agents Association, and other prominent officials, waged an unprecedented public and private campaign against executive clemency for Leonard Peltier. De Yoanna suggests this campaign was linked to the Justice Department’s consideration of possible criminal charges against Clinton stemming from the Monica Lewinsky case. Clinton ultimately never made a decision on clemency.

Guests:

  • Jennifer Harbury, attorney for Leonard Peltier
  • Michael De Yoanna, investigative reporter for the Colorado Daily News

Related link:


The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to democracynow.org. Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.