Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Leonard Peltier - The FBI Rears Its Ugly Head

From: "Political Prisoner News" <ppnews@freedomarchives.org>
Date: Mon, January 19, 2009

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The FBI Rears Its Ugly Head

"If people are going to get back into balance, one of the
things they have to do is seek the truth. They
have to start really speaking the truth
themselves, and that's a difficult thing to do.
The way it is now in the world, we don't mind
lying." --John Peters (Slow Turtle), WAMPANOAG

Enter former agent of the Federal Bureau of
Investigation (FBI) Joseph Trimbach. As some of
you know, Joseph Trimbach recently issued a press
release, “Urgent: Fight to Keep Leonard Peltier
Behind Bars”. The guy’s been up to no good for
about a year now and together with others of his
ilk who also have a beef with the American Indian
Movement (AIM)--more often than not based on
purely personal disputes--he has no problem with
stretching the truth or telling an outright lie.

But who is this "champion of justice"?

In February 1973, tension grew on the Pine Ridge
Reservation. Activists had formed the Oglala
Sioux Civil Rights Organization to challenge the
corrupt leadership of Dick Wilson, Tribal
Chairman. Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA)
officials saw this organization as an extension
of AIM, whose presence they believed increased
the tensions. However, those most responsible for
increasing tensions were the 63 U.S. Marshals
assigned to the reservation “to help,” joining an
undisclosed number of FBI agents led by none
other than Joseph Trimbach, Special Agent in
Charge of the regional FBI office in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

When the siege began at Wounded Knee that year,
this was the man who assured then Lieutenant
Colonel Volney Warner (82nd Airborne, a division
with special training in putting down civil
disturbances) that the standoff was a case for
the U.S. Army. He requested that 2,000 soldiers
be deployed at Wounded Knee, on the Pine Ridge
Reservation, to restore order. After that, the
FBI would move in and make arrests, he said. But
did Trimbach really believe any Indians would be left standing to arrest?

Thankfully Warner recommended against any such
action because the Indians were not trying to
harm anyone. He also recommended that the FBI
change its standing orders from shoot-to-kill to
shoot-to-wound. Colonel Warner was likely single
handedly responsible for preventing a second
Wounded Knee massacre (the first being in 1890,
when two hundred or more unarmed Minnecojou men,
women, and children, with a few fugitives from
Sitting Bull's Hunkpapa band, were slaughtered by
the Seventh Cavalry) since he blocked the all-out
attack that the FBI had in mind.

During the Wounded Knee trial of Dennis Banks and
Russell Means, Trimbach denied that he had
applied to a court for wiretaps on the Wounded
Knee telephone, despite the presence of his signature on the application.

A surprise witness at that trial was former AIM
member Louis Moves Camp. Prosecutor Hurd himself
reviewed affidavits produced by the FBI. After
meeting Moves Camp, he apparently had some doubts
as to the witness’ honesty. So much so, that he
requested that a lie detector test be administered. Trimbach refused.

Also, during the trial, Trimbach testified that
the FBI had no informers infiltrating the defense
team. His lie was exposed when Douglas Durham’s
infiltration of AIM became known.

A couple of months later, during the trial of
Leonard Crow Dog, Trimbach testified that he had
no idea that Durham had been an informer,
although one of the three agents in his own
Minneapolis office, who followed him to the
stand, acknowledged that Durham had contacted him
at a special phone number at least 30 times
during the Banks-Means trial; this agent said
that Durham had been known to Trimbach from the
start, and that he had notified Hurd and the other U.S. attorneys about

After the Oglala shoot-out on June 26, 1975,
Trimbach could hardly wait. He assembled a
special sniper team and was en route to Rapid
City, SD, within an hour of the first shots
fired. He bragged in his “press release” about
shooting at mostly unarmed women and adolescents
as they escaped and was horrified that someone
shot back in defense? He was soon consulting with
Governor Richard Kneip about bringing the
National Guard into Oglala, and meanwhile he
radioed for high explosives, which arrived by
Marine jet. The next day, SAC Trimbach, who had
taken command in Rapid City was replaced. It
would seem that even the FBI lacked confidence in Trimbach’s leadership.

At the Cedar Rapids trial of Dino Butler and Bob
Robideau, Trimbach denied knowing that Banks or
the AIM group were on the Jumping Bull land. Another lie.

These facts indicate that Trimbach had a thirst
for blood and the destruction of Indian lives.
They also prove his propensity for not telling the truth, even under oath.

In his “press release,” he faults the late
Coretta Scott King for supporting Peltier. She
wasn’t an intelligent human being who dealt in
fact, we’re led to believe, but “misguided”. Be
careful Joe. Your racism is showing again.

He says Peltier was convicted of “aiding and
abetting”. Then he calls Peltier a “cop killer”.
Well, Joe, it’s one or the other. Oh, but as you
stated, Peltier didn’t pull the trigger.

The jury in the trial of Leonard's
co-defendants­Dino Butler and Bob
Robideau­recognized that the will to survive is
instinctive and the right to self-defense is
fundamental. The Indians had a right to be on the
Jumping Bull property and they were not engaged
in unlawful activity. There was no evidence that
they either provoked an assault or were the
aggressors in one. In light of the terror on the
Pine Ridge Reservation during the previous three
years, the history of official misconduct on the
part of the FBI in its war against AIM, and the
reckless behavior of the agents on June 26, 1975,
the jury decided Butler and Robideau had a
reasonable belief that their actions­meeting
force with force, even deadly force­were
necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm
to themselves or others. The jury acquitted
Butler and Robideau on grounds of self-defense.
The Butler/Robideau verdict indicates that the
defendants' actions on June 26, 1975, did not
constitute a crime. Yet, Leonard is imprisoned,
the government now claims, for "aiding and
abetting" a crime. What crime? Self defense? Who
did Peltier aid and abet? Innocent men?

Trimbach refers to the testimony of a paid
informant, one who only surfaced five years ago,
to now “prove” Peltier’s guilt when prosecutors
have already admitted that they "did not and
cannot prove" that Peltier caused the deaths of
their agents or what role he "may have played" in
the incident on June 26, 1975.

What does Trimbach NOT talk about, though? The
other suspects in the Peltier case who were never
investigated... others who bragged about having
killed the two FBI agents... or how about the
proof that the FBI decided they would pin the
whole thing on Peltier and then proceeded to
build a case around him whether he was guilty or not.

Trimbach also doesn’t talk about the trusted FBI
informant John Stewart who, on July 2, 1975,
drove Peltier and a group of people to the
Rosebud Reservation. During that drive, he
reported to the FBI, Peltier told the group (all
of whom were present during the Oglala shootout)
that his gun had jammed during the firefight. No
one in that vehicle disputed Peltier’s statement.

Most important, Trimbach doesn’t say one word
about the exonerating evidence in this case: the
ballistics evidence that proves Leonard Peltier
did not shoot the agents. (See
But Trimbach won’t be satisfied until Peltier
admits to a crime he didn’t commit.

As to the remorse Trimbach claims Peltier lacks,
it’s a matter of public record (even stated in
Peltier’s own book, “My Life Is My Sun Dance”)
that Peltier grieves for the loss of life that
day in 1975... for the agents... and for Joe
Stuntz, who also lost his life and whose death has never been investigated.

Trimbach’s book? A venomous attempt to re-write
history and restore his good name which no one
but Trimbach himself is responsible for having
destroyed. He’s a victim, yes, but of his own
misdeeds. And like the devil himself would...
much like George W. Bush does now... Trimbach
believes everything he said or did back in the
day was the right thing to do. With that book of
his he proves only one thing and that is that he’s a legend in his own mind.

Trimbach’s book is short on supported fact­he
even disputes court records­as well as downright
slanderous. No publishing house would touch it,
so ol’ Joe published it himself. There’s been a
lot of that going around­so-called “investigative
journalist” Paul DeMain, for example, who owns
his own newspaper (News from Indian Country) and
therefore can print any piece of gossip, rumor or
innuendo as fact without any editorial oversight
or adherence to the journalism code of ethics­yellow journalism at its

Trimbach mentions a video posted on his Web site.
The truth about that video is it was edited.
Footage was manipulated to put Peltier in the
worst possible light. Any film footage can be so
treated. In fact, an amateur did do it­Richard
Two Elks, another guy with a personal ax to grind with AIM.

Trimbach used the word “pardon” in that press
release of his. Leonard Peltier wouldn’t be
eligible for a presidential pardon until he’s
been on the streets (without re-offending) for a five-year period.

Trimbach demands that Peltier serve his full
terms, two life sentences plus seven years. But
when Peltier was sentenced there was such a thing
as parole in the federal system and Peltier has
been eligible for parole since the early 90s.

Thankfully, not everyone shares Trimbach’s opinions.

Former FBI agent M. Wesley Swearingen, in support
of parole for Leonard Peltier, once stated: “I
was an FBI agent in Los Angeles when Leonard
Peltier was convicted, and I know from FBI
documents that I read and from statements made by
fellow FBI agents, that Peltier was wrongfully
convicted of murdering two FBI agents just
because the agents investigating the case wanted
someone to pay for killing the two FBI agents. I
know, for a fact, that the FBI is also covering
up its culpability in the death of the two FBI
agents.” (This is the same agent who exposed the
FBI misconduct in the case of Geronimo Pratt
whose conviction was eventually overturned.)

Even author Steve Hendricks, a Trimbach
compatriot and no friend of Leonard Peltier,
recently stated: “Peltier has been imprisoned
these 32 years for killing two FBI agents, an act
he may or may not have done. What is certain is
that he and his people returned the FBI's fire
only after years of savage provocation, that his
trial was one of the grossest railroadings in the
history of American courts, and that our
government's guilt far outstripped anything he
stood accused of. The man has done time enough.”

So what’s Trimbach talking about? Executive
Clemency. A pardon is one form of clemency.
Commutation of a sentence is another. But what
Trimbach fails to comprehend is that clemency
isn’t about guilt or innocence and never has been. It’s about mercy.

The authority to grant clemency by way of a
commutation of a sentence imposed by a federal
court belongs only to the President (under
Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution).
The decision to grant clemency is the President's and the President's alone.

What should Peltier supporters do now? Write to
President-Elect Obama’s transition team at
<http://www.change.gov/>www.change.gov, for a start.

Write to Obama himself:

The Honorable Barack H. Obama
President, United States of America
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500

Beginning on Tuesday, January 20, you can fax your letter to 202-456-2461.

Or call the White House and leave comments at 202-456-1111.

Or send an e-mail message:

Do it and keep doing it.

Friends of Peltier
Time to Set Him Free... Because it’s the right thing to do.

Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

415 863-9977

www.Freedomarchives.org Questions and comments may be sent to

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