Political Police — U.S. Style; or Crimes of the FBI

Leonard Peltier Statement on the FBI

The following statement was posted on the Internet on May 16, 2001. For background on the case of Leonard Peltier, see Tom Barrett’s article in the winter 2001 issue of Labor Standard. See also, on the Labor Standard web site:  “FBI Arrests Puerto Rican Student Protest Leader”; and Paul Krassner on “The FBI and Me.”

Greetings Brothers, Sisters, Friends, and Supporters,

I am writing this statement in the midst of controversy surrounding the FBI’s withholding of 3,000 documents pertaining to the case of Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City bombing. This incident is only one of many revelations of grave FBI misconduct in recent weeks, all of which expose very serious violations of the Constitution and severe abuse of power by the FBI.  

In Boston, what started with suspicions that FBI Agent John Connolly was involved in money laundering and racketeering led to the exposure of much more. As it turned out, almost the entire Boston office was involved in a heavy scheme, which protected notorious gangsters, who were allowed to murder with impunity in exchange for information. That office even put two innocent men, men they knew were innocent and who they very purposefully framed, in prison in order to keep their informants free from prosecution. These innocent men served thirty years in prison and were only released after previously hidden FBI documentation was uncovered. What is worse is, it all could have been prevented. FBI agent Robert Fitzpatrick says he reported the misconduct early on, and was ignored. How much time will the agents responsible serve in prison? What will be done to prevent this type of official criminal behavior from recurring? If history is any clue, not too much at all — unless we take a firm stand against these types of FBI abuses.

Meanwhile, media coverage of Thomas Blanton’s conviction for the racist murder of four young girls [in the 1960s bombing of an African American church in Birmingham, Alabama, during civil rights protests], which occurred some 38 years ago, is widespread. Since 1965 the FBI knew exactly who the murderers were, and they hid the information. They protected KKK members who murdered children. What will happen to these former agents? How will the FBI be held accountable for its complicit role in such heinous activities?

These violations are most serious. There can be no due process, there can be no such thing as an open government, there can be no real justice or democracy when an agency as powerful as the FBI can, decade after decade, break the laws it vows to uphold with no repercussions. The cases covered in the media lately are only the tip of the iceberg.

There are many, many more well-documented incidences of FBI abuses. It is up to the public to hold the FBI accountable. Clearly, no system of checks and balances is in place, and the media rarely reports FBI misconduct unless politicians and judges condemn it first, in which case it is usually too little, too late. Don’t let these latest disclosures deteriorate into flash-in-the-pan news stories. An effort must be forged to stop FBI abuses, and to gain recognition that these are continuations of an all too common pattern.

The FBI unfairly targeted Wen Ho Lee, withheld evidence about Waco, and botched its handling of the Ruby Ridge incident. In 1998 the Los Angeles FBI crime lab was exposed for its routine tampering of evidence, especially in high-profile cases. In 1997 Geronimo Ji Jaga Pratt was released after 27 long years of unjust imprisonment — yet another FBI frame-up. In 1990 Judi Bari’s car was bombed, and again, the FBI hid evidence proving the bomb had been planted. Instead of finding the perpetrators, they criminally charged the Earth First! activist, who was left crippled for life.

Of course, on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation the FBI allowed, and further supported, the murderous GOON squads. Year after year I sit through meaningless parole hearings where I am told that I must take responsibility for a crime I did not commit. All the while, the faces of my brothers and sisters who were killed during that era loom in my head, as I suppress my bitterness over such blatant discrimination and injustice. One day I know, this too will be recognized and exposed as a result of the efforts of the people. Officials will likely act surprised and outraged, even though we have been telling them all along about what we have experienced and witnessed.

Friends, I am not writing this statement out of bitterness, but out of alarm. When will these kinds of abuses be stopped? When will we overcome our fear of the FBI and say: “Never again. Not one more innocent person in prison, not one more political prisoner, not one more unnecessary death”? If the FBI thought that Martin Luther King was a threat to the “American way of life,” then we must ask, what way of life do they defend, and do the American people want the FBI to act on their behalf?

In the Spirit of Crazy Horse,
Leonard Peltier

Leonard Peltier Defense Committee
PO Box 583 Lawrence, KS 66044
785-842-5774 www.freepeltier.org