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Free-Peltier campaign fails


Paul Barnsley, Windspeaker Staff Writer, WASHINGTON, D.C.







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Leonard Peltier's name was not on the final list of people who were granted executive clemency by out-going President Bill Clinton. Peltier has been imprisoned, some insist wrongly, for the killing of two FBI agents in the 1970s, shot during the desperate days of violence on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.

In all, Clinton announced 140 pardons and 36 commutations on Jan. 19, the last full day of his presidency. Included on the list were Clinton's personal and business associates and his half-brother Roger.

Supporters of the jailed American Indian Movement activist have, for more than a year, been focusing their efforts on persuading Clinton to let Peltier out of jail. It was generally accepted that a Republican, especially new President George W. Bush, would not be receptive to pleas on Peltier's behalf and that Clinton offered the best hope for clemency.

Harvey Arden, the editor of Leonard Peltier's biography, has been active in the free-Peltier movement and had scathing words for the former president, who had just days before admitted to making misleading statements while under oath as a condition of a deal that would see him free from prosecution in regard to the Monica Lewinsky affair and Paula Jones sexual impropriety case.

"Clinton did nothing . . . freed his own brother and political cohorts . . . saved his own hind end . . . and left Leonard to rot. No doubt he was intimidated and rather than do the right thing, the courageous thing, the holy thing, he showed us for all time that he has all the spine of a chocolate eclair," Arden said. "I can only pity him. His last day in office was the most dishonorable of his emphatically dishonorable administration."

Arden told Windspeaker of a phone conversation he had with Peltier in the days following the Jan. 19 announcement.

"I told [Peltier] the struggle resumes tomorrow and will continue larger than ever until he's free," Arden said. "He says, 'Tell everyone I was down for a couple o