By: Cliff Kincaid
Accuracy in Media
Leftist filmmaker Michael Moore’s website proudly features a video of MSNBC’s erratic and unstable commentator Lawrence O’Donnell referring to NRA official Wayne LaPierre as “blood-drenched” because the organization favors the Second Amendment right of self-defense. O’Donnell, one of several commentators on the channel who demonize conservative groups and individuals, was trying to somehow connect the gun rights organization to the mass murder at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. O’Donnell utterly failed to establish any kind of factual link between the NRA and that crime, which was carried out by a madman in violation of numerous “gun control” laws.
But Moore’s opposition to bloody murder in Newtown, Connecticut, was shocking for another reason. It turns out that, on the very day of the massacre, he was appearing in New York City at a concert seeking President Obama’s release of convicted killer Leonard Peltier from prison. Peltier is serving two consecutive life sentences for the execution-style murders of FBI Special Agents Jack Coler and Ronald Williams in 1975.
If anyone is blood-drenched, it is Peltier and those who support him.
Joining Moore at the event, designed to raise money for a propaganda campaign on Peltier’s behalf, was Common, a black “rap artist” known for “A Song for Assata,” in honor of a convicted cop-killer who escaped from prison and is now hiding out in Cuba. Common performed at the White House in 2011.
Common told AP that he researched the Peltier case before deciding to appear on his behalf. “I did my own due diligence,” he claimed. This “research,” if really done, would have determined that Peltier’s conviction has withstood multiple appeals to different courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court.
An official FBI summary of the case notes, “Normally, a federal criminal defendant is entitled to a single court-appointed attorney chosen by rotation. Peltier received five lawyers—two as trial attorneys and three as investigators. All were chosen by Peltier, rather than the normal rotation process, and all were paid for by the government. The defense received almost double the normal number of preemptory challenges during jury selection. Peltier’s lawyers were allowed to personally question the jury, which is highly unusual in federal criminal cases. The trial court provided daily transcripts of testimony to the defense, a very expensive measure which is rarely allowed. After his conviction, Peltier was allowed to dismiss four of his five trial attorneys and hire new ones for his appeals. Peltier’s arguments have been presented repeatedly to a U.S. Magistrate, three U.S. District Court Judges, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. The U.S. Supreme Court has twice denied requests to hear the case after reviewing defense arguments.”
AP reporter John Carucci was clearly sympathetic to the cause of getting him released, noting that “Peltier’s advocates say he has been in poor health in recent years,” as if getting old and sick in prison is sufficient to get clemency from Obama. AP also assured its readers that Common affirms, “he’s not soft on crime.”
During the Leonard Peltier concert on December 14 at the Beacon Theatre in New York City, Michael Moore declared, “I like to say that I sort of agree with the NRA when they say, ‘Guns don’t kill people, people kill people,’ except I would just modify that a bit and say, ‘Guns don’t kill people, Americans kill people,’ because that’s what we do.”
He went on, “We invade countries. We send drones in to kill civilians. We’ve got five wars going on right now where our soldiers are killing people—I mean, five that we know of. We are on the short list of illustrious countries who have the death penalty. We believe it’s okay to kill you when you’ve committed a crime.”
He claimed “other forms of violence” include people without health insurance. “All the wrong people are in prison in this country,” he proclaimed.
These comments are even more bizarre in view of the fact that he was appearing specifically on behalf of a convicted murderer.
In official testimony, the FBI has described how their agents were killed during a shootout with Peltier and his associates, all of whom were members of the American Indian Movement. Special Agents Coler and Williams had been wounded but their wounds were not fatal. An FBI official said Peltier “approached these two agents as they lay on the ground, wounded and disabled,” and “then shot both agents at point-blank range.”
Yet, Moore is urging Obama to release this cold-blooded killer from prison.
The “Bring Leonard Peltier Home 2012” concert also featured Harry Belafonte, the Marxist actor who raised money for Democrat Elizabeth Warren in her successful Massachusetts Senate race, Jackson Browne and communist folksinger Pete Seeger.
The left-wing program Democracy Now!, which is being carried by three dozen taxpayer-supported public television stations, hailed Moore’s “poetic plea” to Obama to release the killer from prison. Program host Amy Goodman followed with an interview of Peltier, in which she encouraged him to deliver a message to Obama. He asked Obama to “turn me loose.”
As Accuracy in Media has previously reported, support for Peltier does exist in the “progressive” ranks of the Democratic Party as well as Hollywood. Even Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is on record in favor of executive clemency for him. Actor Robert Redford narrated a 1992 film, “Incident at Ogala,” about the case, and insisted in an interview with Goodman that Peltier was somehow framed by the FBI.
The Moscow-funded propaganda channel Russia Today came to Peltier’s defense as well, calling him an “Indian activist” who opposed racism and injustice.
As part of the propaganda campaign, supporters of Peltier renamed Thanksgiving Day the “Native American Day of Mourning.” Banners proclaiming “Free Leonard Peltier” were on display during the event.
As part of its “Teaching Tolerance” project, the Southern Poverty Law Center runs an “activity” for students called “Thanksgiving Mourning,” which promoted the United American Indians of New England as a resource. Its site also calls for Peltier’s release.
Peltier was denied parole in 2009 and won’t be eligible again until 2024. Their only hope for his freedom from prison now lies with Obama.
For his part, Obama is quoted by a pro-Peltier website as saying, “Get me the political support,” and then he will free the killer.
The Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee is confident, declaring in an email message to supporters, “We believe that President Obama will sign the order that sets Leonard free!”
Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at [email protected].