International Indian Treaty Council                     







United Nations Commission on Human Rights

60th Session, March 15- April 23, 2004

Agenda Item 17(b) Human Rights Defenders

Oral Intervention by the International Indian Treaty Council


Greetings Mr. Chairman,


The United States (U. S.) presents itself to the world as a government based upon the fundamental protections of fairness and justice. Through its Constitution, Bill of Rights and its structures of its judicial system, the United States asserts that all persons within its borders shall be provided protections of justice, fair trial and impartial tribunal.


On the contrary, these basic protections have been trampled by internal security agencies of the government, transforming the U. S. judicial system into a tool of political repression against those who raise fundamental criticisms against its foreign and/or domestic policies.


As discovered by the U. S. Senate Committee aka: the Church Committee, reported the goals of the Counter INTELigence PROgrams, COINTELPRO, from the period of the 1950's to the mid-1970's were to “expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize” those persons or organizations that the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) decided were “enemies of the state”. 


In 1981, Amnesty International called for a Commission of Inquiry into the Effect of Domestic Intelligence Activities on Criminal Trials in the U.S. A., citing the case of Leonard Peltier, a leader of the American Indian Movement (AIM) as a graphic example.


Four years after Leonard Peltier's 1977 conviction for shooting two U. S. FBI agents in a shootout on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, a lawsuit against the U.S. government forced the disclosure of over 12,000 pages of previously-suppressed documents on the investigation of the agents' deaths. Recently and additional 30,000 pages have been released. These documents show that the U.S. government fabricated the physical evidence used to convict Mr. Peltier.


The documents also revealed that the U.S. government specially intended to target and undermine the American Indian Movement (AIM) and leadership through infiltration, disinformation, arbitrary arrests and violence, a campaign justified by governmental domestic security operations, purportedly to stop “terrorism”. At that time AIM was the primary organization working on a national level to protest Treaty Violations, police brutality, forced sterilization, cultural repression, racism and other human rights abuses perpetrated by the U.S. government against the American Indian peoples. AIM was raising positive national and international attention and world support for its efforts to bring to light, the just demands of the traditional Indian Nations, specifically the case of Leonard Peltier who has been in prison for the last 28 years.


The United States government admitted 12 years after his conviction that there is no proof that Leonard Peltier killed the agents. Leonard is currently serving two consecutive life sentences for a crime he did not commit, covered up by a judicial system used for the imprisonment of political activists targeted by the intelligence and security agencies of the United States. The government's prosecution of this case succeeded partly because of its public media campaign that AIM was an illegitimate and violent group, creating the climate to support the conviction of one of its members for murder.


In May 2002, following the 911 attack, in the guise of anti-terrorism and homeland security, U. S. Attorney General Ashcroft, effectively abolished the restrictions that were first imposed in 1976 on FBI surveillance of American's everyday lives. In 2003, the U. S. Code of Federal Regulations redefined the term “reasonable suspicion” as a threshold to enter intelligence information on an individual or organization into an intelligence database, via: the Regional Informational Sharing Systems, RISSnet. 


“RISSnet” is comprised of six regional intelligence centers serving law enforcement and criminal justice agencies in all 50 states, Wash. DC, US Territories, Canada, Australia and England. The RISS program is designed to interconnect the local, state, federal and tribal law enforcement member agencies to identify, target, arrest and prosecute criminal conspirators, and support investigation and prosecution efforts against terrorism and other acts of crime and violence that span multi-jurisdictional boundaries. RISSnet centers distribute intelligence data online via RISSnet on groups and individuals for immediate access by other law enforcement agencies, enabling them to find links between the movements, and look into their finances, telephone calls and membership lists. Recent anti-terrorism legislation has provided increased financial support to improve RISSnet and other governmental operations such as COINTELPRO.


To justify their interest in anti-globalization and human rights defenders from a legal standpoint, the authorities lump them into the category of terrorist organizations such as: Global Justice, Earth First, Greenpeace and the American Indian Movement. 


Mr. Chairman, recently, charges were filed by the United States against two individuals, John Graham and Arlo Looking Cloud, for the murder of Anne Mae Pictou, an AIM activist killed in 1975, during the time of the FBI's persecution of Leonard Peltier. 


A recent trial convicted Arlo Looking Cloud in aiding and abetting in the death of Anne Mae Pictou. Mr. Looking Cloud was defended by a public defender, who refused offers of expertise and allowed evidence and testimony without cross-examination, and through this trial, again creating a public media campaign using the judicial system against Mr. Peltier without Peltier's attorney having opportunity to rebutt. John Graham also charged with the murder of Anne Mae Pictou, is currently fighting extradition from Canada to the United States. 


Critical questions raise serious doubts about the United States government's true intentions regarding this case. Why did the government wait so long? Most importantly, why hasn't the FBI's domestic security operations against AIM during this time period, been investigated for their possible complicity in her death? Justice for Anne Mae demands that COINTELPRO activities and the FBI's role in her death be thoroughly investigated.


It is in this climate of terror and 500 year history that the American Indian Movement, and indigenous peoples struggle to maintain our self-determination, protect our human rights, dignity, and self respect and our rightful place in the world community. It is for our ancestors, those who have gone on before us and our unborn generations that we are here today and we call upon the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention take up the case of Leonard Peltier.


All my relations.



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