Petition for the Release of Peltier Case Documents Under FOIA
Honorable Chuck Grassley, Chairman
Committee on the Judiciary
224 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senator Grassley:
First, thank you for protecting and advancing government transparency through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
As you may recall, Leonard Peltier is a prominent Native American activist who is currently imprisoned at the United States Penitentiary in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. Leonard Peltier was convicted in connection with the shooting deaths of two agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on June 26, 1975, on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.
For years, Leonard Peltier's attorneys have attempted to secure his files from the FBI under the FOIA. FOIA requests have been made on Mr. Pelter's behalf to FBI Headquarters and its field offices around the country. There have been numerous unnecessary delays in the handling of the FOIA requests submitted on Mr. Peltier's behalf, however, and the FBI almost always refuses to release documents citing national security interests. It's difficult to understand what possible risk to national security exists related to a case the FBI investigated over 34 years ago.
I urge you to hold a hearing on the handling of Leonard Peltier's FOIA requests. The FBI must be required to divulge the exact number of documents it maintains on Leonard Peltier and the Field Offices that maintain these records; the total number of documents regarding this case that have been destroyed, as well as the date and authority under which records were destroyed; and whether or not any records dealing with Leonard Peltier have been transferred to any other agencies, as well as pertinent details of those transfers.
More importantly, these documents—that are over 25 years old and historically significant—must be released. At this time, the FBI continues to withhold over 70,000 documents that are known to exist. These documents may contain new information that will shed light on this controversial case. These documents must be released to the public without delay.
Thank you for your consideration.