Dear President Clinton:
Today, you begin your last month in office. There are many things my friends and I wish you could have accomplished in these last eight years. I'm sure you feel the same way.
There are a few things, though, you could do in the next 30 days that would bring freedom to just three people. I am asking you to be a hero to three individuals who continue to experience a profound injustice. You, as President, can correct the suffering they have had to endure. In the Spirit of the season, I am hoping you will consider my appeal...
1. Pardon Leonard Peltier. Mr. Peltier, a leader of the American Indian Movement, has been in prison for over two decades. Amnesty International and every other human rights organization in the world considers him to be a political prisoner. The evidence is clear he did not commit the crime he is in prison for (the killing of a federal agent during an uprising at the Wounded Knee reservation... see http://www.freepeltier.org/).
Native Americans have barely survived the genocide that white Americans began over 400 years ago. That we would imprison just one innocent Native American is not only abhorrent, it is a continuation of that genocide. This man was punished for his political beliefs. He has suffered enough. Sign the pardon today.
2. Pardon Howard Mechanic. Howard, like yourself, was an anti-war protester at Washington U in St. Louis. His crime:he threw a cherry bomb. No one was harmed, no property was damaged, but Howard was given a five-year sentence. After losing the appeal, he ran.
For the past 30 years, he lived a quiet life in Arizona, raised a family, did charity work, and fought for the underdog. Until he was caught. Now he is in prison. He never committed a crime. The New York Times magazine ran an incredible story on him earlier this year. Not only is this man no threat, he is an asset to our society, actively involved in his community.
The Vietnam War is over. Why are we still fighting it by persecuting people like Howard Mechanic? This could have been you, Mr. President when you were at an anti-war rally. Release him from prison immediately.
3. Tell Peru to Return Lori Berenson. Lori has been in a Peruvian prison for over 5 years. They accused her of conspiring to help a rebel group there. She was in Peru working as a freelance journalist. She never got a real trial (see http://www.freelori.org/).
This could be your daughter, Mr. President -- a young, idealistic girl, traveling to a foreign country to shed light on the way people are treated, and because she was seen talking to or hanging out with the wrong people, she is imprisoned for life!
In fact, this could have been YOU, Mr. Clinton. What if during your college travels to the U.K. or the Soviet Union you were seen chumming with IRA people or Soviet dissidents? What if the secret police just whisked you away without a trial?
This is an outrage. I know you have asked the Peruvian officials about her well-being, but enough is enough. They now claim they will give her a new "trial." No way. NO more Peruvian "justice" for one of our young citizens.
Demand that Peru return her now or face harsh sanctions from the United States. All you really need to do is just pick up the phone and make a call. You don't even have to tell us what you say to them. Just do it.
Now, that's not a lot to ask of you, is it? Three of our fellow humans languishing unjustly in prison. There are many, many more. I suppose if you really wanted to go down in the history books, you could reduce everyone's federal sentence on death row to life imprisonment.
Better yet, you could issue orders to stop arresting our black and Hispanic citizens at such a disproportional rate in your "War on Drugs." THAT would be an act of courage.
I ask all who read this to join me in this appeal. Write to President Clinton at:
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20500
And just for fun, just to make a final point about the sacredness of everyone's vote, you could make Al Gore -- not George W. Bush -- the 43rd president of the United States!
That's right, you can make the will of the people a reality. And it's legal. Just resign a couple days early. Al, according to the Constitution, automatically becomes president. As I have said for years, it matters little which one of you Republicrats is in the Oval Office, so what the heck!
Actually, the one thing we will miss about you is your sense of humor. Give us all a good laugh and force Baby Bush into having to succeed Al Gore. Make him have to physically take the legitimate reigns of power from the actual winner of the election into his illegitimate hands!
And -- think of how much the Republicans and the Inauguration Committee will have to spend changing all the pre-printed banners and napkins that say "George W. Bush, the 43rd President of the United States of America." It'll drive them crazy.
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