Sunday, July 01, 2007

Aquash killer to be extradited to U.S.*

Hardly anyone in this country noticed, but a Canadian court last week ordered that John Graham, one of the two men charged with the 1975 murder of American Indian Movement activist Anna Mae Aquash, be extradited to the U.S. for trial. The Rapid City (S.D.) Journal seems to be the only U.S. paper that picked up the AP story from Vancouver:

A Yukon native has been taken into custody after a British Columbia court denied his appeal of an order that he be extradited to the United States to stand trial for a 1975 slaying in South Dakota.

The ruling against John Graham came Tuesday morning in Vancouver and his bail was immediately revoked, so he was taken to jail [what a strange way of putting it--ed.].

Graham had been under house arrest since he was charged in December 2003 with first-degree murder in the killing Anna Mae Pictou Aquash on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in late 1975. . . .

Aquash's murder came amid a series of bloody clashes in the mid-1970s between federal agents and members of the American Indian Movement. Aquash, a member of Mi'kmaq Tribe of Canada, was among Indian militants who occupied Wounded Knee, S.D., for 71 days in 1973.

Prosecutors have said AIM leaders ordered Aquash's killing because they suspected she was a government informant. AIM leaders have denied that assertion.

The other man charged with killing Aquash, Fritz Arlo Looking Cloud, received a mandatory life sentence in 2004 after a federal jury in Rapid City, S.D., convicted him of first-degree murder committed in the perpetration of a kidnapping.
Prosecutors will probably try for the death penalty with Graham, if it gets that far (read on).

Joseph Trimbach, the Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Minneapolis office when two agents were murdered by AIM thugs on the Pine Ridge Reservation (the event that led to Aquash's "bad-jacketing" as a snitch by AIM, and then to her murder), noted in News from Indian Country the coincidence of the date of Graham's extradition order:
June 26, 1975 . . . A date not easily forgotten by FBI Agents. On that horrible day, Special Agents Ron Williams and Jack Coler were gunned down in an open meadow on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Following the initial hail of fire from the assailants, three gunmen approached the injured Agents and finished them off at close range. . . .

Leonard Peltier, a member of a militant group of Native Americans, later bragged about being the one who shot Ron Williams in the face, as he sat pleading for his life. With the exception of a few days on the lam following a prison break, Peltier has spent the last 30 years behind bars.

Many of his brothers-in-arms, members of the American Indian Movement (AIM), have tried to construct plausible alibis to support his claimed innocence. None of it has stuck, and many of the cover stories have only served to implicate AIM members in other killings, such as the execution-style murder of Anna Mae Pictou Aquash. . . .

June 26, 2007: The Supreme Court of British Columbia orders the extradition of John Graham to the United States. He is the alleged trigger man who carried out the executioner’s mandate against Anna Mae.

According to Arlo Looking Cloud (Graham’s convicted helper), Graham put a gun to Anna Mae’s head, pulled the trigger, and pushed her off a cliff. For the last several years, he has been under house arrest in Canada.

Read the whole thing, but, noting Ward Churchill's account of the Pine Ridge incident in his book Agents of Repression, Trimbach wonders if Graham might sing like a boid to save himself and embarrass Ward--and many others--with his own account:

People familiar with the case believe that once Graham is on American soil, AIM’s legacy is up for grabs. As the embattled Professor Ward Churchill likes to say, the chickens have come home to roost.

The professor, however, would presumably not want the description applied to his old warhorse buddy, AIM leader Russell Means. On a cold morning in 1976, Means and his brothers boycotted Anna Mae’s funeral, evidently believing her guilty as charged.

AIM war chiefs and Anna Mae’s erstwhile friends must now reposition themselves for the coming storm. An old rusty prosecutorial engine is finally turning over, powered by an unlimited statute of limitations for murder in the first degree.

Former members know that aiding and abetting carries the same penalty that awaits Graham: life in prison. And so they are naturally concerned that Graham may cut a deal and sing like a canary. Stay tuned. This could get very interesting.

Trimbach's bioline in News from Indian Country describes him as "author of a forthcoming book, American Indian Mafia, An FBI Agent’s True Story About Wounded Knee, Leonard Peltier, and the American Indian Movement." Unfortunately, another bioline for an article from 2002 also calls the book "forthcoming."

But Trimbach apparently made a comment on the AP's "Wardo decision in three weeks" story (remember those carefree days?) in the Sterling (CO) Journal-Advocate (why there?) at the end of May:

A new book entitled, American Indian Mafia, will expose Churchill's fraudulent research and conspiracy theories embodied in two of his more interesting books, Agents of Repression, and The COINTELPRO Papers. These books deal with supposed conspiracies concocted by the FBI against the American Indian Movement. The investigating committee apparently has not looked under this rock.
No, they didn't, or haven't. As far as we know. Point is, maybe the comment means Trimbach's book is finally in publishable form. Unfortunately, again, he seems to be a lousy writer with a tin ear ("war chiefs"?), which perhaps is why it still, apparently, hasn't found a publisher.

*insert "alleged" where appropriate.

(via Snapple, who by the way will not be posting any more comments about anybody's health care system, but who was on this angle way first and has more Trimbach quotes 'n' such at the linkies.)

Update: Here's Churchill's account of the "firefight" at Pine Ridge in chapter nine of Agents of Repression. Why does he always make things so complicated?

Update II: And here's a jolly Z-Net elf writing on the Graham case in May.

Update III: Snapple points out the obvious to anyone but me: the death penalty is off the table for Graham; Canada can't extradite anyone to face death in the U.S. Duh.

Update IV: Speaking of Russell Means, he was (maybe, the paper doesn't quite say) arrested the other day while participating in a beer blockade at Pine Ridge.

Update V (5 July 2007): PB posts a letter in defense of John Graham from author David Seals. Pertinent bullshit:
Graham's attorney in Vancouver, Terry LaLiberte, stated there was not a single shred of forensic evidence against either Looking Cloud or Graham. Looking Cloud confessed under duress in a Denver jail, under the influence of alcohol and heroin, with no lawyer present, to aiding and abetting Graham in homicide. Graham, for his part, has sedulously maintained complete innocence.
Sedulously. Again, maybe that will change if prosecutors offer Graham a deal for something short of life in prison without parole.

No comments: