JOHN TRUDELL, A PROFILE OF COWARDICE AN FBI INFORMANT COVERS HIS TRACKS IN THE MURDER OF A
It was an FBI operative/informant responsible for the death of Anna Mae. It is well known within the American Indian Movement that Trudell has attempted to place snitch jackets on several members of the American Indian Movement. In the end we must ask just when did John Trudell actually become an FBI informant? The answer would reveal much.
JOHN TRUDELL, A PROFILE OF COWARDICE AN FBI INFORMANT COVERS HIS TRACKS IN THE MURDER OF ANN MAE PICTOU AQUASH
By Robert Robideau, Co-defendant of Leonard Peltier
On, June 26, 2007, the 32nd anniversary of the Pine Ridge reservation firefight that left two FBI agents and an Indian man dead , the Canadian Court of Appeals in British Columbia sent John Graham a long awaited message, rejecting his appeal of a lower court's ruling that he should be extradited to the United States to face trial in South Dakota for the killing of Anna Mae Pictou Aquash and ordering him into custody to be extradited to the United States. In rejecting Graham's appeal, Canadian Justice Ian Donald wrote: "But on the crucial issue of whether the person known as John Graham, also known as John Boy Patton, was the same person who committed the murder, the judge found that the evidence of John Trudell established identification."
John Graham has until the 26th of July for the Supreme Court to decide whether to accept his case on appeal. However, the Graham committee announced, "given the three judges' unanimous decision, the chances appear to be slim that such an appeal would be heard."
John Graham and Arlo Looking Cloud were indicted in 2003 for the execution style killing of American Indian Movement icon Anna Mae Pictou Aquash. In February of 2004 Arlo Looking Cloud stood trial at which time John Trudell testified that Looking Cloud confessed to him, in 1988, his role in Anna Mae's murder and also implicated John Graham as shooting Anna Mae in the head while she prayed. After a three day trial, Looking Cloud was found guilty of first degree murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. His conviction says nothing about the fairness of his trial.
Although a few of those responsible for her death have been revealed, and Looking Cloud has been declared guilty, the truth still remains hidden under a blanket of deceptions and lies. There are numerous questions that cry out to be answered. Most notably, why have noted AIM members become informants for the FBI? The FBI paid Darlene Nichols Kamook Banks $47,000 to say that Leonard Peltier "bragged about killing the two agents" and made inferences targeting Leonard Peltier in the death of Anna Mae Aquash. In 2006, in reference to Kamook's accusations, Trudell admittedly told her that "she had done the right thing.." and "... I said the only way we are going to be able to get to the bottom of this is we have to hunt them down and flush them out.". What sort of deal has the FBI made with John Trudell ?
It came as a big surprise to many in Indian country when Trudell, a former leader and national spokesperson of AIM, materialized as an informant for the FBI against Arlo Looking Cloud, and John Graham. An even bigger surprise came soon after Arlo Looking Cloud's conviction, when Darlene Nichols Banks "Kamook" married BIA officer Robert Ecoffey, a thug who served under the former corrupt Pine Ridge reservation President, Dick Wilson, and who allied himself with domestic security agents of the FBI in creating the reign of terror from 1972 -1976, resulting in 60 homicides and 200 assaults against Indian people, almost all of whom were associated with AIM.
A recently uncovered FBI document, discovered through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), strongly suggests that the FBI choose not to prosecute anyone for the murder of Anna Mae for 29 years, but instead to covered up for those whom they knew were implicated in her murder, to protect an operative/informant working with them. Did their informant/provocateur retire from AIM? Clearly, the FBI's intent to blame Peltier and keep him in prison until death became an important reason to proceed with the prosecutions. After approximately 16 years of silence,John Trudell suddenly appears as the most important federal witness and conspirator to implicate Arlo Looking Cloud, John Graham and Leonard Peltier in the murder of Anna Mae Pictou Aquash.
Why, 31 years ago, did Trudell expose, at my trial, a conversation he had with Dennis Banks that Banks told him that Anna Mae had been killed BEFORE HER BODY HAD BEEN IDENTIFIED. It wasn't relevant to my trial and its significance was not immediately grasped. Was it done in preparation for an opportune time? What about his conversation with Arlo Looking Cloud in 1988, incriminating both Looking Cloud and Graham into Anna Mae's execution? What sort of deal did the FBI have with Trudell? Trudell also implicated others: "Lorelei Means, Madonna Thunder Hawk and Thelma Rios, as persons guarding Anna Mae" in Thelma's home in Rapid City. Why did Trudell, after 27 years of accusing the FBI for killing of Anna Mae, decide to accuse members of AIM instead?
Trudell's testimony in the Looking Cloud trial establishes that he knew for 16 years that John Graham, aka, John Boy Patten, Arlo Looking Cloud, and Theda Nelson Clark took Anna Mae, who was tied up, from Denver, Colorado to Rapid City, South Dakota, where she, according to witnesses, was questioned at the Wounded Knee Legal Defense/Offense Committee and ultimately shot in the head by John "Boy" Graham. Trudell says that he knows Looking Cloud and Graham were "following orders.". If he knows who gave the orders he has yet to say. Perhaps Trudell has been saving this part of the puzzle for the Graham trial.
Several sources have stated that Trudell asked Kamook Banks to participate and gave her "strong words of support" to encourage her to take the witness stand to testify about an alleged confession she heard by Leonard Peltier. This, together with the testimony of another long time close friend of Trudell's, Troy Lynn Yellow Wood, said that Anna Mae told her Peltier had put a gun to her head in an attempt implicate Peltier to the Anna Mae murder. Kamook also testified that Anna Maetold her the same story at the 1975 AIM Conference (SEE Arlo Looking Cloud trial transcript: http://www.jfamr.org/doc/index.html ) I never saw Kamook at the Conference and her sister, Bernie Lafferty corroborated she was not there (taped phone conversation, August 4th, 2004). I was present and I never saw Leonard with a gun when Banks and Vernon Bellecourt ordered us to take Anna Mae out to question her. Trudell publicly rallied for Peltier's freedom for more than 20 years. Why has Trudell now turned on Leonard to encourage the proffering of lies from long time friends and associates?
Candy Hamilton, a prosecution witness, commented, "I didn't think that Leonard should have been dragged into it. I mean, god, how could he have had anything to do with it, he was all so broken." She said further, "...Leonard was not really considered high up in AIM, I think that it came from the top. For sure the Bellecourts and probably Banks, and after that I don't know" (taped conversation, August 28, 2004). Mrs. Ecoffey's sister, Bernie Lafferty, in another taped phone conversation, said: "Oh yeah, that is why I couldn't understand why they were trying to involve Leonard in this ..." (August 4, 2004).
"The way I understand how things went John T (Trudell) contacted Kamook about telling the truth. So why he has come out of this smelling like a rose and Kamook takes the label of informant is beyond me," expressed Denise Maloney after the Looking Cloud trial. She has also described odd behavior by Trudell just before the Looking Cloud trial: "When I ran into John Trudell in San Francisco in 2002 he ran around the room like a chicken with his head cut off ... talking in code and not really saying anything." (e-mail, February 11, 2004).
Paul DeMain, Editor of News From Indian Country, and friend to Joseph Trimbach, (former Special Agent in Charge of the Minneapolis Division of the FBI) in a phone conversation in regard to Leonard's civil suit against him stated, "I would have never said that Leonard Peltier ordered Anna Mae's death because first of all I don't believe that is the way that happened and second of all even if Peltier wanted her dead there was no authority to have ordered something like that in the apparatus of AIM. He wouldn't have been able to do that. But the first proposition is that I never would have said that" (taped phone conversation May 2005). SEE: ( http://www.leonardpeltier.net/peeledapple.htm).
Kamook's sister, Bernie Lafferty said, "Leonard treated Anna Mae no different than the rest of us, "... "I never once heard Leonard accuse Anna Mae of being an informant." Bernie further said, "We was always real close to Anna Mae... well, we had to be... I know deep in my heart that she was no FBI agent. She would never say anything to anybody" (taped phone conversation, August 4th, 2004).
Other sources that uphold the same opinion about Leonard's trust of Anna Mae can be found in the following sources: In the Spirit of Crazy Horse, by Peter Matthiessen, Agents of Repression, by Churchill and Vander Wall, and many other media journals, and books. But our actions toward Anna Mae showed our trust of her, and her actions toward us speak louder then words.
Indeed, there were two occasions when Anna Mae became a member of our group. The first occurred, when she become a member of our group one day before the Crow Dog raid. The second occurred when she joined Bank's in Denver, before the Columbus Day bombings on the Pine Ridge reservation in 1975. Both actions on her part reflect that she had no fear of Leonard.
Each time Anna Mae ran it was from federal authorities. She went to the safe house provided by Trudell's close friend, Troy Lynn Yellow Wood, in Denver, Colorado. It is well known in AIM that Trudell and Troy Lynn have been friends for many, many years. While in Denver , Trudell normally visited and stayed at her house. The question here is, why would this long time friend of Trudells agree to take Anna Mae prisoner and then hand her over to her executioners with out Trudell's approval, who was then the national chairman of AIM?
On November 24th, 1975, after being released in connection with the Oregon charges and the FBI Crow Dog arrest, Anna Mae went to Denver, Colorado for the third time. "She knew she was going to get indicted on the Oregon charges no matter what, [and, I add, she knew there was no chance she would receive justice from the scheduled trial on November 25th, 1975 in Pierre, SD] so she split," Nilak Butler stated In the Spirit of Crazy Horse, by Peter Matthiessen. Anna Mae also believed that she would, as she had done on other occasions, re-join Leonard Peltier and Dennis Banks through the help of Troy Lynn and Colorado AIM. Ray Hand Boy testified that he and Evelyn Bordeaux drove Anna Mae to Denver at her own request.
According to the testimony of John Graham's girlfriend at the time, Angie (Begay) Janis, soon after Anna Mae arrived in Denver she received a phone call from Rapid City and was told to "hold Anna Mae". Janis then phoned her "best friend" Yellow Wood, who's house then became Anna Mae's prison. The phone call came shortly after Trudell picked up and drove Dennis Banks, who had just escaped the Oregon shootout, to California. Was it Dennis Banks, who ordered further questioning of Anna Mae Aquash? What did Trudell have to do with this order? Banks and Trudell both knew that many AIM members, including those working at the WKLD/OC, had formed suspicions Anna Mae was an informant. According to Candy Hamilton they "wanted to know why everywhere Anna Mae had been people got arrested" (taped phone conversation, Sept. 2004).
Ken Stern, in his book, Loud Hawk, writes at length about Trudell's ideas of who the informants could have been that turned in Banks' motor home. Trudell has a long history in AIM of fingering people as informants. Did he finger Anna Mae? As it turns out, he has become what he has decried: an informant.
For years Trudell claimed to know nothing about the death of Anna Mae and accused the FBI of being solely responsible. Yet, statements he has made over the years highlight the incredulity of his alleged lack of knowledge and that he has associated with and given aid to the right individuals in AIM to cover up the parties who committed this crime and to create patsies to take the fall for both the FBI and AIM.
Bruce Ellison, Trudell's attorney buddy of 32 years, believed Anna Mae to be a "snitch". This is the same attorney Trudell knows took part in the WKLD/OC meeting about her; and this is the same attorney Trudell has conspired with for the last 29 years to cover up for those who ordered and killed Anna Mae. Beginning in 1976 both Trudell and Ellison began making public statements accusing the FBI of being totally responsible for the death of Anna Mae. , But Trudell's testimony at my trial makes it clear that he knew in 1975 what AIM members had played, implicating Dennis Banks. In the Looking Cloud trial, Trudell said nothing about FBI involvement in the killing, nor has Trudell made further statements to the media about FBI involvement.
On April, 28, 2005, in a hand written letter to me, Arlo Looking Cloud alleged that his trial attorney Tim Rensch conspired with Bruce Ellison. "I received a letter informing me that Vernon B. [Bellecourt] provided all my legal material in my case to Laliberte [Graham's attorney] in Canada, apparently getting it from Gilbert [Arlo's appeal attorney]. And I read Vernon and Gilbert go way back. And how hard Rensch [Arlo's trial attorney] worked to make sure Candy Hamilton couldn't mention Bruce Ellison's name. Rensch, his former law partner Leech and Ellison go way back."
According to Canadian Justice Ian Donald, Trudell was the most important witness in John Graham's extradition proceedings, and Trudell will also be a prime witness for the United States federal prosecution against John Graham. What is even more curious to many of us close to the events is why has Trudell's close friend Bruce Ellison befriended John Graham's defense team in Canada? While in Canada on June 9,2007, Ellison,spoke to the media in support of John Graham. Perhaps Arlo has brought attention to the reason why.
I know the friendship that has existed between John Trudell and Bruce Ellison all these years, but a recent article published in Counterpunch on March 8,2007, by Michael Donnelly, entitled "Rock Stars, Porn Stars and Peace, LA Story," makes it clear that Ellison and Trudell are still good friends. Donnelly writes, "The occasion was last month in Los Angeles when John Trudell, Jackson Browne and Willie Nelson held a benefit concert for the Women's Cancer Research Institute. It was the second Give Love; Give Life benefit that the fellas have held for this cause.
"LA Native Celia Alario and I hooked up for brunch with Quiltman, my good friend and member of Trudell's band Bad Dog. Leonard Peltier's attorney, Bruce Ellison joined us, as did Jimbo Simmons of the Treaty Council and the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN)". http://www.counterpunch.org/donnelly03092007.html
The question. What does Bruce Ellison and Trudell share, besides their friendship, that has bound them together in the Anna Mae killing? With Trudell the fed snitch, one would naturally think they should be at odds with each other, yet it is clear they are not. What are we missing here? A very clever conspiracy, but conspiracy to accomplish and gain what? Each has placed himself in different camps and positions of influence. Bruce Ellison, who has Graham's defense team covered and John Trudell who has the federal witnesses covered.
The information about the FBI affidavit Anna Mae wrote in her letter to Trudell became one of the documents used to accuse and confront Anna Mae. According to one inside source, this affidavit was used in Denver, Colorado, by Theda Nelson Clark, Troy Lynn and others, and used again in South Dakota as an instrument, that purportedly evidenced that she was an informant. Did Trudell pass this FBI affidavit on to his friend Troy Lynn?
John Trudell, National Chairman of the American Indian Movement during that period, began an early campaign to cover up the true circumstance that lead to the execution of Anna Mae. The question is why?
Even after I had publicly confronted Trudell in 1994, with the murder of Anna Mae, at the "Salt of the Earth Book Store", in Albuquerque, New Mexico, (when Bob Ecoffey was carrying an active investigation) he continued to say nothing publicly of what he knew of AIM's involvement. To the contrary, he accused me of being part of the FBI cointelpro program stating, "... a Cointelpro operation is being directed at me... to neutralize me. I have been waiting for the attack."
If as Trudell contends, he was not an important part of Banks' support network, why was he contacted to "protect Anna Mae" in California? Why was Trudell recruited to help purchase weapons for Banks? Why was Trudell the only one Banks called to pick him up in Nevada after escaping the Oregon shoot out? Why was Trudell contacted and told the location of Anna Mae's safe house? Banks knew that "after Pierre, [South Dakota,] Anna Mae went to [Denver,] Colorado" (In the Spirit of Crazy Horse, by Peter Matthiessen). Trudell's knowledge that Anna Mae "had been taken to a protected area," that she had "been taken prisoner" leads many to believe that he could have saved Anna Mae.
According to Trudell's testimony in the Looking Cloud trial, he claims to have found out about who murdered Anna Mae for the first time in 1988, when his good friend Troy Lynn Yellow Wood set up a meeting between Trudell and Looking Cloud who allegedly told him the whole story of Anna Mae's murder. This is simply not true based on Troy Lynn's own words from October 2nd, 1994 taped conversation that "John Trudell has known about all this from the time Anna Mae was taken from my house". Trudell's own admission, during CBC the Fifth Estate program aired in December 2000, that "Troy Lynn called me from Denver and told me that Anna Mae had been at her house and these people had come and took her away as prisoner".
Trudell stated: "... And I got this message that...Annie Mae was in trouble and could I help her. I couldn't because they had a warrant for my arrest in Nevada on a charge that was later dropped. I could do nothing about it. The next time I ... Dennis told me she had been shot in the back of the head. He told me this in California. This is when he was out on bail there...I know it was within two days or so after they found the body and I knew nothing about that" (trial transcript of the Butler -Robideau trial, Cedar Rapid, Iowa, 1976, http://www.dickshovel.com/trurspn.html). Trudell's words contradict his own testimony at Looking Cloud's trial, where he testified that he had been in Los Angeles in late September and early October, he said: "... one of us always stayed with her as much as possible just to act in the capacity of being security." The fact is that even if Trudell was unable to travel in December, he had access to all the phone numbers of AIM members in Rapid City, as well as the lawyers' who worked at the WKLD/OC office. He knew Anna Mae had been taken and where, to save her was just a phone call away.
Why didn't he intervene to save his "friend" Anna Mae?
Trudell's long time friend and close associate, Bruce Ellison, who participated in the questioning of Anna Mae and allegedly provided documents that went to show she was an informant. Why didn't Bruce Ellison contact Trudell? Perhaps he did. Ellison said that Anna Mae had been brought into the WKLD/OC office tied up, "I told them to untie her". (Conversation with Bruce Ellison during the March 4th, 2005, "Benefit for Freedom" in Toronto, Canada).
Why did Trudell align himself for 29 years with Bruce Ellison, a person he knew participated in the WKLD/OC "meeting" that undoubtedly condemned Anna Mae as an informant?
Why does Trudell continue to maintain close ties to Bruce Ellison, who he knew took part in the interrogation of Anna Mae at the WKLD/OC?
For many years, beginning in 1975, both Trudell and Bruce Ellison had taken the position that they "do not know who pulled the trigger... " But "the responsibility clearly rests with the federal bureau of investigation". In, Rolling Stone, April 7, 1976, Banks was the first to utter this position stating, "... even if AIM members had killed Aquash, the FBI bore responsibility because it had helped launch rumors about her."
In my conversation with Trudell 1994 at "Salt of the Earth", I asked him, "Did you know that Bruce Ellison was involved?" Trudell answered: "Yes, I knew about that". Again, the question, did those at the WKLD/OC "meeting" call Trudell, who they knew was not only a long time "friend" of Anna Mae's, but also a person who, by Trudell's own admission a was a close associate to Banks?
In a tape recorded interview, Candy Hamilton alleges Anna Mae told her that "Price told me he would see me dead within a year." In the Lan Brookes Ritz documentary, "Anna Mae, Brave Hearted Woman,"
Trudell said, "Agent Price told Anna Mae if she did not cooperate she would be dead before the end of the year...and it worked out that way!" Just before leaving the jail in Vale, Oregon she told one reporter, obviously speaking about the FBI, "They'll execute me. That's what they do to Indians who fight for their people". In the Looking Cloud trial, Trudell said nothing of these threats by FBI agents as he had done for years with the media. Why has Trudell become conspicuously silent about the involvement of the FBI? Does Banks, who has remained silent also, still support Trudell today or does he fear Trudell?
There are many unanswered questions concerning John Trudell's motives for joining the federal prosecution in the Anna Mae Aquash murder case and giving comfort and aid to the likes of Kamook and other friend's; and influencing testimony that seeks to drag Peltier into this mess. It's becoming instructive that John Trudell has known, from day one, why Anna Mae Aquash was taken prisoner, and executed; and as a witness for the prosecution, sheltered himself from possible prosecution for wrong doings he may have played in the killing of Anna Mae and its cover up. What did Trudell have to do with the killing of Anna Mae?
What has materialized is that John Trudell, and his friends, Troy Lynn Yellow Wood, Kamook Ecoffey Banks, and other federal witnesses have become FBI puppets to convict two small pawns and target Leonard Peltier. It is instructive to know that John Trudell was privy to the legal strategies in both my trial and that of Leonard Peltier's. We are forced to look further into the possibility that Trudell may have been working with the feds as early as 1975, especially in light of the fact that Trudell implicated Dennis Banks in the murder of Anna Mae Aquash while testifying at my trial.There is nothing that explains why he should have even gave this testimony in 1976. His testimony is repeated in the Looking Cloud trial. http://www.jfamr.org/doc/trudell.html. We know that some where in the back ground the FBI is dirty in all of this. We know it was an FBI operative/provocateur who first started the rumors that Anna Mae was an informant. It was an FBI informant who perpetuated the rumors. It was an FBI operative/informant responsible for the death of Anna Mae. It is well known within the American Indian Movement that Trudell has attempted to place snitch jackets on several members of the American Indian Movement. In the end we must ask just when did John Trudell actually become an FBI informant? The answer would reveal much.
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