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Peltier foe to head FBI's criminal division

An opponent of imprisoned American Indian Movement activist Leonard Peltier has been promoted as head of the FBI's criminal investigative division.

James H. "Chip" Burrus has worked for the FBI for 23 years. He was an assistant special agent in charge of the Minneapolis FBI office, which handled the Peltier investigation and other Indian Country crimes in Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

Attorneys for Peltier, who convicted for murdering two FBI agents, said Burrus once called AIM a "group of burglars and thugs." And when Peltier was being considered for executive clemency, Burrus went public with his opposition.

"There are a lot of people who deserve breaks in the world. Mr. Peltier is not one of them," he was quoted as saying.

Around the same time, Burrus authored the so-called Pine Ridge "death report." The document attempted to explain the deaths of dozens of people killed on or near the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.

The report, distributed shortly after the 25th anniversary of Peltier's shootout at Pine Ridge, said most of the deaths were not murders as AIM activists and others had claimed. It discounted notions that the FBI was ignoring unsolved crimes involving Native Americans.

According to The Salt Lake Tribune, Burrus received a special FBI award for his work on the death list.

Burrus also criticized the U.S. Civil Rights Commission for its work investigating how Native Americans are treated by the justice system in South Dakota. "A lot of the research they did is just wafer-thin," the AP reported him as saying.

More recently, Burrus testified before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee on child abuse in Indian Country.

Get the Story:
FBI Names Head of Criminal Investigation (AP 8/16)

Relevant Links:
Leonard Peltier Defense Committee -
Free Leonard Peltier -

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