Guilty as Hell, Free as a Bird (for now)

Bill Ayers' famous quip may come back to haunt him. There is no statute of limitations on murder charges.

On February 16, 1970, someone planted a bomb at San Francisco's Park Police Station. It was placed in a window of the business office and timed to explode at shift change, when the maximum number of officers would be there, either finishing up or starting their work.

It was a powerful blast, throwing one officer in the station parking lot completely over his patrol car and sending shrapnel for over two city blocks. The bomb fortunately detonated a few minutes early so the destruction was less than it might have been. Still, nine were wounded, one -- Officer Robert Fogarty -- badly enough that he retired from the force on disability, and one, Sergeant Brian McDonnell, 45 year old married father of two, was killed.

On Thursday, March 12, 2009, Cliff Kincaid of America's Survival Inc. held a press conference at the National Press Club, launching the Campaign for Justice for Victims of Weather Underground Terrorism, to focus public attention on evidence that may finally bring the alleged perpetrators to justice: Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn.

He has a lot of support. In a letter to Mr. Kincaid's group, the San Francisco's Police Officer's Association writes:

There are irrefutable and compelling reasons to believe that Bill Ayers and his wife Bernardine Dohrn, members of the terrorist group 'Weather Underground', are largely responsible for the bombing of Park Police Station and other police stations throughout the United States during their 'tour of terror' in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

This case has been reopened and evidence is being gathered. Meetings have been held among local and state authorities, including current and former law enforcement officials, to obtain justice. That is why the "Campaign for Justice for Victims of Terrorism" held this press conference. They want to bring pressure on Obama's Justice Department, now headed by former Clinton Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder, to release all of the evidence in their possession.

It's true that some evidence in the past that could have been used against the Weather Underground was ruled inadmissible -- because of the way it was collected, not because of its veracity. But there is much more that can and should be used. The belief is that it lies in the Justice Department or the FBI.

This is where a problem emerges. In addition to the outrageous pardons of fugitive criminal Marc Rich and 16 FALN terrorists, Holder provided key assistance to two Weather Underground members implicated in the Brinks Robbery murders, pardoning them quietly along with Rich -- who of course got all the headlines.

Given the Attorney General's apparent sympathy for terrorists, and Bill Ayers' perceived status as President Obama's friend and mentor, the Justice Department may be reluctant to provide all of the evidence in the Park Station bombing case unless they are forced to do so.

Under the Bush Administration, such a press conference would not have been necessary. After all, the federal authorities under Bush provided evidence and assistance that resulted in the 2007 arrests and indictments of members of the Black Liberation Army for the murder of another San Francisco policeman, John Young, in 1971. That case is now underway.

A process of evidence-gathering has been underway in the McDonnell case as well. But now that Obama and Holder are in power, that process could come to a screeching halt. That was the reason for the March 12 America's Survival, Inc. news conference -- to make sure that federal assistance doesn't stop and that it accelerates. One hope is that FBI Director Robert Mueller, who is technically independent of Obama and Holder since his contract runs through 2011, can act on his own to obtain and make available all the evidence that is needed in this case.

Featured at the event were individuals with critical knowledge of both the bombing and the people involved. Larry Grathwohl, a former undercover FBI informant, is best remembered for his chilling 1980s testimony describing how Ayers told him that once the revolution succeeded they would have to murder 25 million Americans.

In his book, Bringing Down America - An FBI Informer with the Weathermen, Grathwohl describes a meeting where Ayers reveals Dohrn's role in the bombing. It was in the context of a complaint that other Weathermen were slackers:

"Too many of you are relying on your leaders to do everything," he said sternly. Then ...he mentioned the park station bombing. "It was a success," he said, "but it's a shame when someone like Bernardine has to make all the plans, make the bomb, and then place it herself. She should have to do only the planning."

This book repeated sworn testimony Grathwohl had provided before the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee in 1974. His testimony has been consistent for decades -- Ayers told him that Dohrn planted the bomb, and Ayers had detailed knowledge of its make-up and where it was placed. Such knowledge could have come only from the bomber, or from someone who assisted in building the bomb.

In its 2007-2008 biennial report, the California Department of Justice confirmed the case is open and added that the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. has been asked to analyze fingerprint evidence from the scene of the Park Station bombing.  Page 16 of the report reads:

In 2000, the SFPD reopened its investigation into the bombing of the Park Police Station and requested investigative assistance from the DOJ. The DOJ's Bureau of Forensic Services was also assigned to identify a latent print collected from the original crime scene.

We don't know at this point whose fingerprints those are. But we do know the FBI obtained the fingerprints of Ayers, his comrade Mark Rudd, and other Weather Underground members at a bomb factory in San Francisco (see final page of this PDF report).  

According to FBI sources, Grathwohl's testimony was corroborated by another Weather Underground source, Karen Latimer, who apparently had second thoughts about her participation in the violent group's activities and gave her story to the police. Unfortunately, Latimer died sometime later under questionable circumstances.

A bit earlier, in January of 1970, Grathwohl had listened as Ayers described to him plans for the bombing of two police stations in Detroit, Michigan. As he related to the FBI agents on the case:

Bill Ayers had debriefed me regarding every aspect of the plans we had developed before telling me I was being reassigned to Madison.  Bill's two major requirements were that the bombs go off at the same time and that the greatest number of police officers would be killed or injured.  Both bombs were to contain fence staples or roofing nails to ensure this effect. Bill Ayers didn't care if innocent people were also killed or injured. Bill had even gone so far as to tell us that the bomb at the 13th precinct should be placed on a window ledge. [As they later did at the park station bombing.]

Those bombs fortunately failed to detonate. Larry's press conference statement can be viewed here.

Larry's description of the bomb components, particularly the use of fence staples, got the attention of retired San Francisco police officer Jim Pera. Pera was one of the first on the scene the day of the bombing and described the scene:

The window to the business office and an interior window, where prisoners were processed for booking were blown out. The walls and furniture were pock marked by shrapnel. Barbed wire fence post staples, from the bomb, were scattered throughout the ground floor of the station. Blood was all over the floor, desks and walls and was heaviest where Sergeant Brian V. McDonnell  suffered mortal wounds to his neck, eyes, face and brain.

Pera also recovered a piece of evidence, a fence staple identical to the type described by Larry Grathwohl, as shown below.
fence staple
He went on to relate:

The station looked like a scene one might expect to see in a war, with wounded officers, blood, shattered windows, damaged walls, floors and ceilings, but then -- it was a war. It was indeed an urban war and it was being conducted by subversive and murderous groups, such as the Weather Underground, whose doctrine advocated the overthrow of the U.S. government, by any means, including murder and assassination, with the goal of replacing it with communism, and by their allies in the Black Liberation Army, whose primary purpose was to kill police officers and destroy our system of government as we know it.
Jim Pera
Jim Pera was right on the money.  They were part of an international conspiracy. Cliff Kincaid, with the assistance of veteran Congressional investigator Herbert Romerstein, have done yeoman's work in documenting the Weather Underground's treasonous activities, including multiple trips made by Ayers and other Weathermen to Cuba and North Vietnam to meet with their communist handlers, some of them from the Cuban  intelligence service, the DGI, and even the Soviet KGB.  

Photo by Kevin Lamb

Ayers and Dohrn have not reformed at all since turning themselves in. In fact, Ayers in particular is now traveling often to the "new Cuba" -- Venezuela.

As Kincaid relates, Ayers has visited Venezuela multiple times to give "education seminars" where he was hailed as:

... a former leader of a "revolutionary and anti-imperialist group" that "brought an armed struggle to the USA for more than 10 years from within the womb of the empire." He returned to the U.S. after hailing "Presidente Chavez," to resume his brainwashing activities at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Not surprisingly, Ayers has described Chavez's Venezuela in glowing terms. At the World Education Forum in Venezuela, he concluded his speech with the following gem:

...we, too, must build a project of radical imagination and fundamental change. Venezuela is poised to offer the world a new model of education- a humanizing and revolutionary model whose twin missions are enlightenment and liberation.... Viva Mission Sucre! Viva Presidente Chavez! Viva La Revolucion Bolivariana! Hasta La Victoria Siempre!

Ayers' adopted son, Chesa Boudin (offspring of Weathermen Kathy Boudin and David Gilbert, (the latter is still in prison) has worked extensively in Venezuela as "a foreign policy advisor to the Chavez government" - without registering as a foreign agent as required by the U.S. government -- and is co-author of a propaganda book, The Venezuelan Revolution: 100 Questions and 100 Answers. As the book review describes it, the authors: "demonstrate considerable sympathy for Chavez and his efforts, and are ultimately dedicated to revealing Chavez as a legitimately elected patriot bent on social justice..." 

Chesa Boudin is seen as a key part of the emerging new "progressive" movement and the resurrected "new SDS (Students for a Democratic Society)" on college campuses. Meanwhile, Ayers and his cohorts have created the Movement for a Democratic Society (MDS), referred to by former Weatherman Mark Rudd as "the SDS old people's auxiliary." See p. 20 of this report by Kincaid and Trevor Loudon.

in a related development, Kincaid reports that Rudd is planning to publish an autobiography, Underground; My Life with SDS and the Weathermen, that describes his activities in the group. In a pre-release copy of the book he admits complicity in the Fort Dix bomb plot:

"...A few nights before [the explosion], Terry [fellow Weatherman Terry Robbins] had told me what his group was planning. ‘We're going to kill the pigs at a dance at Fort Dix,' he said. It was to be an antipersonnel bomb made out of stolen dynamite with sixteen-penny nails for shrapnel. Noncommissioned officers and their wives and dates in New Jersey would pay for the American crimes in Vietnam... I assented to the Fort Dix plan when Terry told me about it. (Emphasis, mine.) I too wanted this country to have a taste of what it had been dishing out daily in Southeast Asia..."

The plot was never executed as the bomb exploded while under construction, killing Weathermen Terry Robbins, Diana Oughton and Ted Gold. This book is set to be published by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation. Kincaid hopes that public furor over the Weathermen's reign of mass murder will force Murdock to cancel the book, as he ultimately did with O.J. Simpson's proposed "If I did it" murder book and TV special.

Sergeant McDonnell left a widow to fend for herself and two children. Those children were damaged for life, robbed of critical fatherly love, guidance and support for the rest of their lives. How, Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, does that make them "equal?" How does that make them "liberated?" How does that make this world a better place? How could you, raised with silver spoons in your spoiled little mouths, never having had to work or support a family without the help of "Daddy", claim to be the administrators of "equality" or "justice?" How on earth do you arrogate to yourselves the role of God?

In his concluding remarks, Jim Pera offered an emotional challenge to the approximately fifty journalists assembled:

"Before giving these two despicable people a forum, in your newspapers and periodicals, perhaps you should do a little bit of research, on their past and present activities. You will find that under those calm facades and intellectual masks, that Bill Ayers and his wife, Bernardine Dohrn, are vicious, cowardly terrorists.

Give up your political correctness, overcome your liberal bias and do some honest research into the background of these two criminals, Ayers and Dohrn. Uncover their past and reveal them to the public. The American people deserve nothing less."

I couldn't have said it better, and I hope Billy Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn finally get what they have coming to them.

It's up to you, Mr. President. You said you found the actions of the Weather Underground despicable. As Cliff Kincaid said at his press conference, "prove it." Tell your Attorney General to provide the evidence to bring the killers of Sgt. McDonnell to justice.
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