Letters to SF ExaminerWith a hearing set for April 15, 1999 in Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney's lawsuit against the FBI and Oakland Police, a new disinformation attack has been mounted on Judi's memory and character by longtime foes and critics.
This attack comes in the form of articles in a weird conspiracy buff magazine promoting the theory that Judi wasn't bombed for her forest activism after all, and that her ex-husband should be suspected of placing the bomb in her car that nearly killed her in 1990. These articles are a hoax based on a bogus investigation by a small-time conspiracy "reporter" involving no evidence and a lot of bizarre speculation. The author admitted his agenda was to clear the name of a person Judi Bari accused of being an undercover informer and provocateur by pointing suspicion elsewhere.
Until now the attack was carried forward only in limited circulation alternative press publications, mainly a yellow-journalism weekly published and edited by a man known for attacking and belittling Judi even in her obituary.
But on March 8, just six days after the second anniversary of Judi's death from breast cancer, the San Francisco Examiner published a story about this highly suspect theory.
Below are two letters to the editor of the Examiner, the first from Tanya Brannan of RSJP, the second from Dan Hamburg, former Member of Congress. As of March 14, the Examiner has not seen fit to publish either of these letters.
From: Tanya Brannan, RSJP
To: San Francisco Examiner
Subject: Eric Brazil's article on Judi Bari Bombing
Date: Tuesday, March 09, 1999
Editor, San Francisco Examiner:
Re Monday's article on the 1990 car-bombing assassination attempt on environmental activist Judi Bari, I can only say, "What's wrong with this picture?" The Examiner gives wild accusations -- derived from a bogus investigation by a small-time conspiracy "reporter" involving no evidence and a lot of bizarre speculation -- two big photos and three columns of Page A-3 ink.
Contrast this with the complete absence of coverage of a nine-year investigation involving thousands of pages of FBI documents and hundreds of hours of testimony under oath, all of which paint a picture of FBI dirty tricks too strong to be ignored by the courts.
Your own reporter states these "new accusations" are not credible enough for the FBI and Oakland Police to investigate. Why then would they turn up in your newspaper? First the FBI, in defiance of their own overwhelming evidence, told the press Judi Bari bombed herself and you dutifully reported it. Now a wannabe "reporter" says her ex-husband did it, and you report that. Why isn't the Examiner reporting on those who had the real motive to get rid of Judi Bari -- corporate timber?
Here are a few points your reporter saw fit to leave out:
- Judi Bari was a political target. She was at the forefront of a growing movement to save the last of the old-growth redwoods, made truly dangerous to the timber industry by Bari's union background and the alliance between loggers and environmentalists she spearheaded.
- The bomb that was meant to kill her was preceded by a series of death threats and fake press releases fomenting violence against Earth First!ers (compliments of corporate P.R. firm Hill & Knowlton), not to mention an FBI bomb training school held just up the road from Bari's hometown just a few weeks before the blast.
- Bari's civil rights lawsuit against the FBI and Oakland Police makes such a strong case against the government that it has survived multiple motions to dismiss. Far from "languishing" in the courts, the FBI is desperately trying to avoid this case coming to trial. Yet despite their strategy of multiple appeals and procedural delays, we expect to get a trial date soon after the April 15th hearing on Oakland's latest baseless appeal.
- With the First Amendment rights of all activists at stake, Judi Bari never backed down. She continued her frontline activism to challenge corporate control of the environment and took on the additional burden of a civil rights case to guarantee our right to continue that struggle without fear of bombing, harassment and intimidation by corporate and government thugs.
Nearly two years to the day after her death and on International Women's Day besides, why wasn't that the Judi Bari story the Examiner ran?
Tanya Brannan[Note: formatting and boldfacing added]
Redwood Summer Justice Project
PO Box 14720, Santa Rosa, CA 95402
From: Dan Hamburg, former Member of Congress
Subject: Judi Bari Bombing
Date: March 11, 1999
Editor, San Francisco Examiner:
While the accusation that Judi Bari’s ex-husband bombed her makes for titillating reading, the substance is puzzling and the timing suspect.
A few days after the May 1990 bombing, while Judi languished in a hospital with a pulverized pelvis, my wife and I organized a rally in front of the courthouse in Ukiah. Several dozen people came to protest the arrest of Judi and Darryl Cherney by authorities who for reasons unknown to this day accused them of transporting the bomb that maimed them. The theme of the rally was: Investigate the FBI!
I did not become closely associated with Judi Bari until 1992, nearly two years after the Oakland bombing. She approached me when I was running for Congress that year and asked whether I would be willing, if elected, to help her pursue her lawsuit against the FBI and the Oakland police.
While serving in Congress, I did everything in my power to persuade the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Don Edwards, to hold hearings on the conduct of the FBI in this case. I was ultimately unsuccessful in swaying Chairman Edwards, though he acknowledged that FBI actions in this case bore striking resemblance to Bureau actions directed against CISPES, the Black Panthers, and the American Indian Movement from the late 1960s through the 1980s. I will never know whether Edwards’s reluctance was due to his being a former FBI agent, or due to his personal friendship with Bureau Director Bill Sessions.
Judi had done a tremendous amount of research before reaching the conclusion that it was the FBI, in collusion with the timber corporations of the north coast, who held the key to the identification of the bomber. Even Anderson Valley Advertiser publisher Bruce Anderson, who believes Judi’s ex-husband to be guilty, admits that the FBI was swarming all over the north coast during this time period, including conducting simulated car-bombings on timber corporation land.
Of course, the Bureau has repeatedly denied wrongdoing. But my theory is that if it walks, swims, and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck. We’re supposed to believe that all the bad stuff--the sabotage, infiltration, and assassination--was in the past. Sadly, the bad old days were still upon us when Judi was bombed, and I'm willing to bet they’re still upon us today.
The question that should be asked is: with the lawsuit against the FBI coming back to court next month, whose interest is served in pointing the finger away from the feds and the timber beasts?
Dan Hamburg[Note: formatting and boldfacing added]
For more information about the new attack on Judi Bari and the lawsuit against the FBI, see Statement from RSJP