Written by Cliff Kincaid
May 7, 2008
By Cliff Kincaid
The Chicago Tribune, which once employed Barack Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod, is refusing to publish the truth about a Weather Underground terrorist bombing that killed a policeman. The paper apparently does not want to tarnish the image of Obama friends Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, who were allegedly part of or had direct knowledge of the bombing plot that also injured several other police officers. The Tribune considers Ayers an education expert and has published various articles by him.
Please help Accuracy in Media expose the Tribune’s cover-up.
I sent a copy of the following email message to Tribune reporter Liam Ford on April 27. He was the co-author of an article that consisted of a series of questions and answers about Ayers, the communist terrorist who became a friend of Obama’s and helped launch Obama’s political career. My message said:
“Liam Ford and Mark Jacob:
“You state in your ‘Questions and Answers About Bill Ayers,’ April 24, page 4, that ‘The only people known to be killed or hurt by Weather Underground bombs were bombers themselves.’
“We ask for a correction of this false statement.
“The FBI report on the Weather Underground states, under the title of ‘WUO Bombings and Attempted Bombings,’ that on February 16, 1970, ‘A bomb detonated at the Golden Gate Park Branch of the San Francisco Police Department killing one officer and injuring a number of other policemen.’
“The Society of Former Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation authored a 1979 pamphlet on the WUO that reported, ‘On October 18, 1974, Larry Grathwohl, a former member of the WUO, testified before a US Senate Subcommittee that Bill Ayers, a WUO leader, had told him that Bernardine Dohrn, another WUO leader, had to plan, develop and carry out the bombing of the police station in San Francisco. Ayers told Grathwohl the bomb was placed on the window ledge and he described the bomb that was used to the extent of saying what kind of shrapnel was used in it.’
“Please tell us when and how you intend to correct the record so that we can inform our readers and members.
“Cliff Kincaid, editor, Accuracy in Media.”
Reporter Ford told me that he would look into the matter but later said that he didn’t think the material I provided to him would be considered important enough. This struck me as strange. The paper was taking the word of the terrorists themselves that their bombings had never killed anybody else. The WUO had not publicly claimed responsibility for the bombing of the police station in San Francisco.
So the standard seems to be that if the terrorists themselves take “credit” for a bombing, it will be assigned to them. But if they refuse to publicly take credit, because they don’t want to be implicated in a murder, they will be absolved of responsibility, no matter what the evidence shows. This is partisan political journalism designed to benefit Obama.
The Bomb Blast
Newspaper accounts at the time put the number of people wounded at nine. Riddled with shrapnel, Sgt. Brian V. McDonnell died two days later at San Francisco General Hospital. A memorial was held for him in February 2007. He was a young man with his whole life ahead of him. But to Ayers and Dohrn, he was a “pig.”
“Sergeant McDonnell caught the full force of the flying shrapnel, which consisted of heavy metal staples and lead bullets. As other officers tried rendering aid to the fallen sergeant, they could see that he sustained a severed neck artery wound and severe wounds to his eyes and neck,” the San Francisco Police Officers Association Journal reports.
“Officers [Ron] Martin and [Al] Arnaud, who were standing several feet from the window ledge, were knocked to the ground and sustained injuries from the flying glass,” it says. The blast caused them hearing impairment and shock. One officer was knocked to the floor unconscious, while another “suffered multiple severe wounds on his face, cheek and legs from the flying fragments of the glass.”
Tribune reporter Ford seemed willing at first to correct the record. But he said he would need more direct information. So I decided to go the extra mile. I obtained Grathwohl’s actual congressional testimony and provided this material to him.
The testimony was given by Grathwohl to the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee on October 18, 1974. He testified:
“When he [Bill Ayers] returned, we had another meeting at which time?and this is the only time that any Weathermen told me about something that someone else had done?and Bill started off telling us about the need to raise the level of the struggle and for stronger leadership inside the Weathermen ‘focals’ [i.e., cells] and inside the Weatherman organization as a whole. And he cited as one of the real problems was that someone like Bernardine Dohrn had to plan, develop and carry out the bombing of the police station in San Francisco, and he specifically named her as the person that committed that act.”
Grathwohl added that Ayers “said that the bomb was placed on the window ledge and he described the kind of bomb that was used to the extent of saying what kind of shrapnel was used in it.”
He was asked, “Did he say who placed the bomb on the window ledge?” He replied, “Bernardine Dohrn.”
Asked if Ayers said that he had personally witnessed Dohrn placing the bomb, Grathwohl responded, “Well, if he wasn’t there to see it, somebody who was there told him about it, because he stated it very emphatically.”
This testimony completely obliterates the notion, perpetuated by the Chicago Tribune and other media, that the Weather Underground communist terrorist bombings only killed the bombers themselves. Such propaganda is designed to play down the serious nature of the terrorist crimes. It is also designed to make Obama’s relationship with Ayers and Dohrn more palatable.
Grathwohl includes this conversation with Ayers in his 1976 book, Bringing Down America: An FBI Informer with the Weathermen. The park police station bombing in San Francisco was “a success,” Ayers is quoted as saying, “but it’s a shame when someone like Bernardine Dohrn has to make all the plans, make the bomb, and then place it herself. She should have to do only the planning.”
What a shame that Dohrn had to do all the dirty work. But it’s probably safe to assume that Ayers either helped her or knew about it in advance.
Grathwohl reveals that Ayers himself knew how to make bombs and didn’t care about people being killed. At one point, he says, Ayers displayed a diagram of a bomb, with dynamite and a fuse. The plan was to bomb a police station but an objection was raised that it would also destroy a nearby restaurant. “We’ll blow out the Red Barn restaurant,” Grathwohl said. “Maybe even kill a few innocent customers?and most of them are black.”
“We can’t protect all the innocent people in the world,” Ayers replied. “Some will get killed. Some of us will get killed. We have to accept that fact.”
Grathwohl says the Weather Underground also considered using kidnappings and assassinations in order to bring about their communist revolution in the U.S. Possible kidnapping targets were Vice President Spiro Agnew and presidential aide Henry Kissinger.
Time Will Tell
For more than a week I have gone back and forth with reporter Ford and the office of the Tribune ombudsman, or consumer advocate. His name is Timothy McNulty. I talked to his assistant and left messages on his telephone answering machine. Ford told me at one time that McNulty was on jury duty, which had left the issue unresolved. Eventually, the public editor’s office told me that they are under no obligation to disclose when or if they will correct anything.
Yet, the paper insists that “Publishing information quickly and accurately is a central part of the Chicago Tribune’s news responsibility and a value shared in all our publications…We take our readers’ concerns about accuracy seriously and will promptly investigate when we are alerted to possible errors.”
The reluctance to correct the record may have something to do with an April 18 Chicago Tribune editorial, “Guilt by Association,” which said that while Ayers and Dohrn should be repentant about their terrorist activities, “they have done good work in Chicago” and that Chicago Mayor Richard Daley was correct when he said that linking them to Obama was “playing guilt by association.”
Why should Obama be harshly judged because he hangs around with criminal terrorists? The paper advised people to get back to the “real campaign.”
But has the Tribune become part of the Obama campaign? It turns out that Obama campaign strategist Axelrod worked for the Tribune for eight years as a reporter. It also turns out that Ayers has been a contributor of columns to the Tribune. He has written for the paper on at least five occasions about educational matters.
So perhaps the paper is reluctant to spill the beans about someone whose work it has published and now regards as a respected member of the Chicago establishment.
The Big Lie
The Weather Underground Communist terrorists have long peddled the line that their bombings didn’t kill anybody, except themselves. The book flap for Ayers book, Fugitive Days, insists that the organization carried out “strategic, bloodless bombings, including one inside the Pentagon.”
Bloodless? Tell that to the family of the San Francisco policeman and those who were injured. The book flap goes on to say that “Ayers and his comrades” became “America’s other Viet Nam vets.”
Ayers was part of a communist movement, with controllers in such places as Hanoi and Havana, that resulted in a communist takeover of South Vietnam and the ultimate sacrifice of the lives of more than 58,000 American soldiers in vain. If he was a Vietnam vet, he was on the communist side.
Perhaps the paper can ask Ayers and Dohrn about their alleged involvement in or knowledge of the San Francisco bombing. Perhaps the paper already has this information and is sitting on it. There is a report that a grand jury is currently investigating the 1970 bombing.
If Ayers and Dohrn have refused to talk about this to the Tribune, could their silence have something to do with the fact that there is no statute of limitations on murder?
Which raises a question that the media should put to Senator Obama: do you think, in view of the evidence, that either of your friends, Bill Ayers or Bernardine Dohrn, should be indicted and prosecuted for murder?