Emperor's Clothes Newsletter * 2 December 2008

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The Weathermen Redeemed, Part 3:

Obama Forgets the Early ’80s
(and the Weathermen)

by Jared Israel
Edited by Samantha Criscione

[Nov. 21, 2008; updated Nov. 28, 2008]

Other articles in the
"Weathermen Redeemed" series:

Part 1: Obama and Ayers: The Provocateur Exhumed

Part 2: Obama and Ayers:Obama’s “I-was-only-8” Lie

Part 4: A Weatherman Dream in New York

Also see: A Nightmare of Human Potential
Reply to Bill Ayers' New York Times Editorial


In Part One of this series I predicted that the Republican attack on, and the Democratic defense of, Barack Obama for alleged links to Weathermen Bill Ayers and wife Bernardine Dohrn would position Dohrn and Ayers as controversial media celebrities, rather than pariahs, which they should be, especially for anyone who opposed the Vietnam war (or who would have opposed it, had they been old enough).

Alas, my prediction is coming true.

The Republicans have portrayed the Weathermen as 1960s student radicals and terrorists, as if the two were one and the same. By casting Ayers and Dohrn as representative of the 1960s student movement, the Republicans have encouraged anyone who thinks the Vietnam war was wrong to sympathize with the Weathermen. The Democrats have minimized the Weathermen’s crimes, depicting them as an extreme expression of a split in U.S. society, which must now be healed, while describing Ayers as a credit to mankind.

In fact, Weatherman values were the antithesis of the student movement of the 60s, which is why, unable to dominate Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), the Weathermen did their best to destroy it.

Currently the more conservative Republicans have been the main ones attacking the Weathermen, which fact has been used to create the impression that anyone harshly condemning the Weathermen must be an ultra-Rightist, thus polarizing the issue.

My critique does not come from the Right. It comes from concern (perhaps concern is too mild a word) over the gangsterization of politics, regarding which the Weathermen are prophets and cheerleaders.

Taking some of the Weatherman rhetoric at face value, the Right accepts their self-description as the extreme of opposition to the Establishment.  For me (and I am not alone) in their glorification of gangsterism-with-a-left-sounding-facade, including Muslim extremist terror, the Weathermen have been the vanguard of the Establishment. (Thus, in 1985, more than a decade after the Weathermen's trail-blazing endorsement of Muslim extremist terror as revolutionary, former national security chief Zbigniew Brzezinski and then State Department big shot Zalmay Khalilzad promoted the so-called ‘Afghan Arabs’ as freedom fighters.
[1] )

And after all, how many people who have written a book taking credit for Class A felonies including murder can boast that the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Colin Powell) ordered a U.S. presidential candidate (John McCain) to lay off publicly attacking them? [2]

I know the Weathermen all too well from fighting them before and after they left SDS. In 1969 in SDS I raised many of the same points about the Weathermen that I am making now. In raising these points, I believe I am speaking for thousands of people who were involved in the student movement in the 1960s, whose voices are not being heard.


Mummies, arise!


In Part One I argued that the current whitewash of the Weathermen shows that the Establishment is airing out the Dohrn-Ayers mummies so the media may once again levitate them as Oracles of the Left.

My argument was counterintuitive because ever since Obama was first questioned about his relations with Ayers and Dohrn, these Weatherman leaders refused to utter a squeak. However, immediately the election was over, the Weather-leaders had Weather-justifying interviews on Democracy Now!, which has a big audience on the Left, such as it is; on the top ABC TV daytime program, “Good Morning America”; and on National Public Radio (NPR). (In just two days, NPR managed to broadcast three programs featuring Ayers.) 

Perhaps these appearances should be called not interviews but advertisements, since the hosts have not only failed to challenge Ayers’ lies, but have treated him with reverence.

Lest anyone think that in describing the media coverage as "advertisements" I am engaging in hyperbole, take a look at the screenshot below, in which National Public Radio promotes Ayers’ book, telling listeners that if they buy it NPR will get a commission. As Ayers would say, ain’t America great?

Considering this a collector’s item, I took a couple of screen shots, so in case NPR takes the ad down it will nevertheless be posted, as it was Nov. 24, 2008, as a reminder, eternally.
Above, National Public Radio’s ad, urging readers to buy Ayers’ terror-glorifying book. As of November 28th it has been posted nine days at:

Screen shot of page with NPR ad for Ayers’ book. Larger version at

The whole time Ayers was interviewed on “Good Morning America,” ABC ran the following screen title, which says more about ABC than about Ayers:

“Center of Political Firestorm: William Ayers sets the record straight.” [4]


The above screen title ran throughout Ayers’ interview on ABC, Nov. 14, 2008. Source: http://abcnews.go.com/video/playerIndex?id=6252793
Larger version at http://emperors-clothes.com/images/ABC-ay3.jpg

Notice that ABC didn’t use the screen title, “William Ayers presents his side.” That would have been neutral. Instead, according to ABC, he “sets the record straight,” a partisan description. So the media’s Weatherman Redemption Project (WRP) has reached the point where the unpunished and self-glorifying Mr. Ayers constitutes Respectability, Unjustly accused, compelled to refute tiresome slanders.

The day Bill Ayers talks straight it will rain up, but never you mind: the media can perform miracles of public perception.


Lie within a lie


In Part Two of this series, “Obama’s ‘I-was-only-8’ Lie,” I started examining Obama’s official “Fact Check on Obama and Ayers,” which begins this way:

[Excerpt from “Fact Check” starts here]

Reality: Obama was eight years old when the Weathermen were active.

Obama Turned Eight In August 1969, The [Weatherman – J.I.] Days Of Rage Occurred In October 1969. Barack Obama was born on August 4, 1961. He turned eight on August 4, 1969. The Days of Rage, in which William Ayers participated, occurred in October 1969.

[My emphasis. Capitalization and punctuation as in original – J.I.]

[Excerpt from “Fact Check” ends here]

Notice the repetition verging on self-parody, an effect enhanced by Obama’s complaint, made on ABC Television, that he has had to repeat his ‘I was only eight in 1969 when the Weathermen were active’ mantra “many times.” [6]

The problem is, it’s a lie. Not a straightforward lie, but a tricky or ‘cute’ lie. Because, while the two component clauses are true if taken separately – Obama was eight in 1969, and Ayers and the Weathermen were active that year – once connected by the conjunction ‘when,’ the clauses communicate the lie that Ayers and the Weatherman were inactive after 1969.

The truth? In 1969 the Weathermen bolted from SDS and then conducted some violent demonstrations in Chicago (“Days of Rage”), and a slew of bizarre and violent attacks on ordinary people around the U.S., attacks justified on the grounds that, as Bill Ayers, Mark Rudd and other Weathermen publicly argued, a) while white people are essentially the enemy, nevertheless, b) if put “up against the wall” by physically violent Weathermen, many white working class youth, respecting only violence (i.e., being thugs)
would accept the (thuggish) Weathermen’s political positions and join the Revolution, because “fighting knows winning.”

Ironically sloganized as “Power to the People,” not only did these attacks manifest the Weathermen’s signature contempt for working people, but they constituted terror: violence and the tension of threatened violence to coerce the acceptance of their political stance based on fear.  However, it was only after 1969 that the Weathermen began their decade and a half campaign of bombings, complete with much-publicized communiqués, and armed robberies.

So Obama’s defense is a lie. Such a lie is interesting. For one thing, if the crafters are shrewd, the construction of the lie may reveal the liars’ goals, and Obama and his advisors – including the infamous Zbigniew Brzezinski, a leading theoretician of subterfuge – are nothing if not shrewd.

The point of the I-was-only-eight-when-they-were-active lie is:

‘Hey, this Weatherman stuff has no personal meaning for Obama. In 1969 he was just a kid and totally unaware. It’s ancient history for him and should be for you too.’

Notice that while telling us the Weathermen did “despicable” [8] things only in 1969 (thus lying about the Weathermen) Obama also tells us that he was too young to be aware when they were active. This is also a lie. A lie within a lie.


Sleeping through the storm?


Not only did the Weathermen in fact commit some of their ugliest crimes when Obama was a thinking adult, long after 1969, but their crimes hit him right where he has written he cared the most – the issue of black-white relations. Not to mention that they committed the crimes in his own back yard. And, of special relevance to Obama’s “I-was-only-eight” statement, since he made it to refute the charge that he was and is close to Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn: Ms. Dohrn was implicated.

According to Obama’s New York Times bio, he transferred to Columbia University in Manhattan in August 1981, when he was twenty-years old, and lived in New York until some time in 1984.
[9] So he was in New York during his early twenties.

On October 20, 1981, shortly after Obama started the fall term at Columbia, a gang composed of Weathermen and members of the so-called Black Liberation Army staged a Brink’s armored car robbery and vicious triple killing, one of a series of such crimes, dating back to 1976.

Three of the Weathermen (Kathy Boudin, Judith Clark and David Gilbert) were seized fleeing the crime. A media drama followed that lasted several years and that, given how Obama describes himself in his autobiographical book, Dreams from my father, should have horrified him.

Obama’s only possible defense for not mentioning any of this during the months when he was under attack for his alleged ties to Ayers and Dohrn is that he didn’t notice the Weatherman-caused storm that raged in New York during the years he lived there.

Is that believable?

Let us look at the record.


Intensive media coverage


Obama transferred to Columbia University, in the Upper West Side of New York, in August 1981. [See footnote 9]

On October 22, 1981, two months after Obama’s arrival, the New York Times announced that, of the four people arrested trying to flee police following a murderous armored car robbery in Rockland County in greater New York, two were now known to be Weathermen. The headline:

“2 Women in Brink’s Case Identified with Weathermen from Start in ’69”

The New York Times, October 22, 1981 [10]

(Ironically, this headline highlights the point that while the Weathermen started in 1969 they certainly didn’t end then, thus refuting Obama’s ‘Weathermen-were-[only]-active-in-1969’ claim twenty-seven years before he made it.)

The following day (October 23rd) the New York Times published seven Brink’s-Weatherman articles including one on page one, and the Times gave regular coverage to the unfolding nightmare through most of the ’80s.

Did Obama read the New York Times?

At Columbia, Obama majored in political science, specializing in foreign affairs. His thesis adviser describes him as “outstanding.” [See footnote 9] The New York Times is the leading U.S. paper for foreign affairs. Therefore, it is inconceivable that Obama did not read the Times.

But even if he didn’t, all New York newspapers and radio and TV news gave top billing to the sensational robbery-murder, as did the media nationwide. There was no way to escape this news.

For example, even if, on October 22nd, Obama was reading the Washington Post, the second most important U.S. newspaper for foreign affairs, he likely would have seen this headline on page one:

“Weatherman Fugitive Arrested in N.Y.; Weather Underground Activist [Activist? – J.I.]Arrested After Shootout; Guard, 2 Officers Killed in Shoot-Outs”

The Washington Post, October 22, 1981 [11]

The media coverage continued, intensively. As late as September 1983, after Obama had graduated and was reportedly working at a New York newsletter company [see footnote 9], Time Magazine reported:

It has been nearly two years since a group of self-styled revolutionaries shocked the nation by holding up an armored truck in Rockland County, N.Y., killing a Brink’s guard and, in a subsequent shootout, two local police officers. It was quickly apparent that the attack was not merely a last violent gasp of the radicalism born in the ’60s. Information gleaned from the robbery and murder scenes led police to “safe houses” in Mount Vernon, N.Y., The Bronx and elsewhere, from which they carted away truckloads of evidence. With that material, plus leads provided by informants, police began a nationwide conspiracy probe that is still going on.”
[My emphasis – J.I.]

Time Magazine, Sept. 5, 1983 [12]

Obama would have noticed the Brink’s robbery-murder even if it did not compel attention. But it did. Not only were several Weathermen arrested, but the crime was:


Shockingly brutal


The Brink’s killings took place at two locations: a shopping mall in Nanuet, in Rockland County, New York, where three armored car guards were shot, one fatally, and a roadblock in nearby Nyack, also in Rockland County, where several policemen were shot, two fatally.

Most armed robbers avoid gratuitous violence. Not this gang. According to witnesses, at the Nanuet Mall they just jumped out of a van and started shooting:

“‘They didn’t even ask them to hand over the money,’ declared an incredulous witness. ‘They just blasted away.’”

Time Magazine, Nov. 2, 1981 [13]

Newsweek reported:

“Just as guard Joseph Trombino reached the truck with the bags of cash, two men jumped out of a passing van and opened fire with shotguns. A third man emerged from the mall and began shooting a 9-mm automatic. Brink’s guard Peter Paige fell dead instantly, and Trombino took a bullet in the shoulder. The gunmen grabbed the money – six bags containing $1.6 million – and roared away in the van.”

Newsweek, Nov. 2, 1981 [14]

Trombino’s arm was practically severed at the shoulder. A third guard was shot in the head.

The New York Times
reported that after an emergency operation failed to save the life of Sgt. Edward O’Grady, one of the policemen gunned down at the roadblock:

“Dr. Herbert Sperling, a surgeon and chairman of the hospital’s medical executive committee, said an examination of three bullet fragments seemed to indicate that the gunmen had used ‘hollow-nose bullets of some type.’”

The New York Times, October 21, 1981 [15]

Hollow-nose bullets are designed to expand on impact, maximizing damage.

The other policeman, Waverly Brown, died at the roadblock. The Times interviewed a witness:

“‘They shot him in the back – he didn’t have to do that,’ the witness said.”


So: a gang, including Weathermen, plus over-the-top violence. How could anyone forget this story?

Moreover, it impacted Obama:


Right where he lived


On October 23, 1981 the Times reported on page one that Weatherman Judith Clark, arrested fleeing police after the Brink’s robbery-murders, lived on West 98th Street, one mile from Columbia. Weatherman Kathy Boudin, also captured while fleeing police, lived in Morningside Heights, nearer to Columbia.

According to the Times, the area around Columbia was trendy for Weathermen:

“The Upper West Side has been a haven for radicals moving underground for years. Miss Boudin lived on Morningside Heights, a half-mile north of Miss Clark. And Bernardine Dohrn and William Ayres [sic!], other former Weather Underground leaders, had an apartment on the Upper West Side before she surfaced last year [i.e., in December 1980 – J.I.]”
[My emphasis – J.I.]

The New York Times, October 23, 1981
[See footnote 16]

(Three years later, in February 1984, the Washington Post reported that Ayers and Dohrn were still living in the Upper West Side.) [17]

Notice that in the excerpt posted above, the Times refers to Boudin and Clark and “other former Weather Underground leaders” Dohrn and Ayers.  So according to the Times, all four were “former,” including the two who had just been arrested for robbery-murder.

But earlier in the same article we are told:

“In another development, a third of the four captured robbery suspects [i.e. David Gilbert – J.I.] was identified as a member of the Weather Underground. Two suspects, Katherine Boudin and Judith A. Clark, had been identified as members of the terrorist group on Wednesday.”
[My emphasis – J.I.]

The New York Times, October 23, 1981
[See footnote 16]

Notice: no “former.”

Boudin and Clark are presented as members of the Weather Underground “terrorist group” when their names come up separately from Dohrn and Ayers, but they morph into “former” members of the Weather Underground, with no reference to terror, when their names come up in conjunction with Dohrn and Ayers. This is not a fluke.  It follows a pattern in the coverage of the Brink’s affair throughout the early ’80s: arrested Weathermen are usually referred to as Weathermen, or members of the Weather Underground, present tense; but immediately Dohrn and Ayers are present, all become  “former,” and poof!the Weather Underground is dissolved. As in all magic tricks, the hand is quicker than the eye.

Having the public misperceive Weatherman founders Dohrn and Ayers as “former” headed off awkward questions, and still does:

A) Why were Dohrn and Ayers never jailed for  Weatherman felonies – indeed, for a string of felonies arguably constituting a racketeering conspiracy under Federal law – for which Dohrn took credit at the time, and of which Dohrn and Ayers have publicly boasted since ‘surfacing’ in December 1980?

B) Why should anyone believe that Dohrn and Ayers did not continue to consult with, incite and direct the Weathermen in the Brink’s gang, which gang would soon be accused, under Federal racketeering law, of conducting many robberies between 1976 and 1981, involving at least one other cold-blooded murder in June 1981?

In labeling Dohrn and Ayers “former,” the media granted them absolution, laying the basis for the current Weatherman Redemption Project (WRP), just as when the English King would pardon a pirate, in return for services rendered (perhaps the very ‘services’ for which he was being pardoned), followed by professorships, philanthropic posts and appearances on “Good Morning America,” and eventually Knighthood.

Returning to the matter of location, the New York Times also reported that police investigating the Brink’s job had searched three apartments in Manhattan, and:

“Two of the Manhattan apartments were at 243 West 97th Street and 201 West 97th Street.”

The New York Times, October 23, 1981
[See footnote 16]

Obama states that in Fall 1981 he lived on West 109th Street near Amsterdam Avenue, [18] meaning he lived half a mile from arrested Weatherman Clark; the same distance from the two apartments the police reportedly searched; and closer to arrested Weatherman Boudin. So, all in the neighborhood. How could he possibly forget?

And then there was the matter of what police reported finding in those and other apartments, and whom they started searching for.

Continued in Part 4 of this series, “A Weatherman Dream in New York.”


Footnotes and Further Reading


[1] Brzezinski and Khalilzad set up a congressionally-funded company for the stated purpose of teaching the mujahideen how to feed reporters the lie that they were Freedom Fighters resisting Soviet colonialism.

See, “Zbigniew and Zalmay’s Excellent Afghan Pro-Terrorist Propaganda Adventure,” by Jared Israel, at http://www.emperors-clothes.com/analysis/zbi-zal.htm

[2] See “Powell endorses Obama, chides McCain campaign tone,” The Associated Press, October 19, 2008, by Stephen Ohlemacher, at http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081019/ap_on_el_pr/powell Backed up at http://www.tenc.net/a/arch/powell.htm

The transcript of Colin Powell’s endorsement of Obama on MSNBC’s “Meet the Press” is posted at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/27266223/page/2/
Backed up at

[3] On November 18 and 19, NPR broadcast three (!) programs hyping Bill Ayers, including:

his remarks at a books signing, “As Election Spotlight Dims, Ayers The Author Speaks,” Nov. 18, 2008, at

a 43-minute long interview, “Which Way The Wind Blows: Bill Ayers On Obama,” Nov. 18, 2008, at

and a 21-minute long faux interview, “Ayers Ends Silence On Obama, Terrorist Accusations,” Nov. 19, 2008, at

Among Bill Ayers’ other appearances:

November 14, 2008, “Democracy Now! Exclusive (Part 1): Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn on the Weather Underground, the McCain Campaign Attacks, President-Elect Obama and the Antiwar Movement Today,” at
http://snipurl.com/6ai4b [www_democracynow_org]

November 14, 2008, “Good Morning America,” ABC TV, see “Campaign Boogeyman William Ayers Talks to ‘GMA’;
Chris Cuomo Grills ’60s Radical Bill Ayers,” by Mark Mooney, at
http://snipurl.com/6am6u [abcnews_go_com]

November 24, 2008, “Democracy Now! Exclusive (Part 2): Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn on the Weather Underground, the McCain Campaign Attacks, President-Elect Obama and the Antiwar Movement Today,” at
http://snipurl.com/70ghu [www_democracynow_org]

[4] See the video of Ayers’ interview on “Good Morning America” on November 14, 2008 at

[5] See “Fact Check on Obama and Ayers,” Obama campaign website, April 17, 2008, at
http://snipurl.com/502e9 [factcheck_barackobama_com]

[6] “‘Why don’t we just clear it up right now,’ Obama told ABC News’ Charlie Gibson in an exclusive interview for World News. ‘I’ll repeat again what I’ve said many times. This is a guy who engaged in some despicable acts 40 years ago when I was eight years old. By the time I met him, 10 or 15 years ago, he was a college professor of education at the University of Illinois’”
[My emphasis – J.I.]

See “Obama: McCain Scoring ‘Cheap Political Points’ – Democratic Contender Discusses Economy in Post-Debate Exclusive with Charlie Gibson,” by Katie Escherich and Lauren Sher, October 8, 2008

For the text of Obama’s interview with ABC News’ Charlie Gibson, see “Transcript: Gibson Interviews Barack Obama. Obama Says ‘The Notion That People Don’t Know Who I Am’ Is ‘Hard to Swallow’,” ABC News’ interview with Barack Obama for “World News With Charles Gibson,” October 8, 2008, partial transcript, at

[7] For example, Brzezinski boasts of originating the strategy of using Western-led mujahideen to attack Afghanistan, thus luring the U.S.S.R. into sending in troops, and simultaneously producing the international Islamist movement.

See, “Ex-Security Chief Brzezinski’s Interview Makes Clear: The Muslim Terrorist Apparatus was Created by US Intelligence as a Geopolitical Weapon,” by Jared Israel at

Although Brzezinski had no official title in the Reagan government, his protégé Zalmay Khalilzad became the top strategic planner for Afghan affairs, meaning strategy for using the mujahideen. In 1985, Khalilzad and Brzezinski set up a U.S.-funded corporation to train the mujahideen in selling themselves as freedom fighters to an unsuspecting world.

See, “Zbigniew and Zalmay’s Excellent Afghan Pro-Terrorist Propaganda Adventure,” by Jared Israel, at http://www.emperors-clothes.com/analysis/zbi-zal.htm

[8] See footnote 6.

[9] See “Obama’s Account of New York Years Often Differs From What Others Say,” The New York Times, by Janny Scott, October 30, 2007, at

2 Women in Brink’s Case Identified with Weathermen from Start in ’69, The New York Times, October 22, 1981, by Paul L. Montgomery, Thursday, Late City Final Edition, Section B; Page 4, Column 1; Metropolitan Desk, 1723 words, posted at

[11] “Weatherman Fugitive Arrested in N.Y.; Weather Underground Activist Arrested After Shootout; Guard, 2 Officers Killed in Shoot-Outs,” The Washington Post, October 22, 1981, by Joyce Wadler, First Section; A1, 1290 words

[12] “Trials on Twin Tracks,” Time magazine, Sept. 5, 1983, by Michael S. Serrill; Jonathan Beaty

[13] “Bullets from the Underground,” Time Magazine, Nov. 2, 1981, by Claudia Wallis; James Wilde; Peter Staler

[14] “Return of the Weatherman,” Newsweek, November 2, 1981, by Peter McGrathrath, with Susan Agrest and Eric Gelman in New York, Ray Saywhill in Nyack, and Frank Gibney Jr. and George Hackett in Stamford

[15] “3 Killed in Armored Car Holdup,” The New York Times, October 21, 1981, by Josh Barbanel, Wednesday, Late City Final Edition, Section A; Page 1, Column 2; Metropolitan Desk, 1399 words

[16] “Police Raid Apartments to Gather Evidence on Killings in Rockland,” The New York Times, October 23, 1981, by Robert D. McFadden, Friday, Late City Final Edition, Section A; Page 1, Column 3; Metropolitan Desk, 1975 words, posted at http://emperors-clothes.com/dohrn-brink.htm#11

[17] “A Revolutionary; Kathy Boudin Clings to Radicalism While Facing Trial in Brink’s Murders,” Washington Post, February 21, 1984, by Margot Hornblower

[18] See p. 113 in Adobe Digital Edition of Barack Obama, Dreams from My Father, Crown Publishers, New York, 2004


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