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"
Obama and Ayers: The Provocateur Exhumed
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).
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
so-called ‘Afghan Arabs’ as freedom fighters.
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?
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.
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.) 
appearances should be called not interviews but advertisements, since the
hosts have not only failed to challenge Ayers’ lies, but have treated him with
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,
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:
The whole time Ayers was interviewed on “Good Morning America,”
ABC ran the following screen title, which says more about ABC than
“Center of Political Firestorm: William Ayers sets the record straight.”
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
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
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.”
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)
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
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?
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
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.
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
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
On October 22, 1981, two months after Obama’s arrival, the
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
– The New York Times, October 22, 1981
(Ironically, this headline highlights the point that while the
Weathermen started in 1969 they certainly didn’t end
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
Brink’s-Weatherman articles including one on page one, and the Times
gave regular coverage to the unfolding nightmare through most of the
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
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
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
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:
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
“‘They didn’t even ask them to hand over the
money,’ declared an incredulous witness. ‘They just blasted away.’”
– Time Magazine, Nov. 2, 1981
“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
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
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
So: a gang, including Weathermen, plus over-the-top violence. How could
anyone forget this story?
Moreover, it impacted Obama:
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.) 
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
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
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
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,
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.”