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Why No FBI Apology for Judi Bari?

by Nicholas Wilson

Bari was framed in the media by the FBI as a terrorist

Noting that the FBI recently cleared security guard Richard Jewell in the Olympic park bombing in Atlanta last summer, CNN Headline News recently pointed out that Jewell has something in common with Earth First! activists Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney: "A sense that they've all been betrayed by the FBI."

Like Bari, Jewell's name was smeared by police statements in the media as the main suspect in a bombing. Unlike Bari, a U.S. Attorney wrote a highly unusual letter on October 26, stating that he was no longer a suspect.

U.S. Attorney Kent Alexander also wrote a separate statement to Jewell and his mother, noting that they had "regrettably also endured highly unusual and intense publicity that wa neither designed nor desired by the FBI and, in fact, interfered with the investigation." Jewell's attorney said that they considered this an apology.

In contrast to the conciliatory letters to Jewell and his mother, the FBI continues to fight Bari in court, where she is currently suing the FBI and Oakland Police Department for false arrest, illegal search and seizure, and conspiracy to violate free speech rights by discrediting her and Earth First! as terrorists.

Bari has obtained 7,000 pages of FBI and police files and 6,000 pages of sworn testimony

"I can't even describe the terror of waking up in the hospital with my leg in traction, with my body broken, crippled for life, and finding out that I was under arrest for supposedly bombing myself," Bari told CNN on November 11.

Six and a half years ago, CNN was among the major media that carried the news that a bomb had exploded under the seat of her car, fracturing her pelvis in several places and causing major internal injuries that have left her crippled and in constant pain. Bari and passenger Darryl Cherney were arrested while Bari was still in intensive care, accused by the FBI of knowingly transporting the bomb.

After several weeks of sensational media coverage, fed by false FBI claims of evidence tying the bomb to Bari, Cherney, and Earth First!, the district attorney declined to press charges for lack of evidence. The FBI refused to investigate the sources of a series of death threats Bari had received in the months prior to the bombing, or to follow other leads she provided, insisting that Bari and Cherney were the only suspects. After several years during which the FBI investigated the environmental activist community in Northern California, but not anti-environmental groups which had threatened the activists, the FBI quietly closed the case, saying it had run out of leads.

Bari showed CNN the remains of her car with a huge hole blown out of the floorboard, centered directly below her driver's seat, not in plain view on the back seat floor as the FBI said.

Bari said evidence obtained from the FBI through her lawsuit showed that the pipe bomb was triggered by a motion device. "So this was a booby-trap bomb. This was a bomb that was put under my car seat to kill me when the car moved," she told CNN, adding that it is unlikely that anyone would knowingly drive around with a motion-triggered bomb in the car, let alone sitting on top of it.

CNN had former San Francisco FBI spokesman Rick Smith defending the FBI. "From the outset the FBI was confident that this case was solid, and I think they remain confident that the investigation was leading in the right direction."

The FBI denies Bari's legal claims and says that it is immune from such a suit. However, Bari's suit has been upheld by the courts three times previously. She has been able to obtain 7,000 pages of FBI and police files and compiled 6,000 pages of sworn testimony from FBI, OPD, and other witnesses.

The FBI's fourth attempt to dismiss her suit will be the subject of a court hearing in federal court at 1301 Clay St., Oakland at 10 a.m. Friday, November 22, before Judge Claudia Wilken. There will be a support rally at noon outside the courthouse, and the Albion Monitor will provide coverage shortly after.

Doctors have told Bari she may not live more than six months

Bari says she has strong evidence of FBI attempts to cover up its involvement in covert actions aimed at discrediting and "neutralizing" her and Earth First! by using the kind of illegal and unconstitutional tactics revealed in the 1975 Church Committee congressional hearings into the FBI's "COINTELPRO" campaigns against such political groups as the Black Panthers and American Indian Movement. She says FBI agents have obstructed justice in her case by lying under oath and unlawfully withholding documents and evidence she is entitled to.

The FBI says it quit doing covert actions against political groups after the Attorney General, as a result of the 1975 Church Committee findings, put in place guidelines restricting federal law enforcement agencies to investigating crimes, not political activity. However, this restriction has recently been weakened by passage of the "Anti-terrorism" Act in the wake of the Oklahoma City federal building bombing.

Bari, a long time Northern California environmental and labor activist, a leader in the struggle to save Headwaters Forest, public radio host, musician, author, and mother of two young daughters revealed November 1 that she has an aggressive form of breast cancer which has spread to her liver. The outlook is not good, she said. Doctors have told her she may not live more than six months. However, doctors told her after the car bombing that she would not likely walk again, but she proved them wrong.

Friends and supporters of Bari have set up a fund to aid in her medical and living expenses. Donations may be sent to Judi Bari Trust Fund c/o MEC, 106 W. Standley St., Ukiah CA 95482.

A separate fund supports her legal expenses. Tax-deductible contributions payable to the Redwood Justice Fund may be sent to Redwood Summer Justice Project at P.O. Box 14720, Santa Rosa CA 95402.

Photo by Nicholas Wilson
Judi Bari uses a bullhorn microphone to address some of the 1,033 people who were to be arrested at the Headwaters gate on September 15

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Albion Monitor November 19, 1996 (

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