NEW SETTLER: The press had virtually ignored your revelations about FBI incompetence or complicity up till then?
JUDI: Eventually I got discouraged. When we first got the photos of the blown-up car that showed without a doubt that the FBI was lying, we did everything right: we held a press conference, we put out a press release, we called the people to make sure they'd be there, and because it was going to be for TV too, I made a very TV-genic display board of the photos -- in color, blown up big -- I gave a concise speech about it. We gave out press packets with black and white glossies of the photos in them.
I was told by sympathetic
reporters that we did a very good job of presenting the information, and I was sure that all those newspapers that said I had bombed myself would print these photos from the FBI that showed that I didn't. And they wouldn't do it.
The Press Democrat wouldn't print the photos! This paper spent more ink saying I bombed myself probably than any other paper in the region, and when I came up with the police photos, they said: "This isn't a story." I had to pay them $2500 for a half page ad to get them to print the photos at all.
This was the same publication that sent Mike Geniella to Canterbury for an interview he did with Lynn Dahl for the AVA, one respectful of you and respectful of the goals of Redwood Summer.
JUDI: He told the truth about Redwood Summer...
And having done so in print -- all be it in someone else's paper -- the FBI called the Press Democrat (by then owned by the New York Times) and said, "Get rid of Geniella," and they did.
JUDI: I want to correct that a little bit. The excuse that the Press Democrat gave when they took Mike Geniella off the timber beat, the excuse that they gave was because he did an interview with the AVA, and showed bias. (In that interview he says the thing he likes about being a news reporter is that he gets "a front row seat in the parade of events." Ha! There are no spectators in this parade. ) But that excuse is not what shows in my FBI. In my FBI files, as I was sorting through these six thousand pages, to my great surprise, I come upon this memo, and it is from Richard Held, himself, the head of the San Francisco office...
Used to be head of the San Francisco office of the FBI...
JUDI: ...Who resigned, by the way, the day we released those photos that showed that they lied!
But anyway, the memo's from Richard Held, himself, and it says: "Attached is an article written by Mike Geniella," (and it's not the article in the AVA; it's an article that Mike Geniella wrote in August of 1990, and it was called "FBI Targets Earth First! in Terror Probe." ) It was a horrible headline, it made it sound like we were terrorists -- but that wasn't the point of the article.
The article is the only article I've ever seen in any mainstream media -- any media written by anybody other than me, actually! -- in which they connected the operations that the FBI had against Earth First! in Arizona, Montana, and California. This article had a little map with three different places, and people who were the targets of the FBI; and it pointed out that there were these simultaneous discrediting campaigns of Earth First! with various aspects to them, including spending millions of dollars to infiltrate with an agent provocateur in Arizona to get the people to drop a power line and then arrest them in the act of it.
Geniella documented these three operations against Earth First!, and he connected them to each other; nobody had ever done that; and that's the article that is attached to the FBI memo.
It says: "Attached is an article by Mike Geniella about the FBI and Earth First! . . . Mike Geniella knowingly and deliberately lied to make the FBI look bad." And then Richard Held goes on to say:: "So I'm going to contact the editors of the Press Democrat about this, and I suggest that you (William Sessions, the head of the FBI) contact the New York Times, the parent paper."
I immediately gave this to Mike Geniella (he'd never been told the real reason), and the Press Democrat's editor said: "Oh yes, but the FBI never contacted us, so this is just a coincidence that you were removed from the timber beat shortly afterwards."
the head of the Terrorist squad, John Reikes (the one who received the Smiley memo), and he actually, physically wrote the memo to Sessions (because Richard Held doesn't actually write memos. And we discovered the little code: they sign Richard Helm's name with John Reikes initials after it, and that means that he's the actual author.)
We go: "why did you write this memo?"
"Richard Held told me to."
Why did he tell you to?
"Because it was inaccurate. He wanted to correct it. He's really tired of people accusing him of COINTELPRO. He doesn't do these things anymore and he wants people to understand he is very annoyed with the accusation. So, it was just correcting a misunderstanding."
We said: "Why this hostile language?" (We read him the language: "Mike Geniella consciously and deliberately...") "Why this language? It seems so personal and so hostile."
"Richard Held wanted that language in," he said.
We said: "Did the FBI contact the Press Democrat?"
And he said, "Yes."
We said: "How did they do that?"
He said, "I don't know: it was either by letter or by phone."
We said: "Well if it were by letter, would it be in my file?"
"No, I think it would be in a different file."
So we requested a copy of the letter, and if the letter exists I believe we'll get it because the letter is not going to say: Fire Mike Geniella, so it would be in the FBI's interest to produce the letter if it exists.
We said, "Well how do you know the call or letter was actually made or sent?"
Then he showed us these initials at the end of the memo, and it said PUCB and he told us that meant "Proceed Unless Countermanded by the Bureau." So that meant Richard Held said: "I'm going to contact these editors and I will proceed unless countermanded by you, and he was not countermanded. And John Reikes seemed to have an independent memory that Richard Held did so. We haven't deposed Richard Held yet.
Meanwhile for a year, Mike Geniella, silent and fearfully survived Canterbury. Never talking to anyone about why he had been thrown off the timber beat, he the most knowledgeable and painstaking -- and only -- reporter from the straight press covering the struggle over Northcoast forestland.
JUDI: He collected dust in his office for a year. I mean he was deposed from the timber beat in an area where there is nothing happening but timber!
Meanwhile, most of the activists thought the screws had been turned by....
JUDI: ...By L-P, or MAXXAM -- corporate pressure. It never occurred to us that it would be the FBI.
Albion Monitor January 13, 1997 (http://www.monitor.net/monitor)