JUDI: This was a big priority case, supposedly. When they took the bomb components to the lab, they said: TOP PRIORITY, DROP WHAT YOU'RE DOING. They said that to the person who helped carry the bomb parts and helped catalog them. And yet those bomb parts sat in the San Francisco office for a week.
They sat in the San Francisco office for a week, under twenty-four hour guard, until the Lord's Avenger letter came out. And when they were finally sent to the lab in D.C., three things were sent together: the Cloverdale bomb, the Lord's Avenger letter, and the bomb in my car.
And they were listed by the lab in that order: first the Cloverdale bomb -- it gets the first "Q numbers", which stands for "Questioned Items" (I have learned what all these FBI codes mean.) The Cloverdale bomb was 1-15; 16-19 was the Lord's Avenger letter, then 20- 200 or whatever, was the bomb in my car. So they really connected all of these three things when they sent them to the lab.
I now realize
the FBI also had access to the information in the Lord's Avenger letter. And I realize what a ruse that letter proved to be. By the time the Lord's Avenger letter came out the FBI knew 1) that I didn't die. They knew I was going to live. And that was going to really hurt. |
If somebody bombed me with the intention of killing me and I had died, and if Darryl hadn't been in the car (which was the intention) we wouldn't have legal access to these photos. We wouldn't have legal access to this testimony. There would be no case, because there would be no [plaintiff]. Like Karen Silkwood, there would be a question that would never be resolved. Some people would think I bombed myself; some people would think I didn't. But there would be no way to get legal access to the information.
But by the time the Lord's Avenger letter was written, it was clear that I was going to live. And also, it was clear that their accusation wasn't going to hold up -- who I was. I think the FBI misjudged me. I don't think they did their homework well enough. I don't think they understood how much support we had in the community. And I don't think anybody has ever acknowledged the incredible thing our community did standing up to that act of terror with non-violence the way we did. I don't think we've ever given ourselves credit for it...At any rate, by the time the Lord's Avenger letter came out, it was clear that this was probably not going to work: saying that we bombed ourselves. And so they needed an alternative: the Lord's Avenger posed a plausible, lone assassin, not associated with timber or the FBI, and it removed the investigation from Oakland, where the bomb was really placed, to Willits, where the bomb was not placed, and where there were an infinite number of suspects...
Including Bill Staley. . . Bill Staley was from Potter Valley, had worked at the L-P mill in Potter Valley -- or Covelo -- both mills were closed down by L-P the previous year. Staley it was told, had at one time showed up at a Baptist church to guest preach in a helmet, carrying a sword: imagery from the Lord's Avenger's letter. And, he had been at the infamous abortion rally.
JUDI: So he became an obvious suspect here. And it muddied the waters. It made the motivation for the bombing unclear. The motivation obviously had to do with timber activism, but all of a sudden, this extraneous element comes in of the abortion thing. And it muddied the waters in many ways. We, ourselves, had very limited investigative capacity, and our investigators -- just like myself -- went trotting up to Willits to look for the Lord's Avenger, instead of doing what you're supposed to do, which is: you start from the crime scene. And you say: "Twelve hour timer." Those kinds of methodologies were abandoned because the Lord's Avenger letter was so convincing.
Do you feel the Lord's Avenger letter was written by somebody in the FBI?
JUDI: I don't know that. I can't say that for sure. But I believe so. And I think it was a classic COINTELPRO; it was so well written.
The first person who told me that was Ward Churchill. He called me while I was still in the hospital, and he said, "This Lord Avenger letter is a fake."
I said, "Nah, nah. It's real."
Well, Ward Churchill, is the author of "Agents of Repression," and is one of the most expert people about COINTELPRO. He said, "This is a classic COINTELPRO letter. It's written in the style of . . ." And then he told me of this abortion clinic bomber (I think his name is Dennis Malvino). He said this man was in jail at the time for seven different abortion clinic bombings, and each one of them had been accompanied by a letter written in the style of the Lord's Avenger letter.
He said he believed the Lord's Avenger letter was what I now think it was: a ruse, and to sow confusion. And that the place they got the style was from this real, existing guy.
The Lord's Avenger
letter was tremendously, skillfully used. Because at the same time they used it to distract from the investigation, to distract from the motivation, they simultaneously maintained their contention that I bombed myself. |
The FBI was saying: "Since Judi and Darryl are the only suspects, the Lord's Avenger must be their accomplice." So the only investigation of the Lord's Avenger letter at that time consisted of raiding my house a second time, and confiscating every typewriter they could get their hands on, looking for matching "exemplars" -- "typewriter exemplars" is their word for it. And although they had much publicity over the second raid on my house, and the fact that they were looking for matching typewriters, they never mentioned that they didn't even find one that vaguely matched.
You started out by saying Darryl was suspected of writing the letter. That may have been so in the press, but it wasn't so in the investigation. They didn't raid Darryl's house a second time looking. They raided my house. I was unconscious in the hospital! I couldn't have written that letter. So I don't think the FBI had any interest in finding out who wrote that letter. They never conducted a reasonable investigation of it. They looked in the places where it wasn't going to be found. I don't think they wanted to find the Lord's Avenger.
Because "The Lord's Avenger" (who I have always believed exists as a tortured, out-of-control person) was FBI. Rogue FBI, I'm thinking now. Probably at bomb school -- watching, learning, or teaching -- and was at, or somehow had very direct knowledge of, the abortion demonstration the year before. I think what this investigation needs to do now is check the photos taken at the abortion demo in front of the Planned Parenthood clinic in Ukiah against the list of people present on the L-P clearcut during bomb school.
JUDI: The Lord's Avenger showed absolute, direct personal knowledge of the abortion demonstration. There were fifty people at the demonstration, many photos, but it was never covered in the news. That demonstration was so outrageous that even Bruce Anderson calmed it down when he reported on it. Nobody reported it, so he could not have gotten that description: "I saw Satan's flame shoot from her mouth and ears" -- [laughing] which was the most accurate description of that demo I had ever read. I believe that the person who wrote that letter -- or somebody who collaborated in the letter was at the demonstration! They must have been to have known that.
A very logical
course of investigation, had the FBI been interested in finding the Lord's Avenger, would have been to see who was at that demonstration. And you, very reasonably, suggested that to the newly elected sheriff, Jim Tuso...
Whose campaign I had worked on, and who at Redwood Summer day in Fort Bragg, blithely walked down the middle of Main Street, shaking hands with people on both sides of a double police line. Who else should I take my supposition to?
JUDI: And you do. And this memo shows up in the files . It's dated August 1990, and it's addressed to John Reikes, who is the head of the Terrorist squad. It is from Special Agent Donahue, who is one of the FBI agents working on the case. It says: "John, Please have someone who knows something about this case call Jim Tuso, the new sheriff of Mendocino county regarding this. He thinks its bull -- underlined -- but doesn't want the flow of info to stop on his shoulders."
Now what the tip Jim Tuso thinks is "bull," is: "Jim Tuso, new sheriff of Mendo county", then it has a phone number, and then "Beth Bosk, editor of Mendo magazine." Then it goes on to say: "Judi Berry (spelled wrong) involved in abortion rally two to three years ago. Some didn't like her platform and may be responsible for the bombing." Then he draws a smiley face -- he draws a smiley face on the memo ridiculing the tip! It ends with : "Tuso has additional information. Please call him."
And so they ridicule your very reasonable suggestion to look at the abortion movement -- which they never did -- even though looking at photos taken at the rally was the most reasonable course of investigation that had been suggested to them yet. They ridiculed it by drawing a smiley face, and they never followed up on it. These are some of the reasons why I've increasingly come to believe the FBI didn't want to find the Lord's Avenger. Or, already knew who the Lord's Avenger was.
That's where my theory comes in, Judi. I had heard that there were many many photographs taken that day of everybody who had been at that rally, and indeed had even tracked down the photographer from the Ukiah Daily Journal who had been at the demonstration and subsequently moved on to another paper. My impulse came from a radio show I did with Darryl Cherney -- which we taped on the headlands overlooking the Mendocino bay. I remember we crawled into the bushes to pre-record the show because it was only undercover that Darryl could spill out his story of the bombing, he was still so scared.
I broadcast that interview on Fourth Gate Gazette, and it was heard by a man who works in Fort Bragg, who called me and he said: "This is my name. This is where I work. Please don't make either public. I just want you to know I am for real. I overheard a conversation between two people in Ukiah associated with Bill Staley talking about slaying women who openly advocate abortion." And he gave me these guys names.
Bill Staley was living on what you could characterize as a one-acre Christian commune outside of Ukiah. It came to me, that is was not necessary for the bomb to be placed by a lone avenger. It could have been a small conspiracy of men who were part of the anti-abortion movement in Mendocino county and in one way or another linked to the timber industry through jobs they had lost or jobs they felt were threatened by forestland activism. And I'm thinking: Well, maybe they've been infiltrated by an agent of the FBI. We know the FBI infiltrated the Sahara Club ... I had seen a copy of the Lord's Avenger letter so explicitly describing the abortion rally. I figured the faces at that rally should be checked out against people who worked in the timber industry, and FBI agents themselves. Because by then, Sharon Doubiago (whose son went to Utah to play football, and she followed) had picked up that the imagery in the Lord's Avenger letter came straight out of Mormon doctrine, and she'd called me about that to see if that line of inquiry had been checked...
JUDI: And there are many Mormons in the FBI. There is a whole Mormon movement in the FBI. The FBI goes out of its way to recruit Mormon men. And I don't know who in my case is a Mormon -- I know who I think is the Mormon ...
There is something else I need to say about the bombing: Was this bombing done by a lone person? -- by a lone, angry logger or whoever. I don't think so. And there are several reasons why I don't think so. First of all: I've never received that kind of death threats treatment before or since, and I now think of it as an organized campaign. At the time I didn't know whether it was coming from individuals. But if it is just that I am so abrasive that I incite people to death threats, why don't I continue to get them? Because I continue to be abrasive. So, it more looks like a campaign from the distance of four years.
What I am going to say is why I believe that the whole thing, including the arrest, was a conspiracy that happened in advance.
And I can't prove FBI complicity, but it is certainly implied. That's why the bomb school stuff is so shocking. What a level of coincidence this would have to be if there wasn't prior knowledge that I was going to be bombed.
Albion Monitor January 13, 1997 (http://www.monitor.net/monitor)