In the way of background, Berkeley was a hot-bed of radical activity, and a focal point for the hunt for the various members of the Weathermen. We (the Agents assigned to Berkeley) were required to rotate – each of us spending a night in the office. In that there were about twenty Agents assigned to that office, the overnight duty came up about every three weeks. There was an Agent in the office that particular night, armed with a shotgun and his service revolver. He received a call late at night, early AM actually, warning him that a bomb was about to go-off. It was well known to all of us that one of the terrorists’ techniques for assassinating a law enforcement officer was to lure them out of the office, out into the open. Remember, this was the middle of the night. In this instance, the Agent decided to take his chances on the street. I’ve often wondered what I would have done – stayed in the office or went out to the street. The Agent passed within two to three feet of the restroom as he made his way out of the building. If the bomb had exploded at that point, he undoubtedly would have been killed. If he had stopped in the restroom, at the time of the explosion, we would have been picking his pieces up in a basket.
Just a little history refresher – the Weathermen, later known as the Weather Underground Organization (WUO) were a radical and violent off-shoot of the Students for a Democratic Society (the SDS). The Weathermen were founded in about 1970 by Bernardine Dohrn (DOB 1/12/42) and William Charles Ayers, aka Bill (DOB 12/26/44). Based on what we knew about Dohrn and Ayers, my FBI colleagues and I had our own opinions. Bill Ayers was considered to be a little weasel, from a rich family, a poseur trying to hold his own in a basically women lead group. Bernardine Dohrn, also from a well-to-do family, was considered to be sociopathic and dangerous. I carefully studied the Weathermen photographs. Their lives, their families, their writings were a constant preoccupation. It was conceivable that I could inadvertently bump into one of them while walking down Telegraph Avenue, near UC Berkeley. Dohrn was on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List for about three years.
Just a recap of some of the Weathermen’s known accomplishments:
• Bombing – New York City Police Headquarters in 1970.
• Bombing – U.S. Capitol Building in 1971.
• In 1970, Bill Ayers’ paramour (at the time), Diana Oughton, was accidentally killed, along with two other Weathermen members, as they packed nails into a bomb they were constructing. The intended victims of that particular bomb were soldiers at Fort Dix.
• Bill Ayers’ later became ‘romantically’ involved with his associate and future wife, Bernardine Dohrn, a lovely young woman, two years his senior. One of her documented quotes regarding the Charles Manson murders was as follows: “Dig it! First they killed those pigs and then they put a fork in their bellies. Wild!” (At that time, Dohrn was 28 years of age. She was well past late adolescence and her early formative years - in contrast to Jahar.)
• Later Dohrn served a short prison term for ‘failing to cooperate’ in the prosecution of those directly involved in a Brinks’ robbery (1981) – during which two police officers and a security guard were killed. This trial ultimately led to the conviction of Kathy Boudin, a WUO close associate and friend of Dohrn and Ayers. Kathy Boudin, upon being sentenced to prison, allowed her infant son to be adopted and raised by Bernardine and Bill.
So why were not Dohrn and side-kick Ayers more successfully prosecuted? Well, it’s my understanding that it was mostly because of a law enforcement operation, referred to in the FBI as COINTELLPRO. It was a program to infiltrate and neutralize dangerous organizations like the Ku Klux Klan, the Communist Party and other extremist groups – including the Weathermen. Many prosecutive cases were lost due to what some might consider overzealous investigative techniques. I never participated in that program, nor do I know anyone who did. The other factor in Ayers’ corner was a rich daddy. It seems money often trumps responsibility for one’s actions.
Rich daddy ultimately assisted both Bernardine and Bill in obtaining university professor positions in the Chicago area. Some might say that Bernardine and Bill are repentant and changed, and that Bernardine is well-liked in certain circles. Changed and repentant is far from true. They may be liked by some. Some might say she bakes cookies and serves tea. Yes, and of course, there will always be the ring of fools there to share the tea and cookies. Many in the WUO, including the aforementioned, possessed sociopathic personalities. Nothing has changed in that regard. I never met Bernardine or Bill; but I, for one, remember who they were and undoubtedly who they are now; and who they will always be. Some have forgotten. I have not.