Return to My Blog

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Dzhokhar ‘Jahar’ Tsarnaev, Bernardine Dohrn, William ‘Bill’ Ayers and Kathy Boudin – ‘Birds of a Feather’




I should let it go.  I know as well as anyone that life is unfair.  The current example, a reminder once more, is that Jahar Tsarnaev, age 19, will undoubtedly spend the remainder of his life – ultimately going insane – in a maximum security, solitary cell; or he might be executed.  And, no, this is not about sympathy for Jahar.  Maybe his dubious ‘cause’ will give him some solace as he slowly rots away in a cell or confronts a grave.  What went through the minds of he and his brother, Tamerlan, will always remain a mystery to the majority of us.  It was so stupid and senseless.

“Life is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

Cannot we all relate to that Shakespearian line from Macbeth?  In deed, a depressing thought tinged with authenticity.

In 1975, I was a Special Agent with the FBI, and one of three Agents assigned to the Weathermen Squad – and located in the Berkeley, California Resident Agency. Our offices were in a multi-story modern building.

March 27th, Thursday, a bomb was detonated in the men’s restroom which was immediately outside our office; and was the public restroom the Agents were required to use. I received a telephone call late that night directing me to report to the office without delay. Upon arrival, it was clear the bomb was a high-explosive device. The bomb had been planted in the plumbing alcove behind one of the restroom’s two toilets. It completely destroyed the target restroom as well as the restrooms one floor up and one floor down. The hall outside our restroom and the front entrance to our office were in shambles. The interior of the FBI office received moderate damage. Over the next few days, the Red Guerrilla Family took responsibility. This was a group unknown to the FBI. The Bureau’s consensus opinion seemed to be that the name was nothing more than a nom de guerre for a more well-known group, probably the Weathermen. This was a common practice back in the 70’s for radical groups to use various names. The crime was never solved.

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.



Jahar will rot in prison – as he should.  Bernardine and Bill will drift off into a very comfortable retirement surrounded by sycophants and fools.  Life is not fair.

Back then, Bernardine, sexy and sociopathic, would have gladly killed me or any of my associates and spit on our graves.  Has she changed?  I doubt it.

True, just let it go.

True Nelson