Who bombed Judi Bari?

GREEN ISSUE: A court case — and a new film — delve into the unsolved question of the infamous environmentalist blast

The bombing, which the Guardian investigated 20 years ago, since hasn't been solved

THE GREEN ISSUE Darryl Cherney is determined. "I have a mission in life," he says. "And that is to find out who bombed Judi Bari." This week, a judge may have gotten him closer to that goal, ordering evidence in the case be sent to a lab for forensic testing.

Cherney was in the car with Bari, a fellow environmental activist from Earth First, when a pipe bomb wrapped with nails exploded, maiming Bari and leaving Cherney with serious injuries.

It was 1990, and the two were in Oakland on their way to speak about the upcoming Redwood Summer, three months of picketing, tree-sitting, and otherwise blocking the clear-cutting of the California redwoods.

The Redwood Summer went on, but not before Bari and Cherney were arrested: The Oakland Police Department said they had constructed the bomb themselves and were transporting it in the back seat.

Before Bari and Cherney went to trial, it became clear that the bomb had been under the front seat (Exhibit A: Bari's shattered pelvis and the unscathed backseat), and that there was absolutely no evidence Bari or Cherney had known it was there, and the charges were dropped. But the true culprit was never found.

In 2002, Cherney sued the FBI for attempting to frame him and Bari (who died of breast cancer in 1997), and won. But he's still set on testing the remaining evidence for DNA.

"We rely on the government to examine physical evidence in a violent criminal case, and when they fail to do that, we have to react," Ben Rosenfeld, Cherney's attorney, told the Guardian.

"It should be an open attempted-murder investigation."

But the authorities not only weren't investigating, they were seeking to destroy the evidence, something Cherney and his lawyers have been fighting. On April 2, they scored an important victory when U.S. District Court Judge Claudia Wilkens issued an order preserving the material and allowing its transfer to a Hayward forensic lab for testing.

In August 2010, government lawyers had unceremoniously announced that they planned to destroy the case's remaining evidence, which includes remnants of this bomb and another one that partially exploded in Cloverdale two weeks earlier, as well as a hand-lettered sign that was near the Cloverdale bomb. The Cloverdale bomb and the bomb that exploded in Bari's car were constructed similarly, and no one has been convicted of either attack. Because they contain unintentionally intact evidence, partially exploded bombs are "considered to be the Holy Grail in bombing investigations. That slightly exploded bomb in Cloverdale is key to solving the case," said Cherney. Lawyers for Cherney responded with a motion calling instead for testing of the evidence; the government opposed the motion.

But at a Sept. 8, 2010 hearing, Magistrate Judge James Larson ordered the FBI to turn the evidence over to an independent analyst for testing.

Again, the feds opposed the order, and asked for a de novo review of the case, essentially asking that the court go over all previous briefings once again. The motion seemed like a stalling tactic, and it worked; the motion was pending in court for a year.

Recently, it was brought back up again, when the plaintiff's motioned to move forward with testing the evidence. They suggested a lab in Hayward, Forensic Analytics Laboratories, and Wilkens agreed on April 2.

Bari's case came out at the start of what became a large-scale FBI crackdown on environmental justice movements in the 1990s and throughout the 2000s. Activists protesting companies that they thought were harmful towards animals and the earth became a special target of the FBI in what became known as the "Green Scare."

The era was characterized by crackdowns on the Earth Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation Front, although it also affected groups like Food Not Bombs and Earth First.


Please report it properly Yael.

Posted by Troll II on Apr. 05, 2012 @ 2:50 pm

It should be an open *MURDER* investigation: it is entirely likely that Judi's grievous injuries contributed to her body's inability to fight off the cancer.

Posted by lillipublicans on Apr. 05, 2012 @ 2:56 pm

Great piece, Yael. It's easy to see why most news consumers might find stories like this about the FBI hard to believe. But if it's all true, then what's the limit? One could dream up some REALLY crazy scenarios if they are to accept that the organization actually went out of their way to frame environmentalists who were just trying to save a few trees. What's their motivation, though? One might guess the oil industry isn't crazy about environmentalists, but such connections are so deeply hidden, how would ever confirm such a thing? Here's a crazy scenario a completely crazy person might dream up:

A guy is already a target for right-wing fanatics because of a mixed relationship and has been for many years without knowing it. He writes a couple blog posts about oil and wind power, plus one about conservative politician considered a war hero, and the next things he knows, retired sheriff's deputies are dropping hints suggesting he's suspected of some very, very serious crimes. At one point, the deputy makes a comment about "Staying out of the power doors."

Next thing you know, the fella's being stalked and harassed by agents apparently from various levels of law enforcement, others with a military background, and psychologists. It follows him across the country. The common thread is mainly right-wing, extreme conservative politics, but it appears that some of the folks harassing him are also Democratic party operatives. They isolate him from authentic human interaction by way of a compost heap of defamation and conflicting misinformation and beat him over the head with right-wing rhetoric, mainly that global warming is a hoax. Starting with the retired deputy, he becomes the subject of a series of veiled death threats.

Throughout the ordeal, the fella tells his story to a number of attorneys and advocacy groups, but NO one ever replies. Occasionally, though, people familiar with his story drop hints, as if they're afraid to talk about it openly and directly. One guy says, "You know the FBI and CIA have a rivalry, right?" This is when the light clicks on and it occurs to the guy that at the very least, the FBI is trying to blackmail him into working for the Bureau, but that it's also possible that a number of groups are actually competing to do so. Crazy--right, Yael? Just for kicks, let's say this fella fits the physical description of a federal agent to a tee, they know that, and know that if he's always alone, everyone will suspect he must be one and, of course, will believe all the lies because he has not witnesses? Craaaaazy stuff, for sure. They think he's smart, but they don't like the fact that he's a free thinker and definitely DO NOT want him loose in society acting like a human being with a conscience. So, at the very least, they isolate him from society by smearing his name 12 different ways, and threaten directly to prevent him from obtaining employment, the implication being, "Either you'll work for us or you'll have no life at all."

Eventually, this fella confirms his suspicions about the oil industry when he stumbles on these stories:



All along, he suspected it was the oil industry messing with him because his brother-in-law is a Nazi cop and marine who never liked him for core fundamental political reasons, mainly that mixed relationship. And, oh, yes--the blogger is from northeast Ohio--where he wrote those blog-posts and first started hearing death threats--and his brother-in-law is a PA native.

Too crazy to believe? One final point while my crazy mind runs wild:

In attempt to escape the nightmare of constant stalking, harassment, and isolation, the fella drives ACROSS THE COUNTRY in the hopes of escaping. He enrolls in a job-networking group that has mandatory workshops. In the first one, in addition to a fella with a military background who talks to him in the same intimidating tone he'd been hearing for about a year at that point and a woman who studies him throughout the workshops as if he was a lab-rat, there's a fella by the name of John Cannon. John takes the seat directly across the table from this blogger. Turns out the blogger's name is John, too, and there are 2 OTHER Johns in the room as well. Mr. Cannon had already given Blogger John a couple very mean looks across the table, and when confusion occurs over all the Johns, Mr. Cannon looks across the table at Blogger John and with that same very mean look, says under his breath in as intimidating a tone as he can, "Yeah--we don't need any more Johns."

A couple years later, Blogger John stumbles on the stories at the URLs provided above and the name, James Cannon rings a bell. Blogger John positively can not discard the striking resemblance between James Cannon and the John Cannon he met, but he has no way to confirm it because he's living out of a van all the way at the other end of the country, collecting unemployment benefits, and barely subsisting on one of the worst diets a human being can possibly have. He does a little digging on line, though, and finds out Mr. Cannon does, in fact, have a son named John. All he needs is to see young John's photo to confirm his suspicions. Maybe he's wrong. The psychological abuse makes ya a little crazy.

Needless to say, after 4 years of nothing but an ongoing nightmare, Blogger John is very, very angry and won't stop until he's obtained justice or somebody carries out one of those death threats--whichever comes first. He's got nothing to lose. Unfortunately, he can't find an organization, including a respected independent news outlet, that will give him the time of day.

Considering your story about the car bomb, do you think a scenario as outrageous as this is even remotely possible? Why would they do such a thing to some guy with a blog? Of course, if they knew he was already a target of the right-wing establishment, that might make them see him as an easy target, wouldn't it?

It's a crazy, crazy story for sure. Why would anyone believe it? Because of the isolation created by the defamation, he NEVER has any witnesses.

At the very least, take it as a cautionary tale.

Posted by J. Paul Zoccali on Apr. 05, 2012 @ 3:02 pm

The bombing has to be seen in the context of Forests Forever, a timber reform measure that was on the ballot later that year. The FBI and the Oakland PD's frame-up took Bari out of the picture---and she was an important leader in the Redwood Summer demonstrations---and the lurid bombing publicity linked timber reform with terrorism, and Forests Forever lost in a close election.

Posted by Rob Anderson on Apr. 05, 2012 @ 8:04 pm

In April 1990, the Forests Forever Initiative qualified for the November 1990 state ballot as Proposition 130. It was a strong logging reform initiative that would have placed an immediate moratorium on logging old growth forests, banned clearcutting in all its aliases, required actual sustained yield logging, and ended timber industry dominance of the state Board of Forestry that writes logging regulations and sets the penalties for violations. If passed, it would have ended the liquidation logging of the redwood forests by three large corporations: Pacific Lumber, Georgia Pacific and Louisiana Pacific. Each company was looking at losses in the $2 billion plus range if the ballot initiative passed, so they had a heavy economic motive to defeat it.

Judi Bari was the best known and most effective organizer of Earth First! Redwood Summer, a proposed summer-long campaign of nonviolent protests intended to prevent the loggers from spending the summer cutting down as many trees as possible ahead of the new law. She was an advocate of nonviolent mass action. She persuaded Earth First! groups in her region to renounce the use of tree spiking as an anti-logging tactic due to the danger posed to loggers and sawmill workers.

The FBI has a long history of covert actions against movements deemed dangerous by the established powers, including leftists, civil rights leaders, black power groups, and radical environmental groups. The FBI's secret COINTELPRO operations were exposed in the early 1970s and supposedly ended by reforms passed into law by Congress. But the FBI has continued to infiltrate targeted groups and to use agents provocateurs to foment illegal actions which could be used to discredit and "neutralize" these groups and movements. The FBI specifically targeted Earth First! in their Operation Thermcon in 1988 and 1989, culminating in the arrest of EF! founder Dave Foreman and a small group of Arizona desert activists on trumped up charges of conspiracy to sabotage power lines. The FBI agent provocateur in that case proposed the action, provided cutting torches and showed the activists how to use them, drove them to the target site into the arms of a waiting arrest team. Sensational headlines connected Earth First! with sabotage falsely related to nuclear power plants.

So we have two powerful forces with motivations to attack and discredit Earth First!, each for their own reasons.

By setting Judi Bari up to be blown up by a homebuilt bomb and then framed for it by the FBI, the logging corporations thought they could squelch Redwood Summer, which would have produced months of media coverage of logging protests right on the eve of the November election. They could also silence one of the most effective anti-logging organizers and discredit Earth First!

The corporations formed an anti-Proposition 130 campaign organization, which hired the giant multi-national PR company Hill & Knowlton to advise them on strategy and tactics. H&K represents large corporations and even national governments, and they were known to employ former CIA operations directorate agents.

While I can't prove that the corporations, through H&K and subcontractors, put out a contract bomb hit on Judi Bari, I can easily show that the anti-Prop. 130 campaign immediately took advantage of the false charges against Judi by dubbing the Prop. 130 "The Earth First Initiative," and calling for its defeat as "too extreme." They succeeded in turning public opinion against the logging reform and defeating it by a narrow margin in the election. Before the Bari bombing, polls showed public support for the initiative in the 80% range. Many today still think Judi Bari was a terrorist bomber blown up by the accidental explosion of her own bomb, even though there was never any evidence to support that charge, and even though a federal jury in Bari and Cherney's civil rights lawsuit against the FBI and OPD essentially exonerated the pair by finding that the cops falsely accused them despite lack of evidence and never made any genuine effort to find the real bomber(s), who remain at large today.

In fact, the FBI has just been blocked by a federal court from destroying physical evidence from the two bombs associated with the Bari case. It could hardly be clearer that the FBI wants to destroy evidence that could lead to at least the person or persons who actually built the bomb. That is consistent with the FBI knowing full well that it was a political hit on Bari that the FBI was complicit in. The FBI is trying to cover up its own involvement as well as to protect the actual authors of the bombing.

So if you ask me who bombed Judi Bari, I would answer that Charles Hurwitz (CEO of Maxxam/Pacific Lumber), Harry Merlo (CEO of Louisiana Pacific) and T. Marshal Hahn (CEO of Georgia Pacific), and probably Red Emmerson (CEO of Sierra Pacific Industries) were behind the bombing and frame up. Hurwitz in particular had only recently taken over Pacific Lumber and tripled the rate of logging. He had financed the takeover with junk bonds and was heavily in debt. He was only 5 years into a plan to suck Pacific Lumber dry that would take 25 years to complete. Passage of Prop. 130 would have financially ruined Hurwitz, who by beating it was able to continue his parasitic plan, sucking at least $2 billion out of Pacific Lumber before running it into bankruptcy and leaving his creditors with the withered remains. Hurwitz is not the kind of guy you would want to get in the way of when he has a $2 billion scam running.

Posted by Nick Wilson on Apr. 06, 2012 @ 10:49 am

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