Published on Saturday, May 26, 2001 in the Boulder Daily Camera
Hold FBI Accountable in Bari Case
by Betty Ball, Gary Ball and Marty Walter
How would you feel if the FBI and your local police worked together to discredit you by lying to the media fabricating "evidence," "losing" other real evidence and telling the newspapers and TV that you are a violent criminal extremist in need of incarceration when in fact you are a peaceful activist "guilty" of being effective in bringing workers and environmentalists together, much to the chagrin of a major corporation?
This happened to friends of ours: Judi Bari (deceased) and Darryl Cherney (quite alive).
On September 24, 1999 one of the highest courts in the land (The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals) handed down an astoundingly direct decision in the Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney case, stating that "the FBI and the Oakland Police shall not be immune from prosecution for conspiring to deny Bari and Cherney of their civil rights and their rights to speak and organize as supposedly guaranteed by the First Amendment." (See www.ca9.uscourts.gov and click on "opinions" to read the full text.)
The FBI and Oakland Police will stand trial for misconduct on October 1, this year and we need your help! As highly involved activists it is clear to us that this case, Bari versus the United States (FBI), is but one instance of a general pattern of FBI suppression of dissent across the U.S. That is a strong statement which you will have a hard time believing since the mainstream media have not been telling the full story. For example, you are rare indeed if you are aware of the court decision and impending trial of the FBI mentioned above.
That the FBI of the past actively suppressed civil rights, anti-war, Native American and certain religious activists is somewhat widely known. The program of suppression had a name: Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO), and it was the causeof extensive Senate hearings and investigations.
It is basically not known that such suppression of activists is on-going.
The following quote from U.S. Senator Philip A. Hart, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Activities and the Rights of Americans, 1975, unfortunately still applies:
"Over the years we have been warned about the danger of subversive organizations that would threaten our liberties, subvert our system, would encourage its members to take further illegal action to advance their views, organizations that would incite and promote violence, pitting one American group against another... There is an organization that does fit those descriptions, and it is the organization, the leadership of which has been most constant in its warning to us to be on guard against such harm. The FBI did all of those things."
That the FBI withheld many documents relevant to the McVeigh case is front page news. In a different vein, to get around the Privacy Act of 1974 (a law inspired in response to COINTELPRO), the FBI has "outsourced" certain surveillance activities to private firms, such as ChoicePoint Inc. as was reported on the front page of the April 13 Wall Street Journal.
Richard Held, now Vice President of security for Visa, was in charge of the Bari case just as he was in charge of the Leonard Peltier case and the Geronimo JiJaga Pratt case. The FBI has yet to release documents important to the Peltier case, 25 years after they were asked to release them! Perhaps it is fear of reversal, as in May 1997 Judge Everett Dickey reversed the murder conviction of Mr. Pratt after he had been in jail for 25 years. Why? Dickey found that the FBI had placed an agent (Julius Butler)on the witness stand, who committed perjury. Another agent posed as a secretary in the defense lawyer's office, and an FBI "sympathizer" Dennis Romo was foreman of the jury and lobbied for conviction. Also, evidence putting Pratt 300 miles from the crime was "lost" while other recordswere "discovered" in Department of Agriculture files!
Who bombed pacifist Bari? Will the FBI ever look? Probably not.
We can tell you from personal experience and research that hundreds of pages of damning facts about the FBI in Arizona and Colorado, for example have never made the mainstream news at all .
Our conclusion is simple. Help us defend your First Amendment rights and ours by volunteering of your time, talent or money. To support the expensive process of making the FBI cough up its hidden incriminating information and begin prosecuting them on Oct. 1 send a donation to Redwood Summer Justice Project, Redwood Justice Fund, P.O. Box 14720, Santa Rosa, CA 95402 (www.judibari.org). Or contact us at the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center (303-444-6981).
Please act. Contact us. The democracy you save will be your own.
Betty and Gary Ball are active in Boulder Environmental Activists Resource, Rocky Mountain Peace & Justice Center. Marty Walter is active in Ancient Forest Rescue.
Copyright 2001 The Daily Camera