BOMBING CASE UPDATEby Judi Bari
November 1996 [Last update written by Judi before her death on March 2, 1997.]
FBI Prior Knowledge
Arizona EF! File
This update assumes that you already know the basics of the bombing case and FBI lawsuit, and the basics of the FBI's COINTELPRO program. If you don't, please read the RSJP brochure "Who Bombed Judi Bari?"]
The November 22  court hearing is not the only thing going on in the FBI lawsuit. Quite a bit has happened since we last sent you an update a year ago [November 1995]. We are still battling the FBI for release of files and information, but the information that we have succeeded in prying loose has been very interesting, revealing new layers of FBI wrongdoing.
FBI PRIOR KNOWLEDGEThroughout their sworn testimony in this case, the FBI agents have repeatedly said that they never heard of Darryl or me before the bombing, and they were not investigating Earth First! In 1991, the FBI even made this claim in writing to Congress, in a reply to a set of questions from Congressman Frank Riggs.
Yet the Oakland Police have said in their sworn testimony that the FBI appeared at the bombing scene and told the OPD that Darryl and I were known terrorists, that we were Earth First!ers, and that we were "the type of individuals who would be involved in transporting bombs."
One small victory that we have won in the past year was to force the FBI to reveal the file passages (which they originally blacked out) that show who is lying. And surprise! It's the FBI. Their own field report, written minutes after the bomb exploded, states that Darryl and I were already known to the FBI and were "the subjects of an FBI investigation in the terrorist department." This charge, along with references to Earth First!, is also repeated in two other reports written just after the bombing, and originally withheld from us.
This information is important for several reasons. First, it shows that the FBI lied under oath in this lawsuit, and that they lied in writing to Congress in 1991. It also give credence to our claim that the true motive for the bombing arrest was to discredit Earth First!
But even more important, it shows the FBI engaging in illegal spying, targeting political activists in phony "terrorism" probes. Because of course we are not terrorists, and we were not involved in any illegal activities that could justify the FBI's interest in us. Instead, we were highly public organizers of mass nonviolent demonstrations, and the FBI had no right and no authorization to investigate us.
This is the exact kind of abuse of activists rights that the FBI was found guilty of and ordered to cease in the COINTELPRO hearings in 1975. And this is why they lied and tried to cover up their prior knowledge of Darryl and me before the bombing.
THE ARIZONA EF! FILEAnother of our accomplishments this past year was to win a court order forcing the FBI to turn over their long-withheld San Francisco field office file on the Arizona Earth First! FBI sting operation. This operation, which lasted from 1988-1990, was a classic COINTELPRO-style campaign, in which the FBI infiltrated the Arizona Earth First! group with agent provocateurs. These provocateurs, including undercover FBI Agent Michael Fain and paid FBI informant Ron Frazier, won the trust of a small group of activists over a period of two years, then convinced them to cut down a power line. The FBI agents bought the tools, taught the activists how to use them, chose the site, drove the activists there, and of course, busted them in the act.
The FBI claimed that the Arizona EF! case had nothing to do with us. We claim that the case is key to ours, because it shows that, at the time of the bombing, Earth First! was an active target of an FBI COINTELPRO operation designed (in the classic words of J. Edgar Hoover) to misdirect, discredit, and neutralize us.
Even more important, the FBI's plan in Arizona was to misdirect and discredit E F! by associating us with explosives. The FBI’s code name for the Arizona EF! case was "Thermcon," an acronym for Thermite Conspiracy. This name is very revealing of the FBI's motives, since there was no thermite, or any other explosive, used in any EF! action, ever. But, as shown in the file, the two provocateurs spent years telling the EF!ers they could get them thermite, and trying to convince them to use thermite.
Eventually the FBI had to settle for getting the activists to cut down the power pole with an acetylene torch, as they were unable to convince them to use explosives. But it is important to note that Operation Thermcon did not consist of the FBI infiltrating EF! to break up a thermite conspiracy. It consisted of the FBI using provocateurs to infiltrate EF! and try to create a thermite conspiracy for them to bust. It is in the context of this ongoing COINTELPRO operation against EF! -- this attempt to discredit us by linking us with explosives -- that the FBI terrorist squad moved in after I was bombed in Oakland and declared Darryl and me to be the bombers.
LOCAL SURVEILLANCEThe San Francisco FBI field office file on the Thermcon case details the FBI’s local activities in support of the sting operation. The file shows that the very same FBI agents who were central to my case also worked on the Thermcon case, bringing into question their repeated claims that they knew little or nothing about EF! before the bombing.
Much of the local activity in the Thermcon case involved routine spying and information gathering on various public EF! leaders. Special Agent Frank Doyle, for example, performed the task of finding the directions to EF!er Karen Pickett's house. One man named Mark Berry, who lived in Marin and was not an EF!er or even an activist, was placed under total surveillance by the FBI because he was visited by EF!er Mark Davis, the central target of the Arizona sting. Davis and Berry were old friends who used to work together in a cabinet-making shop. Even though there was no evidence of Berry being involved in any crimes ever, the FBI placed a phone and mail cover on him, had agents parked outside his house following his every move, and flew surveillance planes over him. They even sent a pregnant FBI agent and a man FBI agent to check out Berry's cabinet shop, posing as husband and wife shopping for furniture for baby.
The Thermcon file pages that we have seen do not specifically show them surveilling Darryl or me, but much of the file is blacked out and there are pages missing (see below). The file does show that the FBI was conducting undercover operations against Earth First! in Mendocino County where I live, as early as 1988. And, although the Thermcon case was closed in January 1990, the San Francisco FBI continued to put local reports in the file in March 1990 which show that an undercover FBI informant was meeting with an undercover FBI agent once a week, somewhere in Northern California. We can't tell the subject or content of these meetings because the document is heavily blacked out. I was bombed only two months later.
MISSING DOCUMENTSThe strangest part of the San Francisco FBI's Thermcon file is not what is there, but what is missing. In between the first and second document that show the weekly meetings of undercover agents in 1990, there is a page that simply reads "Serials 141-159 were missing from this file when it was processed." The next document in the file is from June 1990, one month AFTER the bombing. So the missing documents cover the exact period that we are interested in -- beginning right before the bombing.
The FBI lawyer has told us that there are not really any missing documents. It was just a clerical error, caused by the fact that they were changing their computer system. But the fact is that those serial numbers are indeed missing, and if it was just a computer error you have to wonder why the person who processed the file included the page that acknowledged the missing documents.
Nor is this the only case of missing file numbers in our FBI files. The main file on the bombing case seems to be missing whole sections of information. For example, there are absolutely no FBI reports in my file that document the FBI's inspection of my bombed car and conclusion that the bomb was in the back seat, etc. There are also absolutely no files that document the FBI Headquarters lab expert SSA Williams' trip to Oakland to inspect the bombed car, in which he informed the local FBI that the bomb was hidden under my car seat and triggered by a motion device.
And, strangely, nearly all the file numbers in the bombing case FBI file have been crossed out, and a new file number written in. The new file numbers seem to contain hundreds of pages fewer than the old file numbers. But just as in the Thermcon file, the FBI lawyer has assured us that the files are not really missing. He says that, at the time the file was made, the FBI had an incompetent rotor clerk (the secretary who keeps the files), and they had to fire her and redo her work. But when we asked for the names of the incompetent rotor clerk and her replacement so we could question them under oath, the FBI simply refused to produce them. And even though we have now gotten a court order telling them to produce the rotor clerks for questioning, they have been dragging their feet and have so far not done so.
LINGERING QUESTIONSSo even though we have learned much about the bombing frame-up and the FBI's wrongdoing in this case, there are serious questions that still need to be answered. For example, since the FBI’s records state that, at the time of the bombing, Darryl and I were "the subjects of an ongoing investigation in the terrorist department," what were we being investigated for and where are the records of that investigation? And, if we were being investigated, were we, as principle EF! organizers, under FBI surveillance at the time of the bombing?
These questions may never be answered. But the FBI lawsuit is the only way we have to even try to find out. We hope you will continue to support our efforts in this lawsuit, both to gain justice for the FBI abuses we have already proven, and to try to get to the bottom of what really happened when I was bombed in 1990.