To the Editor AVA--
If some of your readers missed the latest wrap up of the never ending Judi Bari bombing case (AVA "Off The Record" 7/23/03) they should make the effort to find it. You are not alone in asking for a serious investigation, as anyone paying attention knows. People need to be clear that those of us clamoring for a real investigation, are not the ones benefiting from the supposedly settled lawsuit. The lawsuit was all about money and "clearing" Judi's name. It missed the opportunity (deliberately?) to find out who was behind the actual bombing.
There are two points that I would like to add to your analysis that explain a lot:
1. Judi was physically abused by Mike Sweeney even when they were first married and lived in Sonoma County (1979 to 1986). This abuse continued when they moved to Mendocino County and although Judi didn't fit the usual profile of an abused wife she did in one respect. She was either trashing Mike or defending him. She was afraid of him on many levels and she shared that with enough friends, myself included, who will testify to that if and when we get the chance. Her friends will also testify that Judi was finally leaving Mike to move from Redwood Valley to Willits the week of the bombing. For quite awhile they were living separately but next to each other and Judi was trying with friends to get the Willits property ready so she could move the girls as soon as school was out. She was bombed on May 24 while on her way to Santa Cruz, but her plan was to finish the house and move when she returned.
2. Right after the bombing Judi told me (and others) that she was very afraid that Mike would use her notoriety (the FBI accusations and media attention) to try and take their girls away from her in a custody suit. She also knew a lot about some of Mike's past activities (Stanford days -- and the 1980 Santa Rosa airport bombing for starters.) If they had ever taken a custody battle public I believe they would have both lost the children. I think she had no choice but to make her "deal with the devil." That explains why in a moment of truth she shared her marital history with journalist Steve Talbot and then freaked out when he actually used it in his 1991 documentary, "Who Bombed Judi Bari?"
Tanya Brannan, one of those already benefiting from the over a million dollars raised for the lawsuit, claims to be an advocate for battered women but is very silent and hypocritical about the violence in her "friend's" marriage. Tanya was not even in the country for several years before, during, and after the bombing and knew nothing of the events that led up to it. Of all those who have kept quiet all these years about Mike and Judi's marriage I think Tanya is the most opportunistic. I think that others have kept mum out of "loyalty" to Judi's memory and place in history. The whole thing is beyond sad.
Now that the lawsuit is "settled," it is time to get serious about an impartial investigation. I don't trust Darryl Cherney to be impartial even if he does finally start talking about an investigation. The only hope I see now is that the two books being written (one by Kate Coleman and one by Susan Faludi) will renew interest in this case enough for the public to question the myth and demand the facts.