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The Mystery of Who Bombed Judi Bari

WHILE WE'RE TALKING unpunished crime and compulsions (long-time readers are excused from reading further because you know the Bari Bombing Case is coming), the $4 million more or less awarded Darryl Cherney and the two daughters of the late Judi Bari by the City of Oakland and the federal government last week is based on a series of lies and collusions breathtaking in their boldness. If it weren't for the spiritual Stalinists comprising what passes for a left in this doomed country the Bari Bombing would have been solved years ago and Oakland and the feds could find some other way to squander the public's money. 

THE MYSTERY of who bombed Judi Bari shouldn't be a mystery. The case is solvable, but powerful interests don't want it solved. To solve the case and thereby unravel the apparatus of hustlers and liars who've lived off not solving it for 13 years, requires the simple task of matching the known DNA results from key case documents against the DNA of no more than a dozen possible perps, including the late Bari herself, and certainly including her ex-husband Mike Sweeney. 

GET OUT THE SWABS AND THE SUBPOENAS for Sweeney, his girl friend at the time of the 1990 event, Meredyth Rinehard, and close Bari associates like Cherney, Pam Davis, Darlene Commingore, Lisa and Jessica Bari, and Karen Pickett, and we'd know who did what and why. 

HOW DOES LAW ENFORCEMENT go about obtaining DNA samples from materiel witnesses to a major felony? Subpoena them and ask each of them for a teensy sampling of their precious bodily fluids. If they refuse? Get out the cuffs and the tweezers. Why hasn't that happened? Beats me, but incest seems to be the major reason. 

THIS IS WHAT I THINK. The FBI is famously reluctant to give up its snitches, and the FBI was actively involved in Redwood Summer. The last time I checked, the FBI's files for Mendocino County during the Bari interlude remain "lost," and whatever else they have on these events isn't yet available via Freedom of Information Act requests. Hell, for all I know, Redwood Summer was entirely an FBI enterprise. After all, their spokesperson told KQED's' Steve Talbot on camera that most FBI people are environmentalists. But I think the FBI subsidized the Mendocino Environment Center during that period, as the building's owner John McCowen would have to admit if he were subpoenaed to testify in the case. I also think the FBI had X number of persons connected to the MEC before, during and after Redwood Summer keeping tabs on the nut pies, er "activists," who wandered in from all over the country for the 1990 festivities. These are the primary reasons the FBI couldn't find the bomber. They knew Mike Sweeney, a man tied to bomb groups all the way back to his days as a Stanford Maoist, and the man who fire bombed the old Navy airport southwest of Santa Rosa in 1980, and the man most likely responsible for the attempt to fire bomb the L-P office at Cloverdale in 1990 a month before Judi Bari, his ex-wife, was bombed in Oakland. The only reason I can think of for Sweeney's exemption from number one perp status in the bombing of his ex is that he's an FBI snitch all the way back to Stanford when, as the old joke goes, about half the persons involved in "revolutionary" activity were FBI agents. (They were the ones who always wanted to kill someone or blow something up.)

BE ALL THIS as it probably is, we would all know for a fact who did what if the DNA results the Bari-Cherney legal team obtained from two pivotal letters -- one of them a confession of sorts and the originals of which are possessed by the FBI -- were matched against the DNA of likely bombers, all of whom are very much with us today. So, why don't we? The answer to that is a bigger mystery than the bombing.

THE FBI refused to allow the famous literary sleuth, Don Foster, access to the originals of the DNA-laden letters, but Foster's analysis of copies of them, especially his analysis of the faux-confession signed by a person calling himself The Lord's Avenger, concluded that not only had Mike Sweeney written the Avenger letter, he'd written it on the same typewriter he'd used to type letters and notes on unrelated matters. (Immediately after the bombing the MEC's typewriters disappeared and its telephones were replaced.) And the Bari Bomb itself was similar in certain design features to the devices found at the Santa Rosa bombing of 1980 and the Cloverdale bomb of 1990-- what bomb experts call "signature bombs." (Another signature feature of Sweeney's bombs is that they don't work as intended. Something always seems to go wrong.)

SWEENEY AND BARI, in the early days of their mutual infatuation, lived not far from the Santa Rosa air field and were leading the opposition to proposed development of the property. Sweeney was also annoyed by weekend air traffic flying to and from the air strip directly over the Sweeney-Bari love nest. So he blew half the place up, managing to ignite and destroy one of two hangars. The device that would have blown up the second hangar failed to ignite the fuel Sweeney used as his explosive. A young night watchman was asleep in the hangar that did explode; he had to run for his life to avoid immolation. Bari identified Sweeney as the perp to Steve Talbot of KQED ten years later. She claimed she wasn't involved but had watched hubbykins assemble the screwball devices at the couple's kitchen table. ("Golly, honey bunch, isn't this kind of extreme?" Shut up, he said, and hand me the detonators.) Having known her I find it hard to believe that Bari was not an eager co-participant in this, the couple's honeymoon adventure, but Bari always said Sweeney was "the smartest man I know." She said he was quite persuasive. (Saying anybody, let alone Sweeney, is "the smartest man I know" in the context of Mendocino County is like saying "My cat is smarter than your dog.") The point is, however, that Sweeney had to have known someone was asleep in the hangar he sent up in an explosion of flame, and what kind of nut places a motion-activated pipe bomb in a vehicle, as Sweeney did in Judi Bari's vehicle? The guy has no regard for collateral damage. Those kinds of people are generally regarded as dangerous. Sweeney's our very own Osama bin Laden. (He also looks and acts like a nut -- wound as tight as a preacher caught in a whorehouse, exploding at the slightest provocation. If you were casting a mad bomber movie, Sweeney would be your guy.)

SO A NATIONALLY KNOWN SCHOLAR is denied access to the identifying letters but the FBI lend the letters to their little tree buddy Cherney and his "movement" lawyers for DNA testing in the run-up to the rigged federal show trial in Oakland last year. Cherney and Co. had hoped the DNA found on the letters would incriminate their preferred villain, Irv Sutley. It didn't. The Avenger Letter -- the other is a pre-bomb threat letter irrelevant to the bombing and its aftermath -- came up mostly female DNA and some male DNA, as if the female had sealed the envelope with her moisture while the male affixed the stamp to it with his. Who owns the female DNA on the Lord's Avenger Letter? Who owns the male DNA on the Lord's Avenger Letter? Why is the City of Oakland paying out $2 million for a claim based on a solvable crime that has been falsely brought? Why are the feds prepared to pay another $2 million while their FBI sits on the evidence that would unravel the whole scam?

CHERNEY'S recent claims that he intends to put up a hundred thousand bucks in reward money to find the bomber? Pure bullshit. Just like he and Bari and their propagandists, with mantra-like regularity, used to say, "We'd never settle with the FBI or the Oakland cops." Unless they make us millionaires. Better read the small print on any reward Cherney puts up. He says he'll ask the City of Oakland to put up most of the prize money for the bomber while he "fund raises" for the rest. Only on the Northern California coast could you find anyone who believes that Cherney, his lawyers and his co-swindlers at the tax-exempt bogus charity called the Redwood Summer Justice Project -- a Sonoma County mail drop -- have any interest in finding the bomber. I daresay that the bomber, Mike Sweeney, is perfectly positioned to take down a whole lot of people if he falls. (Sweeney is smarter than the doofuses comprising his de facto co-conspirators.) Redwood Summer Justice has raised more than a million documented dollars as of 1999 on the false claim that the FBI bombed Judi Bari, a claim they know to be untrue but one they know has cash value in the credulous circles they travel in. Tanya Brannan et al are in line for a nice share of the settlement money, too.

LOCALLY, and no surprise here, the Press Democrat's reporters aren't allowed to write about the Bari case from any perspective but the one that drools; the bomber's girl friend is the lead reporter at the Ukiah paper where the bomber's press releases on his triumphs as county recycler are often published on the front page as news; the KZYX happy talk news team of Haldane and Esposito have not only functioned as trustees of a Bari fund, they function at KZYX as the bomber's audio press agents and full-time Bari mythologizers; ditto for Estelle Fennell at KMUD, Amy Goodman at Democracy Now, and the self-certified investigative reporter at KPFA, Dennis Bernstein. Gotta hand it to the Bari-Cherney forces; they've not only got their media bases covered, they've apparently got law enforcement at all levels of government afraid of them.

BARI'S SISTER at the New York Times, Gina Kolata? One might expect Sis to have some curiosity about her sister's fate. Nope. Sis has just written a book about diet and exercise that begins with Sis gazing wistfully at the fit and slender forms of high school girls playing field hockey! (In the land of arrested development, look for this one to be another best seller for Kolata.)

ANYBODY OUT THERE who doesn't look like me -- aging beatnik, standard issue graybeardedly bland white guy face identical to those one sees at the wheels of ancient Volvos -- who is interested in making whatever money I can raise, and I'll sell both my vehicles and all my books to make sure it's more than five grand -- who thinks he or she can obtain certifiable DNA samples from a list of Bari Bombing suspects I will provide, let me know. You won't have to mug more than 12 (count 'em) individuals, few of them more than five feet tall, none of them except Sweeney likely to be armed.

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