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Was Bill Ayers a Terrorist?

He says no:

I never killed or injured anyone.... In 1970, I co-founded the Weather Underground, an organization that was created after an accidental explosion that claimed the lives of three of our comrades in Greenwich Village. The Weather Underground went on to take responsibility for placing several small bombs in empty offices — the ones at the Pentagon and the United States Capitol were the most notorious — as an illegal and unpopular war consumed the nation.

The Weather Underground crossed lines of legality, of propriety and perhaps even of common sense. Our effectiveness can be — and still is being — debated. We did carry out symbolic acts of extreme vandalism directed at monuments to war and racism, and the attacks on property, never on people, were meant to respect human life and convey outrage and determination to end the Vietnam war.

Peaceful protests had failed to stop the war. So we issued a screaming response. But it was not terrorism; we were not engaged in a campaign to kill and injure people indiscriminately, spreading fear and suffering for political ends.

There is no doubt, however, that at least under current law, he would be considered a terrorist. Here is a definition of terrorism in U.S. law (22 USC 2656f(d)f(2)) (there are others as well but similar):

the term "terrorism" means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against non-combatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents

The Weather Underground was a subnational group; exploding bombs is an act of violence; government offices are non-combatant targets (the Weather Underground also bombed banks); and the use of violence had the political goal of ending the Vietnam War. "Screaming response" or no, this was terrorism.

Under current law, Ayers was a terrorist. This definition is not idiosyncratic; similar definitions can be found in the laws of foreign countries and in international treaties. Ayers seems to think he ought to be excused for violence because his motives were good, but that is the excuse that terrorists always offer—that their political goals justify their use of violence—and naturally the legal definition could not permit such a defense without subverting itself, or turning every terrorism trial into a debate about whether the political ends of the defendants are "good" or "bad" from a moral or political perspective.

Though Ayers is right that the he was a sideshow to the campaign, the term "unrepentant terrorist" seems accurate. Worse terms would be even more accurate.

The op-ed is written carefully; one detects the touch of a lawyer or perhaps an author with lawyerly instincts. Ayers says that he never killed or injured anyone and that he co-founded the Weather Underground in 1970, which "went on to take responsibility for placing several small bombs in empty offices." The natural question that arises is whether the Weather Underground actually did more than what it took responsibility for, and whether Ayers, as its co-founder, is responsible for those unnamed acts, or other acts that occurred prior to the founding of the Weather Underground in 1970. Anyone with even casual knowledge of the days of rage and the other antics of the Weathermen (the term used prior to the founding of the Weather Underground in 1970), and the various disputes involving what the Weather Underground did and did not actually do (as opposed to what it "took responsibility for"), might wonder what Ayers is not telling us, and whether Ayers considers himself responsible for the many injuries and deaths (of his own "comrades" who accidently blew themselves up in a Greenwich Village townhouse prior to the founding of the Weather Underground) even if he did not inflict them with his own hands. Ayres did not first enter the scene when he co-founded the Weather Underground in 1970, as uncareful readers might surmise.

The op-ed is a stupid piece of work; what it says about Ayers I leave to the reader.

10ksnooker (mail):
What's the difference between Timothy McVeigh and Bill Ayers?

Body count.
12.6.2008 11:28am
David Warner:
Was the Greenwich bomb a nail bomb? Therein lies the, or perhaps a, rub.
12.6.2008 11:31am
Malvolio:
I never killed or injured anyone
That does not seem to be true. IANAL, but wouldn't the three deaths count as felony murders (arson-by-explosive-device being the underlying crime)?
12.6.2008 11:32am
Buck Turgidson (mail):
He was a freedom fighter. Consider this, this, this and, especially, this.
12.6.2008 11:33am
Buck Turgidson (mail):
By the way, under 22 USC 2656f(d)f(2), the Rodney King riots would have been "terrorism". So would the protests by Cubans during the 2000 Florida recount (file under "Mel Martinez"). Every gang fight involves "terrorists".
12.6.2008 11:39am
Charlie (Colorado) (mail):
I guess he's not a terrorist; he just blew shit up and tried to kill people to make a protest against violence and war.
12.6.2008 11:43am
EricH (mail):
It is a fascinating bit of history in that one can see how Marxists like Ayers know the right words and terms to try and turn their acts into noble ones. "We were for peace and justice and against racism and the exploitation of people of the third world", blah, blah blah.

Ayers cares not a wit about "the people." Of this country or others. It's about power.

"Liberals in a hurry" went the argument. Yeah, he was in a hurry but not in the cause of liberalism.
12.6.2008 11:46am
TNeloms:
You are dealing with a technical and legal definition of "terrorist," but ignoring an important distinction that he's making in the op-ed: that he targeted property, not people, and wasn't responsible for any injuries or deaths of innocents. Whether it's technically terrorism or not, that's an important distinction and it's one that most people care about. You may not believe him that this assertion is true, in light of the careful language that you note he uses, but that doesn't make it a stupid op-ed.
12.6.2008 11:46am
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
It's unpersuasive (I didn't, personally, directly, kill anyone is a "defense" available to every mafia don) but better than I'd have expected.

Anyone who listened, decades back, to Radio Moscow on shortwave knew that the USSR's version of propaganda made great humor. In a free society, where views are open to challenge, one learns how to defend them and win people over. In a closed society, where questioning the revealed truth is out of the question, even a government PR agent comes to assume he can spout off nonsense and have no one doubt it. I'm sure Ayres has lived for decades, perhaps his entire adult life, in a closed society where everyone accepted whatever he said.
12.6.2008 11:51am
ronbailey (mail) (www):
No opinion on Ayers either way, but when you consider that people taking pictures of ferry boats, public buildings and trains are now called "terrorists", I don't think the term means much anymore.
12.6.2008 11:52am
Seamus (mail):
You are dealing with a technical and legal definition of "terrorist," but ignoring an important distinction that he's making in the op-ed: that he targeted property, not people, and wasn't responsible for any injuries or deaths of innocents.

When you blow up property, even property you believe is "empty," you are deliberately taking the risk of killing people. When David Fine and his co-conspirators blew up the Army Math Center at the University of Wisconsin, he thought it was empty, but Robert Fassnacht ended up just as dead as those blown up by Timothy McVeigh. The ever-present risk of death or serious injury is why arson, even of buildings that the perp is "sure" are empty, has always been a felony (even in the days before felony inflation).
12.6.2008 11:52am
sbw (mail) (www):
The nail bomb Ayers designed misfired killing Ayers associates instead of soldiers and their civilian dates at a dance.

Is Ayers' claim innocence by incompetence?
12.6.2008 11:53am
swg:
A stupid piece of work? Whoa. I might agree, but mostly because of its timing, not its content. It's a bit late to be disassociating himself from terrorism and Obama. Who cares about Bill Ayers now?
12.6.2008 11:54am
Malvolio:
You are dealing with a technical and legal definition of "terrorist," but ignoring an important distinction that he's making in the op-ed: that he targeted property, not people, and wasn't responsible for any injuries or deaths of innocents.
He may have "targeted" property (although why you would construct a nail bomb as an anti-property weapon escapes me) but you'd think he of all people would have noticed that gee, sometimes bombs kill people even if you don't mean them to.

Incidentally, I checked New York penal code and it is not (contra to what I said) felony murder there if only participants in the crime are killed, as at least two of the three casualties of the Greenwich bombing were.
12.6.2008 11:56am
EricH (mail):
No opinion on Ayers either way, but when you consider that people taking pictures of ferry boats, public buildings and trains are now called "terrorists", I don't think the term means much anymore

I know I shouldn't ask but what the heck: And who exactly calls these people "terrorists"?

I've seen/read stories about people taking photos who were questioned as to what they were up to. But nowhere have I read that they were called "terrorists" simply for photographing in the public.
12.6.2008 11:57am
JonC:

You are dealing with a technical and legal definition of "terrorist," but ignoring an important distinction that he's making in the op-ed: that he targeted property, not people, and wasn't responsible for any injuries or deaths of innocents.


As Prof. Posner points out, it's at least debate whether he was responsible for the deaths of his "comrades," though I guess you wouldn't call them "innocents." But that to one side, the WU did target people. The bomb that exploded accidentally in the Greenwich Village apartment was intended for a non-commissioned officer's dance at Fort Dix, New Jersey, where it could have killed who knows how many servicemen and their (civilian) significant others. Here's a list of other WU attacks.
12.6.2008 11:59am
therut (mail):
If college students had any real sense of the world they would get rid of fellows like this by writing aganist them, protesting and refusing to take their classes. But, unfortunately they adore people like him and only will they complain when others speak out againist their Dear Leaders. They will scream free speach as their defense of not doing so . The ACLU is proud.
12.6.2008 12:12pm
Buck Turgidson (mail):
When you blow up property, even property you believe is "empty," you are deliberately taking the risk of killing people.

When you take your car on the road, you are deliberately taking the risk of killing people. We tend to do everything in our power to minimize that risk, but we still take it and we are fully aware of it. Does that make every driver on the road a terrorist?
12.6.2008 12:25pm
Antimedia (mail):
Ayers is not just unrepentant. He's a bald-faced liar. He claims the WU was founded <b>after</b> the premature explosion of the nail bomb that was intended to kill scores of young military. That is patently false. The WU was protesting in Chicago at the 1968 Democrat convention.

Furthermore, when he was in New York, the WU killed three police officers during the commission of a felony robbery. If Charles Manson is guilty of the Tate and LaBianca murders (and he most certainly is), then Ayers too is guilty of murder.

Ayers may be many things, but honest isn't one of them.
12.6.2008 12:37pm
EricH (mail):
When you take your car on the road, you are deliberately taking the risk of killing people.

Please, that is not the intent when someone drives his car. Ayers' intent was far different than taking a Sunday drive.

Someone who uses their car to try and force other cars/trucks off the road - but not wanting to willfully kill the driver (accepting Ayers' argument) - is a far different act than someone taking their car on the road to go visit Grandma for the holidays.

We're talking intent here.
12.6.2008 12:38pm
Cornellian (mail):

Under current law, Ayers was a terrorist. This definition is not idiosyncratic; similar definitions can be found in the laws of foreign countries and in international treaties. Ayers seems to think he ought to be excused for violence because his motives were good, but that is the excuse that terrorists always offer—that their political goals justify their use of violence


Substitute any number of people in the Bush administration for Ayres, and another "T" word for terrorist and you could make the same point.
12.6.2008 12:40pm
A.L. (mail) (www):
Prof. Posner,

I think you're being deliberately obtuse here. I don't care about Bill Ayers and have no desire or intention of defending his actions. But the point of his op-ed seems valid. Putting aside legal definitions for a moment, there is a HUGE moral difference between someone who takes reckless actions (which could, but are not intended to harm people) and those who intend to kill innocent people. It's the difference between driving drunk and being a serial killer. Both are bad, but not even close to morally equivalent. Terrorists like Mohammed Atta or Timothy McVeigh engaged in acts intended to kill as many innocent people as possible. Bill Ayers--at least if you take him at his word--never intended to harm anyone. That's an important distinction.

I know many people don't believe Ayers claim (I'm not sure whether I do), but that's a separate factual issue; it doesn't mean the distinction he's trying to make is unimportant.
12.6.2008 12:41pm
Antimedia (mail):
When you take your car on the road, you are deliberately taking the risk of killing people. We tend to do everything in our power to minimize that risk, but we still take it and we are fully aware of it. Does that make every driver on the road a terrorist?
Did you really intend for this to be a cogent argument? Cars are designed to transport people and things from one location to another. Bombs have one purpose - to destroy people and or things. The two are not analogous except in the fevered imaginations of apologists.
12.6.2008 12:42pm
Brett Bellmore:
Bombs are inherently weapons of violence, targeting empty buildings with them is simply a way of issuing a threat: "Next time I kill." As I said in the other thread, it's like shooting at somebody and deliberately missing, the message is unmistakable.

And, indeed, the nails in that next bomb that blew up during assembly indicated that they were about to move on to killing people, since threats alone had not sufficed.
12.6.2008 12:42pm
David Warner:
A. The Greenwich bomb was a nail bomb.
B. The nails are there to kill people, not property
C. Therefore, Ayers is telling a bald-faced lie
D. By printing Ayers, knowing A. above to be true, so is the Times

What interests me is why.
12.6.2008 12:45pm
David Warner:
Any input from Times fans?
12.6.2008 12:46pm
NYNY (mail):
I really liked the piece and the most important paragraph was,

<blockquote>
The dishonesty of the narrative about Mr. Obama during the campaign went a step further with its assumption that if you can place two people in the same room at the same time, or if you can show that they held a conversation, shared a cup of coffee, took the bus downtown together or had any of a thousand other associations, then you have demonstrated that they share ideas, policies, outlook, influences and, especially, responsibility for each other’s behavior. There is a long and sad history of guilt by association in our political culture, and at crucial times we’ve been unable to rise above it.
</blockquote>
12.6.2008 12:50pm
Jesus (mail):
A building is not a non-combatant target. People are combatants or non-combatants; I don't think any buildings or monuments had political stances on the Vietnam war.
12.6.2008 12:51pm
David Warner:
A.L.,

"Putting aside legal definitions for a moment, there is a HUGE moral difference between someone who takes reckless actions (which could, but are not intended to harm people) and those who intend to kill innocent people."

It was a NAIL bomb!!! Apologies for shouting - I'm truly mystified that intelligent people can advance this argument. Someone please enlighten me on how this happens.

If McVeigh said he thought the Murrah building would be empty, while planning the attack for a time that it obviously wasn't, would that change a damn thing?
12.6.2008 12:52pm
EricH (mail):
Substitute any number of people in the Bush administration for Ayres, and another "T" word for terrorist and you could make the same point.

Now this is nonsense on stilts. High stilts at that.

Not worthy of anything more than that response.

Not surprising that some wish to change the topic.
12.6.2008 12:54pm
Buck Turgidson (mail):
We're talking intent here.

That's right--and, according to Ayers, the intent was NOT to kill people. But Seamus believes that intent is irrelevant.

Did you really intend for this to be a cogent argument?

I intended this point to serve as a refutation of the erroneous implication made by Seamus. The argument is perfectly "cogent" in response to his comment.

I am not attempting either to defend Ayers's actions or make a determination whether or not he was a terrorist, mainly because this is an wasteful exercise. Even my "freedom fighter" crack was meant to mock this discussion.

Seamus made a point that intent was not relevant as long as there was a risk and, plainly, there was a risk. My point remains that this is an extremely faulty argument. Your obtuseness is your own problem.
12.6.2008 12:59pm
Garth:
to call bill ayers a terrorist in today's climate is to muddy the issue. yes, technically, he is a terrorist in the same sense mcveigh was a terrorist. both took criminal actions to protest the actions of their own government.

i think it is fair to say that ayers had a stronger, more solidly based greivance against his government. people he knew were being forcibly conscripted by their government, via the draft, and sent to kill people in South East Asia in an unpopular war. i have an uncle who fled to Canada and another who went and came home with a plate in his head and legally blind.

i can easily imagine the outrage and sense of injustice building to the point that if peaceful protest failed, a stronger message needs to be sent. this is not unusual in our history. the boston tea party, the shays tax rebellion, strike breaking and union busting, lynchings...

assuming ayer's mea culpa, such that it is, is a fairly accurate description of his actions, it strikes me as a perfectly acceptable response to an out of control government directly threatening him and his community.

what would it take to shock Prof. Posner's conscience into active resistance to his government?
12.6.2008 1:03pm
EricH (mail):
Hmm, if current SecDef Bob Gates - selected by President-elect Obama to continue in that cabinet position - is a Bush Administration terrorist, then I guess Obama really does pal around with terrorists.

Names them to his Cabinet, too.

I'll await the calls from those on the left for his impeachment from office immediately after Gate's confirmation.
12.6.2008 1:08pm
Simon P:
I'm not sure that the term "non-combatant target" in the statute applies to targets that are strictly property. If it does not, then it's not true that the acts Ayers admits in his op-ed are defined as "terrorism" under the statute.

It seems to me a fairly more reasonable construction to say that "non-combatant targets" are necessarily human targets, because whether a human is a combatant seems a fairly straightforward question. The human may be under the color of an army, they may be armed, they may be engaged in "combat" activities. How would we define that category for property? Would an office necessarily be a "non-combatant target"? Would it make a difference how close the office is to a theater of war? Or who occupied it? Or who used it, for what purposes?

As for the rest of this post, I don't really understand why you think it important to attribute to Ayers activities that the WU may or may not have performed, that you may or may not have any evidence of. Along with the reference to the WU's self-inflicted casualties (which wouldn't count as "terrorism" if the WU members killed in the accident count as "combatants"), this stuff serves no purpose other than to distract from your strawmanning of Ayer's op-ed and misreading of the statute.
12.6.2008 1:12pm
TerrencePhilip:
I wonder if the children of Waverly Brown and Edward O'Grady appreciate his evasions and rationalizations. I guess they never got the chance to take him up on his "kill your parents, that's where it's at" advice; they have have Ayers's little group to thank for doing it for them.
12.6.2008 1:12pm
EricH (mail):
That's right--and, according to Ayers, the intent was NOT to kill people.

I'm going to need a more credible and, let's say, disinterested source. And I'm not alone.

As noted above, what would be the purpose of placing nails in a bomb that is designed to go off on a dance floor filled with couples dancing?

I think the intent is pretty obvious.
12.6.2008 1:13pm
Harvey Mosley (mail):

When you take your car on the road, you are deliberately taking the risk of killing people. We tend to do everything in our power to minimize that risk, but we still take it and we are fully aware of it. Does that make every driver on the road a terrorist?


Going for a ride in my car is the same as detonating a bomb in my neighbors house when he and his family aren't home?

Are you that dishonest or that mentally challenged stupid?
12.6.2008 1:15pm
cirby (mail):

That's right--and, according to Ayers, the intent was NOT to kill people.


Ayers is lying.

You don't make nail bombs to damage buildings. You make nail bombs to KILL PEOPLE.

Anyone who tries to take the "Ayers didn't intend to kill" argument is either blindly stupid or boldly dishonest. Or maybe a bit of both...
12.6.2008 1:16pm
Laura S.:
Am I alone in viewing protests as barbarism? Terrorism is surely the worst, but protest by naked number is hardly intellectual--a fact borne by empty protest slogans.

Aren't both of these approaches profoundly different from soap-box speeches in the public square? Wherein people congregate to hear the speaker impromptu and by virtue of the effectiveness of his argument.
12.6.2008 1:17pm
pete (mail) (www):
In order to believe Ayers argument that he never intended to kill people and that his bombings were only about vietnam you have to ignore his previous writings where he repeatedly called for the violent overthrow of the US government and for its replacement with a communist dictatorship that would execute everyone that opposed it.

Here is the first part of his book prarie fire in PDF to give you an example.

He wasn't just mad about Vietnam, the goal of his bombings were to cause instability and the eventual overthrow of the US government.
12.6.2008 1:19pm
sputnik (mail):
Rightwingers are pretty pissed off at Ayers for not costing Obama the election. As I asked some right-wingers , what does it say about you when the country rejects your philosophy in favor of a secret Muslim terrorist sympathizing socialist? It means you either suck worse than a secret Muslim terrorist sympathizing socialist or you’re full of shit about Obama.
12.6.2008 1:21pm
Portland (mail):
The fallacy underlying this debate is the connotation of evil we have attached to "terrorism" as a method, and the further distortion of treating "terrorists" as if they were both a distinct group aligned with each other and, of course, different from "us."

What is it that makes terrorists so awful? It is not that they are "subnational." Nor is it that they are clandestine. What is bad about terrorists is the "politically motivated violence perpetrated against non-combatant targets."

That is an evil thing to do; but it is found all over, not just among the people we are pleased to call terrorists. It happens from Hiroshima to Hebron, and we do not always call it terrorism or those that commit it terrorists.

Bill Ayers has admitted to acts of vandalism that could have put innocent people at risk. One can debate whether they meet the definition, under American law, of terrorism. In a country that sends $4 billion dollars to Israel every year, I'm not sure how much moral authority such a distinction carries. But in any event, the behavior is the behavior, and there is nothing in it to justify the implication, made during the campaign, that no decent person would sit in the same room with someone who had done those horrible things.
12.6.2008 1:22pm
titus32:
Simon P. wrote:
It seems to me a fairly more reasonable construction to say that "non-combatant targets" are necessarily human targets, because whether a human is a combatant seems a fairly straightforward question.

You haven't offered a plausible justification for your construction of the statute. First, "whether a human is a combatant" is not all that straightforward. Second, often times property will be obviously non-combatant (e.g., schools, hospitals, restaurants); the fact that some property may be more difficult to classify is not a reason for excluding property from the statute.

Also, suppose a group of guys got together and decided to fly some planes into the World Trade Center, as they existed on September 10, 2001. Suppose thousands of people inside those buildings died as a result. Do you really think the pilots are any less terrorists because they targeted a building? Would you really want to leave them with this defense? Come on.
12.6.2008 1:24pm
Garth:
Ibershof was the prosecutor in charge of trying Ayers.




So Ibershof wrote a letter to the New York Times, saying he was "amazed and outraged" that Obama was being linked to the former radical's terrorist activities, which occurred when "Mr. Obama, was, as he has noted, just a child."


Ibershof, a registered Democrat, has donated about $200 to Obama's presidential campaign, but the 73-year-old former prosecutor said nobody put him up to his protest.

"I came to this gradually but surely watching the campaign," Ibershof said. "It just didn't make any sense to me."

In the letter, Ibershof also defends his reputation, taking issue with the characterization that the case against Ayers was dismissed for "prosecutorial misconduct." The government dropped the case after the Nixon administration's "illegal activities, including wiretaps, break-ins and mail interceptions," were exposed, he said.

Ibershof was a young prosecutor in Detroit in 1972 when he took over the prosecution of the radical Weathermen. Ayers, the group's "education minister" who was then in hiding, and 14 other Weather Underground leaders had been accused of plotting at a 1969 meeting in Flint, Mich., to launch a terror campaign.

Ibershof said the bombings were thought to include a 1970 pipe bomb attack on a San Francisco police station, which killed an officer. The crime has never been solved.

But before the trial even began, some of the defense lawyers asserted their offices had been broken into and searched, Ibershof said.

He also discovered the government had illegally bugged some of the defendants. "I had a sizable room full of files with wiretaps that were not obtained by court order," he said.

The illegal tactics were ordered by Atty. Gen. John N. Mitchell and FBI assistant director W. Mark Felt, who was later unmasked as the Watergate scandal's "Deep Throat," Ibershof said. They were part of a plan, exposed during the Watergate hearings, to use "espionage techniques" to gather intelligence on domestic foes.

Even after the revelations, Ibershof believed that he could have prevailed. But after a federal judge ordered a sweeping hearing on the burglary and surveillance charges, the government decided in 1973 to drop the case in the interests of national security, he said.
12.6.2008 1:25pm
Public_Defender (mail):
Relitigating the 1960's worked for Republicans for quite a while. It didn't help so much this year. "Those liberals had some really bad ideas in the 1960's" doesn't work so well 40 years later. It will work even less 50 years later.

As to Bill Ayers' column, yawn. The attacks on him, yawn.
12.6.2008 1:27pm
Garth:
a nail bomb could also be used to scare people, but, i agree it's criminally negligent and he should have done some time for it.

blame nixon.
12.6.2008 1:28pm
Antimedia (mail):
Seamus made a point that intent was not relevant as long as there was a risk and, plainly, there was a risk. My point remains that this is an extremely faulty argument. Your obtuseness is your own problem.
Seamus' point was entirely missed by you, then. His point is that committing an act of violence, even if only property damage is your intent, still results in felony murder if someone dies during the act.

Your rebuttal was to compare apples to oranges because you either didn't understand his argument or deliberately chose to ignore it and create a strawman. Since you admit to desiring to "mock this discussion", I'll assume it's the latter. And so will others.
12.6.2008 1:29pm
David Warner:
Sputnik,

"As I asked some right-wingers , what does it say about you when the country rejects your philosophy in favor of a secret Muslim terrorist sympathizing socialist? It means you either suck worse than a secret Muslim terrorist sympathizing socialist or you’re full of shit about Obama."

What's the matter, Sputnik, lack the stones to muster more than a merely rhetorical question?

I think it means that its impossible in today's America to avoid working closely with leftist nutcakes (at least through college), so we just figured Ayers turned Obama off as much as the usual lefty turns us off. And I'm not even right-wing, and I voted for Obama.

Go figure.
12.6.2008 1:29pm
Cornellian (mail):
Though Ayers is right that the he was a sideshow to the campaign, the term “unrepentant terrorist” seems accurate. Worse terms would be even more accurate.

Far from being a sideshow, he served the vital function during the election of soaking up the bandwidth of the Republican base, thus ensuring they wouldn't talk about anything the American people cared about.
12.6.2008 1:30pm
TyWebb:
Bill who?
12.6.2008 1:33pm
Cornellian (mail):
Here is a definition of terrorism in U.S. law (22 USC 2656f(d)f(2)) (there are others as well but similar):

the term “terrorism” means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against non-combatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents

The Weather Underground was a subnational group; exploding bombs is an act of violence; government offices are non-combatant targets (the Weather Underground also bombed banks); and the use of violence had the political goal of ending the Vietnam War. "Screaming response" or no, this was terrorism.


Interesting. I would have assumed that "non-combatant targets" referred only to people not property. If it includes property, then you're a terrorist if you key the car of that jerk of a city councillor who voted against the rezoning of your second-hand store.
12.6.2008 1:33pm
David Warner:
Public_Defender,

"As to Bill Ayers' column, yawn. The attacks on him, yawn."

The NY Times publishing bold-faced lies on its Editorial Page, yawn?

The rest of the paper is to damn to good to be dragged down by that shit. You're coasting on your cultural muscle. You can do better.
12.6.2008 1:33pm
titus32:
Far from being a sideshow, he served the vital function during the election of soaking up the bandwidth of the Republican base, thus ensuring they wouldn't talk about anything the American people cared about.

I realize you're trying to score some quick points, but this seems to me a pretty good definition of a sideshow ...
12.6.2008 1:35pm
UMN2L (mail):
David Warner:

Why is Ayers's "bald-faced lie" imputed to the NY Times when the paper prints it in an op-ed? Is the Times a neoconservative organ every Monday when it prints a column by Bill Kristol? Hell, the paper even pays Kristol for his work.

You obviously believe that anything printed on the opinion pages should be treated as the words of the paper itself.

My only question is: what?
12.6.2008 1:37pm
Antimedia (mail):
Rightwingers are pretty pissed off at Ayers for not costing Obama the election. As I asked some right-wingers , what does it say about you when the country rejects your philosophy in favor of a secret Muslim terrorist sympathizing socialist? It means you either suck worse than a secret Muslim terrorist sympathizing socialist or you’re full of shit about Obama.
There is at least one more alternative. A large proportion of the US population is ignorant.
12.6.2008 1:37pm
David Warner:
Cornellian,

"Far from being a sideshow, he served the vital function during the election of soaking up the bandwidth of the Republican base, thus ensuring they wouldn't talk about anything the American people cared about."

The Merkan People weren't listening anyway. There is a subset of that people who would do well to care more, however, and that is liberals within the Democratic Party/Progressive movement. Obama shows some signs of having the rare courage to chart his own course, if not to take on the Ayers's directly.

Hint: Ayers is, in nearly every way, Regressive.
12.6.2008 1:37pm
David Warner:
"My only question is: what?"

Claims which contradict known fact. Especially when such claims concern felonies or worse.
12.6.2008 1:39pm
Jim at FSU (mail):
Ayers says he isn't an unrepentant terrorist and then goes about proving the exact opposite.

A nail bomb is not a "bomb targeting property." A fire bomb or a bomb attached to some structural support would be such a bomb, but a nail bomb is designed to throw shrapnel. That's useless for any purpose other than hurting people.

Also, if the historical record is any indication, the Bill Ayers of yore that actually did these things was very much engaged in a political power grab rather than protesting war/evil/discrimination. I concur with the comment above about "liberals in a hurry." These were good old fashioned marxist revolutionaries that (in my estimation) simply failed to spark a revolution and decided that running away to fight another day was the better part of valor.

But none of this changes the fact that Ayers fits squarely in the middle of any reasonable definition of a terrorist. Maybe he wasn't planting the bombs personally, but does he seriously believe this frees him from culpability? Maybe he should let the Israelis know so they can stop targeting bomb makers and planners.

As for the unrepentant part, that speaks for itself. He is not only unrepentant, but he's constructed an elaborate fantasy world in which he was a sort of latter day Ghandi who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Someone should set off a bomb near him and see how he likes it as a form of peaceful protest.
12.6.2008 1:39pm
MarkField (mail):

I've seen/read stories about people taking photos who were questioned as to what they were up to. But nowhere have I read that they were called "terrorists" simply for photographing in the public.


My wife and I were recently in Italy. On our last day she took a picture of the train station as we were waiting for the train. Two cops immediately approached us and demanded that we turn over her camera, explaining that it was illegal under the terrorism laws to take pictures in the station.
12.6.2008 1:40pm
Fidelity (mail) (www):
Perhaps I ready to much Thomas Jefferson, but I think domestic terrorism can be a good thing from time to time, too.

"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure."

"I hold it that a little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms are in the physical. Unsuccessful rebellions, indeed, generally establish the encroachments on the rights of the people, which have produced them. An observation of this truth should render honest republican governors so mild in their punishment of rebellions, as not to discourage them too much. It is medicine necessary for the sound health of government."

I say, and I speak as a veteran, Thank You for preserving our liberty through the use of explosives on our own government.
12.6.2008 1:43pm
UMN2L (mail):
David,

You haven't answered my question. You said in your first post that the Times knowingly published a lie, and therefore was lying itself. If the paper had published a lie as a news article, or even an unsigned opinion piece, I'd agree with you. But I think you misunderstand the nature of a guest Op-ed when you say that its publisher lies.
12.6.2008 1:43pm
Gilbert (mail):
I wouldn't dispute the conclusion, and while a jury might very well disagree with me, I wouldn't think "government offices are non-combatant targets" because the government is a combatant.
12.6.2008 1:43pm
EricH (mail):
a nail bomb could also be used to scare people, but, i agree it's criminally negligent and he should have done some time for it.

Sorry, but negligent?

Negligent:
Careless, inattentive, neglectful, willfully blind, or in the case of gross negligence what would have been reckless in any other defendant.

So he accidentally or recklessly put the nails in the bomb?

If I'm ever on trial, I want you on my jury.

If I'm guilty that is.
12.6.2008 1:45pm
Nico DeKoning (mail):
couldn`t the nail bomb be made to hurry up a construction job? throw some lumber around, detonate the bomb and you have a building.
12.6.2008 1:48pm
pintler:
I heard good and bad said about Ayers. Since an election campaign was in progress, I imagined there was even more spin than usual. I was curious enough to check out Ayers' autobiography from the library. Before reading it I was neutral; after reading it I despise him. When your own autobiography is damning, you can't complain about other people wrongly characterizing you. He wasn't even a good terrorist (freedom fighter if you prefer). Before defending him, read his autobiography.
12.6.2008 1:48pm
Smokey:
The apologists for Ayers are out in full force today. All 4 - 5 of them.

Being enablers of sociopaths isn't so commendable. Don't you folks have any real American heroes to look up to?

Guess not.
12.6.2008 1:49pm
pmorem (mail):
The NY Times publishing bold-faced lies on its Editorial Page, yawn?


Do you actually think the NY Times is a quality source of information?

Naive.
12.6.2008 1:51pm
Bama 1L:
Maybe after seeing their nail bomb actually kill people, Ayers and friends realized that they didn't want to go through with that particular type of attack.
12.6.2008 1:55pm
Nate in Alice:
Well Eric, I have more respect for him than a law professor whose nepotistic career has largely sought to justify torture and crimes against humanity perpetrated needlessly by an empire run by incompetent boobs.

Pick your "terror".
12.6.2008 1:57pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):
I look forward to the NYT op ed from Eric Rudolph.

Ayers is scum and those who defend him here are (violation of TOS)
12.6.2008 2:02pm
TruePath (mail) (www):
Yes, and under current law no doubt the Boston tea party was an act of terrorism as well. I mean after all they were British subjects who engaged in "premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against non-combatant targets." Or what about a hypothetical abolitionist who, set diversionary fires to free slaves. Are you willing to call them terrorists too?

Now unless this blog is going to start referring to participants in the boston tea party and other revolutionary war heroes as terrorists you are admitting that the legal definition terrorism is different from the common language notion of terrorism.

I mean hell, terrorism isn't even used in a consistent way in the law. Groups do get put on the terrorist watch list merely because they engage in activity which meets this definition. If we did that then many groups we approve of might be considered terrorists.

Look, I know it's unsatisfying but in common language only the bad guys are terrorists. There is some great famous quote about how the other guys are always terrorists and your guys are always freedom fighters and it's true. We call something terrorism to indicate our moral disapproval of the action so you simply define the term without including moral judgment into the definition. After all there are times when the legal definition of terrorism above might be a morally justified thing to do, e.g., Tea party/freeing slaves. In those cases we simply don't call the action terrorism.

Besides, if you really thought terrorism just meant the definition above you wouldn't care if Ayers was a terrorist. After all being a terrorist would sometimes be a good thing. The only reason people care if Ayers is a terrorist is because they understand that claim to be a moral judgment about him. It's misleading to argue that he is a terrorist in a certain technical sense knowing that the conclusion will be understood in the broader morally judgmental sense.

-------

Don't get me wrong, I do think Ayers was a terrorist. However, I think that because I'm willing to make the judgment that his violent destruction of property was immoral. Ultimately if you want the conclusion of your argument to be a moral judgment you can't get there without introducing moral claims along the way.
12.6.2008 2:02pm
pluribus:
A.L. (mail):

I don't care about Bill Ayers and have no desire or intention of defending his actions. But the point of his op-ed seems valid. Putting aside legal definitions for a moment, there is a HUGE moral difference between someone who takes reckless actions (which could, but are not intended to harm people) and those who intend to kill innocent people. It's the difference between driving drunk and being a serial killer. Both are bad, but not even close to morally equivalent.

Well stated, and the distinction that Ayers makes in his article is not stupid. Without intending to give any offense, I think it is stupid to refuse to recognize the distinction.
12.6.2008 2:03pm
Jim at FSU (mail):
Also, in answer to the retards and their chorus of "obama won as a secret muslim terorrist so what does that say?"

The answer is that McCain lost the election more than Obama won it. In many ways, this is directly analogous to the Kerry/Bush contest of 2004. Bush was an eminently beatable candidate in 2004, but Kerry failed to compete. I was shocked by the depths of his failure because I had really expected Bush to lose 6 months before the election.

Similarly, Obama was a flawed candidate that could have been easily beaten if McCain had actually put in a good performance (I'm not saying it was within his abilities). Before the republican primary, I was hoping for an Obama candidacy because I thought beating him would be a walk in the park. The problem was that the republican primary failed to deliver and the media piled on to the more interesting candidate. Game over.
12.6.2008 2:04pm
Nate in Alice:
Eric understands the connotations of a term and chooses when to use it, in its legal sense, regardless of the normative weight it carries. Listen to him here refuse to discuss whether the Bush administration engaged in "torture", as it is statutorily defined, because that word is just so morally tinted.

Fun, eh?
12.6.2008 2:05pm
pluribus:
David Warner:

If McVeigh said he thought the Murrah building would be empty, while planning the attack for a time that it obviously wasn't, would that change a damn thing?

If he said he thought it was empty, and it was in fact empty, that would change a lot. A statement unsupported by objective circumstances is unbelievable; one that is supported by those circumstances is otherwise.
12.6.2008 2:07pm
Nate in Alice:
Jim at Fsu:

The answer is that McCain lost the election more than Obama won it.

In all fairness to McCain, it's hard to ignore the climate he was competing in. Two wars, unpopular incumbent president, and economic collapse. Doesn't take a political scientist to see that spelled doom for his campaign. Though that's not to excuse how awful his campaign was--and it was awful.
12.6.2008 2:09pm
Jim at FSU (mail):
In defense of the Boston Tea party, that actually was directed against property and is a perfect example of the difference between Ayers' attacks and "an attack against property." If the Boston colonists had set off a keg of gunpowder studded with nails in front of the harbormaster's office, that would have been much closer to the WU attacks

Another example of an anti-property attack would be the environmentalist whackos who vandalize SUV lots, smash laboratory equipment and free animals (which are also property). Setting off a nail bomb near a scientist's office would be much closer to the WU attacks.
12.6.2008 2:11pm
Antimedia (mail):
Well stated, and the distinction that Ayers makes in his article is not stupid. Without intending to give any offense, I think it is stupid to refuse to recognize the distinction.
The distinction Ayers makes is irrelevant, because it's a lie. Nail bombs are designed to kill people. Furthermore, six law enforcement officers were killed by WU operatives while Ayers was their leader. He is both culpable and guilty.

Rather than being stupid for refusing to recognize the distinction, those who criticize Ayers are pointing out that his convenient distinction is based upon a lie. Ayers did not "take reckless actions". He deliberately plotted the deaths of scores of people, celebrated the deaths of others and planned the extermination of 25 million Americans once his takeover was complete.

That's not recklessness, as has been pointed out repeatedly and ignored repeatedly.
12.6.2008 2:16pm
pluribus:
The point, of course, is not Ayers. I heard precious little defense of his conduct 40 years ago. I did hear that, in the years since then, he had become a respectable citizen of Chicago. so much so that Mrs. Annenberg chose him to sit on a board with prominent citizens of the city. Do his critics deny the possibility of rehabilitation? The importrant question is whether Obama was guilty of "palling around with terrorists," which is the explicit charge that was made against him by Gov. Palin. This was defamatory and, I think most voters found it unbelievable.
12.6.2008 2:17pm
Cornellian (mail):
I have nothing good to say about Bill Ayres because I have nothing to say about him. Apparently he did bad stuff in the 1960s before I was born, I know nothing else about him and have yet to see a reason why I should take the time to find out. He's a nobody.
12.6.2008 2:19pm
Portland (mail):

The distinction Ayers makes is irrelevant, because it's a lie.


That's your claim, but you haven't provided any evidence.


Nail bombs are designed to kill people.


Where is the evidence Ayers was involved in planting nail bombs? He doesn't say he was, and I'm inclined to regard his measured argument as having more credibility than the hyperbolic condemnation of the right. If you have hard evidence, of course, that would be another matter.
12.6.2008 2:21pm
EricH (mail):
I have nothing good to say about Bill Ayres because I have nothing to say about him. Apparently he did bad stuff in the 1960s before I was born, I know nothing else about him and have yet to see a reason why I should take the time to find out. He's a nobody.

A nobody who is teaching tomorrow's teachers and leaders.

I'm always interested, however tangentially, in the ideas of those who are teaching our young people.

Especially when they're published on the op-ed pages of the NY Times and have had, even indirectly, a connection with the President of the United States.

And most especially when they probably wanted to blow people like me up if I were around.

To those who they wouldn't try to blow up, I can understand the lack of interest.
12.6.2008 2:31pm
Antimedia (mail):
The point, of course, is not Ayers. I heard precious little defense of his conduct 40 years ago.
40 years ago many people defended his conduct. Furthermore, his activities didn't cease 40 years ago. Less than 30 years ago he was still directing violent attacks against his targets of choice, including the South African National Soccer Team (to protest apartheid) while Obama was attending Columbia and involved in the same protests.
I did hear that, in the years since then, he had become a respectable citizen of Chicago. so much so that Mrs. Annenberg chose him to sit on a board with prominent citizens of the city.
I doubt Mrs. Annenberg ever met Ayers much less knew the depths of his depravity. He applied for a grant and got one.

It's fascinating to me that the same people who loudly protest the "guilt by association" claims against Obama proudly point to Ayers' much less intimate association with the Annenbergs as proof that he must be a good person now.
Do his critics deny the possibility of rehabilitation?
In his case, absolutely. After all, he himself has not only never repented but exulted on the public record, "Guilty as hell, and free as a bird. What a great country!" Furthermore, he has expressed regret, less than seven years ago, that he didn't bomb more often.

His op-ed is an obfuscatory apologia that fools no one but fools.
12.6.2008 2:32pm
BooBerry12:
Someone please explain to me Bill Ayers' connection to the nail bomb explosion at the Greenwich town home? He was not in the home at the time and no one (I have read) has alleged that he participated in or planned this act. Seems like a red herring.
12.6.2008 2:34pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Is Ayers rehabilitated? Would he do the same thing again if he thought he could get away with it?
Seems as if some parts of Chicago society are trying to be just too cool for school. Only lower-class rednecks object to terrorists, see.
12.6.2008 2:35pm
Knox:
Sorry, has anyone povided a definition for "non-combatant target?" It seems strange to refer to inanimate object, thus, but is there a definition in the law?
12.6.2008 2:37pm
Rebecca (mail):
Wow, I had no idea there were so many Ayers apologists.

All I can say is, Free Terry Nichols! Poor guy was watering the lawn in Michigan when the whole thing went down. Besides, they were protesting a just cause, and a little bit of domestic terrorism is part of our historic heritage.

I don't recognize this country anymore.
12.6.2008 2:45pm
darrenm:

The nail bomb Ayers designed misfired killing Ayers associates instead of soldiers and their civilian dates at a dance.

And exactly what utility does a nail bomb have if you are only targeting property?
12.6.2008 2:48pm
Brett Bellmore:

a nail bomb could also be used to scare people,


Scaring people. Terrorism. You know, I'm thinking there's a connection between the two.
12.6.2008 2:48pm
Forman:
Acrually, it's a serious question that has nothing to do with Ayers, if this is an unclear law. Is there a definition?
12.6.2008 2:50pm
Antimedia (mail):
Where is the evidence Ayers was involved in planting nail bombs? He doesn't say he was, and I'm inclined to regard his measured argument as having more credibility than the hyperbolic condemnation of the right. If you have hard evidence, of course, that would be another matter.
If you were interested in the evidence, you would already have found it. It's readily available. Ayers' own girlfriend, Diana Oughton, was one of the three killed when the nail bomb exploded prematurely. I suppose you'll claim that's guilt by association.
Characterizing Weatherman as "an American Red Army," Ayers summed up the organization's ideology as follows: "Kill all the rich people. Break up their cars and apartments. Bring the revolution home, Kill your parents."
Regarding the nail bomb that killed his girlfriend.
That bomb had been intended for detonation at a dance that was to be attended by army soldiers at Fort Dix, New Jersey. Hundreds of lives could have been lost had the plan been successfully executed. Ayers attested that the bomb would have done serious damage, "tearing through windows and walls and, yes, people too."
This is not a good man who has been falsely maligned.
In his autobiography, Fugitive Days: A Memoir, Ayers recalled, he posed the question: “How far are you willing to take that step into what I consider the abyss of violence? And we really never did, except for that moment in the townhouse.… I actually think destroying property in the face of that kind of catastrophe is so — restrained. And I don’t see it as a big deal.
The "moment in the townhouse" is an oblique reference to the nail bomb explosion.

Make excuses for him all you like. He is an unrepentant, lying coward.
12.6.2008 2:50pm
pluribus:
Antimedia:

I doubt Mrs. Annenberg ever met Ayers much less knew the depths of his depravity. He applied for a grant and got one.

Do you know the slection processes used by the Annenberg Foundation? If not, you are puffing smoke. I presume the people at the foundation value their money and try to see to it that it is well spent.


It's fascinating to me that the same people who loudly protest the "guilt by association" claims against Obama proudly point to Ayers' much less intimate association with the Annenbergs as proof that he must be a good person now.

These points are entirely consistent. The fact that they both served on an Annenberg board is the basis for the claim that he "palled around with terrorists." The point is not that Ayers was a good guy back in his Weather Underghound days, but that he is now regarded by many (including the folks who hand out the Annenberg millions) as a respectable citizen in Chicago, and Obama's association with him was in these respectable activities, not at all in his Weather Underground misconduct.
12.6.2008 2:53pm
MCM (mail):
The answer is that McCain lost the election more than Obama won it.


Almost every commentator I have seen - Republican, Democrat, independent, moderate, conservative, liberal - has said that Obama ran a brilliant campaign. I think you are a full of ****.
12.6.2008 2:57pm
pluribus:
Antimedia (mail):

Where is the evidence Ayers was involved in planting nail bombs? He doesn't say he was, and I'm inclined to regard his measured argument as having more credibility than the hyperbolic condemnation of the right. If you have hard evidence, of course, that would be another matter.



If you were interested in the evidence, you would already have found it. It's readily available.


Since this evidence is readily available, and since you are basing your argument on it, the decent thing would be to give us a citation to it. A link would be sufficient. Claiming it is readily available doesn't make it so.
12.6.2008 2:57pm
pluribus:
Brett Bellmore:


Scaring people. Terrorism. You know, I'm thinking there's a connection between the two.


So now terrorism is merely scaring people? That was quite a "scare" over there in Mumbai, wasn't it? And those folks in the WTC on 9/11 really got "scared" good, didn't they? The word has been vitally stripped of any definite meaning. It means what you want it to mean, no more, no less.
12.6.2008 3:02pm
darrenm:
My own sense of terrorism is (nothing to do with any legalisms) a tactic intended to "terrify" (hence the word "terrorism") the general public. There is no need to actually target people as long as the threat of targeting people in the future exists. Blowing up buildings should be considered terrorism as there is an implicit threat that it may escalate to blowing up people. The Weather Underground fits this and should be considered a terrorist organization as should its founder.
12.6.2008 3:07pm
darrenm:
My own sense of terrorism is (nothing to do with any legalisms) a tactic intended to "terrify" (hence the word "terrorism") the general public. There is no need to actually target people as long as the threat of targeting people in the future exists. Blowing up buildings should be considered terrorism as there is an implicit threat that it may escalate to blowing up people. The Weather Underground fits this and should be considered a terrorist organization as should its founder.
12.6.2008 3:07pm
Antimedia (mail):
Do you know the slection processes used by the Annenberg Foundation? If not, you are puffing smoke. I presume the people at the foundation value their money and try to see to it that it is well spent.
I work in higher ed. I know the selection process for grants in general. They are done through a submission process that does not include vetting the reputation of the participants, only their academic credentials.

It would be a rare granting authority that gave a hoot about who someone "palled around" with rather than the corpus of their scholarship and their curriculum vitae.
The fact that they both served on an Annenberg board is the basis for the claim that he "palled around with terrorists."
Only in part. They also shared office space in Chicago for several years. They served concurrently on the board of the Woods Foundation as well. Ayers praised Obama in one of his books, and Obama wrote the forward in another one. They almost certainly met while Obama was attending Columbia, because both were involved in the apartheid protests and both were leaders of those protests.

They were a bit more than Annenberg buddies.

I personally think the "palling around with terrorists" claim was misplaced. Palling around with committed communists would have been much more to the point. It's all water under the bridge now. Obama is our President, and we should all pray that the country prospers under his leadership.

But please don't try to sell the bogus claim that Ayers is a good hearted fellow who has repented from his actions of 40 years ago, because his actions were more recent than that and were most certainly not benign or well intentioned.
12.6.2008 3:12pm
zippypinhead:
Thank You for preserving our liberty through the use of explosives on our own government.

--and --

it strikes me as a perfectly acceptable response to an out of control government directly threatening him and his community.

--and--

I have more respect for him than a law professor whose nepotistic career has largely sought to justify torture and crimes against humanity perpetrated needlessly by an empire run by incompetent boobs.
Whoa... Is the Earth Liberation Front bombarding this thread with comments in an attempt to impliedly justify their serial arson tactics that regularly endanger firefighter first responders and others? Or did some of the wackier Kos flamers somehow accidentally get redirected to the VC URL?

As any current or former police bomb squad or military EOD unit member will be glad to explain, attempts at uncontrolled explosive detonations by amateurs desiring to make a "political" point are inherently hazardous to human life. But for Nixonian stupidity, Ayers should have ended his public life once and for all the day he got led off in shackles to start a very long and well-deserved prison term.
12.6.2008 3:13pm
EricH (mail):
My own sense of terrorism is (nothing to do with any legalisms) a tactic intended to "terrify" (hence the word "terrorism") the general public.

Yes, but using that standard means that one can argue (for example, Keith Olbermann repeatedly says this) that the Republican Party is a terror group because they scare (terrify?) the American people about the dangers of Islamic radicalism.

That is to say, Republicans argue that if you elect Democrats that terrorists will attack us due to the negligence/weakness of the security policies of that party.

Olbermann and, I assume, his fans would claim that this is terrorizing the public for political ends.

Of course, Democrats tell senior citizens that Republicans will take away their SS and Medicare. So, one could counter that Democrats "terrorize" the public as well.
12.6.2008 3:19pm
Vermando (mail) (www):
As a definitional matter, many legal authors define terrorism as targeting people and not property, e.g., Philip Bobbitt: "Terrorism is the pursuit of political goals through the use of violence against noncombatants in order to dissuade them from doing what they have a lawful right to do," (Terror &Consent, 352).

Funnily enough, I'm not sure that you can speak of someone as being a terrorist under U.S. law since we have never criminalized terrorism per se, I don't think. I know several other statutes refer to that definition for a variety of reasons, but I don't think the category "terrorist" has legal salience under our law the way that, say, "felon" does. Just something that came to my mind, though - would happily be corrected.

Regardless, in this particular instance, I neither know nor really care about Ayers - I'm rather skeptical of his claims, particularly if he used a nail bomb, but I've never done any research into his group because I hate how baby boomers keep having these arguments - just wanted to throw in there that the definition in the code is neither the only one nor that broadly accepted.
12.6.2008 3:19pm
neurodoc:
David Warner:
A. The Greenwich bomb was a nail bomb.
B. The nails are there to kill people, not property
C. Therefore, Ayers is telling a bald-faced lie
D. By printing Ayers, knowing A. above to be true, so is the Times

What interests me is why. Any input from Times fans?
One can, like me, be an "absolutist" or "objectivist" where terrorism is concerned, insisting on an unequivocating definition like "premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against non-combatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents." Or, one can be a "relativist" or "subjectivist," like Garth above, calling for us to take into account the perpretrators' political goal(s) and even admire some as "freedom fighters."

The New York Times has been notably reticent to characterize as terrorists certain subnational groups, though their modus operandi may be "premeditated, politically motivated violance perpretrated against non-combatant targets." The paper, for example, often styles as "militants" those who recruit young men and women to strap on vests laden with explosives in order to kill and maim as many innocents as they can manage. So, how surprising is it that the Times would be conflicted with regard to Ayers, not call him out for what he is, and let him do his fundamentally dishonest thing in an op-ed.
12.6.2008 3:25pm
Mark E.Butler (mail):
If he'd had any cojones then, he'd have gone to Vietnam and joined the NVA or the Viet Cong and showed that he was a real man and willing to fight for what he believed in. Instead, the coward attacked unarmed civilians--pure luck that the bombings he described didn't hurt anybody.

If he had any cojones now, he'd make a full confession of all the crimes he and the WU committed, waive the statute of limitations, and accept the punishment he deserves.

Instead we get simpering rationalizations. No wonder he advises killing one's parents. He's still trying to weasel out of blame, just as he did 50 years ago when his old man caught him swiping his brother's candy on Halloween.
12.6.2008 3:32pm
Jim at FSU (mail):
Obama's campaign was only brilliant in the sense that all the broadcast networks gave him billions of dollars worth of free coverage. Who wouldn't shine like a star if they got fawning media coverage 24 hours a day for over a year?

The media tried to do a similar job getting Kerry elected but Bush was a) better at running for office b) Kerry was on par with McCain in terms of campaigning skill.

Obama is either going to end up as the next Jimmy Carter or the next JFK. Both incredibly crappy presidents, the only difference in their legacy determined by how they left office.
12.6.2008 3:33pm
ARCraig (mail):
Ayers was a terrorist, and what he was fighting against was an evil, lying, enslaving, murdering regime. Sometimes both sides can be wrong.
12.6.2008 3:33pm
Johnny Canuck (mail):
"But for Nixonian stupidity,"
Nixon would have ended the war in 1969, and there wouldn't have been any reason for the Kent state Massacre, or the subsequent WU actions.

And, not to gang up on Republican Presidents,
If LBJ hadn't lied to the American people ( 64 election - I will never send American boys to fight in Asia) and then to Congress (the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution), none of this "history" would have happened.

You need to focus on how to stop Presidents from lies and misleading the country.
12.6.2008 3:37pm
Antimedia (mail):
pluribus, your request for links reveals your disinterest in the subject. If you cared at all, you'd use Goggle and find everything I've quoted in five minutes or less.

excerpt of Ayers' Prairie Fire
Obama, Ayers and the Woods Fund
Ayers' "no regrets" remark
Steve Diamond is a liberal who has done extensive research on the connections between Obama and Ayers, uncovering information that the vaunted media never found.
Google search for Ayers on Diamond's blog
video of a man whose house was bombed when he was 9 years old
information about his culpability in the nail bomb plot
Discover the Networks information on Ayers
12.6.2008 3:37pm
ARCraig (mail):
To play devil's advocate: if you were at war with the US government, wouldn't the Pentagon and Capitol be legitimate military/governmental targets? That certainly seems to be the position the US military takes with respect to other countries.
12.6.2008 3:39pm
Matt_T:
This debate is ludicrous. Ayers founded an organization that engaged in what were obviously terrorist acts, promoted the use of violence to establish a communist state, and stands in the NYT op-ed trying to semanticize his way out of taking responsibility for either. As usual, stupid political beliefs are accompanied by intellectual dishonesty.
12.6.2008 3:44pm
tvk:
Wait, doesn't this partly depend on the definition of "non-combatant target." I don't think it is absurd to argue that "target" should be interpreted to mean human beings. Now, from what I gather it is simply not true that the Weather Underground never killed or injured anyone, so the point is made factually moot. But I would hesitate to call an organization that has never killed or injured a single human being a "terrorist organization." At the very least, it is not the stereotypical image conjured up by the word "terrorist."
12.6.2008 3:44pm
ARCraig (mail):
Even if you accept that "target" includes buildings, by what stretch of the imagination is the headquarters of the US military a "non-combatant target"? What exactly would qualify as a "combatant target" then? Only soldiers actually in the field? That's a much narrower definition than the military itself uses.
12.6.2008 3:53pm
neurodoc:
Of what relevance is it that in time of war the US, and other countries, regard an enemy's seat of government and military headquarters as legitimate targets? If you are a US citizen literally "at war with the US government," that is allying yourself with the US's enemies during a time of war and attacking "military/governmental targets," then you are a traitor and might be eligible for the death penalty. Is that somehow difficult to comprehend?
12.6.2008 3:54pm
Stephen Casey (mail):
Just look at the Youtube video of the FBI agent who sat in on their meetings--they wanted to "eliminate" [read: kill] anyone who didn't want to convert to communism from capitalist "counterrevolutionaries". If they call themselves revolutionaries, it's just commie propaganda. Anyone who thinks this makes a distinct difference is engaging in sophistry and obfuscation, like Ayers did in his article. If you think a judgment call can't be made after watching this video, not much more can be done, reminiscent of those who stood idly by while the totalitarian regimes of the past century (Nazis, Pol Pot, Stalin, etc.) did their business.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VlN2t0oERHk&feature=related
"For evil to exist it just takes good people to do nothing" or, as some of the previous comments reveal, for people to not care one way or the other.
12.6.2008 3:54pm
ARCraig (mail):
neuro-doc:

It's relevant because the statute specifies "non-combatant targets". We're just kicking around the legal semantics, no one here is defending what Ayers and WU did.
12.6.2008 3:56pm
Francis Beckwith (mail) (www):
If only Ayers had donated money for yes on Prop 8 rather than donate his time, money, and a chunk of his life to a domestic terrorist organization whose actions resulted in unjustified homicide, then would his colleagues and students find his presence noxious.
12.6.2008 4:08pm
lurker:
Remember the Maine!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
12.6.2008 4:12pm
ARCraig (mail):
And, by the way, I do agree that a charge of treason would have been perfectly applicable. By their own admission their goal was to "levy war against the United States". But a lot of crimes go uncharged and unpunished. I'd be shocked if every single President since at least Hoover hasn't committed multiple felonies while in office. We know about many of them. FDR, Truman, JFK, and LBJ all could have been sent away for doing things similar to what Nixon got caught doing (and that's not a defense of Nixon).
12.6.2008 4:13pm
Garth:
i agreed that he should have done time for his actions. i didn't say i approved of them, i said they were understandable in light of the context of the time.

is there nothing the government can do that will provoke civil disobedience in the poster's here.

if he killed someone, he should also do the time, but, i believe him when he says their intent did not include harming anyone.

but, it's all moot, because Nixon dropped the ball.

and, i will say it again, the construction of a nail bomb is not conclusive evidence the manufacturers intended to kill someone, although it is an inherently risky endeavour to say the least.

what a bunch of nonsense.

get over it.
12.6.2008 4:17pm
EricH (mail):
Ayers comments, his behavior then and now, and the response by others is a terrific history lesson for us.

We're sitting here discussing what constitutes terrorism, what are the acceptable limits to civil disobedience, what are legitimate and illegitimate actions by a citizen, and a whole host of other issues. Remember reading, for example, Antigone? The law of the state versus the law and requirements of the individual? [Antigone wished to bury her brother who had tried to overthrow the king; the King deemed that it would be illegal to bury him; if he wasn't buried, his soul could not rest; Antigone needed to bury her brother. What should she do?]

For those who wish to dismiss this with a wave of the hand is, it seems to me, a dangerously short-sighted reaction.
12.6.2008 4:40pm
pluribus:
ARCraig:

And, by the way, I do agree that a charge of treason would have been perfectly applicable. By their own admission their goal was to "levy war against the United States".

If you are talking about treason against the United States, it might be helpdful to read Art. III, Sec. 3 of the Constitution:


No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.


You have to prove an overt act, not a "goal."
12.6.2008 4:48pm
pedro (mail):
Are torture-apologists pusillanimous and immoral? They say no.
12.6.2008 4:49pm
LM (mail):
Ayers meets my definition of terrorist, so I'll leave it at that and decline the temptation to be sucked into defending someone I have no sympathy for. What I will say is that sometimes even demagogues, and yes occasionally terrorists, get something right. And what Ayers got 100% right, and yet has been conspicuously absent from this discussion is:

"Demonization, guilt by association, and the politics of fear did not triumph, not this time. Let’s hope they never will again. And let’s hope we might now assert that in our wildly diverse society, talking and listening to the widest range of people is not a sin, but a virtue."

And yes, David, I'd have been perfectly happy for the Times to publish an op-ed by McVeigh or anyone else who achieved his level of notoriety. Sunlight being a disinfectant and all....
12.6.2008 4:50pm
Buck Turgidson (mail):
Hmm, if current SecDef Bob Gates - selected by President-elect Obama to continue in that cabinet position - is a Bush Administration terrorist...

This might have been an interesting argument--had anyone actually suggested that Bob Gates is a terrorist. The way I understand it, even the most hard-core, loony leftists saw Gates as an improvement over his predecessor (and over much of Bush cabinet) precisely because his views--and acts--were not of the same kind.

Seamus' point was entirely missed by you, then. His point is that committing an act of violence, even if only property damage is your intent, still results in felony murder if someone dies during the act.

Thanks for divining Seamus's point for him. Clearly, he was so inarticulate as to miss his own point entirely. If you want to discuss felony murder, we'll change topics, no problem. But if you want to discuss what Seamus says, please stick to what he said, not what you believe he might have meant.

Your rebuttal was to compare apples to oranges

If I was comparing apples to oranges, then all you got is sour grapes.

Being enablers of sociopaths isn't so commendable. Don't you folks have any real American heroes to look up to?

Oh, yeah! Let's rally behind Ted Stevens, Ollie North and Dick Cheney--the real American heroes! What was it that you were saying about enabling sociopaths?

Am I alone in viewing protests as barbarism? Terrorism is surely the worst, but protest by naked number is hardly intellectual--a fact borne by empty protest slogans.

Go see Valkyrie. You might learn something. And if you don't, I have a flock of sheep you may enjoy joining.


Going for a ride in my car is the same as detonating a bomb in my neighbors house when he and his family aren't home?

Are you that dishonest or that mentally challenged stupid?


Yeah, that's a nice intellectual argument--I don't understand what you said so you must be dishonest or stupid.

But, if you really want to know, the point was disparity between intent and risk. I was not making a comparison between bombing civilian targets and driving a car. The point was precisely to illustrate ridiculousness of the argument that leads to such conclusions. To put it in terms you can understand--did you get that or are you stupid?
12.6.2008 4:53pm
EricH (mail):
Demonization, guilt by association, and the politics of fear did not triumph, not this time. Let’s hope they never will again. And let’s hope we might now assert that in our wildly diverse society, talking and listening to the widest range of people is not a sin, but a virtue."

Bill Ayers denouncing the demonization of one's political opponents? And the politics of fear?

Now that's funny.
12.6.2008 4:55pm
neurodoc:
Garth: and, i will say it again, the construction of a nail bomb is not conclusive evidence the manufacturers intended to kill someone, although it is an inherently risky endeavour to say the least.
May we know what in your considered legal opinion would constitute "conclusive evidence (of) the manufacturers intended (sic) to kill someone"? For what purpose might nails be added to a bomb other than to serve as shrapnel and increase the likelihood that death or grievous injuries will result? So long as the accused does not say their purpose is/was to cause deaths and/or grievous injuries, there is not "conclusive evidence" of their intent? And even if they said that was their intent, they could be lying, couldn't they? When does the law ever require a frank admission of intent rather than allowing an inference to be drawn as to the accused's intent?
Garth: what a bunch of nonsense
no disagreement here that you are arguing arrant nonsense
Garth: get over it.
Over what, that Ayers has not gotten the full measure of opprobrium that he deserves, and the truth is being denied?
12.6.2008 4:57pm
EricH (mail):
This might have been an interesting argument--had anyone actually suggested that Bob Gates is a terrorist.

Critics claim that Guantanamo is an American gulag where innocent Muslims are being tortured or held without cause or due process. In effect, war crimes are being committed.

And Guantanamo is run by the military under Gates's command.
12.6.2008 4:59pm
pluribus:
Jim at FSU:

Obama's campaign was only brilliant in the sense that all the broadcast networks gave him billions of dollars worth of free coverage. Who wouldn't shine like a star if they got fawning media coverage 24 hours a day for over a year?

It's so predictable. The last resort for losers is always to blame it on the media. McCain gets no blame for losing, and Obama gets no credit for winning. It was the "fawning media" that did it all. Did you notice the stadiums that filled up with Obama supporters? Did you notice the $750 billion that Obama supporters contributed to his campaign? Did you notice that Obama received about 8 million votes more than McCain? Sure, that was all a media illusion.
12.6.2008 5:00pm
WHOI Jacket:
I am stunned by the amount of support given to a man who once reckoned that they would have to exterminate about 25 million American citizens to achieve their "socialist revolution"

Read about "Prairie Fire" sometime and then weep that this was deemed "irrelevant" by both the Media and the Higher Education system in this country.

http://www.zombietime.com/prairie_fire/
12.6.2008 5:13pm
John Moore (www):
assuming ayer's mea culpa, such that it is, is a fairly accurate description of his actions, it strikes me as a perfectly acceptable response to an out of control government directly threatening him and his community.


When only a few dozen out of tens of millions choose that path, in a democratic society, they are clearly not justified.

Rebellion may be justified in some (far more extreme) circumstances, but rebellion isn't a few Marxists running around throwing bombs. It is a huge popular movement. It is also treason, unless successful.
12.6.2008 5:13pm
John Moore (www):
BTW, I knew people injured by a bomb at the University of Kansas Computer Center in 1970. WU? Possible, since the SDS was very active on campus at the time.
12.6.2008 5:14pm
Michael B (mail):
The notion Bill Ayers and the Weathermen were not terrorists is fatuous. It was only after their "townhouse" bomb that they committed themselves to (hoping and planning that) their munitions would not kill anyone. That bomb was intended to kill others, not themselves. As Harvey Klehr, professor of politics and history at Emory University put it, "The only reason they were not guilty of mass murder is mere incompetence. I don't know what sort of defense that is."

Further, it was Ayers' wife Bernardine Dohrn who indicated, of nothing less than the Charles Manson, Tate-LaBianca murders, "Dig it! First they killed those pigs and then they put a fork in their bellies. Wild!"

Those are facts that are not in dispute. All the obfuscations and all the moral and intellectual obscurantism in the world won't change those facts.

Likewise, how Antigone or anything else excuses that type of ideology, that type of thinking and that type of premeditated planning is difficult to ascertain. Likewise again, Vietnam can be honestly argued from "both" sides, but most typically it is not honestly argued by the Left, instead it is trumpeted as somehow being a great travesty. The fact is JFK began to get us further involved because the North invaded the South with the systematic use of terror and political assassins. The fact is that something on the order to 800,000 South Vietnameses were variously murdered by the North, post-April, 1975.

Those too are facts.
12.6.2008 5:18pm
WHOI Jacket:
Since one man's domestic terrorist is another man's political statesmen, I would assume that if someone detonated a nail bomb during the Democrat National Convention, I'm sure there would be a rush to understand the reasons behind the act, and accept that "they were just trying to make a statement by damaging the building"
12.6.2008 5:19pm
AnotherMike:

The Weather Underground was a subnational group; exploding bombs is an act of violence; government offices are non-combatant targets (the Weather Underground also bombed banks); and the use of violence had the political goal of ending the Vietnam War. "Screaming response" or no, this was terrorism.


The only element that he arguably does not meet concerns "non-combatant target." Is this this defined in the statute to include property? If not, then it's far from clear that Ayers is a terrorist under the statute for just bombing buildings. I don't doubt however that the government has attempted to push the outer edge of the statute to cover any criminal activity by groups such as the Weather Underground.

As a practical matter, I'm far from convinced that someone who bombs just buildings can fairly be called a terrorist. The essence of terrorism is literally causing terror. If a group targets property only and is sufficiently careful and efficient to not in fact injure or kill anyone, then most resonable people would probably not in fact be terrorized by their criminal actions.
12.6.2008 5:27pm
EricH (mail):
Likewise, how Antigone or anything else excuses that type of ideology, that type of thinking and that type of premeditated planning is difficult to ascertain

My point in citing Antigone was simply to make the observation that civilizations for centuries have debated the question of the law of man versus individual conscience. Civil disobedience, the rule of law, freedom of conscience, law of man versus law of God, et cetera, et cetera.

All of these issues are connected to the question of Ayers. Not Ayers qua Ayers. But Ayers as a symbol of how the individual should respond to what one views as immoral actions by the state. Not that his violent actions were analogous to Antigone's peaceful ones, mind you.

Isn't this why we study history, after all?
12.6.2008 5:31pm
AnotherMike:

Ayers seems to think he ought to be excused for violence because his motives were good, but that is the excuse that terrorists always offer—that their political goals justify their use of violence—and naturally the legal definition could not permit such a defense without subverting itself, or turning every terrorism trial into a debate about whether the political ends of the defendants are "good" or "bad" from a moral or political perspective.


The good professor is being deliberately obtuse here. Ayers clearly states that he's not a terrorist because "we were not engaged in a campaign to kill and injure people indiscriminately, spreading fear and suffering for political ends." Ayers does not in fact make the argument that Posner refutes. This is the very definition of a straw man argument. Too bad Posner doesn't take on the actual I'm-not-a-terrorist argument head on.

The post is a stupid piece of work; what it says about Posner I leave to the reader.
12.6.2008 5:33pm
davod (mail):
18 USC CHAPTER 113B -TERRORISM 01/03/2007



"...(5) the term "domestic terrorism" means activities that -
(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation
of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;
(B) appear to be intended -
(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
(ii) to influence the policy of a government by
intimidation or coercion; or
(iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass
destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and

(C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of
the United States..."
12.6.2008 5:34pm
SteveMG (mail):
Er, why discuss Ayers?

This is about one of the most controversial and contentious periods in the history of the nation. There are all kinds of issues, large and small, that revolve around this person. What he stood for. It's not about "getting" Obama.

I think it was Marty Peretz who called them "liberals without books."

I.e., no understanding of or concern with the past.
12.6.2008 5:43pm
trad and anon (mail):
1) Ayers claims that his group did not attempt to kill anyone, and in fact went out of their way to avoid doing so.

2) Ayers claims that his group did not in fact kill anyone, except their own members due to incompetence.

3) Posner has no actual evidence that Ayers's group in fact killed anyone (other than their own members due to incompetence). He has only speculation and innuendo.

4) There is an enormous moral difference between intentionally causing property damage and intentionally (or recklessly) killing innocent third parties. The two are not remotely equivalent.

5) Therefore, lumping Ayers in the same moral category with suicide murderers, Timothy McVeigh, the Beltway assassins and government death squads is a form of moral blindness.

6) "Terrorist" is a fundamentally morally laden category.

7) We are under no obligation to accept the government's definition of terrorism.

8) Therefore, labeling Ayers a "terrorist," as more or less equivalent to suicide murderers, Timothy McVeigh, the Beltway assassins, and government death squads, would be a form of moral blindness.

9) We should not choose a definition of "terrorism" that requires moral blindness.

Conclusion: we should not consider Ayers a terrorist.
12.6.2008 5:44pm
mh (mail):
"What's the difference between Timothy McVeigh and Bill Ayers?
Body count."

If that's the game, then what's the difference between Timothy McVeigh and John McCain?

NOTHING!
12.6.2008 5:55pm
Buck Turgidson (mail):
Critics claim that Guantanamo is an American gulag where innocent Muslims are being tortured or held without cause or due process. In effect, war crimes are being committed.

And Guantanamo is run by the military under Gates's command.


Fine... I am not going to dispute either of those claims, other than noting that Gates does not have the power to make a unilateral decision to close Guantanamo (it's above his pay grade ;-). But where does this say that Gates is a terrorist?
12.6.2008 5:56pm
Dave N (mail):
Trad and anon,

Of course, you want to discount what Larry Grathwohl has to say about what he claims Ayers said to him, personally.

You, of course, are free to believe whatever you want and discount what Grathwohl says, but it IS evidence.

But if you and others want to be apologists for Bill Ayers, fine by me--but your moral blinders are definitely on.
12.6.2008 6:00pm
Aleks:
Re: There is at least one more alternative. A large proportion of the US population is ignorant.

Try this: Most people in the US do not accept the logic of guilt by association, especially not when the (truly) guilty party committed his crimes when the second party was a young child. By the reasoning of those who sought to smear Obama with the Weathermen deeds. I too must be a questionable character as I once worked (at a bar) with a guy was was a former drug dealer, and another who had killed his wife in a fit of jealous rage.
12.6.2008 6:06pm
Michael B (mail):
"Isn't this why we study history, after all?" EricH

If you're concerned with academic and otherwise sterile discussions only, I have no problem with any of it. But this isn't foremostly about abstract discussions or mere intellections. This is about historical specifics. (Revealingly, you excerpt none of the historical specifics I mentioned, such as the 800,000 South Vietnamese variously murdered post-April, 1975, and that reflects only those killed.)

Further, Antigone contains a great deal moral ambiguity than what we're able to more factually and empirically obtain in regards to Ayers, Bernardine Dohrn the Weathermen, Vietnam and the era that serves as backdrop, etc. After all, wasn't Oedipus and an involuntary act of incest part and parcel of the Antigone myth? Solely as a general point of reference, fine, but the analogy does not otherwise hold. Part of the problem with that era - which serves as backdrop to Ayers and Dohrn, et al. - are the obfuscations and obscurantism - the highly deceptive propaganda - that informs entire histories and the reportage of the period.
12.6.2008 6:14pm
davod (mail):
trad and anon: Your 12.6.2008 5:44pm post was brilliant for its simple and concise recitation of the facts and bold but obvious conclusion. I can only follow up with a link to a similar but less erudite commentor posting as Subjectivity
12.6.2008 6:17pm
Garth:
if you build a nail bomb with the intention of placing it in a location where it will not kill anyone, then, there is no intention... again, it's a risky enterprise and if it had turned out badly they'd be on the hook.

i'm just saying the certain people will react in extremis when they feel their government is waaaaay out of bounds.

no one asked to be born here, and i'll rest with twain, love your country, but follow your country only when it deserves it.

[yes, it's a paraphrase, but, accurate nonetheless}
12.6.2008 6:20pm
Antimedia (mail):
The good professor is being deliberately obtuse here. Ayers clearly states that he's not a terrorist because "we were not engaged in a campaign to kill and injure people indiscriminately, spreading fear and suffering for political ends." Ayers does not in fact make the argument that Posner refutes. This is the very definition of a straw man argument. Too bad Posner doesn't take on the actual I'm-not-a-terrorist argument head on.
Ayers statement is a provable lie. They did kill people. They did plan to kill many more. They did spread fear for political ends. Unless you think that Americans who work for the government don't count as people who can be fearful due to bombs going off in the buildings they work in, Ayers' claims are tendentious in the extreme.
Posner has no actual evidence that Ayers's group in fact killed anyone (other than their own members due to incompetence). He has only speculation and innuendo.
Tell that to the families of the people that his group killed, including his own wife.

San Francisco Police Sgt. Brian V. McDonnell
two policemen and a security guard in New York
William Moroney and shot and permanently disabled Michael Schlacter.
four more in a second roberry
12.6.2008 6:22pm
Garth:
government...
12.6.2008 6:23pm
Garth:
and all y'all right wingers!

I'M RIGHT

obama was elected despite the McCarthyite pleas to tar obama with an UNREPENTANT TERRORIST

oogggeeeedddddy booooogggggeeeeeddddy
12.6.2008 6:27pm
davod (mail):
"Try this: Most people in the US do not accept the logic of guilt by association, especially not when the (truly) guilty party committed his crimes when the second party was a young child. "

Sorry Mate. Ayers and Co were still committing terrible acts in support of a boycot against South Africa at the time that Obama was studying at Columbia (And involved in the protest movement) and Ayers was studying up the road. It was never about Obama being involved with Ayers activities. It was all about Obama's deceptiveness about how an when he met Ayers and what the association was.

Obama and his cohorts lied.
12.6.2008 6:29pm
davod (mail):
PS:

Much as Ayers terrorist acts were reprehensible, they pale in comparison to what he has achieved as a teacher of teachers. He has been doing this for twenty years. How long has the quality of education been going downhill.
12.6.2008 6:34pm
astrangerwithcandy (mail):
this is painful. ayers tried to kill people. end of discussion.
12.6.2008 6:39pm
neurodoc:
Garth: if you build a nail bomb with the intention of placing it in a location where it will not kill anyone, then, there is no intention... again, it's a risky enterprise and if it had turned out badly they'd be on the hook.
Right, if Ted Kaczynski had only designed and built those bombs, never addressing them to those he would kill or main, then mailing them and setting forth his looney thinking in writting, we might say it was "a risky enterprise" that only put his own life in jeopardy. But nail bombs have no other purpose that to kill and/or maim, unless it is to threaten death and maiming, which is to say to terrorize. To argue otherwise is silly.
12.6.2008 6:40pm
AnotherMike:

Ayers statement is a provable lie. They did kill people. They did plan to kill many more. They did spread fear for political ends.


This is a good argument. It's not the strawman argument that Posner made and which I criticized.
12.6.2008 6:41pm
MarkField (mail):
It's kind of late for this thread, but here's hilzoy's comment about Ayers.
12.6.2008 6:43pm
EricH (mail):
But where does this say that Gates is a terrorist?

If, as some critics claim, Guantanamo (an "American gulag" Andrew Sullivan calls it) is where prisoners, both guilty and innocent, are being tortured - terrorized - in order to give information or as punishment, that makes Gates complicit in these acts of terror.

He gives the orders that run the facility. Or implements those orders. He can resign if he thinks the orders are immoral or illegal.

Guantanamo is a place of terror for Muslims, so the argument goes.

And Gates is in charge of a terror facility.

Not to mention the "terror tactics" that the military, under Gate's command, uses in Iraq and Afghanistan. Killing innocents, et cetera.

All of this is hooey to me; but you asked.
12.6.2008 6:47pm
Portland (mail):

Ayers statement is a provable lie. They did kill people. They did plan to kill many more. They did spread fear for political ends.


According to your various goofball right-wingers. Ayers himself denies it. The government was unable to prove it. In the context of the election (the only reason we are talking about Ayers) it is what Ayers says that matters. Why? Because he was not changed with being an accused terrorist or a suspected terrorist, but rather an unrepentant terrorist -- a terrorist who was supposedly proud of having committed terrorist acts and he admitted as much.

What Ayers says he did are the only things he can fairly be accused of being "unrepentant" about. The rest he may or may not have done, but in any case, he has not claimed such actions. So he joins Max Cleveland and John Kerry among the legions of the right's political opponents they have accused of being cowards or liars or traitors. Yawn.
12.6.2008 6:49pm
astrangerwithcandy (mail):
i am a small government guy. i like to think that each individual is smart enough to make decisions that will maximize their opportunities and resources. reading the above really makes me wonder. seeing people try to defend ayers bc they like obama is unreal. it reminds me of the story about Dave Chappelle in Sacramento after he walked away from his career:


I tell them how smart you are. Turns out, I was wrong. You people are stupid.



you people are THAT f-ing stupid.
12.6.2008 6:50pm
Dave N (mail):
Mark Field,

Thank you for posting it--and for demonstrating that being a liberal commenter on this blog does not mean turning a blind eye on Ayers' massive moral failings.
12.6.2008 6:52pm
Lib:
Almost every commentator I have seen - Republican, Democrat, independent, moderate, conservative, liberal - has said that Obama ran a brilliant campaign. I think you are a full of ****.
There is no question that Obama ran a brilliant campaign. In ordinary times, a brilliant campaign would have been necessary for him to garner even 35% of the popular vote given his weaknesses as a substantive candidate -- little experience, unwilling to make concrete proposals, shifting positions freely (or, should I say, occasional prior "inartful" expressions of his positions), and the like.

That he actually got 53% of the popular vote is a testament to a surprisingly weak PE opponent and a weak GE opponent (who lacked enthusiasm, who was old and showed it, whose middle of the road approach meant he had hardly any fervent supporters) and the economic environment (causing many fearful voters to vote for "anyone but a Republican" -- even if that had meant voting for a Democrat candidate who was in a PVS) rather than Obama's campaign brilliance and skill at position shifting.

It will be interesting to see if Obama, even with no executive experience, can take advantage of the perfect storm that he had the good fortune to come across. And, if so, what we will discover his "core actionable principles" are (hopefully he actually has some). Seems that Reagan, in some respects, benefited from a similar perfect storm - although Obama has the misfortune of (as figurehead of the party which controls both houses of Congress) 100% accountability. Reagan always had a Democrat Senate to "deal with" which seemed to help lower expectations. Oh, and Reagan of course had experience of eight years as California governor.
12.6.2008 6:52pm
Dave N (mail):
Lib,

More like the perfect storm that propelled a similarly unknown candidate into the public eye--Jimmy Carter.

For the country's sake, I am hoping that the 44th President is much, much better than the 39th President.

Oh--and small factual correction. Ronald Reagan had a Republican Senate until 1987. It was the House (remember Tip O'Neill?) that was Democratic throughout his two terms.
12.6.2008 6:59pm
Antimedia (mail):
What Ayers says he did are the only things he can fairly be accused of being "unrepentant" about. The rest he may or may not have done, but in any case, he has not claimed such actions. So he joins Max Cleveland and John Kerry among the legions of the right's political opponents they have accused of being cowards or liars or traitors. Yawn.
"Guilty as hell, free as a bird—America is a great country" - a direct quote of Bill Ayers.

Referring to the nail bomb that killed his girlfriend - when asked what the bomb would do, he said "tearing through windows and walls and, yes, people too." - a direct quote

In Fugitive Days he says he bombed the Pentagon, describing the day in detail.

''I don't regret setting bombs,'' Bill Ayers said. ''I feel we didn't do enough.'' - another direct quote - from 2001

May we assume you'll at least hold him accountable for his own words?
12.6.2008 7:20pm
pedro (mail):
This post made me think of the sociology of reasons-giving, as explained by Charles Tilly in his wonderful little book entitled "Why?" According to Tilly there are four types of ways of giving reasons: conventions, stories, codes, and technical accounts. A convention is easily illustrated by someone answering "traffic was dreadful" to the question "why are you late?" Conventions are short, quick, easy to process socially, and serve important social functions. Stories are more elaborate: "My son kept me awake last night, and though I got up early today to get here on time, my sleeplessness got the better of me and I forgot an important document at home. So I'm in my car driving to work a full mile away from home, and I have to turn back. So sorry about coming late, etc., etc." Codes are what lawyers rely on most often, and are to the technical accounts that (say) scientists give, roughly what conventions are to stories. A lawyer may be content with establishing that according to some silly little code, a label is appropriate ("Bill Ayers is a terrorist"), but that hardly constitutes a rebuttal, as someone else points out in this comments thread, of Ayers' defense. Incidentally, the fact that lawyers think in "codes" is something that I find very unappealing about lawyering. Who but a lawyer thinks what makes something legitimate is whether a group of dead white men thought (or wrote) at some point in time? And who but a lawyer responds to the argument "I am not a terrorist because X, Y, and Z" by resorting to "the dictionary says you are a terrorist"? I know, I know, prescriptivists do this as well.
12.6.2008 7:21pm
pedro (mail):
Finally, Posner's flirtations with the position according to which "the President has the right to torture" really make this endeavor of labeling people "terrorists" a bit disturbing. How is it inappropriate to label "pro-state-terrorism" a person who at some point believes it legitimate to torture innocent people (after all, according to the code of the law, as I understand it, a person is innocent until proven guilty)?
12.6.2008 7:27pm
Mongoose388:
The most frightening thing, albeit not surprising (they are NY Times! readers after all!)are the amount of posts on the article site blindly supporting Ayers.
12.6.2008 7:36pm
pedro (mail):
My wife tells me it's not just prescriptivists and lawyers who do this sort of stuff: freshman and sophomores in college do so as well. Sorry if the contempt shows, and sorry about the trolling. This post's stupidity just drove me nuts.
12.6.2008 7:42pm
trad and anon (mail):
Ayers statement is a provable lie. They did kill people. They did plan to kill many more.
If this is true, then Ayers is lying and he should be considered a terrorist. But Posner's argument is still a bad one, because intentionally causing property damage is not remotely like intentionally killing people and Posner presented no evidence that Ayers was lying, just speculation and innuendo. I stand by my criticism of Posner's argument based on the facts he presented.

By contrast, you have presented actual evidence.
12.6.2008 7:59pm
Swede:
A nail bomb if for human maiming and killing.

So not only is Ayers a terrorist and liar, he's also a dick.
12.6.2008 8:03pm
Lib:
Dave N:

From the department of "proofread after restructuring a sentence", yep - I meant House.

I'm pretty sure 44 will be more effective than 39 - although I'm not sure I will always like the effect of being effective.
12.6.2008 8:18pm
rosignol (mail):
Maybe after seeing their nail bomb actually kill people, Ayers and friends realized that they didn't want to go through with that particular type of attack.

Sure. Or maybe they weren't any more members of the group willing to risk their lives assembling bombs designed by Bill Ayers.
12.6.2008 8:20pm
Orson Buggeigh:
Ayers proves once again that he is an unrepentant terrorist. His defenders prove once again that George Orwell was correct in his belief that some ideas are so stupid only an intellectual could believe them. Ayers was building bombs. Bombs are not a peaceful means of dissent. Bombs are intended to kill or at the very least to intimidate - to terrorize. Anyone who thinks this was an acceptable way of protesting the war in southeast Asia is clueless, and probably incapable of understanding the concept of non-violent protest and how effective it can be. It worked well enough for Gandhi.

Ayers was no Gandhi. He is a left wing Timothy McVeigh. He is a heartless, unrepentant domestic terrorist. Not a freedom fighter, not a youthful idealist, but a thug. An unrepentant killer. If there were genuine justice, he would have ended his life thirty years ago in the electric chair. Ayers wasn't a youthful protester, he was and is an unrepentant revolutionary.

For all the folks who think Ayers and Marxism have something worthwhile to offer the world, let me suggest you read his autobiography, then read The Black Book of Communism. Then tell us how well Mr. Ayer's mentors have done for the world. Nah - you'd probably lie like Ayers and tell us how mis-understood he is. Ayers mis-understood? No, we understand him too well. Thanks Professor Posner, your critics made your case even more strongly.
12.6.2008 8:46pm
John Moore (www):

5) Therefore, lumping Ayers in the same moral category with suicide murderers, Timothy McVeigh, the Beltway assassins and government death squads is a form of moral blindness.


Don't forget that the WU manifesto, signed by Ayers, maintains a need to kill perhaps 20,000,000 or so Americans to achieve their goal.

These people were terrorists, with intent to become Stalinists.
12.6.2008 8:52pm
John Moore (www):
Those who say the Vietnam War justifies actions such as bombing of uninhabited building do not appreciate democracy and the rule of law. It's that simple.

When you reap the benefits of a democracy, you forgo the option of violence to achieve your political ends - whether you are WU, animal rights lunatics, or anti-abortionists.
12.6.2008 8:55pm
David Warner:
neurodoc,

"So, how surprising is it that the Times would be conflicted with regard to Ayers, not call him out for what he is, and let him do his fundamentally dishonest thing in an op-ed."

Actually there's two separate issues here. The Times is entirely free, and perhaps from some perspectives justified, to call out or not call out Ayers for what he is. Even, as LM noted, to give him some space if it judges that what he has to say is newsworthy. Obviously, I think they should call him out and/or deny him the undeserved platform, but that's arguable.

What I find indefensible is that the Times neglected to go to Ayers and say, "Look, this part is total bullshit. We don't find total bullshit Fit to Print. Change it if you want to appear under our masthead."

Buckley was so valuable because he ran the kooks out of the Right. The Times continues to show it is not up to that task for the Left.
12.6.2008 8:56pm
WHOI Jacket:
Wow, did someone just compare Bill Ayers to Max Cleland? I'm pretty sure that Cleland would bristle at such a comparison. As a Georgian, I must laugh at such a stupid pronouncement.

But yes, we "right-wingers" are all out to get poor misunderstood Ayers.....


Again, I repeat myself. If someone had deployed nail bombs at the DNC, would we see people leaping to defend them on "They want to send a message, not hurt anyone" or "They aren't terrorists, they are just misunderstood".
12.6.2008 8:57pm
David Warner:
This gets under my skin a little because my own mother, who considers herself a moderate independent (though she hasn't voted for a Republican in a while, thanks to Newsweek/Bush, take your pick) and is generally a very reasonable person was feeding me the Ayers apologist bullshit a couple months ago almost word for word. I pointed out that the Greenwich bomb was a nail bomb. She was silent and slightly embarrassed. It's like the inverse of the "Iraq was involved with 9/11" myth.

Plausible deniability, wink, wink, nudge, nudge, ain't gonna cut it.

Truth - lagging behind Justice and the American Way since 1968...
12.6.2008 9:02pm
pedro (mail):

Again, I repeat myself. If someone had deployed nail bombs at the DNC, would we see people leaping to defend them on "They want to send a message, not hurt anyone" or "They aren't terrorists, they are just misunderstood".


In your mind, it seems, the only two options are "terrorist" and "misunderstood." How about naive, misguided, criminal? Nah. "Terrorist" has a certain ring to it, notwithstanding the fact that the person being so labeled has not admitted to doing that with which you charge him; instead, he admits to doing something that he himself distinguishes from terrorism in an important way. But why argue if one can resort to labeling and name-calling?
12.6.2008 9:23pm
WHOI Jacket:
Whatever, the fact that this man is respected at all speaks volumes about the circles in which he walks.
12.6.2008 9:29pm
davod (mail):
"How about naive, misguided, criminal? Nah"

This is not a game sailor.

Your comments show you know little of Ayers or the Weather Underground. Their aim was not just the end of the war in Vietnam, it was the overthrow of the US Government and its replacement with a Marxist regime, complete with reeducation camps and execution squads for the unredeemable.
12.6.2008 9:45pm
davod (mail):
For the lawyers among you:

Is there the slightest possibility that Ayers comments and writings can be used in a civil case against him by some of the victims of the Weather Underground?

Would the illegal wiretaps, not allowed in a criminal case, be available to a civil suit?

Is their a tutute of limitations involvd?
12.6.2008 9:49pm
davod (mail):
"Is their a tutute of limitations involvd?"

Should read - Is there a statute of limitations involved?
12.6.2008 9:51pm
pedro (mail):

"It was the overthrow of the US Government and its replacement with a Marxist regime."


Well, this is naive and misguided, and the means by which they sought these ends were criminal.

On the "reeducation camps" bit, produce any evidence or else you are just talking hot air.
12.6.2008 9:58pm
Psalm91 (mail):
"And Guantanamo is run by the military under Gates's command."

Remember the unitary executive. Gates runs nothing. You need to read some actual history. Guantanamo has not been run by the military. Rather, the military chain of command has been consistently bypassed via Cheney and Addington, Haynes, et al. Jane Mayer's book has many factual citations, also the various JAG's, FBI agents, Robert Mueller and so on. If you don't like Mayer, please cite your reasons. If it was Gates' decision it would have been closed long ago: torture, war crimes, no useful intelligence produced, and long term blowback.
12.6.2008 10:00pm
John Moore (www):
@pedro

Read the manifesto. They say that millions may need to be eliminated after they take over. Does that give you a clue?
12.6.2008 10:01pm
zippypinhead:
Ayers himself denies it. The government was unable to prove it.... What Ayers says he did are the only things he can fairly be accused of being "unrepentant" about. The rest he may or may not have done, but in any case, he has not claimed such actions.
Well, DUH! And you would think that a smart guy who understands the legal system would ever admit to killing people in an obviously heavily-lawyered op-ed piece? Any criminal litigator (or first-year law student) can tell you there's generally no statute of limitations on murder. Of course he'll never admit it!

How naive can you be? Sheesh...
12.6.2008 10:37pm
EPluribusMoney (mail):
Obama is our President, and we should all pray that the country prospers under his leadership.

Nah. The 52% that were stupid enough to vote for the most liberal, inexperienced cipher in our nation's history need for things to go completely to hell so they won't do this to us again. The rest of us will survive on our affirming I-told-you -sos until we find the next Reagan to save the day.

I won't do a thing to make this nation prosper until the day he leaves office.
12.6.2008 10:50pm
sbw (mail) (www):
Ayers plays word games. His intent was to terrorize enough people to effect political change. That makes him a terrorist.

As the reader's surrogate, the New York Times fails in its obligation to call Ayers on his word games or, at the very least, to point it out to readers.

If the New York Times fails its journalistic duty to the reader, there is no reason to read the New York Times.

Of course, if the low NYT share price is an indication, many people understand this already.
12.6.2008 11:07pm
Cornellian (mail):
I won't do a thing to make this nation prosper until the day he leaves office.

Spoken like a true patriot.
12.6.2008 11:08pm
whit:

If the New York Times fails its journalistic duty to the reader, there is no reason to read the New York Times.



actually, the new york times is considering its audience and providing (complete pap) to them. iow, it's doing it's journalistic duty, if you define journalistic duty as knowing your (ever shrinking) audience and catering to their delusions. journalistic duty (according to the NYT) = telling people what they want to hear, regardless of truth.

for another example see: dan rather and mary mapes.

feel free to read the comments attached to ayers article. it proves my point quite well. at least if one thinks that commenters are somewhat representative of readers.
12.6.2008 11:27pm
neurodoc:
pedro: after all, according to the code of the law, as I understand it, a person is innocent until proven guilty
You don't understand it. In the United States, as opposed to some other countries, a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable shadow of doubt in a court of law. After considering the evidence presented them, triers of fact, that is judges and juries, return verdicts of "guilty" or "not guilty." If the latter, the individual continues to enjoy the presumption of innocence before the law that they were entitled to before they were put on trial; judges and juries do not return with verdicts of "innocent," but only leave the presumption undisturbed.

pedro: Who but a lawyer thinks what makes something legitimate is whether a group of dead white men thought (or wrote) at some point in time? And who but a lawyer responds to the argument "I am not a terrorist because X, Y, and Z" by resorting to "the dictionary says you are a terrorist"?
Wow, really breathtakingly stupid! And lawyers (and jurists, the triers of law) don't rely on dictionaries to say whether or not conduct satisfies the common law or statutory requirements of a particular crime.
12.6.2008 11:41pm
Careless:
feel free to read the comments attached to ayers article. it proves my point quite well. at least if one thinks that commenters are somewhat representative of readers.

A) comment threads (over time) skew towards extreme views that are balanced by differing opinion trolls, B) the NYT censors many comments, which means that the trolls don't usually get through. Comment threads of that sort will always be stupidly, unthinkingly partisan
12.6.2008 11:49pm
neurodoc:
David Warner, I'm not clear what we differ on. You asked for some explanation of the NYT's decision to allow Ayers the privilege of an op-ed piece, which allows him to say what he wants more or less unchallenged. (Remember that the NYT gave Obama that opportunity too, but then decided that McCain an op-ed to reply.) Do you think that I am wrong about the NYT's own struggle with the "T" word as reflected by its very selective use of that label, with some buy in to the "one man's terrorist is another's freedom fighter," and that as at least a partial explanation here.
12.6.2008 11:51pm
pedro (mail):
"And lawyers (and jurists, the triers of law) don't rely on dictionaries"

My goodness! You actually think that when I referred to dictionaries I wasn't employing them as a metaphor. If you read my comment and its context (Tilly's distinction between codes and technical accounts), then it becomes clear that the type of reasoning that lawyers engage in is being criticized rather strongly, not because I think they rely crudely on "dictionaries," but because I think they give too much deference to codes when disputes call for more substantive argumentation. Ayers is making a forceful distinction between what he considers terrorism and what he engaged in. An intellectually rigorous response would either provide serious arguments that the differences drawn by Ayers are artificial and/or irrelevant, or that, distinctions acknowledged, the acts of WU should be regarded nonetheless as terrorism (on some policy grounds to be revealed). Grounding these arguments on the letter of the law is intellectually lazy.
12.6.2008 11:56pm
pedro (mail):
Also, neurodoc, I didn't say that lawyers ground all of their arguments on the interpretation of the constitution, but that there is a certain strain of legal thought called originalism, as you well know, which actually comes quite close to the caricature I have provided when it comes to constitutional law. That legal thought can be sophisticated and highly intelligent is undeniable, but it is still quite accurate to remark that codes play a very substantial role in lawyering: it is often technicalities that make or break a case (though many times these technicalities work out to benefit the better moral argument).
12.7.2008 12:04am
Antimedia (mail):
Ayers is making a forceful distinction between what he considers terrorism and what he engaged in. An intellectually rigorous response would either provide serious arguments that the differences drawn by Ayers are artificial and/or irrelevant, or that, distinctions acknowledged, the acts of WU should be regarded nonetheless as terrorism (on some policy grounds to be revealed).
Those arguments have been made. You ignored them. There's not really any point in continuing since you refuse to acknowledge the evidence that refutes Ayers' apologia.
12.7.2008 12:12am
Elliot123 (mail):
Perhaps Obama can tell us what a terrorist is?
12.7.2008 12:39am
pedro (mail):
It is also incredibly silly (and, ironically, presumptuous) to argue that because a person does not use the word "presumed" in his or her formulation of the principle that a person should be regarded as innocent until proven guilty, then that person surely must not understand. The fact of the matter is that, nitpicking thrown to the wastebasket where it belongs, a person who is presumed innocent ought to never be tortured.
12.7.2008 12:42am
Elliot123 (mail):
Suppose you had agun. Would you shoot someone deploying a nail bomb?
12.7.2008 12:44am
David Warner:
Pedro,

""Terrorist" has a certain ring to it, notwithstanding the fact that the person being so labeled has not admitted to doing that with which you charge him; instead, he admits to doing something that he himself distinguishes from terrorism in an important way."

Premised on a bald-faced lie. Nails. In. The. Bomb. OK, not terror, merely attempted mass murder. Is that fine by you?

This is a spoiled child of privilege who wanted (and wants!) to tear down the meritocracy that allowed his own father to rise so high, likely judging (rightly) that he himself wouldn't measure up to the old man. He's the bizarro Richie Daley.

This is not the progressivism you're looking for.
12.7.2008 3:23am
David Warner:
neurodoc,

"Do you think that I am wrong about the NYT's own struggle with the "T" word as reflected by its very selective use of that label, with some buy in to the "one man's terrorist is another's freedom fighter," and that as at least a partial explanation here."

No, I don't. Nor do I care about the "T" word. What I care about is the truth. I don't consider bald-faced lies Fit to Print. Neither, usually, does the Grey Lady. Why did she feel justified in doing so in this case?

Somehow I suspect that had McCain claimed that Iraq was behind 9/11 or that he'd always been a faithful husband, an editor would have taken him aside and suggested that corrections be made.

This is important due to the influence the Times wields in setting the agenda for the rest of the nation's media.
12.7.2008 3:30am
Careless:
This thread had the valuable function of separating the crazy lefties from the sane ones LM and Cornellian really need some sort of token they can give to right winters who harass them in the future. Yes, if you think attempted mass murder is ok, you are either nuts or just plain evil.
12.7.2008 3:34am
Careless:
I'd like to add some punctuation to my last post
12.7.2008 3:37am
Ken Arromdee:
What Ayers says he did are the only things he can fairly be accused of being "unrepentant" about.

This is nonsense. If you do something and don't repent of it, you're unrepentant about it. That's what "unrepentant" means.
12.7.2008 6:14am
pedro (mail):
David Warner-

No, that is not fine by me. I am not an idiot, and I presume Bill Ayers is innocent of attempted mass murder until someone with far more credibility than you have convinces me otherwise, to which end said individual would have to dedicate far more effort than the writing. of. weirdly. punctuated. phrases.

Finally, if you think I am arguing in favor of holding Bill Ayers as an example of thoughtful and productive liberalism, think again. It doesn't take even minor exposure to elementary logic to know that indicting an argument is entirely different from denying its conclusions, let alone asserting the exact opposite of its conclusions.
12.7.2008 9:41am
Bpbatista (mail):
If someone splatters Ayers' brains on the side walk will that constitute "extreme vandalism" instead of murder?
12.7.2008 10:02am
David Warner:
pedro,

So do you contest the findings of fact (the presence of nails in the bomb) or my construal thereof?

He said he didn't intend to kill people. He put nails in the bomb he made. What am I missing? Or do I lack the authority to ask questions in this new bizarro progressive wonderland where everyone is so enamored with title and status?
12.7.2008 10:02am
dhdcnr (mail):
Suppose we all agree that Ayers was not as peaceful as he says. Suppose he wasn't super careful not to hurt anybody.

The point remains that the phrase "the kind of terrorist who is super careful not to hurt anybody" has an odd ring to it. If someone really were super careful not to hurt anybody, and managed to destroy a lot of buildings to protest a war, it would be misleading to call them a "terrorist". This remains true, regardless of legal definitions of "terrorism" -- after all, think of legal definitions of "sodomy"!

Consequently, even if Ayers is a dishonest son of a bitch about the specifics of his activities, there's nothing wrong with the general point he's making.
12.7.2008 10:15am
jtb-in-texas (mail):
Ayers is a member of that group of people who feel their motives justify their actions--and the rest of us are stupid enough to believe their latest excuse...

This is by no means a strictly leftist attitude; but it has been a communist trait since their beginnings. (see Schwarz).

Our dilemma now is how to reeducate Americans to spot these charlatans and treat them with the contempt they deserve...
12.7.2008 10:23am
Mike H (mail) (www):
The FBI has long suspected Ayer's wife Bernandine Dohrn in the 1970 murder via "non-violent" pipe bombing death of Sgt. Brian McDonnell in San Francisco. They are also suspected in the murders of Sergeant Edward O'Grady and Officer Waverly Brown, in Nyack New York.

If it wasn’t of the fact that Ayers' dad was the CEO of Commonwealth Edison and a very politically connected man, Bill Ayers would still be rotting in jail.

Interesting that Dohrn is a professor of law at Northwestern.
12.7.2008 10:47am
BarryD (mail):
First off, anyone who thinks a nail bomb isn't an anti-personnel bomb is too stupid or dishonest to debate.

Second, I think we know what terrorism is, legal definition or not. It's pretty simple: I'm a civilian going about my business on an average day, and a bomb, biological agent, bullet, whatever, that has nothing to do with me personally, is used by someone to kill or injure me because they want to make a political statement. I would be a victim of terrorism.

The Boston Tea Party itself wasn't terrorism, though a violent act against the civilian captain or crew of a ship may have been. Gunning down a bunch of random people coming out of a church, in order to draw attention to the tax on tea would have been terrorism.

If Bill Ayers et al. were to be drafted, and refuse to go, and kill anyone who came to force them into the military, using whatever means they had at their disposal, that would not be terrorism, either. I won't get into what's right or wrong here, just what is and isn't terrorism.

As far as a bomb designed to kill non-coms and their dates, I don't think that these military personnel were involved in conscripting Ayers or his friends. Some may have, themselves, been conscripts.

Bill Ayers was no freedom fighter. He was a terrorist leader. That is most certainly clear.
12.7.2008 10:48am
pst314 (mail):
Ayers portrays himself as merely an at-times-overenthusiastic anti-war activist. But the record shows that he was a committed communist dedicated to the overthrow of the government and our society and the imposition of a Stalinist-style tyranny. Ayers and his Weathermen compatriots even discussed what to do after their revolution succeeded, and calmly planned the establishment of a gulag in which much of the population would be forced to undergo "re-education" and in which they expected to execute about 25 million people who resisted indoctrination.

No, Ayers does not love peace or freedom. That such a monster could be honored and supported by so many professors only shows how depraved academia has become--not to mention liberalism in general.
12.7.2008 10:50am
Charlie (Texas) (mail):
The Other Big Lie

Seems all have overlooked the other big lie in Ayers' piece. He says he was, like millions of others, just trying to bring the Vietnam war to an end.

In fact, he was avowedly working for a Communist victory.
12.7.2008 11:07am
Midwestern Science/Engineering Prof:
It's amazing how "mainstream" people here are defending Ayers because he's "their" terrorist simply because they oppose(d) the war in Vietnam or Iraq. McVeigh had no mainstream defenders in the Right but we on the Left give them not only excuses but tenure (the right puts needles in their arms or exiles them so far out of polite company that only sloppy third rate British academics cite them as credible, google Jenna Delich for an example.

But what is worse still, is that Ayer's supporters forget that the Weathermen live on in the ALF and other terrorist groups that are explicitly targeting fellow current academics. I have colleagues who work in agriculture science -- not necessarily GM or animal testing, these guys do benign Precision Ag and and one was explicitly threatened by one of these homicidal morons. They work in buildings where they take a small risk every day that one of Ayer's and his apologists' fellow travelers will take a swipe at murdering them in the name of some cause of which they know surprisingly little (but they do care so much about it).

Go to a med school or ag research college building and you'll see signs on procedures as to what to do when you find a suspicious package or get a bomb threat. These are signs that you'll never find in the Poly Sci, Sociology, English, and Useless Studies buildings that continue to bend and stretch to underwrite not only Ayers but his children targeting their colleagues across the country and even just across campus (ironically, the same colleagues who pay their light bills through indirect costs charged to their grants while they take the summers off). That their preferred homicidal maniacs hit the mark only very rarely is besides the point. If they were targeted for murder maybe they'd think differently.
12.7.2008 11:31am
Oligonicella:
Johnny Canuck —
"But for Nixonian stupidity,"
Nixon would have ended the war in 1969, and there wouldn't have been any reason for the Kent state Massacre, or the subsequent WU actions.

And, not to gang up on Republican Presidents,
If LBJ hadn't lied to the American people ( 64 election - I will never send American boys to fight in Asia) and then to Congress (the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution), none of this "history" would have happened.

Don't know if this has been addressed, but you do know LBJ was a Democrat?
12.7.2008 11:45am
Mark Buehner (mail):
Maybe i missed it somewhere in the thread, but has anyone come up with an explanation for why WU was building nail bombs if they didn't intend to hurt people?
12.7.2008 11:54am
Milton (mail):
Charlie is right. It's a huge lie that he was fighting against an unjust war. It's also very misguided to say he was bombing because "his friends were being drafted".

Of there 12 bombings, about half came after the draft ended. Most of the bombings were aimed at targets having nothing to do with Vietnam. Heck, he helped Timothy Leary escape prison and flee the country!

These were really, really strange counter-culturalists with an odd set of morals. Their justification always involved the term justice. "We were seeking justice, man". The fact that Ayers has escaped justice for his crimes by using a legal system that he targeted as being unjust is a terrific irony, one that is lost on Ayers.

The irony that Ayers, a counter-culture icon, is now firmly embeded in mainstream political culture is also lost on the guy. The irony that Ayers, an anti-capitalist, now works at U Chicago, a college started by John Rockefeller, is also lost on the guy. U Chicago pioneered nuclear power and advanced monetarism (in fascist Chile, no less!). Heck, U-Chicago would have been a perfect target for one of his bombings!

The irony that Ayers rallied agianst the United States, now he lives a very comfortable life in an upscale Chicago neighborhood, working with the son of a mayor he hated, is further lost.
12.7.2008 11:58am
Mark Buehner (mail):

On the morning of March 6, 1970, three of my comrades were building pipe bombs packed with dynamite and nails, destined for a dance of non-commissioned officers and their dates at Fort Dix, N.J., that night. Still trying to “bring the war home,” their bombs were crude mirrors of the anti-personnel weapons the U.S. was raining down on Indochina. Inexperienced and freaked-out, somebody must have crossed two wires leading to the detonator

WU leader Mark Rudd

I think Ayers has a big problem with his credibility. His contemporary contention doesnt match:
1.The anti-personnel nature of the nail bomb
2.His own words describing the effects of same
3.His comrades direct claims about the intent and nature of the bomb

Is there really another alternative here, aside from everyone else including the facts are lying?
12.7.2008 12:10pm
neurodoc:
neurodoc: "Do you think that I am wrong about the NYT's own struggle with the "T" word as reflected by its very selective use of that label, with some buy in to the "one man's terrorist is another's freedom fighter," and that as at least a partial explanation here."

David Warner: No, I don't. Nor do I care about the "T" word. What I care about is the truth. I don't consider bald-faced lies Fit to Print. Neither, usually, does the Grey Lady. Why did she feel justified in doing so in this case?
You say you don't care about the "T" word, that being "terrorism/terrorist," but do care about the truth (that, of course, a "T" word too.) I think you are overlooking a commonality between the proper use of words, be it with "terrorism/terrorist" or any number of others, and the Truth.

Words have meaning, and their meanings are hugely important. Their meanings and uses may not always be absolutely precise, unambiguous, etc., but if they are employed in an other than honest way, as the NYT does with the "T" (terrorism) one, then no good can follow. By its notably selective use of the "T" word (used by the NYT for Islamic extremists who attacked in Mumbai, but rarely for Palestinians attacking Jews, especially in Israel, no matter that they be a subnational group aiming to achieve political ends through attacks targeting noncombatants), the NYT signals its ideologic biases, and tacitly endorses the amoral, if not immoral, notion of "one man's terrorist is another's freedom fighter."

Things should be called by their proper names. The NYT doesn't always chose to do that, the "T" word business being a most egregious example of the paper's tendentiousness. It's all very much about truthfulness, and helps explain the Ayers op-ed piece.
12.7.2008 12:23pm
Jonathan Rubinstein (mail) (www):
Posner is of course correct. Ayers and Dohrn were bought rehab by their superwealthy and Republican families, little different from the pardons Clinton is condemned for giving. Ayers is personally mild and kind, always was, but a theoretical Trotskiite. Now he is taken up as part of the dreadful myth of the 60s folk that "we" somehow stopped the war. Bullshit of course. The poison unleashed into our politics by Vietnam is still working. The treatment of Ayers/Dohrn is one symptom of this. They were trying to be revolutionaries who wanted to overthrow the constitutional order. Because they failed, because they were delusional, because they were incompetents who caused the deaths of innocents by "accident" are not excuses. They served their country ill and I have no doubt he continues to do so from his perch as an authority on inner city education. Viva la raza does not mean Long Live America.
12.7.2008 12:26pm
neurodoc:
Pedro, if you are ever part of a jury pool, be sure to make known to the court right upfront your "anti-code" views, your unwillingness to be slavishly bound by the thinking of "DWM," etc. And so no one will ever think otherwise, repeatedly insist that you are not silly, naive, an idiot, etc.
12.7.2008 12:30pm
Michael Edward McNeil (mail) (www):
Those who wonder if or how Bill Ayers' beliefs have changed over the last forty years can simply go to Ayers' own web site, where he proudly displays a communist star at the head of every page, atop a rifle silhouette.

At his blog, see Ayers proudly present his Venezuelan speech of two years ago in which, addressing Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez (who is a dictator, legislating by decree), Ayers lauds the “revolucion Bolivariana” and the terrific job he's doing creating a system that's “truly new and deeply humane.”

As Ayers declared in that speech, “We can’t have education without revolution. We have tried peace education for 1,900 years and it has failed. Let us try revolution and see what it will do now,” “La educacion es revolucion!”

Ayers went on to say:
I […] eventually taught at every level in barrios and prisons and insurgent projects across the United States. I learned then that education is never neutral. It always has a value, a position, a politics. Education either reinforces or challenges the existing social order, and school is always a contested space […].

Totalitarianism demands obedience and conformity, hierarchy, command and control. Royalty requires allegiance. Capitalism promotes racism and militarism […].

Despite being under constant attack from within and from abroad, the Bolivarian revolution has made astonishing strides in a brief period […]. Venezuela is a beacon to the world in its accomplishment […].

We, too, must move in and out of windows, we, too, must build a project of radical imagination and fundamental change. Venezuela is poised to offer the world a new model […] — a humanizing and revolutionary model whose twin missions are enlightenment and liberation.

Viva Presidente Chavez!
Viva La Revolucion Bolivariana!

Another worthwhile visit in Ayers' creepy blog is this piece wherein he proposes that every citizen of a “democracy” every ten years be required to donate a year's free labor to the State.

Then, too, just before the election last month, Ayers slyly suggested that McCain's proposal to briefly suspend campaigning so Congress, he and Obama could attempt to concentrate on addressing the recent financial meltdown, was a likely prelude to “suspending” the election itself. Sure.

It's clear to anybody willing to see that Ayers views himself these days as still a part of hard-left revolutionary communism — but nowadays positioned within its propaganda wing: tossing verbal explosives rather than physically explosive bombs whilst trying to turn students his/their way.
12.7.2008 12:41pm
Jim Treacher (mail) (www):
What's the difference between Timothy McVeigh and Bill Ayers?


Accountability.
12.7.2008 12:48pm
Mark_0454 (mail):
Should be interesting. By writing this editorial and rationalizing his actions, Ayers has put himself and his actions in the spotlight.

There are some people left who remember Ayers from the Weatherunderground. Not all of them agree with him ideologically. Some of them may start to contradict Ayer's assertions.
12.7.2008 1:31pm
Mark_0454 (mail):
Should be interesting. By writing this editorial and rationalizing his actions, Ayers has put himself and his actions in the spotlight.

There are some people left who remember Ayers from the Weatherunderground. Not all of them agree with him ideologically. Some of them may start to contradict Ayer's assertions.
12.7.2008 1:31pm
Mark_0454 (mail):
Should be interesting. By writing this editorial and rationalizing his actions, Ayers has put himself and his actions in the spotlight.

There are some people left who remember Ayers from the Weatherunderground. Not all of them agree with him ideologically. Some of them may start to contradict Ayer's assertions.
12.7.2008 1:31pm
Mark_0454 (mail):
Should be interesting. By writing this editorial and rationalizing his actions, Ayers has put himself and his actions in the spotlight.

There are some people left who remember Ayers from the Weatherunderground. Not all of them agree with him ideologically. Some of them may start to contradict Ayer's assertions.
12.7.2008 1:31pm
Mark_0454 (mail):
sorry, hit the button too many times
12.7.2008 1:32pm
Anon23:
Asked way back in the thread:

Where is the evidence Ayers was involved in planting nail bombs? He doesn't say he was, and I'm inclined to regard his measured argument as having more credibility than the hyperbolic condemnation of the right. If you have hard evidence, of course, that would be another matter.

I've looked, and I can't seem to find anything to directly connect Ayers and the Greenwich Village townhouse explosion.

Yes, both involved Weathermen. The article also claims there was internal disagreement in the Weathermen/WU about the degree of violence appropriate. Is there something tying Ayers to one side or the other beyond circular "of course he's a terrist, it was a nail bomb!" invective?

Perhaps those accusing Ayers of personal involvement ("designing", for example) could elucidate the link?

Thanks!
12.7.2008 1:37pm
Antimedia (mail):
It is also incredibly silly (and, ironically, presumptuous) to argue that because a person does not use the word "presumed" in his or her formulation of the principle that a person should be regarded as innocent until proven guilty, then that person surely must not understand. The fact of the matter is that, nitpicking thrown to the wastebasket where it belongs, a person who is presumed innocent ought to never be tortured.
You appear to be one of the idiots who thinks that people captured in war have the same rights as American citizens. You are not alone in this belief, but every one of you is an idiot. (And I use that word in its original greek provenance of "unlearned".) By the same "logic", every citizen of every country in the world deserves the same protections that our Constitution provides to every legal citizen. After all, they've done at least as much as our active enemies have to deserve those protections.

Nevermind the logic though. You have centuries of jurisprudence to overcome to make your argument win.
12.7.2008 1:48pm
MW Sci/Eng Prof:
Mark_0454 sez (more times than necessary but we're expected to forgive a spoiled 60s homicidal maniac wanabee....)


Should be interesting. By writing this editorial and rationalizing his actions, Ayers has put himself and his actions in the spotlight.

There are some people left who remember Ayers from the Weatherunderground. Not all of them agree with him ideologically. Some of them may start to contradict Ayer's assertions


You mean just now after the NYT piece, BOs election and his coming out of sequestration? Everything that he has said recently has been countered by him and his buddies who still for years, let alone those who have grown up. But it doesn't matter does it? He's always had his homicidal tendencies and a full pardon by the likes of the NYT, pedro, Chicagoland et al.
12.7.2008 1:54pm
MW Sci/Eng Prof:
Poopie


...who've still agreed with him for years...


Like I said, if you are expected to forgive a unrepentant self-admitted terrorist having a publicity fix and not forgive a typo....
12.7.2008 2:03pm
Cornellian (mail):
This thread had the valuable function of separating the crazy lefties from the sane ones LM and Cornellian really need some sort of token they can give to right winters who harass them in the future. Yes, if you think attempted mass murder is ok, you are either nuts or just plain evil.

I've said nothing in defense of Ayres or whatever it is he did in the 1960s. I've said I neither know nor care what he did, anymore than I care what any other random nobody did in the 1960s.
12.7.2008 2:26pm
I'd rather not:
By this definition, the American Revolution was an 8 year long act of Domestic terrorism. Spare us the sanctimony. When the Weather Underground was formed in 1970, the US KIA count in Vietnam stood at 47,768 KIA. By the end of the year, that figure would be up to 53,849. If you can't understand how some honorable people could take up arms against their government under those circumstances, then you don't understand this country at all. Doesn't mean you have to agree with them. Doesn't mean you have to approve. Doesn't mean some of those who responded extremely shouldn't have gone to jail. But to feign so much shock and outrage... Come off it.
12.7.2008 2:27pm
~aardvark (mail):
Milton,

Ayers has nothing to do with UofC. Check your facts before posting.
12.7.2008 2:30pm
Antimedia (mail):
I've looked, and I can't seem to find anything to directly connect Ayers and the Greenwich Village townhouse explosion.
What are you looking for? Ayers' fingerprints on the detonator? Barbara Oughton, one of the three killed in the explosion was Ayers' girlfriend and lover at the time. Another, Terry Robbins, was a close friend of Ayers.

Where do you think Ayers was living at the time? Do you suppose they might have discussed the plan when they were together?

According to this article
On March 6, 1970, several of their WU members, including Ayers' then-girlfriend, Diana Oughton, were killed in a New York apartment as they were preparing a nail bomb to blow up the Fort Dix Army base in Burlington County, N.J. This bomb was designed by Bill Ayers himself and intended to be built according to his expressed specifications.
According to this article
The testimony was given by Grathwohl to the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee on October 18, 1974. He testified:

“When he [Bill Ayers] returned, we had another meeting at which time¯and this is the only time that any Weathermen told me about something that someone else had done¯and Bill started off telling us about the need to raise the level of the struggle and for stronger leadership inside the Weathermen ‘focals’ [i.e., cells] and inside the Weatherman organization as a whole. And he cited as one of the real problems was that someone like Bernardine Dohrn had to plan, develop and carry out the bombing of the police station in San Francisco, and he specifically named her as the person that committed that act.”

Grathwohl added that Ayers “said that the bomb was placed on the window ledge and he described the kind of bomb that was used to the extent of saying what kind of shrapnel was used in it.”

He was asked, “Did he say who placed the bomb on the window ledge?” He replied, “Bernardine Dohrn.”

Asked if Ayers said that he had personally witnessed Dohrn placing the bomb, Grathwohl responded, “Well, if he wasn’t there to see it, somebody who was there told him about it, because he stated it very emphatically.”
Grathwohl was a Weatherman turned FBI informant who also testified to Ayers' plan to exterminate 25 million Americans after they had won the revolution and taken over the United States.

If Ayers wasn't involved in the nail bomb incident, then why did he go underground immediately after the explosion?
They disappeared in 1970, after a bomb — designed to kill army officers in New Jersey — accidentally destroyed a Greenwich Village townhouse, and turned themselves into authorities in 1980. They were never prosecuted for their involvement with the 25 bombings the Weather Underground claimed; charges were dropped because of improper FBI surveillance.
Ayers himself admits in his book Fugitive Days
The book is organized around the calamity that probably saved his life. In March of 1970 a huge nail bomb exploded in a town house in Greenwich Village. Annihilated by the blast were three members of the Weather Underground, one of them the bomb's designer and another Diana Oughton, a Quaker who a few years earlier had been teaching Mayan children in Guatemala. By the government's lights, only criminals died.

There were a lot of other bombs. Ayers describes a Weather operation that planted a small bomb in a toilet drain in the Pentagon. "We blew up a bathroom and, quite by accident, water plunged below and knocked out their computers for a time, disrupting the air war and sending me into deepening shades of delight." But the bomb that went off in Greenwich Village was designed to kill, and if it had gone off as intended, on an army base, and done the damage it was designed to do, the Weather people would have been murderers. Murder was the abyss into which they luckily did not fall. And Ayers, with absolutely no way of knowing, imagines Oughton -- his lover at the time -- understanding the danger and destroying herself to save the others. "The fact the bomb went off and killed only our own people saved us from something terrible and the world from something terrible," he says. "That's why I have been haunted by that moment."
If you want Ayers to go on the record and admit that he was responsible for all of this you will be waiting a long time. The case against him was dropped to avoid political embarrassment because the Nixon administration's FBI had performed illegal wiretaps.

Ayers could still be indicted and convicted for his crimes, if anyone in our government had the courage to pursue the case. It doesn't hurt that he himself has confessed, on the public record, to being "guilty as sin".

But our government often doesn't have the courage to pursue people like Ayers.
12.7.2008 2:33pm
Snaphappy:
I have always understood "terrorism" to mean that the person or group intends to further its goals through "terror." That is, blowing up--for instance, a grocery store--does nothing to stop whatever policy you would like to change (for instance, sanctions against Cuba). What it does is cause people to be afraid that they will be in the next grocery store. In theory, those people and their leaders could become so afraid of further attacks that they would change the policy.

The operative question thus does not turn on whether WE intended to kill people or whether the felony murder rule would apply, but on whether it intended to use terror as a weapon to induce the end of the Vietnam war. (Not being familiar with WE's activities, I dont' know the answer to that question.)

Separately, I wonder whether all of WE's actions would really fit the definition given by Posner. The Pentagon and the Capitol, centers of the legislative and military power in this Country, would surely be considered legitimate targets in wartime. Why are they "noncombatant" targets under the definition? Similarly, a military dance would be full of miliary personnel, surely they are "combatants." [note: This is more a criticism of the definition than Posner. I agree, for instance, that the Sept. 11 attack on the Pentagon was terrorism, not becuase the Pentagon is a noncombatant, but becuase it was part of a fear-inducing attack on the country.]
12.7.2008 2:50pm
Fat Man (mail) (www):
Ayers claim that:
In 1970, I co-founded the Weather Underground, an organization that was created after an accidental explosion that claimed the lives of three of our comrades in Greenwich Village.


is, at best, a red herring. The Weather Underground was the name adopted by the people who had formerly called themselves the Weathermen (after a line in a Bob Dylan song). As such, they had formed a faction within the left-wing group SDS in the late 60s, took over that organization in 1969, and organized the "Days of Rage" riots in Chicago that year. They "went underground" after the Greenwich Village work accident because they wanted to avoid arrest and interrogation.

The name change from Weathermen to Weather Underground was a celebration of how "bad" they were and the first recorded instance of politically correct re-naming in response to the criticism from women in the group that the term "weatherman" was sexist. The name change did not represent a new organization, ideology, or goals. It was just a name change.

As for evidence of Ayers involvement in the Greenwich Village bomb, we have only that Ayers was a member of the groups leadership and that one of the victims was Ayers girlfriend, Diana Oughton. We also know that the group discussed and debated every action in great detail. The natural inference is that Ayers knew and approved of the construction of the bomb. That would make him culpable for felony murder.

It is in the nature of revolutionary terrorists groups that they do not keep minutes of their meetings. The FBI may have had informants in one or more of the meetings, they had pretty good success penetrating SDS, but their records are sealed.

Ayers claims that the group intended property damage only are belied by the experience of John M. Murtaugh in his article: “Fire in the Night: The Weathermen tried to kill my family.” @ City-Journal.org dated 30 April 2008.

Ayers article was so slippery and mendacious to render it useless as an apology or explanation for or of anything.
12.7.2008 2:54pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"This isn't the Bill Ayers I knew."
12.7.2008 2:59pm
Fat Man (mail) (www):
Aardvark, Milton: Ayers is a professor at the University of Illinois Chicago Campus, which is a campus of the publicly owned and controlled University of Illinois, the main campus of which is downstate in Urbana &Champaign.

The University of Chicago is a private university founded by John D. Rockefeller and William Rainy Harper in the 1890s. The University of Chicago's main campus is in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago (5700 south and 1100 east). The UI campus is at 800 west and 700 south, about 8 miles away.

The two schools are often confused by folks from out of town who are not academics. Sometimes Chicagoans are confused.
12.7.2008 3:19pm
b-rob (mail):
Fat Man ignores the elephant in the room:

"It is in the nature of revolutionary terrorists groups that they do not keep minutes of their meetings. The FBI may have had informants in one or more of the meetings, they had pretty good success penetrating SDS, but their records are sealed."

A few facts:

a) Ayers and his wife turned themselves in in 1980. She ended up on probation and paying a fine for assault.

b) Neither Ayers nor his wife were ever prosecuted for any terrorist acts while they were members of the Weather Underground. Apparently, Nixon bugged their attorneys offices, broke into the offices, etc.

c) The prosecutor on the case, William Ibershof, believes to this day that he could have won the case. But the trial judge issued an order for an investigation into the burglaries, the Mitchell Justice Department decided to drop the case against Ayers. His wife still faced state charges, though, so they remained on the lam.

d) Barack Obama has the highest security clearance possible and as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations committee has held such clearances since he went to Washington.

Adding that all up, I have to believe that if Barack Obama is such a great pal of Ayers that Ayers wrote his first book (as one wingnut claimed), that his career was launched in Bill Ayers' living room (as several wingnuts claimed), etc., then the Bush Administration surely would NOT have given the junior senator from Illinois, a new member of the Dem. minority delegation, a full security clearance IF Ayers was a terrorist. Obviously, after doing Obama's background check, the FBI saw nothing wrong with Obama "pal-ing around" with Bill Ayers, because Obama got the security clearance.

Which leads me to three possible conclusions:

(1) Ayers is a bad guy, but Obama and Ayers are not close enough that it worried anyone in the Bush Administration that they knew each other,

(2) Obama and Ayers are close, but Ayers was either innocent in FBIs eyes OR he was an informant, or

(3) Some combination of the two -- like Ayers was a bad guy but an informant, so the Feds let their relationship slide rather than make a stink about Ayers and unleash people to do digging, FOIA requests, etc.

My conclusion all along? Informant. Because if he was really a bad guy, you don't think SOMEONE from the Bush administration would not have leaked something about it?
12.7.2008 3:43pm
Antimedia (mail):
All 12 of the indicted co-conspirators in the "Days of Rage" trial were members of both the Weathermen and the Weather Underground. As "Fat Man" points out, it is mendacious to claim that the two groups were separate. The latter was simply the former renamed.

And they were still making bombs and killing people into the 1980's, when Ayers turned himself in
When Mr. Ayers refused to answer questions in Chicago last week, he said he did so because ''the survival of others depends on our silence.''
Clearly Ayers still believed that other Weathermen were "out there" still plotting "radical" activities. (The New York Times, December 7, 1980, Sunday, Late City Final Edition) Indeed, shortly before Ayers turned himself in, the WU had committed another act of violence.
Three members of the Weather Underground are still wanted on state or Federal charges. One is Jeff Jones, wanted in connection with a ''bomb factory'' incident in Hoboken, N.J., in 1979. Another is Katherine Boudin, who one of the sources said was living in Russia. The third is Silas Bissell, of Seattle, who is accused of bombing an R.O.T.C. building at the University of Washington in 1969. (ibid)
The story of the capture of Katherine Boudin is detailed in Newsweek, the November 2, 1981, UNITED STATES EDITION, entitled Return of the Weatherman
The answer seemed to be a qualified yes. A wave of police searched apartments in New York and New Jersey and turned up suggestions that the Nyack shoot-out might have been the result of a larger plan gone awry--a plan possibly linking the Weather Underground with an urban-guerrilla group called the Black Liberation Army (BLA) in a new biracial alliance. As other suspects were seized, the names alone recalled the turbulence of the late 1960s and early 1970s: in addition to Boudin, they included Judith A. Clark, a Weather Underground leader also arrested in the Nyack incident; Nathaniel Burns, a fugitive Black Panther sought since 1968 on bombing charges, arrested last week after a high-speed chase in Queens, and Jeffrey Jones and his girlfriend, Eleanor Raskin, prominent members of the Weather Underground wanted in connection with the 1979 discovery of a bomb factory in New Jersey. Tantalizingly out of reach of the police was another figure, Joanne Chesimard, said to be "the soul" of the BLA and eagerly sought since her 1979 escape from prison, where she was serving a life sentence for murdering a New Jersey state trooper (page 33). Chesimard's connection to the shoot-out in Nyack was unclear, but law-enforcement officials had a hunch she was involved and on the move, just a step or two ahead of them. One thing was clear: lawmen had on their hands one of the biggest cases of its kind since the house on West 11th Street exploded and Kathy Boudin vanished.

The shoot-out began as an armored-car robbery in semirural Rockland County, N.Y., about 20 miles outside Manhattan, at a shopping mall in the hamlet of Nanuet. A Brink's truck was being loaded with the day's receipts from the branch ofa local bank. Just as guard Joseph Trombino reached the truck with the bags of cash, two men jumped out of a passing van and opened fire with shotguns. A third man emerged from the mall and began shooting a 9-mm automatic. Brink's guard Peter Paige fell dead instantly, and Trombino took a bulletin the shoulder. The gunmen grabbed the money-six bags containing $1.6 million--and roared a way in the van. Half a mile up the road, at another shopping plaza, two getaway vehicles were waiting--a tan Honda and a small U-Haul truck. The robbers split up and sped off. But suspicious onlookers called police--and 5 miles away the robbers came to the roadblock at the thruway.

Crash: As detective Arthur Keenan of the Nyack police later recounted in court, the police pulled the U-Haul over. Boudin and the driver--a white man--got out, offering no resistance, and Keenan searched the cab. Finding nothing, he tried the rear door, and found it locked. He was walking back to his fellow officers when he heard a sound--and turned to see several black men springing from the truck, their automatic rifles already spewing bullets. After outshooting the police, the men commandeered cars from passing motorists and escaped; the Honda went past the roadblock untouched. Later, police said, the escaping criminals ditched the commandeered cars, switching to a white Oldsmobile and a maroon Ford. The two cars left the Nyack area at high speed--but some onlookers remem bered the license-plate numbers. Police picked up the trail of the Honda as it turned into the placid town of Nyack-and in a high-speed chase, the driver lost control of the car, crashing into a concrete wall. The driver, a bearded white man who called himself James Hackford, was actually a Weather Underground member named David J. Gilbert. The other passengers were Clark, who identified herself correctly, and a black man who said he was Solomon Bouines, later identified as Samuel Brown, an ex-convict with an arrest record stretching back to 1958 but with no known political affiliations.

As police and FBI agents broadened their investigations, the cast of characters grew. The tan Honda was registered to Eve Rosahn, an anti-apartheid activist who had been arrested in September in a violent protest against the American tour of the South African Springboks rugby team. More important, the registration for the Oldsmobile, found abandoned in Pelham, N.Y., led police to an apartment in East Orange, N.J., rented by a "Nina Lewis." The of firearms and ammunition, bomb-making equipment--and apparent plans for police assassinations and demolition of precinct stations in New York City.
In addition to the Brinks guard, two police officers, Officer Waverly Brown and Sgt. Edward O'Grady, were murdered.
12.7.2008 3:44pm
Antimedia (mail):
Adding that all up, I have to believe that if Barack Obama is such a great pal of Ayers that Ayers wrote his first book (as one wingnut claimed), that his career was launched in Bill Ayers' living room (as several wingnuts claimed), etc., then the Bush Administration surely would NOT have given the junior senator from Illinois, a new member of the Dem. minority delegation, a full security clearance IF Ayers was a terrorist. Obviously, after doing Obama's background check, the FBI saw nothing wrong with Obama "pal-ing around" with Bill Ayers, because Obama got the security clearance.
All I can say is, you are naive.

Surely you realize that there are political considerations that often override any desire to see justice done? For example, Ayers was never tried because the Nixon administration didn't want to have to deal with the embarrassment of being exposed for having committed illegal acts of wiretapping.

By the same token, even if someone in the Bush administration argued vociferously against granting the junior Senator from Illinois a security clearance, the political ramifications of pursuing that action would overwhelm any concerns.

There are Senators currently serving who have revealed national secrets, in violation of the law, and have never been investigated, much less prosecuted for those crimes simply because the political firestorm would overwhelm any justice that could be done.

Hell, there are CIA agents and NSA members who have revealed national secrets and never been investigated or convicted for their crimes. Politics often overrides justice.

As to your other claims about "wingnuts", it is a known fact that Obama's political career was launched in Ayers' house. There are numerous eye witnesses to that fact, including Ayers, who has admitted it, although he chooses not to characterize it as Obama's "launch".

I'll leave the claim about ghost writing to others with more insight.
12.7.2008 3:59pm
Milton (mail):
"Milton,

Ayers has nothing to do with UofC. Check your facts before posting."

Oops. I guess I didn't know that U of Illinios had a Chicago campus. My bad, and I offer a correction.

I find it more ironic that Ayers would work at a state funded university than a private one, though. Selling-out to the goverment you tried to overthrow? "Days of Rage" indeed. I guess it would be even more ironic if Ayers worked in a building named after Richard J. Daley.
12.7.2008 4:25pm
Harvey Mosley (mail):

Are you that dishonest or that mentally challenged stupid?

Yeah, that's a nice intellectual argument--I don't understand what you said so you must be dishonest or stupid.

But, if you really want to know, the point was disparity between intent and risk. I was not making a comparison between bombing civilian targets and driving a car. The point was precisely to illustrate ridiculousness of the argument that leads to such conclusions. To put it in terms you can understand--did you get that or are you stupid?


I apologize for calling you either dishonest or stupid. That added absolutely nothing to the discussion.

However, I still don't get your post. I thought you were equating bombing a supposedly unoccupied with driving to the store. Now I don't really know what you meant in your post. Maybe I am the stupid one.
12.7.2008 4:33pm
bushbasher:
posner is an apologist for torture, but can't tell the difference between targeting a building and targeting a person. what a stupid, loathsome special pleading little psychopath.
12.7.2008 4:35pm
Antimedia (mail):
"what a stupid, loathsome special pleading little psychopath."

What a perfect description of William Ayers.
12.7.2008 4:50pm
Elliot123 (mail):
Anyone who was there in the Sixties knows the Weathermen and the Weather Underground are the same thing. It's not hard. Think of Bombay and Mumbai. Liberals and Progressives. Coloreds, Negroes, Afro Amercans, Blacks, and African Americans.
12.7.2008 4:54pm
David Warner:
neurodoc,

"Things should be called by their proper names. The NYT doesn't always chose to do that, the "T" word business being a most egregious example of the paper's tendentiousness. It's all very much about truthfulness, and helps explain the Ayers op-ed piece."

Ah, I mistook where you were coming from. I still think there should be a distinction drawn between opinion (who merits the title/what is the meaning of "terrorist") and fact (nails in the bomb directly contradicting a statement of intent). Not that seeking to resolve our differences of opinion is not valuable as well. It's just that fact makes firmer common ground.

For better or worse, Pinch evidently envisions the Times as the National Review of an elite (and very rich!) Left revival (among other things). Putting the kooks on his editorial page does not advance this goal, any more than the apologists in academia do their own similar goals by not only defending, but also celebrating this guy.

Want to know why Obama isn't embracing you? Why didn't Reagan embrace the Birchers and his apologists? Time to employ those celebrated critical thinking skills to the power dynamics of the Ayers case.
12.7.2008 5:45pm
David Warner:
LM,

Perhaps you're right about the disinfectant effect.
12.7.2008 5:47pm
Emma Cate (mail):
1. What are the odds that the NYT would publish an "opinion" article by someone, like poster "David Warner" on this blog, who is critical of Bill Ayers' opinion piece? I hope David Warner sends the NYT an opinion article and posts what happens.

2. What percent of those supporting Ayers have read his book, "Fugitive Days" (dedicated to some cop killers) or his pamphlet, "Prairie Fire" (dedicated to, among others, Robert Kennedy's asassin Sirhan Sirhan)? I suspect few would support Ayers if they had read his book and his pamplet.

3. Are those supporting Bill Ayers also supporting the terrorists who bombed Oklahoma City? The major difference is the bomb Ayers group built to kill others, ended up killing Ayers' group instead of the NCO dance participants they made the bomb to destroy.
12.7.2008 5:51pm
bushbasher:
personally, i'm not supporting ayers, though do you have evidence he built bombs to kill others? i'm attacking posner, a smug, nasty, sophistic little torture-apologist.
12.7.2008 8:09pm
neurodoc:
David Warner: Ah, I mistook where you were coming from. I still think there should be a distinction drawn between opinion (who merits the title/what is the meaning of "terrorist") and fact (nails in the bomb directly contradicting a statement of intent). Not that seeking to resolve our differences of opinion is not valuable as well. It's just that fact makes firmer common ground.
Should use of the "T" word depend on the ideologic bent/goals of those involved? Or should that not matter, the thing being whether what you have is a subnational group employing terror as their way of going about achieving their purposes? The former accepts the "one man's terrorist is another's freedom fighter" view, which the NYT leans toward, and which I think is close to morally bankrupt, notwithstanding the NYT's unshakeable belief that their own excrement has no smell to it.
David Warner: For better or worse, Pinch evidently envisions the Times as the National Review of an elite (and very rich!) Left revival (among other things).
The reins passed years ago from Arthur "Punch" Sulzberger, the father, to Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., the son, and it is under the son that the NYT has gone more pronouncedly in that ideologic direction.
12.7.2008 8:28pm
Mark Buehner (mail):

personally, i'm not supporting ayers, though do you have evidence he built bombs to kill others?


Does anyone have evidence Bin Laden build bombs personally?
12.7.2008 8:40pm
einhverfr (mail) (www):
I don't know what this debate really matters outside of a criminal court. It seems to me that the intent is to suggest that Obama is somehow unfit for office because of past ties with Ayers.

The fact is that there have been many people with far more extreme and close ties with terrorists who have made good leaders. Yitzhak Shamir, for example (a former *leader* of a self-described terrorist group). I am not saying I would vote for Ayers if he was running for POTUS, but I do think that people complain largely about their political adversaries and look the other way when their friends are even more guilty of such things....
12.7.2008 9:10pm
Fat Man (mail) (www):
B-rob: Intelligence and admissible evidence are two things that may not overlap. The fact that Ayers was not prosecuted and the idea that the FBI may have had a mole inside the Weathermen/Weather Underground are not mutually exclusive.

I think that Ayers is a very bad man, and one who seems to have concealed his evil from himself in a thick cloud of bull$#;+. I derive some comfort from the idea that he will, in the great bye and bye, have to explain himself to the One who knows the truth and what is in our hearts.
12.7.2008 9:21pm
pedro (mail):
Neurodoc- Rest assured that, unlike you, I understand the difference between serving on a jury, with the responsibilities that entails (i.e. proper deference to codes, the letter of the law, etc.) and proper and substantive argumentation in the public sphere.

E. Posner could have written a sensible indictment of Ayers in the style of Matthew Yglesias', but instead opted for talking about the victimhood of buildings. It takes very little imagination to see how it is possible that someone finds Ayers to be a criminal (even a terrorist) without agreeing with Posner's argumentation. But it takes neurodoc no more than cursory glances at comments on a comments thread to come to authoritative conclusions about the relative intelligence of people.
12.7.2008 9:41pm
pedro (mail):
David Warner: I am not trying Bill Ayers, and I am not knowledgeable about the facts, as you call them. I suspect your rendering of the facts is wrong, as if the case were the slam-dunk you make it out to be, I don't see why he would not have been punished severely. Be that as it may, you may be right about the facts of the matter, and it may be the case, however unlikely I may find it, that Ayers did intend to kill innocent civilians for the purpose of terrorizing the population.

The point I have been making is not about Ayers. It is about Posner and his argument. I pay close attention to reasoning and argumentation (albeit from a disciplinary perspective quite different from that of legal scholars, for whom I have expressed much more contempt in this thread than perhaps I should have), and it is Posner's argument that I find flawed. Whether Ayers is or is not a terrorist is a matter of evidence and facts that I have not studied, but it is also a matter of terminology. Ayers makes a case that distinguishes between certain kind of subversion and what he calls terrorism. (Granted that Ayers may be lying about his actions, but that's not where I am focusing attention, and I am not in a position to judge.) This distinction is meaningful and debatable, and Posner did not do a very good job of articulating an opposite position. The fact that Posner is a noted apologist of state inflicted torture only makes his smug moral superiority much harder to stomach.
12.7.2008 9:58pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"The fact that Posner is a noted apologist of state inflicted torture only makes his smug moral superiority much harder to stomach."

What do Posner's views on state inflicted torture have to do with his views of Ayers? If it's just your stomach, who cares? Is this the different disciplinary perspective at work?
12.7.2008 10:40pm
Anon23:
Anitmedia sez:

Where do you think Ayers was living at the time? Do you suppose they might have discussed the plan when they were together?

Well geez, I don't actually know. Perhaps you could provide some info? I assume you're insinuating he was living in the same house, but that's my speculation based on your reply.

So I wasn't born in the 60s (ok, very late 1969), but from what I hear, "lover" doesn't mean much in some circles. Did they screw once in the name of free love, or were they joined-at-the-hip-no-disagreements-ever? Lot of range in there. My stereotype of an organization like the WU says "even more so".


This bomb was designed by Bill Ayers himself and intended to be built according to his expressed specifications.

Hey, articles! Thanks for the pointer. It's something to evaluate. So, Ayers designed the Greenwich Village bombs?

Hm, the tone and cite quality of that article are not exactly convincing. Editorial, not primary source. It repeats the claim that Ayers designed the nail bomb, with no cite to a source. And published a little before the election. You did learn about relative value of primary versus unsourced evidence somewhere along the way in life, right?

Or, do you believe your later quote (Ayers):

Annihilated by the blast were three members of the Weather Underground, one of them the bomb's designer and another Diana Oughton, a Quaker who a few years earlier had been teaching Mayan children in Guatemala.


The quotes you provide still leave me uncertain about the whole "designer" thing. Ayers pins it on someone else, and there's no actual source identified to the contrary. I'd vote for a non-Ayers source, personally, if I knew one. Ayer's own quotes are highly discountable as self-serving. Play juror here for a minute...

I'm glad I've got something to look at - it beats nothing, which is where I was to start with. I'm open to reading actual information. I'm genuinely curious here. But frankly, there's little more than the same echo chamber-like accusations I read here on the fine VC.

Thanks for the cite to Fugative Days, though I'm not certain that would really be anything more than Ayer's self-serving propaganda. I probably won't bother with that; I'm interested in the sources accusing him of the bad shit he probably did do. That's what I want to evaluate.
12.7.2008 11:14pm
Aurora (mail):
According to the FBI files(FOIA - available online),named members of the Weathermen visited Cuba and trained with the Cubans and North Vietnamese. Also *during* the war, some members went secretly to Vietnam. The files are long and detailed.

Contrary to what some think, Ayers has served *no* time for his crimes. He was exceedingly "lucky" to have his day in court canceled. Ayers calls himself today "a small-c communist." He stated recently, in public, that his *country* makes him puke. Notice, he didn't say his country's *government* makes him puke. His role in the SDS and Weathermen was secretary of education. Today he teaches democracy and social justice to beginning teachers of all subjects. Yes, that includes math and music. Read about "educational debt" as part of Ayers' plan for American education.

It is my understanding that the NYT solicits opinion pieces. If true, Ayers was asked to write. There is no reason for any comment or correction by the paper, regardless of what may have been written earlier on a news page. I'm confident that the NYT will support Obama in every way possible. The fact that Obama was secretive about his relationship with Ayers and Dohrn makes other hidden portions of his past more questionable.

Since Posner's post was about Ayers, it is surprising that so many here seemed not informed about Ayer's past or his present. I am very concerned about Ayer's "small-c communist" influence on education in this country.
12.8.2008 1:12am
David Warner:
Neurodoc,

"The reins passed years ago from Arthur "Punch" Sulzberger, the father, to Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., the son, and it is under the son that the NYT has gone more pronouncedly in that ideologic direction."

His son is known as "Pinch", in a nod to the father. It is said that greatness skips a generation. Does Pinch have any sons?
12.8.2008 1:55am
James968 (mail):
Does he mention anything about "Declaring War on the US?" in his piece?
12.8.2008 7:07am
Kevin P. (mail):
A Google search on nail bomb pulls up the following Wikipedia entry as the very first entry:

Nail bomb

Quote:


The nail bomb is an anti-personnel explosive device packed with nails to increase its wounding ability. The nails act as shrapnel, leading almost certainly to greater loss of life and injury in inhabited areas than the explosives alone would.


... and ...


On March 6, 1970, in the Greenwich Village townhouse explosion, three members of the Weather Underground were killed in the accidental explosion of a nail bomb intended to be set off at a non-commissioned officers dance at the Fort Dix, New Jersey Army base.[1]


But hey, Ayers was only a freedom fighter!
12.8.2008 8:17am
Anon23:
Stipulated that nail bombs are anti-personnel devices. Yes, accepted, no duh, let's move on.

I'm trying and failing to find support for the connection between Ayers and the nail bomb.

Can anyone point to the evidence suggesting that Ayers was the designer/planner? Doesn't have to be sworn testimony. Some semi-decent hearsay with modest indicia of reliability would be a good step.

Ayers says the designer was killed. Who is contradicting this self-serving statements? Is there something by, say, other [former] WU members who were in a position to know?

And again, something more than evidence-free, merely accusatory, politically opportunistic editorials. That's no different than Krugman's preaching in the NYTimes. What's the actual evidence that Ayers designed the nail bombs?
12.8.2008 9:48am
I'd rather not (think) (mail):
Hey, guess what? The Weather Underground was just like the American Revolution. I know that because I really understand this country.
12.8.2008 10:14am
Orson Buggeigh:
Personally, I'll take Professor Posner over the intellectual lightweights who keep bashing the good professor as a torture supporter, implying that he is somehow more loathsome than Ayers. In a logical sense, it doesn't hold up. If all who advocate torture are evil because it harms innocent people, where does that leave Ayers and all of those who advocate for his form of harm to innocents? You can't have it both ways, people.

I find torture to be repulsive, and I am opposed to it. Having said that, I am well aware that the simplistic moralizing that is frequent among undergraduates and intellectuals generally doesn't work very well in the real world. Torture is evil. Bombing as advocated by Ayers is evil - the idea of targeting people who can not or will not defend or protect themselves because the bomber knows they are easy targets is particularly repulsive. Is there ever a time when one can make a legitimate case for either?

Perhaps. But I do not think that Ayers or any of his supporters have made a logically convincing case for use of terror tactics to end the war in Vietnam, or in the Middle East, for that matter. I am slightly more open to hearing a convincing case from the folks who advocated torture on behalf of the Bush Administration. I haven't been fully convinced by either side in the dispute - the Bush Administration is stuck trying to fight a guerrilla war against terrorists, and it seems willing to cut corners; the opposition seem less concerned with genuine human rights than with ousting the president they voted against. The comments by so many persons on this and other sites who see nothing wrong with Ayers' anti-Vietnam behavior while condemning Bush for killing innocents strike me as disingenuous at best.
12.8.2008 10:17am
Orson Buggeigh:
Oh, Anon 23: Ayers didn't have to be the actual designer of the bombs, he just had to participate in planning to build and use them to be someone bearing some responsibility for bombings. Or is this just another case of liberals parsing what the meaning of the word 'is' is? Keep it up. You folks make Posner look better all the time.
12.8.2008 10:28am
pedro (mail):
"Personally, I'll take Professor Posner over the intellectual lightweights who keep bashing the good professor as a torture supporter, implying that he is somehow more loathsome than Ayers."

As one of those "intellectual lightweights" nonetheless well versed enough in logic to laugh at your silly notion of "implication," I can reassure you that I do not find Posner more loathsome than Ayers. As someone who saw first-hand the nefarious consequences of the idiotic and immoral calculations of leftist guerrilla movements in Central America, I have no sympathy for people like Ayers. But silly arguments like Posner's deserve to be called silly. If what makes Ayers a terrorist is that he is willing to inflict harm and death to innocent buildings at the risk of harming and killing innocent civilians, then surely something not altogether dissimilar can be said of people who advocate the infliction of torture on subjects that, even by the lights of obtuse Volokh commenters, are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty.

Sure, there are circumstances under which even the most despicable actions can be justified. By the power of stipulation, all sorts of aberrations can be justified, no doubt. But it is not the case that I am justifying the actions of Bill Ayers (not the actions he alleges he engaged in, let alone the ones with which other charge him), nor is it fair to call me an Ayer's supporter. The latter would follow if all that were required to qualify as such is to vehemently disagree with Posner and to exhibit moral disgust at his pro-torture stances. But you and I know that disagreeing with Posner and exhibiting disgust for his views hardly amounts to justifying the actions of Ayers.
12.8.2008 10:55am
pedro (mail):
Oy, Orson. If your judgments of Posner's merits are a direct consequence of your experiences in the comments thread of one of his posts, something is wrong with your epistemic compass.
12.8.2008 11:01am
bushbasher:
personally, my judgment of posner's "merits" is from his posts. he weeps for buildings whilst condoning torture.
12.8.2008 12:00pm
Michael B (mail):
"Spare us the sanctimony. ..." I'd rather not (think)

Puhleez. Either pull your head out of your arse or quit telling us how wonderfully it smells in there. Spare us your sanctimony, your selectivity, your highly truncated views, your short sighted, tendentious arguments and numbers. Firstly, the numbers, the US KIA, are similar to the Korean conflict, wherein South Korea was built up and maintained as an open, democratic society. Also, North Vietnam began a strategic campaign against the South, not vice versa - it began in earnest around Jan., 1960 when:

+ the Ho Chi Minh trail was strategically developed as an infiltration and supply route, roughly between 1956 and 1960

+ now known secret speeches by Ho Chi Minh and other North Vietnamese leaders outlined a large scale strategic offensive against the South

+ orders to military and political front operatives were disseminated throughout the ranks, including orders directing the use of terror and political assassinations against civilian populations - very much in the Marxist/Leninist, Stalinist and Maoist mold

+ ideological front groups were created by the North Vietamese in the south for purposes of destabilization and indoctrination

Those are merely some of the more notable factors that informed JFK's initiative, c. 1961, and later Johnson's greater initiative, notably in 1965. More broadly still, Ho Chi Minh was no mere nationalist, he was a Leninist/Stalinist and Maoist styled Marxist, hence the Cold War as a whole, within Truman's global containment doctrine, rightly serves as broader context.

None of the above is any longer in doubt, though virtually all of it was propagandized by the Left and the New Left of that era. They systematically lied to 1) themselves and 2) to the world at large.

In terms of populations killed, some notable markers from Nobel finalist R.J. Rummel and other documented sources:

+ 283,000 North Vietnamese civilians killed by the North Vietnamese communist regime between 1953 and 1956 as a result of "land reform," "rent reduction" and repressions and other (and without quoting various estimates, these internal purges in the North continued from 1956 through 1975)

+ 400,000 South Vietnamese civilians were killed by the North during the 1955 to 1975 period

post-April, 1975:

+ a million “boat people,” 125,000 of which died at sea (some estimates are much higher)

+ 65,000 summarily executed in the immediate wake of April, 1975

+ 250,000 varioiusly killed in Stalinist styled gulags and Maoist styled “reeducation” camps in the lengthier wake of 1975

+ 300,000 starved to death in the wake of '75

No absolutely authoritative numbers exist, but those are all researched and documented numbers.

And obviously, none of this is intended to be dismissive of U.S. and other military KIA or similar tragedies and concerns, but the notion it all reduces to the massive bullshit promulgated by academia, Hollywood, the media, by the Left and the New Left of that era and derivative ideological movements continuing to this day is precisely and only that:

MMPB - Massive and Massively Promulgated Bullshit
12.8.2008 3:33pm
anon23:

Oh, Anon 23: Ayers didn't have to be the actual designer of the bombs, he just had to participate in planning to build and use them to be someone bearing some responsibility for bombings.

Guess what? I agree. But the question was formed in response to people claiming, in this very thread, that:

(sbw):
The nail bomb Ayers designed misfired killing Ayers associates instead of soldiers and their civilian dates at a dance.


(rosignol):
Sure. Or maybe they weren't any more members of the group willing to risk their lives assembling bombs designed by Bill Ayers.


All emphasis added.

Let me recast the question, then. What's the evidence - from any source who actually knew what was going on, or the FBI, or just about anyone - that he "participate[d] in planning to build and use them" (the nail bombs)?

Query if your formulation of "planning to build" is much different from the "Ayers designed them" bit.

I strongly discount Ayer's claim that he was against hurting people - sounds like spineless post-facto rationalization to me. The problem is that a lot of commentors are assuming facts that are not in evidence.

It would be a lot easier to lambaste Ayers with facts, not unsupport innuendo. I'm trying and failing to find actual facts here. This is a plea for information, not a defense of the idiot, or a name-calling slugfest.

That said, feel free to non-respond by calling me a liberal again if it makes you feel better.
12.8.2008 4:12pm
b-rob (mail):
Antimedia --

It is always interesting when people call others "naive" rather than actually address the point. I will start slowly:

To believe your argument, one woudl have to believe that Bush, recently elected with a self proclaimed mandate, saw fit to cowtow to the Dems and permit a junior senator with "ties" to a "known terrorist" to have the highest security clearance. Now why, pray tell, would they have risked a breach like that? What woudl they have to gain?

And there are senators who no longer have a security clearance, like Leahy and Shelby, because they could not keep their yaps closed. They simply are not permitted to sit in on highest clearance matters. Obama came in as a junior senator of the minority party. If the Bush administration denied him a clearance, there would have been nothing he could do about it.

Ayers is the dog that did not bite. Whatever their relationship (and Ayers says he did not know Obama that well), it was not enough for the FBI to raise any red flags about in 2004. In my view, that speaks volumes.
12.8.2008 7:54pm
Emma Cate (mail):
If you don't consider Ayers a terrorist, read the following quote from p 272 of Bill Ayers' book, "Fugitive Days" (caps added):

"Terry is the one who knows how to build the timer and arm the device. This one was huge, many, many sticks of dynamite stolen from a railroad shed, taped together in a briefcase destined for the army base nearby. It was primed with heavy cotton, PACKED WITH SCREWS AND NAILS that would do some serious work beyond the blast, tearing through windows and walls, and YES, PEOPLE, TOO. This one was huge and WOULD VOMIT DEATH AND DESTRUCTION..."

The bomb described in the previous paragraph was designed, according to Ayers himself, to kill people. Luckily it killed three of the people building it, instead of the people it was designed to kill. Ayers was the leader of the group building the bomb and is responsible for their deaths. Ayers would have been responsible for hundreds of other deaths and injuries if his group had been able to use the bomb on their intended target, instead of blowing themselves up.

Since Ayers admits that his group built the bomb that blew them up, you might wonder what other violent acts his group performed that he doesn't acknowledge.

Ayers now calls himself a pacifist! Even if Ayers hasn't bombed anyone recently, he is NOT a pacifist, he is just a unrepentent, temporarily retired terrorist.
12.9.2008 1:26pm
Antimedia (mail):
Anon23, you keep asking for evidence. Evidence has been given, but you seem to want Ayers' DNA or fingerprints on the bomb fragments. Barbara Oughton was Ayers' girlfriend at the time. She was killed in the explosion. She was in the room where the bomb was being constructed when it exploded. She is claimed to have objected to the idea of killing people. Some even speculate that she triggered the explosion in an effort to prevent other deaths. Supposedly she and Ayers and the others had heated arguments about the necessity of killing people with that bomb.

Ayers was living and sleeping with Oughton at the time. In the same house where the bomb was being built. He was also the leader, the one who makes the decisions. What are the chances that he didn't know about the bomb? What are the chances that he had no input in its construction? That he wasn't the one who decided it should be big, should have nails, should do a lot of damage? And if he knew nothing about it, why did he go underground immediately after it exploded?

Crimes can seldom be tied up with a neat yellow ribbon. There are always ambiguities, inexplicable pieces that don't seem to fit. Yet people are convicted on much less evidence than the evidence that Ayers was involved in the bomb, that Ayers had input into its construction, that yes, he designed it to kill lots of people. He himself admits that his good friend Terry (also killed in the explosion) knew how to build the timer and arm the device. But it was almost assuredly being built at Ayers' behest, to Ayers' specifications, for Ayers' purposes.

That's the best I can do having researched the facts. If that isn't good enough, then you're on your own.
12.11.2008 11:05pm
ShadowMasamune:
How would you feel if someone took your newly bought Charbroil Grill and through it in a pool? That's how I feel when I found out that Ayers gladly bombed these buildings for freedom fighting. He might have felt we wasted money on the war back then, but by bombing a building like that, he is simply contributing

Hard to believe people are defending this man's actions. This is the destruction of property paid by EVERY taxpayer. Doesn't that kind of make you mad?

I had someone destroy my property once and I was quite steamed.
1.12.2009 12:05am

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