Tuesday, October 6, 2015

About Judi

I met Judi Bari in early 1979 when she came from Baltimore to marry Mike Sweeney and live in Sonoma County, California. Mike was in my "affinity group" formed the year before as part of the Abalone Alliance--a statewide antinuclear coalition that was organizing protests at Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant near San Luis Obispo. Our group had the silly name of the "Chuckleheads" a name that not all of us embraced and a name that definitely did not apply to Mike Sweeney. Mike had two small children from his first marriage that he often brought to meetings and potlucks. He was serious, quiet and very controlling.

At the time Mike was going with a young woman in our group named Whisper. He dumped her when Judi moved out here, and the women in our group were prepared to not like her out of loyalty to the dumpee who was our friend. When I met Judi I changed my mind. She was funny, smart, creative and most important to me her analysis of what was wrong in the world was not limited to nukes. Most of the people in my affinity group were young and pretty single issue in their analysis. That was hard for me at the time as I was older and often frustrated by what I felt was a limited viewpoint. Judi and I made a good connection on that basis and became friends. Later Judi jokingly commented that she considered changing her name to Shout!! She was definitely not a Whisper!

Judi was a talented musician and organizer but she was also a very good artist--actually more of a cartoonist. When I first met her I was working with another group that was beginning to organize around Bohemian Grove in Sonoma County. A lot of the folks in our group didn't yet understand the significance of this good old boys network in our backyard but Judi did. She contributed some artwork to several of our flyers over the years and it was in the early 1980's--I think 1983--that I went by her house on Primrose Lane in Santa Rosa to pick up some of her work. The usually cheerful and strong Judi that I was used to was very upset and in tears. She told me that she had had a fight with Mike and he had been physically abusive to her. That was the first time she shared such a thing with me and I think it is because I caught her right after it had happened.

We talked a lot after that. The awareness about domestic abuse at that time was a little better than it was in the '60s or '70s but nothing like it is today. I knew of no shelters in our community and doubt that Judi would have gone if there had been one. I offered my home to her and her baby and would offer it several more times over the years. Once she had broken the ice she talked to me about the abuse in her marriage several more times while she lived in Sonoma County. She never took me up on my offer for shelter. She chose to tough it out. She also told me about Mike's involvement in the fire at the old Santa Rosa airport which she claimed she had no part in. I know he was a suspect at the time and I know I'm not the only person she told then and later. Nothing was ever proven.

Judi was also a friend to me. We connected because there was a lot of naiveté in our group and we were often at odds with some of the single issue folks. In fall of 1986 there was a C.A.M.P. helicopter raid in Cazadero with the cops coming down in full military gear, arresting people and taking their marijuana plants. I wrote about it in my column that was a regular feature at the time in the PEACE PRESS. It was censored on the grounds that it was "too controversial". Many of the people in our group did not want to make an issue of this but Judi did. She wrote a letter in my defense that did get printed even though my column never did. Shortly after that someone gave me $1000 to start another paper and that's how the SONOMA COUNTY FREE PRESS began. Judi was one of the people who encouraged me, even contributing her artwork for my Grandma Nudge column.

1986 was also the year that Judi and Mike moved from Sonoma County to Mendocino County. There was a financial settlement from a lawsuit they were involved in and they used it to buy land in Redwood Valley near Ukiah. They planned to build their own house. I had just returned from a trip to Nicaragua when they had a going away party at their house on Primrose. Judi was happy and excited and hadn't talked about abuse in the marriage for awhile so I thought perhaps things had worked out. I didn't think about it again until years later when I talked to a close woman friend of Judi's from Mendocino County. According to this woman the abuse had indeed continued after their move and both were in the process of leaving their abusive marriages at the time of the bombing. A lot of people don't seem to realize that Judi planned to move to Willits in June of 1990 and had already begun moving things. The bombing happened on May 24, one week before she and the girls were leaving Mike in Redwood Valley.

I remained in touch with Judi after her move north. Both of us were still doing organizing work in the Central America support movement as well as other things. Her involvement in the Redwoods actions came later. When she was bombed in 1990 I had someone take over my business and put in several months at the Mendocino Environmental Center mostly dealing with her finances. I also organized her first public appearance in front of FBI headquarters in San Francisco on August 14. I visited Judi at Highland Hospital three days after the bombing and her first words to me were about her fear that Mike would use the bombing as an excuse to get custody of their girls. She was terrified of this. I later visited her at the rehab place in Santa Rosa and at her "safe house" in Cazadero. As far as I know she was not friendly toward Mike during this time.

I think that at some point Judi realized that Mike might be involved in her bombing. They both had a lot of information on each other and I don't think Judi believed she could win in a custody suit. I broke away from Judi in the mid 90s when she wouldn't stop publicly accusing Irv Sutley of being an informer for the FBI and of setting her up for the "Tanya" photo. I knew that wasn't true as I had talked to Judi several days after those pictures were taken and she thought it was very funny and planned to use the pose as a cover for their new audio tape. In hindsight, all involved realize the photos were very stupid but Judi never took responsibility for her part in it.

I visited her at her home east of Willits in the winter of 1991 to see her "proof" regarding her allegations against Irv. There wasn't any. Kwazi Nkrumah went with me and they ended up in a shouting match with each over over her refusal to listen to his past experiences with this kind of public infighting. He had worked with the Black Panthers in the '70s and remembered how damaging it could be with fellow activists trading accusations of being FBI informers. In those days people were getting killed from this stuff. My research into the methods of the FBI are that they prefer to use existing splits in the movement to turn people against each other. I wrote several pieces in the FREE PRESS about not feeding into this and asked Judi to stop her accusations against Irv and to try mediation so we could get to the bottom of it ourselves. She didn't and wouldn't.

Judi did not like my breaking with her publicly. I tried to do it with respect for what she had been through and because I truly did care for her. After the bombing Judi surrounded herself with people who never questioned or challenged her. I don't think it was a healthy situation. Some people have accused me of being her "enemy". That isn't true and what those people may not realize is that Judi and I talked several times during this period in an attempt to work it out. In one conversation that lasted over an hour it degenerated at one point into each of us defending a man--in her case Bruce Anderson who had with her encouragement been attacking Kwazi and me in the Anderson Valley Advertiser and me defending Kwazi and what he was trying to tell her. We were upset with each other but I think both of us saw the irony and humor in the fact that we were both "defending our guys". Judi could see the humor even in a situation like that.

When we would end one of these conversations where we could not agree, we always said "Little fingers touching" meaning we were trying to hold onto what had been a good friendship. As the years progressed and her allegations against Irv didn't stop I gave up trying and so did she. I wrote her a couple of letters after I heard about the cancer. In the last one I begged her to tell all she knew before she died. She never did and she never answered my letters.

Judi was a complex person. As stated before she was smart, funny, creative and sophisticated in her political analysis. She also had other qualities that are not so complimentary--just like every other human that walks the earth. I think people who see her as some kind of saint are doing both themselves and her a disservice. I wish people who make icons out of others would simply adapt in themselves those qualities they so admire. Icons can make mistakes and I think in Judi's case her biggest one was her inability to hear or accept any kind of criticism. I think Judi took a big secret to her grave to protect her children and her place in history.

I still admire Judi for the good stuff and for her ability to get people to listen and learn and I think I was (and am) a damn good friend to her. I want this unsolved attempted murder investigated!!!

 Little fingers touching......

 Written for FLATLANDS MAGAZINE by Mary Moore 2/11/00

The Judi Bari Bombing: A Timeline

1978  Mike Sweeney joins Sonoma County affinity group of the Abalone Alliance.

1979  Judi Bari marries Mike, moves to Sonoma County. Joins affinity group.

November 1980  A mysterious fire destroys buildings at the old Naval base in south Santa Rosa that almost kills the caretaker. Mike Sweeney who lived near the base had become a leader in the fight against expansion of the base. The owners suspect Mike of setting the fire but cannot come up with proof. Judi tells people later of Mike's involvement. Charges are never pursued.

Early 1980's  Close friends of Judi's are told of the physical abuse in Judi's marriage. Mary (and others) offer shelter to her and the girls.

December 1988  Photo taken at Bridgewood Motel of Judi as S.L.A. Tanya w/Uzi by Darryl Cherney, Pam Davis, Irv Sutley and Judi Bari. It was intended to be used for an album cover with Judi and Darryl's music called THEY DON'T MAKE HIPPIES LIKE THEY USED TO. The gun was supplied by Irv but all four were excited by the idea and the picture and Judi bragged about it to her friends who were not present. She thought it very funny.

Early 1989 Irv Sutley sends Tanya photo to the AVA as a joke with Pam Davis asking for photo credit. Bruce prints it in April. All involved think its funny.

Late 80's Judi has become close friends with Anna Marie Stenberg. Both are in process of divorcing physically abusive husbands & share their stories.

Spring 1989 Pam Davis solicits Irv at Judi's request to kill Mike Sweeney. Irv tells Toni Novak and Elden McFarland. Pam solicits Irv three more times. Irv refuses but keeps this information quiet until 1995. After this comes out Judi admits it on a 5/30/95 KZYX radio interview but says it was only a joke.

1989 ARGUS letter sent to the Ukiah police department accusing Judi of sending pot through the mail and engaging in training in automatic weapons and offering to assist police in exposing her. 

April 1990 FBI "Bomb school" course given at College of the Redwoods.

May 24, 1990 Judi and Darryl are bombed and the FBI immediately accuses them of being responsible. Also FBI is on the scene within minutes.

May 29, 1990 LORD'S AVENGER letter sent to Mike Geniella at the SANTA ROSA PRESS DEMOCRAT in Ukiah. It appears to be written by a Christian fascist and gives details of the bomb placed in Judi's car. The writer admits to planting the bomb.

June 6, 1990 ZORO letter sent to Mike Geniella at the PRESS DEMOCRAT and District Attorney Chris Carpenter for Alameda county. It accuses Darryl of being the bomber.

June 9, 1990 Photo of Judi with Uzi appears in the PRESS DEMOCRAT. The article says that a police informant sent a copy of the photo to the Ukiah police chief about one year before the bombing. Judi later accuses Irv of doing this. Irv denies it.

August 14, 1990 At Judi's request Mary organizes the FBI protest in San Francisco which is Judi's first public appearance after the bombing.

May 1991 Steve Talbot's documentary WHO BOMBED JUDI BARI airs on KQED T.V. He puts out several theories including involvement by Irv Sutley, Steve ? who was an independent timber owner, Bill Staley an anti abortion zealot and Mike Sweeney. Judi objects to the part about Mike and makes Talbot put in a tailer at the end saying she does not think her ex would be the bomber. Both Irv and Mike deny the charges in the documentary and Judi has a public fight with Steve Talbot in the press. Ironically it was Judi who first told Steve Talbot about Mike and the Santa Rosa airport bombing. 

Spring 1991 In an article in THE PAPER Judi states that the Argus letter was meant to set her up for arrest. She accuses Sutley of writing the Argus letter and conspiring with the FBI to set up the Tanya photo. She is not forthcoming with any evidence to back this up. Irv and friends begin efforts toward mediation which Judi refuses. Pam & Mike also had access to the Tanya pic. 

Spring/Summer 1991 Several attempts at mediation occur within the Peace and Freedom party due to fallout of Judi's charges against Irv. Darlene Comingore makes one attempt to bring mediation but is stopped by Judi.

August 1991 Kwazi writes in the SONOMA COUNTY FREE PRESS pleading for the movement not to rush to judgment against any alleged informants and for Judi to stop accusations without proof. He cautions activists to be vigilant in looking out for CoIntelPro type tactics including misinformation campaigns and factions being pitted against one another.

October 1991 Bruce Anderson (who is very close to Judi at this point) begins a series of attacks in the ANDERSON VALLEY ADVERTISER (AVA) on Kwazi Nkrumah. The attacks are racial in nature and have nothing to do with what Kwazi said, did or wore.

Winter 1991 Anderson continues to print articles in the AVA ridiculing Mary, Kwazi and other members of the activist movement. They respond and a year long fight begins. Mary learns from Judi that Bruce has confused Kwazi with another black man (Biko Lamumba from Uhuru House) when they both spoke at the Earth First! rally in Ft. Bragg after the bombing.

Winter 1991 Kwazi meets with Tanya Brannan to discuss a controversial civil disobedience action that was poorly planned by her and others. They argue and Tanya accuses Kwasi of being a male chauvinist and Kwazi accuses Tanya of being a left liberal. Tanya later accuses Kwazi of calling her a "white liberal bitch" which she eventually takes back. This episode ends Mary Moore's long personal relationship with Tanya. (see FREE PRESS-April, 1991)

Winter 1991 Mary sets up a meeting with Judi to meet Kwazi at her home in Willits in hopes of a reconciliation after the Tanya/Kwazi flap. It goes badly and Kwazi yells and Judi cries. Mary stays with Judi for two hours after the argument and Judi shows her the evidence against Irv which is only circumstantial at best. Mary asks Judi to write to Bruce to end the attacks on Kwazi. Judi says she will but never does. This hurts relationship between Judi and Mary although they do stay in touch occasionally by phone. (see FREE PRESS--April, 1991)

February 5, 1992 Bruce Anderson prints a letter by Mary not intended for publication and without her permission about her relationship with Kwazi. Mary suspects that it came to him through Tanya but doesn't know for sure.

April 1992 SONOMA COUNTY FREE PRESS comes out with a special edition called OBSTACLES TO MOVEMENT BUILDING with letters from Mary, Tanya, Judi and Kwazi as well as a lot of reactions to the AVA from northcoast activists.

May 1992 Mary receives an anonymous death threat on her answering machine.

May 1992 Kwazi punches Bruce Anderson at a Peace & Freedom event in Santa Rosa. The PRESS DEMOCRAT writes an article about the altercation with quotes from both Kwazi and Bruce.

March 1993 Judi splits with Bruce Anderson over a sexist cartoon he was going to print in the AVA. She hijacked it on the way to the printer.

Winter 1993/1994 COVERT ACTION QUARTERLY prints an article by Ward Churchill in which he brings up again Judi's charges against Irv Sutley as truth. Mary and Irv send replies which are printed.

May 1994 Mary arranges with Betty Ball for a mediation at the MEC between some of the principals in the split. It looks like a go until at the last minute Judi puts pressure on Betty and the meeting is called off with no explanation. June 1994 Judi and Bruce Anderson attack Anna Marie Stenberg on Judi's show on KZYX. Anna Marie (another old friend of Judi's) has also split with her over Judi's insistence of her version of who did the bombing.

June/July 1994 The S.C. FREE PRESS once again devotes a lot of space to the ongoing movement split because of recent developments.

July 7, 1994 Bruce Haldane and Annie Esposito write objecting to the FREE PRESS June issue. Mary writes them a long letter explaining yet again the need for mediation and asks them to meet with Irv and others. Later in the summer they agree and a meeting is held at Toni & Elden's house. Anna Marie comes down from Ft. Bragg. Mary and Irv also attend. They remain closed to anything but Judi's version of events.

December 1994 After being urged to do so by friends Irv Sutley takes and passes a polygraph test in Los Angeles with Joseph Paoella. The results are published in the FREE PRESS and elsewhere.

Late 1994 Mary arranges a meeting between Irv Sutley and longtime activists Larry Harper and Woody Schwartz. Both Larry and Woody have believed Judi's charges against Irv but unlike others are willing to listen to Irv's side. Yet another plea for third party mediation is given by Irv and Mary. 

January 1995 TIMBER WARS, a collection of Judi's writings is published and the charges against Irv are brought up once again.

May 28, 1995 Bleys Rose writes for the PRESS DEMOCRAT about the split in the activist movement over the Bari/Sutley issue. For the first time Irv comes forth with the 1989 solicitation by Judi to kill Mike and the results of Irv's polygraph test. All hell breaks loose. Judi promises to bring evidence against Irv to a PRESS DEMOCRAT editorial meeting. She changes her mind saying the paper isn't serious. Again there are pleas for Judi to meet with Irv for mediation and again she refuses.

March 1996 Darryl Cherney renews the charges in the NEW SETTLER INTERVIEW about Irv Sutley. Mary and Beth Bosk carry on a correspondence but Beth will not print Irv's side of the story. More pleas for mediation by Mary.

November 2, 1996 Judi announces she has breast cancer. Mary writes her a personal letter of sympathy and asks her to retract her charges for history.

March 2, 1997 Judi dies after the cancer goes to her liver.

March 1997 Mary writes an open letter to Judi about all this. The lessons are there for anyone who cares to look.

February 1999 Ed Gehrman publishes an article in FLATLANDS magazine and the SONOMA COUNTY FREE PRESS after the culmination of three years of research. Along the way he enlists the help of Don Foster, a well recognized scholar and "textual analyst" who picked Mike Sweeney out of seven blind samples of writing sent to him. His analysis is also published along with Ed's article. Bruce Anderson takes a strong position in the AVA challenging Mike. Tanya Brannan, Nick Wilson and Darryl Cherney go ballistic and among other things accuse Mary of "hating Judi" (not true!!!) .The story is ignored by the PRESS DEMOCRAT and most other media outlets. Mary contacts Eric Brazil of the SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER, who finally writes an article.

March 18, 1999 Mary goes on KSRO's Pat Thurston show after Pat does her homework on all the background of this case. Pat invites both Tanya and Darryl to come on with Mary. Neither return her phone calls but after the show both contact her and object. They say they will go on a future show. 

March 1999 Pat Thurston has Bruce Anderson on her show to talk about the Bari case. She again invites Tanya and Darryl. They refuse to go on with Bruce.

May 24, 1999 A coalition of journalists bring a petition to Mendocino District Attorney Norm Vroman asking him to open an investigation into the Bari case due to evidence and suspicion that the bomb was set in Mendocino County.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

The Bombing of Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney

The Bombing of Judi Bari & Darryl Cherney: New Evidence

© 1998 by Ed Gehrman
"On May 24, 1990 a car bomb exploded under my seat as I drove through Oakland, California. The attack followed a series of death threats against me and occurred as I was traveling to organize nonviolent protests with Earth First! against over-cutting of the Redwood Forests in northern California. My injuries are painful and severe and will leave me permanently crippled. But the unspeakable terrorism of this ordeal did not end there. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, working with the Oakland Police, immediately concluded that I was responsible for the bombing myself. They attempted to charge me with the assassination attempt that nearly took my life." Judi Bari, New York Times; August 23, 1990.

Redwood Summer, 1990
Ten years ago, Judi Bari and a few friends decided that the best way to call attention to the over-logging of the redwoods on the north coast was to hold a summer-long demonstration, similar to the civil rights freedom marches in the south during the early sixties. They named it "Redwood Summer" (the summer of 1990), and the intention was to call for students and interested folks to come from all parts of the country to defend the redwoods and halt the senseless clear-cutting that was taking place in Northern California.
Bari and her friends added another element to the mix that had broad reverberations. They planned also to organize the loggers who cut the trees and convince them that Earth First!'s call for sustainable logging would be the best long-term plan for the health of the community and the loggers and their families. Some loggers had seen the effects of clear cutting on the forests in the region and realized that this practice couldn't continue the way it had in the past. Some even agreed to work with Earth First!.
On Tuesday, May 22, 1990, a meeting between the loggers, local law enforcement, members of Earth First! and members of the "Wobblies" labor union, aka the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), was held at a restaurant in Willits, California. It was attended by fifteen to twenty people and lasted about two hours; its purpose was to try to avert violence between loggers and environmentalists at the upcoming demonstrations, and perhaps seek a bit of common ground. Bari had driven to the meeting with Utah Phillips, a well known folk singer, his wife, Joanna Robinson and another friend, Dakota Sid. Bari parked her car in front of the restaurant and made sure it was locked because she was carrying some borrowed tools and she didn't want them stolen. After the meeting, she returned to her home in Redwood Valley, accompanied by Utah, Joanna and Sid. This was the only place she felt entirely safe so her car was not locked while it was parked in front of her home.
Bari and her guests played music and then Bari talked on the phone with others until about 2:00 AM. The next morning she again talked with friends and discussed the results of the logger meeting and other Redwood Summer logistics. Bari was in a wonderful mood and was excited by how well events were progressing. She and Utah left around noon for Oakland (Utah had placed Bari's fiddle in the back seat of her car, a fact that calls into question the FBI's later claim that the bomb was placed under the fiddle). First they drove to a rally/press conference in Ukiah where Bari then parked her white Subaru, unlocked.
After the rally, they were joined by Bari's former lover, and Earth First! member, Darryl Cherney, for the trip to Oakland. Sid and Joanna followed closely behind in their van. They arrived at the "Seeds Of Peace" house between four and five that afternoon. Bari's car was securely locked and parked in front, on a well traveled street. She and other activists discussed plans for her trip to Santa Cruz the next day; Cherney presented plans for non-violence training.
Bari decided to spend the night at a fellow activist's home a few miles from the Seeds of Peace house; she drove her car there and again made sure it was locked. The next morning she was joined by Cherney for the trip to Santa Cruz. As they were driving through Oakland, Bari made a sharp turn into another lane. When she accelerated and then applied the brakes, a pipe-bomb under her front seat exploded. They would have been killed on the spot, but the bomb malfunctioned; an end-cap blew off the pipe; most of the force of the explosion went out the driver's side door and into the street and not into the interior of the car. Bari's injuries were serious but not fatal. Cherney was only slightly injured.
Bari and Cherney were first arrested and charged with carrying the bomb, but these charges were filed by neither the Alameda County D.A.'s office nor the FBI. A year to the day later, Steve Talbot aired a documentary for KQED-TV, proving without a doubt that Bari and Cherney had not knowingly carried the bomb. Talbot's investigation also unearthed much new information and implicated other possible suspects including Irv Sutley, a roommate of one of Bari's close friends, and Bari's ex-husband, Mike Sweeney. While no indisputable proof was presented, the documentary uncovered ample evidence that something was rotten in the Redwood Empire.

The Unfolding Tragedy
In the early eighties, I left my work as a small-town teacher and joined the anti-nuclear movement in the Bay Area. I started working with the Livermore Action Group (LAG). LAG was organized according to the "affinity group" model, meaning we formed ourselves into small groups, of eight to twelve members, and practiced the "consensus" decision-making process. Consensus meant that, rather than a more hierarchical approach, decisions would be reached by mutual agreement. We tried our best to operate as an egalitarian community. In this way, being a part of the movement was not just about direct actions (mass arrests, picketing, street theater, etc.) but also about making tangible the community we believed could function better than the society in which we had grown up.
The "direct action community" of the eighties and nineties had historical roots in the non-violent demonstrations of the sixties, and groups such as the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) as well as reaching back to the traditions of the Quakers and Ghandian pacifism. The way it worked, in practice, was that a small group of activists would put forward a "call to action" and alert a network of phone trees, with the date of a meeting for affinity-group spokespeople. Decisions would be made as to what action should be taken on a specific issue, and a council of representatives of each affinity-group, from around Northern California and beyond, would meet to form a consensus about the planned direct action. Some of these actions consisted of a handful of people getting together for a peaceful demonstration, while others drew hundreds, even thousands, of people and resulted in mass arrests of activists committing varying acts of non-violent civil disobedience.
1990's Redwood Summer was one of the most visible and media-noticed events in the history of direct-actions. While most of my work until that point had focused on protesting the nuclear power build-up and the Livermore Lab's weapons research in particular, I answered the "call to action" for Redwood Summer. I had worked with Judi Bari during the Port Chicago demonstrations against the war in Central America, and admired the role she played in Earth First!. I looked forward to Redwood Summer as a chance to work again with a familiar, strong, and effective activist network.
But Redwood Summer became a tragedy - one that is still unfolding more than eight years later. The bombing of Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney set off a chain of events no one could have imagined. While fear, suspicion and paranoia swept across the Pacific Northwest's direct action community, most activists suspected that the FBI had renewed the infamous COINTELPRO program. In the sixties, the FBI tried to disrupt, provoke, and infiltrate leftist organizations. This scenario was suggested by many people after the bombing, and fleshed out in a public television documentary by Steve Talbot. Left-wing media, such as the Anderson Valley Advertiser, have fed the understandable leftist paranoia about the FBI, by suggesting possible agent provocateurs within "the movement." What has emerged is a fragmented community, where previously friendly activists have been pitted against one another. Various people have been accused of being informers, and one such red herring was Irv Sutley.

Irv Sutley: Government Agent?
What do you do when you're labeled a snitch by some of the very people you have come to trust? If you are a snitch, you probably run! But what happens when you're a long-time activist, and not guilty of the charges leveled against you? Irv Sutley's plunge to alleged FBI-informer status came swiftly in May and June of 1991, after circumstantial evidence against him was presented by Steve Talbot on San Francisco's public TV station KQED's documentary "Who Bombed Judi Bari?" In addition, two articles extremely critical of Sutley by Bruce Anderson and Judi Bari appeared in the Anderson Valley Advertiser on June 12, 1991. Overnight, Sutley became ostracized from many of the people he had been working with politically for years. I met Sutley through a trusted friend, a political radical and community activist, whom I have known and worked with for over twenty years. This friend had known Sutley for over twenty-five years, so I wanted his reaction to the charges that Sutley was an agent. At that time I, too believed the story, that had been put together by Judi Bari and Bruce Anderson in the weekly tabloid Anderson Valley Advertiser (AVA); this story had been echoed by Steve Talbot in his TV documentary, "Who Bombed Judi Bari?" The story was, essentially, that Sutley was most likely a police informer, agent or provocateur. Talbot suspected that Sutley wrote an anonymous, typewritten letter to the local Ukiah city police with an offer to inform on alleged criminal activities of Earth First! leaders and, specifically, provide information on Judi Bari's marijuana sales. Talbot never stated that Sutley was an FBI informer; Bari and the AVA's Anderson drew that conclusion themselves, and both of them suggested that Sutley's alleged connections to the FBI had something to do with the planting of explosives in Bari's car.
Of course, given this, I was leery of Sutley and wanted to know what a friend of mine was doing associating with such a character. My friend looked at me and said in his serious way, "Eddie, you need to talk to him yourself. Listen to what he has to say. Sutley's not an agent." He then arranged an interview with Sutley, and that's how we began talking; I had never met Sutley before that. As we spoke, I became increasingly engrossed in what he had to say.
I now believe Sutley is telling the truth on all matters that he has knowledge about and that his version of his participation in Redwood Summer and its aftermath is an honest portrayal of events. I have never caught him in a contradiction, fabrication, or falsification.
Politically radical since he can remember, an atheist at ten, the year "under God" was put in the pledge of allegiance, Sutley has always been somewhat of a maverick. As a youth, finding a constructive outlet for his rebellion was slow in coming. Unable to afford college after graduating from high school, he spent almost eight years in the Marine Corps (primarily in the reserves) but frequent conflicts with his superiors regarding religious and political issues earned him the distinction of being the most senior private in the service.
Sutley did attend some college, and also held jobs in automotive repair and construction; and spent some time working on the waterfront. Landing in Sonoma County in 1965, his political consciousness finally discovered a community and a mode of expression-the rebel had found a cause. He worked to register the Peace and Freedom Party (P&F) during its birth and was one of the first P&F candidates for office. In 1970-1972 he served as the state chairman of the state central committee and soon became an authority on laws that restrict access to the political process. Beginning in 1971, Sutley was also a member of the American Communist Party and was always open about his membership. He worked closely with the Black Panther Party and was initially the only white member of Sonoma State's Black Student Union. He was also a part of the radical faction, primarily Peace and Freedom, which used effective voter registration to take control of Cotati's city government. In 1978 he moved to Minnesota, where he was active in the Minnesota anti-nuclear movement, the St. Paul Tenants Union, as well as third-party politics.
After nearly nine years in Minnesota where he worked as a warehouseman, Sutley returned to Sonoma County in 1987, and began working on Eric Fried's Peace and Freedom Party congressional campaign against Democratic incumbent, Doug Bosco. During the campaign he met Pam Davis, who was also a Communist Party member, and eventually he moved into the garage on her property. Sutley lived there from October, 1988 until September of 1989. It was a fairly communal living situation since he shared their bathroom and kitchen. Over the year Sutley lived there, he and Davis became good friends. He occasionally stayed with and cared for Davis' two boys and was accepted as a member of the household.
During this time, Christian Wiedner, an old boyfriend of Davis' moved next door. Davis knew Wiedner could be violent. Davis had previously obtained a one year restraining order against Wiedner, but it had expired. Both Davis and her boys were extremely frightened by Wiedner's sudden reappearance in their lives. At Davis' request, Sutley helped her seek another restraining order, this time for three years and taught her to defend herself by providing a pistol and showing her how to use it. Davis and Sutley spent time at target practice and Davis became a competent shooter, but never had to apply her skills. She obtained a permanent restraining order against Wiedner, and Sutley, a suitably intimidating figure-a six foot, 250 lb., ex-Marine-served the papers. Wiedner moved away and died later that year of heart-valve inflammation at Stanford University hospital.
So Sutley's and Davis' relationship was multi-faceted: they were house mates, politically active in related (though not identical) circles, and he taught her armed self-defense. Later, this relationship would be grossly distorted by Davis for reasons I believe were beyond her control. It's likely that she was coerced by Judi Bari into slandering Sutley because of her own involvement with Bari in questionable and illegal activities.
In the heat of the campaign to peg Sutley as an agent and a traitor to the activist community, Davis claimed that Sutley had pointed a gun at her once and that she had "never trusted the scum bag since." It is my belief that both this statement and other attempts to portray Sutley as a gun-toting maniac and bully serve an elaborate slander aimed at diverting a real investigation of the facts of the case. The following incident created a set of circumstances that later made Sutley a choice sacrificial offering.

The "Uzi" Photos: A Prank Goes Awry
Unlike many members of the leftist community, Sutley has never been a pacifist. He is an able marksman, knowledgeable about guns, and he believes in the right to armed self defense. He also believes that part of this Second-Amendment right involves becoming a careful and proficient gun owner. He owns a number of guns and likes to get in target practice whenever the opportunity arises.
Soon after the November general elections of 1988, Sutley was invited by Davis and Bari to attend a demonstration at an abortion clinic in Ukiah. The invitation was more than incidental; Bari was worried about a certain ex-professional football player turned religious fanatic who, it was understood, would be in attendance among the anti-abortionists. Bari felt Sutley's imposing presence might help balance the situation. Aside from street-theatrics, the event turned out to be fairly uneventful. Of greater importance was that Sutley and Davis had brought along a number of his guns on the chance they could get some target practice while they were in Mendocino County for the weekend.
When the rally ended, Bari, Davis and Sutley all spent the night at the Bridgewood Motel, along with Earth First! activist Darryl Cherney, Judi's lover at that time, who happened to be managing the motel. Everyone but Sutley smoked some marijuana. He drank a few beers; all were in a good mood. After dinner, the discussion turned to Cherney and Bari's upcoming album, "They Don't Make Hippies Like They Used To." The group tossed around suggestions for some outrageous cover photographs. Both Judi and Pam knew that Sutley had brought along guns. Sutley offered them for use in the album photos. During this evening Sutley also suggested the dumping of used crankcase oil in Doug Bosco's swimming pool, as a response if Bosco reneged on his "no drilling for off shore oil" commitment, or if there were an off-shore oil spill. Sutley went to bed early while the others stayed up, and he has no idea of what was discussed after that.
The next morning, Davis, an aspiring photographer, gathered everyone together for the photo session for the CD cover. Sutley got several guns from the trunk, passed them out and showed the others how to safely handle them. He warned Bari and Cherney not to point the unloaded guns at Davis while she was taking the photos and to keep their fingers out of the trigger guards. That was the extent of his participation. Cherney strummed one like a guitar. Davis then set the poses and took some photographs of Bari holding the perfectly legal, semiautomatic "Uzi."
Sutley didn't give the events of that Sunday morning any more thought until January 26 or 27, 1989, more than two months after the abortion demonstration. Davis told Sutley that the photographs she took on their trip had been developed, and that he was welcome to take any that he liked from the two sets of prints.
Sutley looked them all over and picked several he wanted and then made a decision that would bedevil him for many moons; he decided to rib Bruce Anderson by sending him one of the photographs of Bari holding the "Uzi." He meant it to gently ridicule Anderson's latest stance on gun control. Sutley had been sending Anderson political tidbits and information that might be used in the Anderson Valley Advertiser for quite some time. He felt that the Anderson Valley Advertiser was one of the few media outlets to give coverage to third parties and independent politics, so he liked to support it as much as possible. Sutley and Anderson were both members of the Peace and Freedom Party and both had run for office. In the spirit of friendly cajoling, Sutley wasn't afraid to tweak Anderson when he thought he'd gone off track with a particular issue, as he did in the case of gun control.
The next time Sutley saw Davis, on the afternoon of January 28, 1989, he itemized the prints he took and told her about sending Anderson the photo of Bari. She didn't see any problem with that idea, but wanted photo credit. They then called Anderson, who hadn't yet received the photo, and requested that Davis be given photo credit, which Anderson agreed to do. Anderson called Bari and asked for and received her permission to print the photo in the Anderson Valley Advertiser. It was printed in the April 4th edition, on the front page, with photo credit; this was two months after Sutley had sent the picture to Bruce. Bari loved the picture and went around town showing it off-she thought it would make great publicity even though it was captioned "Cover Girl of the Week" .
Because this chain of events has been repeatedly distorted, Sutley became widely considered the source of not only the Anderson Valley Advertiser photo (which he has always acknowledged sending) but also the author of an incriminating bit of evidence known as the "Argus" letter. Sutley has insisted that he is not, and there is evidence to support his assertion.

The Argus Letter and Other Incriminating Documents
On January 17, 1989, Ukiah Police Chief Fred Keplinger received a snitch-letter signed by "Argus." (In Greek legend, Argus is a hundred-eyed monster, a watchful guardian). It was postmarked January 6, 1989, with information detrimental to Bari; the writer offered to inform on her. Also enclosed was a photograph of Bari holding an "Uzi." (Actually, it wasn't really an Uzi but a lookalike.) This photo showed Bari in a different pose than the one which Sutley sent editor Bruce Anderson; "Argus" sent one of the other poses photographed by Davis at the Bridgewood Motel. Steve Talbot uncovered these "Argus" documents by chance during the course of his investigation.
Bari has argued that, because Sutley knew some of the facts contained in the "Argus" letter, and since he had access to Davis' photos, he must have written the "Argus" letter and sent the photo with it. Let's take a look at these assertions, one by one, and see if Bari's accusations make sense.
The "Argus" writer claimed to have joined Earth First! "to be able to report illegal activities of that organization." The letter to Keplinger aimed to establish contact with authorities by fingering Bari as the "leader and main force" of Earth First! in Ukiah. "Argus" also established his credibility by listing the following combination of allegations and incriminating facts: Bari faced trespassing charges for damaging logging roads in the Cahto Wilderness area; she did jail time for blocking a federal building during protests in support of the Sandinista government in Nicaragua; she was planning vandalism against Doug Bosco to protest offshore oil drilling; Earth First! had begun automatic weapons training; Bari was selling marijuana through the mail and had done so on December 23, 1988.
The "Argus" author volunteered to give Keplinger information "on short notice" so that he could arrest Bari the next time she mailed marijuana at the post office. To confirm the deal, "Argus" instructed the police to place an ad in the Ukiah Daily Journal. (This is a local newspaper and can only be purchased through subscription outside of Ukiah; therefore an assumption could be made that "Argus" must live in the Ukiah area or hold a subscription.) The ad was to be addressed to "Dear A" with the name and telephone number of a detective who could be called to "receive this information." The writer said he or she would "identify myself as `Argus.'"
Sutley has denied knowing anything about this letter. Although he did have knowledge of some of the information in it (putting oil in Bosco's swimming pool was an idea he had jokingly proposed the night at the Bridgewood Motel, for example), there were a number of facts included in the letter to which he had no access. He didn't know about the Cahto Wilderness problems or about Bari's arrest for blocking the federal building, nor was he aware that she had mailed marijuana on December 23rd. In addition, Sutley did not have access to the Ukiah Daily Journal. But there is more evidence pointing away from his authorship of the "Argus" letter. The first one is physical disability: the "Argus" letter is typed; an automobile accident twenty-three years ago caused an injury that makes it difficult for Sutley to type and I found no evidence that Irv ever typed anything since his accident. Secondly, he passed a polygraph test administered by former Secret Service agent Joseph Paolella on December, 14, 1994. While lie-detector tests are usually inadmissible in court, they are still considered to be an important tool in criminal police investigations, especially in clearing possible suspects.
Sutley did know, by way of Davis and Bari herself, that she sometimes did have access to large quantities of marijuana; he did talk with her on the phone to inquire about prices but he did not know she sent marijuana through the mail, let alone when and where she sent it. I have the tape of an interview in which a reporter, who has heard Bari's side of things, stated that Judi accused Irv of being with her on December 23rd, when she mailed some marijuana at the Post Office in Ukiah. Irv insists that he was not with Judi at any time in December, 1988, and with her only a few times after the photo session at the Bridgewood Motel. It's important to remember that Sutley didn't know Bari all that well.
If Sutley has been falsely accused, let's ponder who may have been behind the false leads. For instance, if Sutley was in the dark, who could have access to these facts? I knew that whoever wrote the "Argus" letter had intimate knowledge of particular details about Bari's life, and also had access to some or all of the photographs. The only fact that we know was not correct was the allegation about automatic weapons training by Earth First!. (Irv did teach them how to safely handle the weapons for the photo session but this brief lesson, perhaps two minutes long, could hardly be defined as "training.") Evidently, the real writer of the "Argus" letter knew enough to truly incriminate Bari.
Bari stated that the typewriter used to write the "Argus" letter was also used to type one or more of the threats on her life and that this typewriter was from the office of the Peace and Justice Center in Santa Rosa. Bari claimed that because of a certain idiosyncrasy in the type, she was able to identify the typewriter. Bari then insisted that since Sutley had access to the Center (as do a large number of activists in the area including Pam Davis-a fact Bari conveniently glossed over), he must have typed both letters. While Bari never publicly produced the typewriter (nor exemplars typed on it) to prove her case, Bari's claims are important clues that need further discussion, clarification and analysis. Typewriters do have unique signatures and many legal cases have been built around this form of evidence. While type faces such as pica or elite can easily be distinguished through simple comparison, it takes a trained forensic document examiner to tell one typewriter from another through the examination of typed documents. I have interviewed a forensic document analyst who insisted that if he had originals, not copies, he could easily distinguish one typewriter from another. Keeping this in mind, we should examine some of the other typed documents that have come to light during this investigation of the Bari-Cherney bombing, namely one of the death threats known as "YOU WONT GET A SECOND WARNING" threat, and a letter known as the "Lord's Avenger" letter.
The "Lord's Avenger" letter was sent to a reporter just days after the bombing and was postmarked May 29, 1990. It is three pages, and conveys the voice of a religious nut, an avenging angel targeting Judi because of her stand on abortion. It contains crucial information about the construction of the bomb placed in Bari's car, as well as detailed information about a second bomb used in another unsolved incendiary incident, the Louisiana-Pacific mill arson attempt, in Cloverdale, California, one that occurred during the night of May 8th, or the morning of May 9th, 1990.
Bari received several threats in the mail. I have examined these threats; one, "YOU WONT GET A SECOND WARNING", is addressed in a similar fashion as the "Lord's Avenger" letter. Here is a text of that letter, postmarked April 10, 1990, mistakes and all. (Free Press note: the Avenger and Argus letters were not available for this article at time of posting - they will follow soon)
At first glance, what I'll call the "Second Warning" threat and the "Lord's Avenger" letter do seem similar since they have the same basic typeface, as Judi Bari said, but upon closer inspection, they do not match. They were not typed on the same machine.
Bari was very selective in her use of evidence. For example, she publicly dismissed the "Lord's Avenger" letter as being part of some vague disinformation plot. Also, the "Lord's Avenger" letter, the "Second Warning" threat, and the "Argus" letter have similarities in format. Note the use (See note above) of uppercase letters in the addresses on the envelopes, and in the final sentence of both:
There is considerable evidence that the "Lord's Avenger" letter was written by the person who bombed Bari and Cherney. The author knows too much about the construction of the bomb placed in Bari's car and the Cloverdale arson/bombing to believe otherwise. The "Avenger" is aware of Bari's personal habits and plans, the most crucial of these being the writer's knowledge of the meeting between Earth First! and the loggers two nights before the bombing. This meeting was not publicized; only a few folks knew about it.
The professed Christianity of the "Lord's Avenger" seems only a false front used to confuse the issue and provide an alibi for the bomber. Woven into the rambling biblical nonsense are hard facts about the construction of the bomb, the timing device, the supposed placing of the bomb in Bari's car, and other bits of incriminating information. The writer described the Ukiah abortion clinic demonstration in enough detail to indicate that he or she was definitely present. Most investigators would be forced to conclude that the "Lord's Avenger" must: a) have a fairly competent understanding of bomb construction, b) must have attended the Ukiah abortion demonstration, and c) knew about the loggers' meeting with Earth First!. Who might have information like that?
Two years ago, I was shown copies (and later the originals) of some typewritten personal and business correspondence produced by a person close to Judi Bari. At least two of these documents used the same typeface and-to an untrained eye-the same typewriter with the same characteristics of the "Lord's Avenger" letters. These exemplars were typed and signed by Mike Sweeney, Bari's ex-husband.

Mike Sweeney
Since arriving in Mendocino County in the mid 1980's, Mike Sweeney has become a public figure because of his involvement in the solid waste/ recycling program. His public role somewhat obscures his controversial past. He's a smart guy-Stanford graduate, editor of the school newspaper, The Stanford Daily, and the product of wealth and privilege. While at Stanford, Sweeney joined Venceremos, a radical leftist group. There were actually two organizations in California at the same time with similar names. One was the Venceremos Brigade. Their members were young, idealistic, non-violent leftists who traveled to Cuba in defiance of U.S. government policy and actually harvested sugar cane to show their solidarity with the Cuban people. The group Sweeney joined, Venceremos, was led by H. Bruce Franklin, a Stanford University professor, and had a reputation for violent direct actions.
Many Venceremos members were Stanford University students. A reliable source connects Venceremos to the Bank of America arson in Isla Vista, near the University of California at Santa Barbara, and to several other bombings in the S an Francisco Bay area. Sweeney exhibited an interest in the Bank of America arson in an article for Ramparts magazine (November, 1970). Little is really known about this murky time in Sweeney's life, except that there seems to be a complete turnaround from the Nixonian values of his parents, which he apparently had embraced up until this point. Many of his friends were surprised and suspicious of this abrupt political about-face. Sweeney left Stanford suddenly in 1970 for unknown reasons, and didn't return to graduate until 1973.
Sweeney arrived in Sonoma County in the late 1970's. He met Judi Bari through their union activities and Judi agreed to join Sweeney in Sonoma County. Sweeney wanted to be near his two kids by his first wife, Cynthia Denenholtz, who has been recently appointed as a Sonoma County judge. She was a fellow Stanford grad and member of Venceremos. Sweeney became involved in protesting the operation of an old Naval Airfield in Santa Rosa, which at that time was being used as a landing strip for small planes and pilot flight training. He later joked that the flights over the area disturbed the neighborhood barbecues and afternoon martinis, but his motives are not quite clear. At the time, Sonoma County supervisors were trying to decide if the facility should expand to allow for the landing of larger planes and jets. There was also a push for commercial and residential development on the prime piece of real estate. Years later, Bari stated that she was displeased with Sweeney for putting his energy into this effort, but newspaper clippings from that time indicate that Bari shared Sweeney's opposition to the airport.
On October 30, 1980, a pre-dawn inferno destroyed a hanger housing three planes and two businesses, resulting in more than two hundred thousand dollars in damage. The cause of this fire was arson. Two elaborate and cleverly-devised bombs were designed to ignite flammable liquid poured around the two hangers at the airfield. Only one of the bombs was successful, leaving the evidence for this arson plainly visible. An instructor living next to the hangers awoke to fire engulfing his trailer and barely escaped burning to death. The owners of the destroyed businesses suspected that Sweeney had a hand in the arson, but their contentions were never investigated. Years later, Bari admitted to many of her associates that Sweeney was the hangar arsonist.

A Request
During the Spring of 1989 (Sutley isn't exactly sure of the date but it was definitely after the Bridgewood Motel photo session), Sutley and Davis were in her living room having a conversation. They were close friends at this point, and Davis often asked Sutley for advice; they frequently talked politics, gardening, labor issues and other personal matters.
Abruptly, Davis asked Sutley if he would kill Bari's husband, Mike Sweeney. At first Sutley thought she was joking, but then he realized (from her serious eyes and body language) that this was for real. Shocked and insulted, he gently explained that even though he believed in armed self-defense and knew about guns, he didn't go around killing folks. Davis pressed on, saying that it was worth $5,000 to Sutley; Bari would get $50,000 from her end of the property settlement and she would pay Sutley 10% out of that money. Davis pleaded that he would be rescuing Bari, an oppressed and abused woman. Sutley insisted that if Bari needed a gun to defend herself or lessons on how to use it, he would be glad to help out, but that he could not involve himself further. Sutley also suggested Bari consider moving away from Sweeney.
Sutley thought that would be the end of it, but he was still upset by what a bind Davis' request had created for him. (If Sutley were a police informer, he would have alerted the authorities to this solicitation and both Bari and Davis would have been in deep trouble.) Concerned that his failure to report a possible homicide could be considered a crime on his part, Sutley quietly asked some advice from friends who knew both Bari and Davis. They told him that Sweeney was indeed abusive; Bari had told them so. She and Sweeney had had a stormy and often violent relationship. Sutley really didn't know what to think about the whole situation, so he didn't do anything and let the matter drop, hoping it would never come up again. Davis was his friend and he couldn't turn her in to the police.
Later Davis made the offer a second time, urging Sutley consider the murder-for-hire contract on Michael Sweeney. Davis said that she had talked to Bari and that Bari wouldn't accept his refusal. She said that Bari insisted that things between her and Sweeney were really hostile, and she was afraid of what he might do next. Sutley again declined and explained that it was foolish and that Bari should think about moving away or obtaining a restraining order.
A few days later Davis again solicited Sutley. He firmly told her never to bring the subject up again and tried to make Davis understand that this was not the way to go about settling domestic disputes.
Unbeknownst to Sutley, Bari and one of her other friends in Mendocino County had been talking about their dangerous husbands for quite some time. One day during one such conversation Bari told the friend that she had everything under control because Pam Davis was handling it for her. Years later, Bari admitted, during a radio interview on KZYX-FM, May 30, 1995, that the solicitation had been made but that it had been just a joke. If it was, Sutley was never in on it. Bari's characterization of these events as a "joke" do not stand up to scrutiny, and this casts suspicion on the reliability of her word on other matters.

The Polygraph Examination
During the summer and fall of 1994, a group within the Peace and Freedom Party attempted to expel Sutley, using Bari's "police-agent" accusations. Many folks on the left were sympathetic to Bari's version of events and some came to believe that Sutley was a government agent. This made his life unnerving, and he became really worried about his reputation, credibility and safety. Jan Tucker, a friend of Sutley's who also happened to be a long time Peace and Freedom Party member and a licensed private investigator, advised Sutley to take a polygraph test. Tucker indicated that this would settle the matter once and for all. Tucker made all the arrangements for Sutley, who traveled to Los Angeles on December 14, 1994, and took the examination.
The test was conducted in the offices of Dr. Chris Guga & Associates. Joseph Paolella, a licensed polygraph examiner, administered the test. In his letter to Tucker informing him of the results, Paolella gives the following information: "At your request Irv Sutley was given a polygraph examination on 12/14/94 to determine whether he had in fact been an informant against Earth First! or Judi Bari, and whether he was involved in the bombing of her car and whether he was solicited by Pam Davis to kill Mike Sweeney."
Paolella goes on to explain his pre-testing of Sutley, what tests were used and the type of equipment that was employed and other dynamics of the whole procedure. After Sutley was prepared, Mr. Paolella asked four questions.
  1. Did you receive any payment from law enforcement agencies to be an informant against Earth First! or Judi Bari? (Sutley's response was "no.")
  2. Were you solicited by Pam Davis to kill Bari's estranged husband, Mike Sweeney? (Sutley's response was "yes.")
  3. Did you write the "Argus" letter to the Ukiah police department in 1989 or 1990? (Sutley's response was "no.")
  4. Were you involved in any way with the bombing of Bari's car on 5-24-90? (Sutley's response was "no.")
"After carefully reviewing the polygraph charts, it is the opinion of the examiner that the subject told the truth during the polygraph examination. Respectfully Submitted, Joseph Paolella."

If Not Sutley, Then Who?
On a Sunday late in March, 1990, I drove to Laytonville in northern Mendocino County to participate in the planning of Redwood Summer. It was an important meeting, held in an old growth forest west of Laytonville. There were about thirty folks at first, with a few late stragglers, Cherney among them. It was plain that Cherney and Bari weren't getting along. Arguing with him over a recent interview wherein he joined the two issues of marijuana legalization and the environmental concerns of Redwood Summer, Bari let him know (in no uncertain terms, publicly) that such actions were not acceptable. Then Cherney sat, yogi-like, square on a small Douglas Fir seedling. Bari came down hard on him for carelessly crushing the seedling. First, Cherney tried to make light of it (he was really embarrassed) but Bari wouldn't let it go. Given the bad blood between them that day, and their public display of anger, some people might be led to speculate that Cherney himself is a suspect. But I found no evidence that would connect Cherney to the bombing in any way; he was a victim, not a perpetrator.
The person - or persons - who bombed Judi Bari were clever and resourceful. Effort was made to make it appear as though some religious nut or red-neck logger, perhaps even conspiring with the FBI, decided to bomb an active, effective environmentalist. However, my research paints a very different portrait. Taken as a whole, the evidence indicates that this was a private matter-a very private matter.
The vast majority of murdered women are dispatched by their husbands or former lovers. Any credible investigation must include this possibility.

The "Argus" Letter Revisited
I didn't realize what I was getting into as I listened to Sutley slowly and systematically tell me his story. It was a beautiful Sonoma County afternoon during the fall of 1995. I taped for three hours and couldn't believe what he was saying, so I spent the next month checking out his story; then I taped him again, this time in more detail. More investigation followed. I couldn't find a single hole in his account and finally concluded that he was telling the truth.
The only way to conduct an investigation of this sort is to find a kernel of truth and start working out from there. That's what I did. The kernel of truth was my conviction that Sutley didn't write the "Argus" letter. There were many reasons:
  1. Sutley doesn't type and hasn't done so since 1975;
  2. he didn't know many of the points of information in the "Argus" letter, nor did he know Bari very well;
  3. he had no easy access to the Ukiah Daily Journal;
  4. he passed a polygraph test;
  5. he had no motive;
  6. Sutley had no access to the Bari photo that was sent along with the "Argus" letter until several weeks after the date (January 6, 1989) postmarked on the letter.
If Sutley was an agent who intended to disrupt Earth First!, why didn't he report to the authorities about the murder solicitation, which hung over both Bari's and Davis's heads? He didn't mention it until years after the bombing, and only when defending himself from attack.
Who else could be the possible "Argus" letter writer? Pam Davis certainly knew much of the information and the details of Bari's life; and as the Bridgewood Motel photographer, she had access to the photos. Davis now refuses to talk with me. She and I became friends during Redwood Summer and I ran into her from time to time after that. The last time we talked was immediately after my first talk with Sutley, in the fall of 1995. I asked her if she would like to talk about what happened. Davis declined, but gave the impression that I could ask again in the future. Since that last meeting I've called her many times and left messages, but could never contact her. We also have mutual friends and I have tried to contact Davis through them, but to no avail.
In spite of Davis' reluctance to talk, I have several reasons for not considering her as a suspect. First, many sources in the community confirm that she and Bari were good friends during this time period. Second, Davis had no apparent motive to write the "Argus" letter. Third, like Sutley, Davis did not have regular access to the Ukiah Daily Journal. (Remember, this local newspaper can only be purchased by subscription outside of Ukiah; Davis and Sutley both lived in Santa Rosa at the time.) She also knew that Earth First! wasn't involved with automatic weapons training (a crucial detail, the only one the writer of the "Argus" letter had wrong). While Davis didn't seem to be a likely candidate as the "Argus" letter writer, I could not eliminate her entirely since she, too, had access to the Peace and Justice Center in Santa Rosa and was known for her typing skills.

The Bari-Sweeney Marriage
Mike Sweeney appears to be a well-educated, mild-mannered functionary, doing the best he can for the environment and the community, while unselfishly raising his and Bari's daughters, a sketch Judi had a hand in drawing.
In reality, Sweeney and Bari were not getting along when they separated in the late 1980's, and Mike had been abusive to Judi before their breakup. Constant arguments over money and the raising of their daughters forced Judi to seek respite with friends from Sweeney's violent temper. The image they often tried to project of an amiable divorce was simply a fiction; Judi's solicitation of Sutley to have Sweeney killed provided ample evidence of this. Many leftist activists refuse to believe that Bari was capable of such a departure from the non-violence code!
Sweeney is a likely candidate for the author of the "Argus" letter. This letter may have been a furtive attempt to free himself from Bari's insistence that he pay her half the value of their property. Bari had put considerable pressure on Sweeney to settle their financial affairs so that she could buy some property of her own. Bari expected that her half of their joint property was worth about $50,000; Sweeney refused to consider her proposal.
Sweeney is the only other person who would have known the intimate details contained in the letter - including the mistakes. He may have presumed from looking at the Bridgewood Motel photos that Earth First! was engaged in automatic weapons training, or he could have used the photos to manipulate authorities by giving them the impression that Earth First! was violence-prone.
Who had both a motive to have Bari arrested for marijuana sales and the knowledge of when she was about to mail the drugs? Judi's life was an open book to Sweeney, who had complete access to Judi's living space. He had time and freedom to take advantage of this situation. They lived on the same property. Bari never locked her house, and was often gone. She also was meticulous about letting Mike know where she was going, especially when he had the children.
Sweeney had warned Bari that she would never be able to keep her daughters if he decided to contest custody. "Argus'" efforts to depict Bari as a drug dealer, and have her arrested for it, seems part of an opportunistic set-up to portray Bari as an unfit mother. The custody of her daughters would then become a bargaining chip to settle the money and property issues. Bari has admitted sending marijuana through the mail. Fortunately for her, she was never arrested for the practice, though the Ukiah police did respond to the "Argus" letter by placing an ad in the newspaper as requested.
What's most disconcerting, given Sweeney's motive, opportunity, and history, is that this possibility has not even been investigated by law enforcement. Nor did it help that Bari, after the bombing, put out the word that activists should refuse to cooperate with the official investigation. Until the case is resolved, North Coast activists will remain in uncertainty and mistrust.

Document Analysis and the FBI
Let me remind you-I am not the FBI, nor am I a detective. My progress in this case has been based entirely on two things: I am a trusted member of the activist community, and I'm persistent. There are a large number of documents in this case, but I didn't know how to take advantage of the information they contained. I worked on assembling as much documentation as I could by poking around, doing as many interviews as possible, and piecing the facts together.
There had already been several informal groups looking at the evidence, so I contacted as many of my fellow investigators as possible and in the process came upon some important documents. Among these were business letters he had typed (and signed) by himself. Two of these particular documents, typed memos from Sweeney to Carol O'Neal, showed a distinct resemblance to the typewriter used for the "Lord's Avenger" letter, which I believe was written by the person who placed the bomb in Judi Bari's car.
I witnessed the transfer of these documents to Nicole Lee, Lieutenant investigator of the Alameda County District Attorney's office. My understanding from that meeting was that Alameda county would examine the documents and if they seemed of merit, they would send them on to the FBI. Evidently the Alameda County DA's office thought they had a match because they were indeed forwarded to the FBI. A few weeks later, the person who submitted the documents received a letter from the FBI (along with the original samples of Sweeney's typewritten documents) stating that there had been no match.
My investigation hit a dead end at that point. A connection between Sweeney's typed exemplars and any of the "Argus" letter, or the "Lord's Avenger" or the "Second Warning" (along with the other information I had assembled) might have been enough to reopen the investigation. I had plenty of circumstantial evidence, but nothing conclusive. Having seen what irresponsible journalistic practices had done to Sutley, I was reluctant to publish without a strong base of irrefutable facts.
Of course the FBI could have been doing what I was doing; it was their case and they had the power to ask serious questions. I, on the other hand, could only interview those who would talk with me. All of the persons who supplied me with the most valuable information had never been interviewed by the FBI. Even Sutley, a known communist and accused agent, had never been questioned.
What was the attitude of law enforcement? That Bari had bombed herself! It was clear that the FBI was already convinced that she had been knowingly transporting the bomb. I speculate that they had a reason for this prejudice: it seems likely that an informer. whom they trusted, had given them the false information that an Earth First! activist was carrying a bomb. The FBI may have been set up in a similar manner as were the Ukiah police with the "Argus" letter. First, the "Argus"/"Lord's Avenger" author could have written the FBI a letter to establish contact, and probably sending one of the "Uzi" photos. At that point, a "confidential informer" identification number would have been assigned. We do know that, a few days before the bombing, an unnamed informant contacted the FBI with a tip that some "heavies" were coming down from the North country with an unstated criminal intent.
The bomb might have been placed under Bari's car seat while her car was parked, unlocked, in front of her home in Redwood Valley on Tuesday night or sometime Wednesday morning, May 23rd. If that is the case, then the bomb malfunctioned and didn't work as designed. But a better opportunity for the placement of the bomb was during the press conference in Ukiah on that same Wednesday afternoon, while Bari's white Subaru was parked, unlocked, in front of the Mendocino Environmental Center. If the bomb were working correctly, then this is the only time frame that fulfills the design criteria. The bomb had a cheap watch timer that armed the motion device that actually ignited the explosives. The maximum duration for which the watch-timer could be set was twelve hours. Once activated, the motion-sensor detonator would have set off the bomb due to sudden braking, bumps in the road, sharp turns, etc. If it were set for the maximum time, then the bomb would not have been activated until early Thursday morning. That would explain why Bari was able to drive (around eleven Wednesday evening) from Seeds of Peace to the home where she was staying in Oakland. If the bomb had been activated, it should have gone off during that time. Either the bomb was not functioning as designed, or the bomb was placed in Bari's car sometime after noon on Wednesday, during the stop in Ukiah. We know the bomb did perform, once it was activated. As soon as Bari hit the Subaru's brakes while changing lanes, the ball bearing made contact and the bomb detonated.
When the bomb did go off, the FBI were there within a few minutes, prepared to charge Bari. The FBI immediately took over the investigation from the Oakland Police, on the assumption that this was a "terrorist" incident. If Bari had been blown apart as was expected by the bomber, it would have been open and shut; case closed!
Any person who looked at the Subaru's damage could clearly see that the bomb was located under the front seat of the car. This Subaru had four doors; the blast put a gaping hole in the front door, not in the rear door as would be expected if the bomb were in the back seat as the FBI had surmised. Now who would be stupid enough to transport an armed, explosive device, not in the trunk, nor even the back seat, but directly under the driver's seat?
Court documents show that the FBI also misrepresented evidence, and used questionable documentation with respect to bomb location to obtain warrants for the arrest of Bari and Cherney and search their homes. One likely reading of these miscalculations is that the FBI believed an informant's story, in spite of obvious evidence to the contrary. Although charges were never filed by either the FBI or the Alameda County DA's office, and the case is still open, Bari and Cherney are still considered the only official suspects.
That is where things stood until a few months ago, when I got a lucky break. A witness I interviewed had seen a Vassar College Professor, Don Foster, on TV explaining document and textual analysis. Foster is the person who unmasked Primary Colors author Joe Klein and worked on any number of other extremely high-profile criminal cases. My source suggested I contact Foster and ask him to look at the documents that had been submitted to the FBI. I then e-mailed Professor Foster and even though he receives six or seven requests each day, and 17,OOO e-mails in one year, he became actively interested in the case because of the facts, documents, and witness testimony I was able to bring together. He agreed to do an analysis of the documents without any financial compensation. A summary of his report appears separately in Flatland Magazine #16, available for $8.00 postpaid from Flatland, POB 2420, Fort Bragg, CA 95437. For further details see Flatland's web site at flatlandbooks.com.

Friday, October 2, 2015

A Good Soldier

Ed Gehrman

April 18, 2000
A Good Soldier
Questions about VA Disability and Multiple Sclerosis

He fell suddenly, not a hundred feet from my moving car. It was a solid, bone breaking tumble and I was surprised when he got to his feet, brushed himself off and resumed walking hesitantly toward a car parked next to the curb from which he'd just fallen. I drove slowly alongside, then braked and asked if he were all right. He smiled when he saw me; I recognized him as one of my daughter's friends, Sam. I had known him for over ten years. We'd met just after his return from an enlistment with Army Rangers. It had come as a shock to all of us when we learned he had Multiple Sclerosis. He'd gone to a doctor because of numbness in his leg and blurred vision and after extended testing, was diagnosed with the disease.
Over the years I'd hear bits and pieces of Sam's progress from my daughter. After I witnessed his fall, I asked her for an update and she told me that he'd had some problems walking and that he was using a cane most of the time. I asked her what he was doing for money and she said that he was getting paid by the Army, full disability and all medical benefits. I was dumbfounded and told her that she must be wrong and would she check as soon as possible. She did and confirmed that he was indeed receiving full benefits and that MS was considered a service connected disability.
I found this so hard to believe that I contacted Sam myself and he agreed to an interview. He confirmed that he was on disability. He said that the VA will grant disability status if the condition becomes apparent to a degree of ten percent or more within seven years from the date of a veteran's separation from the service. Sam didn't realize he was eligible for these benefits until a friend, an ex-serviceman, told him, three years after his initial diagnosis. The VA confirmed Sam's disability and service connection.
I'm glad that Sam's needs are being met by the VA. He was a good soldier. But it's difficult, if not impossible to understand the VA's reasoning and justification for granting disability status and a service connection for MS. There is no know cause for MS. If the cause is unknown, how can a connection be made between a person's stay in the service and MS? It doesn't make sense. A service-connected disability can be granted for any condition which is incurred or aggravated by a veteran's military service. The big questions are: What is it in the service environment that causes folks to become susceptible to MS and how did the VA make a connection between this environmental factor, service in the armed forces, and Multiple Sclerosis?
Multiple Sclerosis is an unpredictable disease of the central nervous system. Myelin, which facilitates the high speed transmission of electrochemical impulses between the brain and the spinal cord, becomes scarred and hardened into what are known as plaques. These multiple plaques damage the myelin and cause the neurological transmissions to be slowed or blocked completely which leads to diminished and, sometimes, lost functioning. The symptoms, severity and duration of MS varies from person to person. Most patients experience muscle weakness and loss of muscular control, fatigue, vision problems and cognitive impairments such as poor memory and concentration. Other symptoms include pain, tremor, vertigo, bladder and bowel dysfunction, depression and euphoria.
There are 350,000 Americans who have MS and about two hundred new cases are diagnosed each week. Most folks experience their first symptoms between the age of twenty and forty, rarely before fifteen and seldom after sixty. Caucasians are more than twice as likely to contract MS than other races; MS is five times more prevalent in temperate climates than in tropical. There does seem to be a genetic relationship or connection between those who are susceptible to MS. In the population at large, a person has a one-tenth of one percent chance of contracting MS but if one person in a family has MS then the other family members have a three percent chance of getting it also.
The cause for MS is not known. Some think it's an auto immune disease that launches an attack on its own tissues. While this is certainly a clear possibility, nothing conclusive has ever been established. One plausible theory is that the causative agent could be a unique microorganism such as a mycoplasma. These poorly understood organisms are able to alter protein, and then sensitize the host against itself. For example it was found that mycoplasmas can cause the formation of the rheumatoid factor. A similar mechanism could apply to Lupus and many other auto immune disorders. Another interesting factor is that females, who are infected four times more frequently with mycoplasmas than males, are twice as likely to contract MS.
But this is all only speculation because the truth is we simply don't know what causes MS. Then how did the VA decide that MS was connected to a person's stay in the Armed Forces? I wrote the Department Of Defense, through Barbara Boxer's office, and they refused to answer any questions. I also contacted the Veterans Administration. They did confirm that MS was a service connected disability and answered some of my inquiries. They seemed puzzled that I was skeptical of the MS disability designation and informed me that "congressional legislation would be required to change these provisions of the law".
There are currently about eleven thousand veterans who have been granted a service connected disability for MS. The only condition is that the disease be confirmed within seven years of a veteran's separation from service. As any one familiar with the labyrinthian process of obtaining a service related disability can attest, it isn't easy getting money from the VA. The problems surrounding "Gulf War Illness" is a certain reminder of this fact
The VA and the Department Of Defense must possess information that they're not sharing with the rest of us and certainly not with the new enlistees. I know the Sergeant isn't telling new recruits that they should look out for MS, as they do with AIDS or syphilis. If there is a chance that MS might be contracted or complicated by their time in military service, then why aren't enlistees told this? Would this complicate the recruitment process? Probably, but I have the sneaking suspicion that it would complicate something far more important to the modern Armed Forces: vaccinations. This is the one factor, aside from the traditional haircut, that all service folks have in common. If, as some believe, the causative agent is a mycoplasma, vaccinations could conceivably be the mode of transmission.
What bothers me most is that I'm sure the VA and the DOD have research that justifies granting this disability to thousands of veterans. If they have information that connects MS to military service, then we should all know what that information is. Multiple Sclerosis is a serious and growing disorder that afflicts millions of persons. To purposefully withhold information that would better our understanding of this disease is unjustified.

Spiroplasma and Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies

Ed Gehrman
 June, 1998
Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy (TSE) is identified by the plaques of mutated amyloid protein that form within the brain tissue and destroy synapses and neurotransmitter functions and take on a characteristic sponge or Swiss cheese appearance. CJD, Scrapie and Kuru are all members of this degenerative disease family, afflictions known about for over two hundred years but not studied intently until the early sixties when they were found to be transmissible.
Dr. Carleton Gajdusek was a young researcher looking for unusual diseases when he visited the Fore Peoples of Papau, New Guinea during the late 1950s. The Papuans of those years were suffering from a population density that put a strain on very limited resources. They practiced female infanticide and cannibalism and were in a constant state of warfare with their neighbors over land and pigs. Severe limitations on normal heterosexual relations were imposed; the men spent most of their time at the men's clubhouse where they prepared for war and engaged in homosexual relations with the young boys. This homosexual activity was all part of an elaborate bonding thought needed to ensure macho warriors and dependable compatriots. The warfare was brutal, often hand-to-hand; capture meant being tortured and killed. Solidarity was essential and achieved through the sharing of semen. The females of the group were disrespected and often abused because they were thought to steal the men's strength and resolve in battle as well as their vital semen. The malnourishment of females and young children was part of this intense process; they supplemented their diet by eating anything that "crawled or crept". Midwives ate placentas of the new born and women dug up the partly decomposed bodies of relatives and ate and shared with young children the flesh, brains and the accumulations of maggots and mites. This was not a religious ceremony but an attempt to fend off malnutrition. (1)
Gajdusek observed that some of the Fore women and a few children died from symptoms indicating a neurological disorder: dementia, frenzied behavior, blindness and eventual agonizing death. He studied the tribal dynamics and soon hypothesized that the condition, known as Kuru, came from their habit of eating the brains of dead relatives; he brought some diseased brain tissue back to the USA. Gajdusek soon discovered that when he made a broth from the Kuru tissue and injected this mixture into lab animals, they too exhibited the Kuru symptoms. He then processed Kuru diseased lab animals' brains and injected the mixture into other lab animals. They also died the same excruciating deaths. This meant that the condition could be transmitted from organism to organism and was therefore transmissible, hence Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy (TSE).
Gajdusek and his colleagues at the National Institute of Health were never able to isolate or positivly identify the agent that causes the TSE even though they've been trying since the early sixties. Scrapie and CJD were also studied and found to be transmissible. All this was well known underground medical information; many doctors refused to autopsy CJD victims. For years the NIH conjectured that the infective culprit was a "slow virus". Nothing seemed to distroy the agent; not heat, cold, or any of the normal chemical disinfectants. Nor could they find a trace of its chemical or molecular identity. Furthermore, the virus didn't cause inflamation so antibodies failed to leave a calling card. Some completely new agent was essential.
Another tenacious TSE researcher is Dr. Frank O. Bastian, MD, a professor of pathology and director of neuropathology at the University of South Alabama, Mobile. He has published numerous research articles relating to the etiology of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease and also edited a book entitled Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease and Other Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies.(2)
In 1976, Bastian examined a brain biopsy from a patient with CJD using electron microscopy. He saw a spiral structure foreign to the tissue. It had features of the newly reported spiroplasmas (spiroplasmas were only discovered in 1976). In 1981, a team in New York reported finding a fibril protein in scrapie-infected brain tissue. This scrapie-associated fibril (SAF) protein was 4 nm in diameter and 200 nm long. In 1983, the team looked at various tissues of CJD and Kuru and demonstrated scrapie-associated fibrils consistently in these diseases but not in control tissues. These SAF were identical morphologically to the internal fibrils of spiroplasmas.
Moreover, antibodies to SAF react with internal fibrillar proteins from Spiroplasma and digested brain material from people with CJD, suggesting that these proteins essentially are the same. This similarity solidified in Bastian's mind the link between spiroplasmas and CJD.
Dr. Bastian has postulated that Spiroplasma bacteria causes CJD and other TSE. His twenty years of research indicates a role for Spiroplasma. The evidence includes the following: spiroplasma-like inclusions were seen in brain biopsies from patients with CJD (Arch Pathol Lab Med. 1979;103:665-669); spiroplasma internal fibril proteins are identical morphologically to those seen in TSE's; the spiroplasma proteins show immunological cross reactivity with the TSE proteins (J Clin Biol. 1987;25:2430-2431); and spiroplasma, when inoculated into rodents, produces a similar neuropathology (Amer J Pathol. 1984;114:496-514). Spiroplasmas are present in the hemolymph of almost all insects; there probably are several million strains. They can also cause diseases in plants but are usually associated with a vector. For example, a leaf hopper carries a spiroplasma that infects orange trees Spiroplasmas are similar to mycoplasmas. They do not have a cell wall (cell wall deficient) and have among the smallest genomes of any living organism. Mycoplasma are the smallest and perhaps the oldest life form. These bacteria, one cause of "walking pneumonia", are thought by many to be rather fragile, but nothing could be further from the truth. They tolerate extreme fluctuations in temperature, lay dormant in the soil for generations and survive the harshest elements; only drano-like chemicals kill them effectively outside the body. Under normal circumstances our immune system efficiently deals with this complicated, membrane enclosed piece of DNA. A common phenomenon among the mycoplasmas is that the organisms bind host proteins that often are of identical molecular weight to their surface proteins and, therefore, are looked at by the immune system as being the same as the host. The spiralin protein on the surface of spiroplasmas shows a migration pattern on gel electrophoresis with a molecular weight of 27,000 Da to 30,000 Da, similar to that of the prion protein. This biochemical similarity is compatible with spiroplasma etiology.
Bastian was able to show that spiroplasmas were neurotropic. When inoculated peripherally into suckling rats, they will eventually localize to the brain tissues. The organisms will produce a persistent infection and produce a spongy change in the brain tissue of these animals. The neuropathologic changes are similar to those seen in CJD. Spiroplasmas are also within the size range of the agent that transmits CJD and other transmissible Spongiform encephalopathies. Spiroplasmas will pass through a 50 nm-pore filter. The transmissible agent's size has been determined to be 42 nm.
The obvious way to look for an agent directly is by electron microscopy, but this method may not be appropriate for spiroplasmas. Spiroplasmas are similar to mycoplasmas, and it is a well-known phenomenon that mycoplasmas are able to blend with cell membranes. What happens, possibly, is that spiroplasmas essentially fuse with host-cell organelle membranes, thereby blending with the background, so you would not see it unless you had a marker to label it. Developing such a marker has been difficult because spiroplasmas are very fastidious (difficult to cultivate)organisms. .
Bastian also inoculated suckling rats with spiroplasmas, and examined their brain tissues by electron microscopy early in the infection process; he documented the organisms in the tissues. They appeared as membrane-bound forms, except for the one instance where he observed the spiral form. Later in infection, when he knew that the tissues were infectious by broth culture, he couldn't find any evidence of spiroplasmas by looking at the tissues extensively with electron microscopy. Bastian insists that the infection-related protein that most researchers refer to as a "prion" is produced by the host in response to the infection and is not the causative agent. Prions are thought to be self-replicating proteins. Some researchers believe prions are the cause of CJD and related illnesses because they have found prions in brain tissue from people with CJD and sheep with scrapie but not in normal brain tissue. Bastian states that a shortcoming in the prion theory is that CJD and scrapie can be transmitted without prions.
Brain material from which the prion has been removed with antibodies can still infect animals. Moreover, the prion has been found in unrelated disease processes, such as Kawsaski syndrome and inclusion body myositis. Prion researchers have jumped to conclusions and have not considered any other possibility. It is quite possible that spiroplasmas may be inducing the formation of the prion protein to protect itself from the immune system. The immune system is very important in the pathogenesis of CJD. The agent replicates in the spleen and lymph nodes and occasionally causes an immunologic reaction. Auto-antibodies are characteristically seen in the late stages of experimental and naturally occurring disease. The gene for the host protein is located on the chromosome in the region of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) in the mouse. "Occasionally, you see elevation of immuno globulins; there are morphological alterations of the leukocytes; there is leukopenia," Bastian explains, "and auto antibodies are characteristically seen in the late stages of both experimental and naturally occurring infection. There is partial MHC restriction in both human and animal disease."
"The immune reaction seen in these Spongiform diseases can be explained by super antigen activity, Bastian says. He notes that, normally, an antigen is presented to the cell surface in the MHC and interacts with the T-cell receptor—the antigen lying in a groove in the T-cell-MHC sets in motion the standard reaction. A super antigen, on the other hand, binds outside the groove of the T-cell and interacts with the MHC. This results in some immunoglobulin production, but only transiently. The major effect is clonal deletion of T cells, resulting in a state of immune tolerance. Autoantibodies can also form. In Spongiform diseases, PrP presumably acts as a super antigen. It is noteworthy that inclusion body myositis, a condition in which prions are seen, is an established super antigen disease."
Dr. Bastian also notes that investigators have reported transmitting a TSE to mice from hay mites gathered from farms in Iceland where scrapie is endemic (Lancet. 1996;347:1114). He is virtually certain that these hay mites contain spiroplasma, noting that the investigators have not so far found PrP in the mites.
If hay mites can cause TSE, why couldn't the same be true for the maggots and mites on the Fore corpses? (3) Could Gajdusek have overlooked the main factor connecting Kuru to the Fore women and children? Was the initial cause of Kuru the ingesting of large quantities of maggots and mites by protein famished women and children? We know that the maggots and mites contain spiroplasma. By eating the brains of the Papuans that died from Kuru, the disease (Spiroplasma) was retransmitted to those remaining, in a deadly cycle. Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies will continue to be misunderstood unless we begin to study and understand these simple connections.

(1) This information comes from several sources. It is well known to anthropologists that these conditions existed among the Fore peoples and many other New Guinea tribes like the Sambia. I know it's hard to believe in these modern times but we must if we are to understand the world in which we live. My main source is Our Kind by Marvin Harris; Harper & Row; 1989. He took much of his information from Shirley Lindenbaum, Kuru Sorcery: Disease and Danger in the New Guinea Highlands; 1979; Mayfield  back to text
(2) JAMA August 14, 1996 DC Capital Conference spring 1996 A dissenting view on the cause of Mad Cow Disease Bastian regards the prion theory as a red herring. The cause of Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSEs), he says, is a conventional microorganism -- a mollicute or, more specifically, a spiroplasma. "The infection-related protein is produced by the host in response to the infection,".  back to text
[Infectious Disease News Homepage] (June 1996) Spiroplasma may cause Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease - An interview with a leading expert in infectious diseases, Frank O. Bastian, MD. In 1992, Bastian arranged an international symposium on bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy.
I used information, quotes, and descriptions from the above article and interview to weave together Dr Bastian's ideas, knowledge and words, with my own research. I edited and rearranged both words and sequence for coherence sake. I did the best I could to convey this important message.
I've had three phone conversations with Dr Bastian. He was cooperative and helpful at first and sent me much useful information which I have included. But he cut a scheduled interview short when I began to suggest that biowarfare research might help to spread the TSE agent, inadvertently. I called one more time and he refused to talk. He has refused to answer a long letter I wrote. I thought it both rude and arrogant, but even with that nonsense, I still believe Bastian's elegant hypothesis is far more rational than any I've studied.
(3) Common arthropods occuring on dead bodies: The Acari, or mites as they also are called, are small organisms, usually less than a mm in lenght. Mites occur under the dead body in the soil, during the later stages of decay. Many mites are transported to the body via other insects, such as flies or beetles. Other mites are soil dwelling forms which can be predators, fungus feeders or detritus feeders. Most species will be found in soil samples from seepage area under the body. Sarchophagidae Among the Sarcophagids we find the large flesh-flies with red eyes and a grey-checkered abdomen. These flies does not deposit eggs, but larvae on the corpse. They are, together with the Calliphorids, among the first insects to arrive at the corpse. The larvae are predators on blowfly larvae, as well as carrion feeders. Many Sarcophagids are feeding on snails and earthworms.