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Published responses to Mike Sweeney's New York Pressletter

Andy -- here's Sweeney's response and my and Bruce's response to him exactly as run in the New York Press this week.

Alexander Cockburn replies: I should say I was never an enemy of Bari, and the piece I wrote about her in The Nation when she died in l997 praised her courage and her brilliance in turning the destruction of the redwood forests into a national story. Sure, she was prickly and arrogant, and yes, a lot of people on the North Coast did hate her, including the sicko who put a pipe bomb under her seat, aimed at her private parts and perhaps also those of her sometime lover Cherney, who was sitting beside her.

I don't think that "agents of Big Timber and/or the government" set that bomb, and the Redwood Summer Justice Project seems mostly to be angered that the case being made by Bruce and the others might get in the way of a plump million-dollar settlement from the government, for Bari and Cherney's wrongful arrest.

"Virtually every statement is wrong"? No, Mr. Sweeney, my article was an accurate outline of the case being made publicly against you, charges I gave you the opportunity to comment on and, where appropriate, to deny. The best person to answer the points in this letter is the man who's been making the case against Sweeney, Bruce Anderson, editor of the Anderson Valley Advertiser.

So, here's Bruce: 1. As everyone associated with the case knows, including Sweeney and his late ex, the device was not active until all the time on the clock elapsed. In other words, if the bomb had been placed in Oakland with 12 hours on its clock, it would not have exploded until sometime well after JB had arrived in Santa Cruz, her destination that day.

As for their amicable post-divorce relationship, there are lots of people, including Judi Bari's last landlord, who are prepared to testify that neither their divorce nor their post-divorce relationship was a happy one. Indeed, it was stormy and replete with mutual recriminations. To date, Sweeney has offered no less than three separate, contradictory accounts of where he was the day before the Oakland explosion, presumably a day etched sharply in his memory:

(1) At work (which was his desk at the MEC [Mendocino Environmental Center] in downtown Ukiah, the town where we think the device was placed in JB's car; (2) at home with his children, home being the Redwood Valley property he still shared with Bari; and (3) with his girlfriend and his daughters at the girlfriend's house, wherever that was at the time. Why doesn't Meredyth Rinehart verify or testify Sweeney was with her?

2. Invoking Cherney as an authority on anything is a stretch. The article called "The Lies of Bruce Andersoní" hasn't been published anywhere I'm aware of. My theories of the case, like everyone else's, have been revised to fit new findings. And which contradictions Sweeney and Cherney are referring to here is unstated.

3. Redwood Summer Justice Project was organized by Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney to pay their lawyers. Note that Earth First! was dropped as a plaintiff in the suit. RSJP employs female-only friends of the late Bari and operates out of a Sonoma County post-office box. They've never revealed their books.

4. The producer of the KQED documentary on the Bari bombing, Steve Talbot, says that Judi Bari herself told him that Sweeney destroyed the hangar in Santa Rosa. He is preparing an article on the case in which he plans to reveal more about the case which is not currently known. Bari did pressure Talbot into including an on-camera disclaimer about Sweeney in the film, but she never denied telling Talbot that Sweeney had in fact destroyed the hangar in Santa Rosa.

5. D.A. Vroman's stance is a lot more complicated. What he has also said is that he lacks the resources and the tools to investigate a 10-year-old case as complicated as this one. He remains interested in it but requires more hard evidence to act.

6. The Bosco interview was an exercise of my great satirical gift. It's not my fault people can't read. It was also, by the way, my way of attempting to smoke Bosco out on the offshore oil issue then raging. Also, the Press Democrat never says fuck. And fuck Cherney and Sweeney if they can't take the Bosco joke. Cherney thought it was boffo at the time.

Last updated May 11, 2000