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Cockburn's "New York Press hit piece"

Date: Tue, 07 Mar 2000 15:17:44 -0800
To: strider@fornits.com
From: "michael e. sweeney"
Subject: Cockburn's New York Press hit piece

Dear Strider,

I hear you posted Alexander Cockburn's article from New York Press, promoting Bruce Anderson's latest hoax, which libels me and smears Judi Bari.

Would you consider also distributing my reply to New York Press? I would like to see this go out to the Bay Area Activist email list, and to misc.activism.progressive, and anywhere else where Cockburn's piece was sent.

Your help, and interest in fairness, would be much appreciated.

The text of my letter follows:

Ukiah, CA 95482
March 5, 2000

Letter to Editor
New York Press
333 7th Avenue, 14th Floor
New York, N.Y. 10001


In Alexander Cockburn's article, "Bruce Anderson Pursues His Demon," he does his best to promote Anderson's fantasy that I bombed Judi Bari. To do so, he has to leave a lot out.

Among the missing facts:

1. Judi Bari said I wasn't the bomber. She spent the last seven years of her life investigating every detail of the case. In her book, Timber Wars, she wrote: "The bomb in my car had a 12-hour timer, so it couldn't have been placed anywhere but in Oakland, where I stayed the night before it exploded (p. 313)." And, "My ex-husband and I have a cooperative relationship in our divorce, and he has no motive at all to bomb me. Mike was taking care of our children at his girlfriend's house when the bomb was planted, and she can verify that Mike did not leave her house at any time when he would have had the opportunity to place the bomb (p. 139)."

2. Darry Cherney (the other victim) says I wasn't the bomber. In an article Darryl has written entitled, "The Lies of Bruce Anderson," Darryl says: "Mike Sweeney has an airtight alibi of his whereabouts during the timespan that the bomb could have been put in the carÖ.Anderson has given several accounts of his theory and they contradict, leading many to believe that Bruce does not even believe his own theories."

3. The Redwood Summer Justice Project says I wasn't the bomber. This is the organization Judi and Darryl set up seven years ago to investigate the bombing and prosecute their lawsuit against the FBI. In a statement in February, 1999, the project denounced Anderson's claims as "Blatantly false charges being spread by long-time enemies of Judi Bari." Recently, the Project's director wrote, "There is no 'counter case' to our reasonable suspicion that Judi and Darryl were bombed by agents of Big Timber and/or the government." (Ukiah Daily Journal, 11/10/99)

4. Judi Bari denied on Steve Talbot's video, and later in her book Timber Wars, that she or I had anything to do with arson at a Santa Rosa airfield. She compares the slanderous charge to the display of photos of burning logging equipment, "which have also been falsely associated with me (p. 140)."

5. Our local district attorney says Bruce Anderson is wasting his time. After reviewing everything Anderson could come up with (which hasn't changed in a year), District Attorney Norman Vroman declined to investigate, and told him: "You need hard facts, not conjecture, innuendo, speculation, guesses." (KZYX radio, May 24, 1999)

6. Bruce Anderson and Alexander Cockburn were foremost among Judi Bari's enemies among the lunatic left. Anderson raged against her for seven years in his Anderson Valley Advertiser, accusing her of being the bomber, running a cartoon of her wearing a swastika, and denouncing her as "a lie factory." When Judi died of cancer in 1997, Cockburn wrote a nasty obituary in Nation magazine calling Judi "prickly and arrogant," and declaring "There were many on the Northcoast who detested her." Now that Judi can no longer defend herself, these enemies are trying to drag her name in the mud and undermine public support for her lawsuit against the FBI. There's more detail on my website, http://www.pacific.net/~bari.

7. This isn't the first hoax attempted by Bruce Anderson. In 1988, he published a completely phony interview with our Congressman, using the byline of an actual reporter from the Des Moines Register. For six days, Anderson insisted the interview was genuine, in the face of outraged denials from the Congressman and the Des Moines reporter. Finally he admitted it was a fabrication. As for the outraged reporter, Anderson said: "Fuck him if he can't take a joke." (Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 2/10/88) Anderson was universally condemned as a dangerous liar, except by Alexander Cockburn, who wrote a column praising the hoax and describing Anderson's rag as "everything a local paper should be." (Wall Street Journal, 3/3/88) Now we see history repeated, with Anderson perpetrating a hoax, and Cockburn cheering him on.

The falsehoods about me in Cockburn's article are too numerous to list in this brief letter. Virtually every statement is wrong, even simple details like where I grew up, or what my Ramparts article was about. Most serious are the libelous statements that I attempted murder, rape, domestic violence and arson. Under law, repeating these libels is the same as inventing them yourself. You have no right to print these lies. Retract them.

Mike Sweeney

Last updated May 11, 2000