By Michael P. Tremoglie, The Bulletin
The first of a two-part series about Barack Obama's relationship with
radicals on the American left. \
Although Sen. Barack Obama has denied having a close relationship
with William Ayers, co-founder of the '60s and '70s left-wing
terrorist group the Weather Underground, documentation suggests his
ties were deeper than he publicly admits.
Mr. Obama may have renounced Mr. Ayers' activities committed while he
belonged to the Weather Underground - Mr. Ayers has not. The group
was responsible for numerous killings and bombings.
Among the crimes committed by the Weathermen was the killing of San
Francisco police Sgt. Brian V. McDonnell.
He was killed by a pipe bomb planted at a police station in 1970 -
the same year Mr. Ayers participated in the bombing of New York City
police headquarters. Bernadine Dohrn, a Weatherman co-founder and Mr.
Ayers' future wife, was suspected of planting the bomb.
Mr. Ayers also participated in the bombing of the U.S. Capitol
building in 1971 and the Pentagon in 1972.
The Weathermen were also aligned with such groups as the Black
Liberation Army (BLA), which was responsible for assassinating police
officers during the 1970s. One of the most famous incidents involved
the killing of a New Jersey state trooper in 1973 by Joanne Chesimard.
Although Mr. Obama has downplayed his relationship with Mr. Ayers,
calling him simply a "guy who lives in his neighborhood," records
from the archives at the Richard J. Daley Library at the University
of Illinois, reviewed by Stanley Kurtz for an article in National
Review Online, and other public information, reveal that the
association between Mr. Ayers and Mr. Obama goes much deeper.
Mr. Ayers helped launch Mr. Obama's political career. He hosted a
campaign event for Mr. Obama, in his home leading up to Mr. Obama's
successful state senatorial campaign in 1995.
Also, in 1995, Mr. Ayers founded the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, a
group for reforming public schools. Mr. Obama was on the board of
directors and was the group's first chairman. He remained chairman
until 1999 and remained on the board until 2001.
The group gave grants to the Association of Community Organizations
for Reform Now (ACORN), where Mr. Obama once worked and which now
campaigns on his behalf.
Mr. Obama's wife Michelle, once organized an event that included the
then-Illinois state senator as a panelist along with Mr. Ayers in a
symposium opposing adult sentences for violent juvenile offenders in 1997.
Both Mr. Ayers and Mr. Obama served on the board of a Chicago
charitable organization, the Woods Fund, in 1999.
Today Mr. Ayers is a professor of education and a senior university
scholar at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is the author of
several books about parenting and educating children, including: A
Kind and Just Parent; Zero Tolerance: Resisting the Drive for
Punishment in Our Schools; and Teaching Towards Freedom: Moral
Commitment and Ethical Action in the Classroom.
During an interview in 2001, promoting his book Fugitive Days, Mr.
Ayers said, "I don't regret setting bombs ... I feel we didn't do enough."
Michael P. Tremoglie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org