A high-ranking labor supporter of Hillary Clinton is distributing to union leaders and to Democratic strategists a document detailing the radical activities of Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, two former members of the '70s group the Weather Underground, who decades later, in Chicago, crossed paths with Barack Obama.
The document - a three-page emailed essay by Rick Sloan, communications director for the International Association of Machinists as Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) -- takes both literary and political license to outline what Sloan believes would be the thrust of a hypothetical Republican campaign against Obama focusing on his tangential connection to Ayers and Dohrn.
The goal of the essay appears to be to discredit Obama as the prospective Democratic presidential nominee.
The most damaging new material cited by Sloan appears in a link to an FBI Freedom of Information web site -- where a viewer can examine hundreds of pages of a study of the Weather Underground and its leaders, written in 1976 by the Chicago FBI office, just at the group was disintegrating at the end of the Vietnam War.
Sloan contends that the purpose of his document is to outline what he conjectures will be the tactics of Republican operative Karl Rove, an informal adviser to John McCain's campaign, if Obama is the nominee. The title of Sloan's paper is: "What Is Rove Up To?"
Sloan argues that Rove will use Ayers and Dohrn for 'red-baiting' attacks on Obama. Rove's "target is Barack Obama's signature slogan 'Change We Can Believe In.' Rove wants to redefine it as revolutionary change, change driven by an alien ideology, change no patriotic American could
stomach. And he intends to do so by channeling Senator Joseph McCarthy."
Sloan bases his conjecture on two Rove appearances on Fox's Hannity & Colmes, April 8 and April 14. During one appearance, Rove referred to Ayers and Dohrn thus: "Are there ways to find out the relationship between Ayers and Obama that are visual, that give it power and force?" During the other appearance, more obliquely, Rove described as "almost Marxian" Obama's controversial remarks about "bitter" small town Pennsylvanians.
Sloan, an aide to IAMAW International President R. Thomas Buffenbarger, builds most of the case against Obama on material he has collected from different sources, which he footnotes.
The FBI material supplied by Sloan includes the first Weather Underground "statement" issued May 21, 1970, delivered by Dohrn and titled "A Declaration of a State of War." Dohrn's reading of the declaration opened as follows:
"All over the world, people fighting Amerikan imperialism look to
Amerika's youth to use our strategic position behind enemy lines to join
forces in the destruction of the empire. Black people have been fighting
almost alone for years. We've known that our job is to lead white kids into
armed revolution....Kids know the lines are drawn; revolution is touching
all of our lives. Tens of thousands have learned that protest and marches
don't do it. Revolutionary violence is the only way."
Sloan, in turn, writes:
"Bill Ayers and his wife Bernadine Dohrn founded the Weather Underground
Organization [in 1970]. According to Weatherman communiqués and papers
compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation into a 403 page summary,
Ayers and Dohrn toed the Marxist-Leninist-Maoist line. They were hardcore
Communists bent on world revolution."
In 1996, Ayers and Dohrn, who are married and live in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago, hosted a fundraiser for Obama who was then running for State Senate. Ayers and Obama served together on the board of the Woods Foundation in Chicago.
The fundraiser and service on the Woods Foundation took place decades after Ayers and Dohrn's involvement with the Weather Underground. Indeed, Obama was 8 years old at the time of Ayres and Dohrn's radical activities. Since then, both Ayres and Dohrn have become professors and are active in Chicago community affairs. Ayers in 2001 published a memoir, "Fugitive Days", and in an interview about the book published in the New York Times on September 11, 2001 (an interview conducted before the 9/11 attacks), Ayers was quoted saying, "I don't regret setting bombs....I feel we didn't do enough." Just hours after publication, terrorists attacked the World Trade Center.
Sloan predicts that,
"The drip, drip, drip of Republican opposition research will continue
throughout the summer. At the Republican Convention, speakers will joke
about a color spectrum of light pink to deep red. And the GOP attack machine
will publicize the visual that Rove believes will give that Ayers-Obama link
'power and force.'
"Rove's frame for the fall campaign will be filled with revolutionary figures -- Marx, Lenin, Mao, Ho Chi Minh and Che Guevara. His audio tapes of Ayers, Dohrn and other Weathermen will provide the screams of revolution. The bombing of the US Capitol, the Pentagon and the US State Department will serve as b-roll for his television ads that will have one final visual as
the announcer gravely intones 'Their Change -- Not What You Had In Mind'."
Sloan sent his anti-Obama material out in an email to 40 political and communications officials of key unions supporting Clinton. The unions include American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees; the American Federation of Teachers; United Farm Workers; Amalgamated Transit Union; and the Office and Professional Employees. Sloan said he also sent it to a number of Democratic operatives, but he declined to identify them.
Sloan said he wrote the document on his own, using a union email list which is deployed regularly to send out messages to promote the Clinton campaign. "The memo is clearly my work. It was not done for or at the request of the Clinton campaign," Sloan said.
Howard Wolfson, Clinton's communications director, referred all questions about the Ayers-Dohrn material to Sloan. "It's not our document," Wolfson said in a brief email.
Asked to describe the document, Sloan said:
"This is the case against Obama that Karl Rove is developing. He's been
pushing the Ayers-Obama link on FOX. . . . Most labor folks, myself
included, wouldn't know Ayers if we tripped over him. But the FBI summary
does contain some absolutely shocking examples of hardcore Communist
ideology. With friends like these, who needs enemies....And given what they
[Republicans] did four years ago, Democratic strategists ought to be alarmed
that Rove is back to his old tricks."
The 1976 FBI material, stemming from the Bureau's investigation of the Weather Underground, was released under a Freedom of Information request and is now posted on the Internet:
"Knowledgeable analysts who have followed the growth of Weathermen, or as
it is now called, the Weather Underground Organization (WUO), are well aware
of the foreign influences on the collective thoughts and actions of these
revolutionaries who have consistently carried out the Marxist-Leninist
conception of armed struggle in the U.S. The WUO investigation is an
excellent example of the native born American who adopts the faith of an
alien ideology and, in behalf of his beliefs, commits acts of armed
violence, the purposes of which serve to acknowledge his revolutionary
obligations to the international communist movement and at the same time
create the conditions for revolution in the mother country."