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Sun Magazine interview continued               Page 2 of 6
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Outside Agitator: How Darryl Cherney Set Out To Save The Redwoods And Ended Up Suing The FBI (And Winning)

Darryl Cherney in his dome on the range; Humboldt County, CA 2001
Darryl's dome on the range.      Photo: Greg King
King: This place is pretty far from Manhattan, where you spent your first twenty-nine years. How did you end up here?

Cherney: When I was fourteen, I traveled cross-country with my parents and saw the redwoods for the first time. When the trip was over, I lay in bed back on West 24th Street, staring up at the ceiling and imagining that someday I would live among the redwoods, because they were so beautiful.

In 1985 I packed up all my things and headed west. As I was driving down the Oregon coast, I saw this figure ahead of me, walking in the rain. He didn't have his thumb out, but I just felt that he needed a ride. Into my van came Kingfisher, a Cheyenne road man, with a big smile on his face. We started talking, and he said, "What do you want out of life?" I said, "I'd like to learn how to live off the land and save the world." And he said, "Well, you should go to Garberville.

In Garberville, we got out of the van and walked right into the EPIC office, the Environmental Protection Information Center, which at the time was suing Georgia Pacific in an attempt to save the redwoods. I didn't know anything about nature at all. I didn't even know how to water a plant. I was scared of bugs. I was this total urban animal. But I knew people were meant to live among nature, and I knew at that moment, when I heard the redwoods were being cut down, that I would stay in Garberville.

King: You've been trying to grab headlines as an activist ever since, but its the one action you didn't plan&151;the bombing of Bari's car—that has brought you the most media attention. What happened that day?

Cherney: When the bomb went off, the FBI was ready. Agents showed up immediately. Special Agent Frank Doyle, the lead investigator of the bombing, arrived just fifteen minutes after the explosion, despite his office being thirty minutes away in San Francisco. As Judi put it, "The FBI was there in a thrice, almost as if they had been standing around the corner covering their ears."

Coincidence or not, the FBI crew was made up of the same agents who had attended a "bomb school" exactly one month earlier on Mendocino County land owned by timber giant Louisiana Pacific, Judi's principal adversary. In fact, Agent Doyle had been the bomb-school instructor.

Three hours after the bomb went off, the Oakland police arrested me and Judi on the word of the FBI agents at the scene, who said we were domestic terrorists wounded by our own bomb. But the Alameda County District Attorney looked at the evidence, or lack thereof, and refused to file charges.

King: Now here we are twelve years later, and you say there has never been an earnest attempt by FBI and Oakland Police to conduct a full investigation, although the real bomber is still out there. Do you expect the FBI ever to solve this case?

Cherney: I don't think the FBI is capable of solving this case. I think the FBI is a criminal entity and a threat to national security. And that's not just rhetoric. That's not just dogmatic Darryl getting up on his soapbox. The FBI works with the Mafia. They work with hit men. They work with the Ku Klux Klan. They have a shining track record of being present when people are murdered, and a really dismal track record on solving crimes.

King: But hasn't there been some internal reform?

Cherney: Senator Patrick Leahy held monthly hearings on the FBI before the World Trade Center attack. They were called "Oversight: Restoring Public Confidence in the FBI."

King: Rather than restoring the integrity of the FBI itself.

Cherney: Yeah, and rather than boosting the public's confidence, he was actually doing the opposite. He was uncovering facts that were destroying people's faith in the FBI. A friend once told me that the true nature of everything—whether creature or business or organization—is imprinted on it at birth. The FBI was born out of A. Mitchell Palmer, who led the infamous Palmer Raids to round up suspected communist immigrants in 1920, and raised by J. Edgar Hoover. Hoover was a psychotic, homophobic, fascist, totalitarian cavorter with the Mob, and he imprinted that onto the FBI. Despite being a gay transvestite, Hoover had agents persecute gay people and personally purged the FBI of agents he thought were gay.

King: Because he hated that part of himself?

Cherney: I don't know. He was pathological, and I think what we're looking at is a pathological organization. For the duration of his career, Hoover never acknowledged the existence of organized crime, because the Mob had information on him. They used him as much as he did them. And that's how the FBI fouled up its ability to fight crime. They are not only corrupt but criminal, and the criminals have as much information on the FBI as the FBI has on them. The FBI can't indict any major crime figures—or even mid-level crime figures—in this country because the criminals will say, "Oh, you're going to put me in jail? Well, then I'm going to tell them how you were there when we killed so-and-so, or raped so-and-so, or tortured so-and-so."

That's what Patrick Leahy's committee was uncovering before September 11: that the FBI was in bed with the Mob and other crime figures. We learned that an FBI security analyst in Las Vegas sold information on protected informants to the Mob for twenty-five thousand dollars. The FBI has put people in jail who didn't commit murders and let off mobsters who did. In Boston, the FBI allowed two innocent men to spend several decades in prison for a murder committed by an FBI informant. And the FBI knew their man was guilty. The FBI was in the car with members of the KKK when they killed civil-rights leaders in the sixties. The FBI knew who bombed the Birmingham, Alabama, church. The FBI couldn't convict the Klan, because the FBI was with them when they were committing these murders and lynchings. This is the real history of the FBI. So the FBI can't be reformed because the very nature of the FBI is to be complicit in the commission of crimes. It's beyond incompetence.


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