Accuracy in Media

Larry Grathwohl, a former FBI informant in the Weather Underground, tells Accuracy in Media that he was contacted by law enforcement authorities about five or six years ago about bringing a murder case against Weather Underground communist terrorist Bernardine Dohrn for her reported involvement in the 1970 death of a young San Francisco police officer, Brian V. McDonnell.

Barack Obama’s initial political campaign in Chicago was launched from the home of Dohrn and her husband, another member of the Weather Underground, Bill Ayers. But Obama says he does not condone their terrorist activities. Dohrn and Ayers are now both college professors in Chicago.

“The FBI and the San Francisco police department were looking to prosecute Bernardine Dohrn for murder,” Grathwohl told AIM. “They were really pushing it and then it dropped off the radar.”

“From my understanding there was a joint task force of FBI agents and San Francisco police that were pushing to bring Bernardine Dohrn to trial,” Grathwohl said. “There was a reporter that called me about the same time and he was from the San Francisco Chronicle and he wanted to talk to me. I guess they had heard rumors that this was going on. At the time, the FBI and the San Francisco police department had asked me to keep mum on it because of the sensitivity of what they were trying to do and the information they were trying to gather.”

Grathwohl had personal knowledge of the bombing, having testified before Congress that Ayers told him at the time he was in the terrorist organization and that Dohrn had personally planted the devastating bomb.

Since March, when some limited attention began to be focused on Obama’s relationship with Ayers, Grathwohl has been trying to interest the media in his personal recollections of the violent acts committed by the two communist terrorists and associates of Barack Obama. But except for some brief interviews on Fox News (the “Hannity’s America” and “The O’Reilly Factor” programs) and more extended interviews on conservative talk radio, Grathwohl hasn’t found the media interested in what he had to say. 

A recent spate of interviews, he says, has been the result of publicity generated by the public relations specialists at They have highlighted his assertions that Weather Underground leaders plotted the overthrow of the American government and the subsequent need to eliminate 25 million people.

Grathwohl says there is a media double standard benefiting Obama. “If you had McCain hanging out with the high Cyclops of the Ku Klux Klan, you’d have the media all over him like flies on manure,” Grathwohl notes. But Obama largely gets a pass for his controversial associations, he says.

As we noted in a May 7 column, the testimony that was given by Grathwohl to the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee on October 18, 1974, was very specific:

“When he [Bill Ayers] returned, we had another meeting at which time―and this is the only time that any Weathermen told me about something that someone else had done―and Bill started off telling us about the need to raise the level of the struggle and for stronger leadership inside the Weathermen ‘focals’ [i.e., cells] and inside the Weatherman organization as a whole. And he cited as one of the real problems was that someone like Bernardine Dohrn had to plan, develop and carry out the bombing of the police station in San Francisco, and he specifically named her as the person that committed that act.”

Grathwohl added that Ayers “said that the bomb was placed on the window ledge and he described the kind of bomb that was used to the extent of saying what kind of shrapnel was used in it.”

He was asked, “Did he say who placed the bomb on the window ledge?” He replied, “Bernardine Dohrn.”

Asked if Ayers said that he had personally witnessed Dohrn placing the bomb, Grathwohl responded, “Well, if he wasn’t there to see it, somebody who was there told him about it, because he stated it very emphatically.”

Citing the congressional testimony of Grathwohl about Dohrn’s alleged role in the bombing, a July AIM Report put this challenge to the media: “Shouldn’t Obama be asked about the reported involvement of his political associate in cold-blooded murder?” The media, anxious to see Obama elected president on Tuesday, won’t take up this challenge.

The bombing was horrific. “Sergeant McDonnell caught the full force of the flying shrapnel, which consisted of heavy metal staples and lead bullets. As other officers tried rendering aid to the fallen sergeant, they could see that he sustained a severed neck artery wound and severe wounds to his eyes and neck,” the San Francisco Police Officers Association Journal reported about the incident.

“Officers [Ron] Martin and [Al] Arnaud, who were standing several feet from the window ledge, were knocked to the ground and sustained injuries from the flying glass,” it said. “The blast caused them hearing impairment and shock. One officer was knocked to the floor unconscious, while another “suffered multiple severe wounds on his face, cheek and legs from the flying fragments of the glass.”

Retired San Francisco Police Department Sergeant James R. Pera told AIM that he and his partner were in the 1700 block of Haight St. in San Francisco when the bomb went off: “My partner and I were the first car on the scene and the first sight that we saw, upon arrival in the parking lot of the station, was a friend of ours getting up off the ground. His partner was still on the ground, propped up on one arm and dazed. They had been blown to the ground by the concussion of the bomb that had been placed on the window sill of the station…”

He went on, “Sergeant McDonnell’s Police Car, which was placed between the window sill, where the bomb was, and the car that my two fellow policemen were preparing to get into, took the brunt of the blast and saved them from death. The inside of the station looked like it had been hit by a couple of hand grenades, windows shattered, blood on the pock-marked walls and dazed cops wandering around disoriented. The bomb was so powerful that fragments, which consisted of barbed wire fence post staples, were found on the roof of Polytechnic High School which was located across Kezar Stadium and Frederick St., approximately two blocks away. Polytechnic High School was three stories high. It has since been replaced by a housing complex.”

The use of such items as metal fence staples demonstrates that the intention was to kill, Grathwohl says, in contradiction to claims by Ayers and his apologists that the communist terrorist group tried to avoid injuries to people. “The sole purpose of the fence staples was to kill and injure people,” Grathwohl notes. “If you were building a bomb that was only supposed to do property damage and your intent was to injure no one, why would you put fence staples in it?” 

Grathwohl told AIM, “Bill [Ayers] told me about it before I had even read about it in the paper. When I went to the FBI and gave them this information, I knew nothing about it. And the information Bill had given me was so exact. I knew that the bomb had been left on the window ledge of the Park Police station and I knew what the bomb was comprised of.” 

Grathwohl said that law enforcement authorities may have felt they didn’t have enough evidence to guarantee a murder conviction against Dohrn. But there is no statute of limitations on murder and an indictment could still be brought against her.

Since May, AIM has been trying to get the Chicago Tribune to correct the record about a story in the paper claiming that “The only people known to be killed or hurt by Weather Underground bombs were bombers themselves.” But the paper has refused to correct this statement.

We commented that “the standard seems to be that if the terrorists themselves take ‘credit’ for a bombing, it will be assigned to them. But if they refuse to publicly take credit, because they don’t want to be implicated in a murder, they will be absolved of responsibility, no matter what the evidence shows. This is partisan political journalism designed to benefit Obama.”

Obama’s campaign strategist, David Axelrod, is a former reporter for the Tribune.

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