by Paul Krassner
Guerrilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst has been playing in movie theaters. I covered her trial for two publications at opposite ends of the cultural spectrum--the Berkeley Barb and Playboy. Patty was on trial for robbing a bank with her kidnappers. Here's an angle that wasn't in the documentary.
Patty's parents sat in the courtroom, listening to a communique from their princess, abdicating her right to the throne: "I have been given the choice of, one, being released in a safe area or, two, joining the forces of the Symbionese Liberation Army.... I have chosen to stay and fight... ."
At the end of the tape, SLA leader Donald "Cinque" DeFreeze issued a triple death threat, especially to Colston Westbrook, calling him "a government agent now working for Military Intelligence while giving assistance to the FBI." This communique was originally sent to San Francsco radio station KSAN. News director David McQueen checked with a Justice Department source, who confirmed Westbrook's employment by the CIA.
Researcher Mae Brussell traced his activities from 1962, when he was CIA advisor to the South Korean CIA, through 1969, when he provided logistical support in Vietnam for the CIA's Phoenix Program. His job was the indoctrination of assassination and terrorist cadres. After seven years in Asia, he was brought home in 1970 and assigned to run the Black Cultural Association at Vacaville Prison, where he bacame the control officer for DeFreeze, who had worked as a police informer from 1967 to 1969 for the Public Disorder Intelligence Unit of the Los Angeles Police Department.
If DeFreeze, who conveniently escaped from prison, was actually a double agent, then the SLA was a Frankenstein monster, turning against its creator by becoming in reality what had been orchestrated only as a media image. When he threatened his keepers, he signed the death warrant of the SLA. They were burned alive in a Los Angeles safe-house during a shootout with police. When DeFreeze's charred remains were sent to his family in Cleveland, they couldn't help but notice that he had been decapitated.
Consider the revelations of Wayne Lewis. He claimed to have been an undercover agent for the FBI, a fact verified by FBI director Clarence Kelley. Surfacing at a press conference in Los Angeles, Lewis spewed forth a conveyor belt of conspiratorial charges: DeFreeze was an FBI informer; he was killed not by the SWAT team but by an FBI agent because he had been "uncontrollable"; the FBI then wanted Lewis to infiltrate the SLA; the FBI had undercover agents in other underground guerrilla groups; the FBI knew where Patty Hearst was but let her remain free so it could build up its files of potential subversives.
At one point, the FBI declared itself to have made 27,000 checks into the whereabouts of Patty Hearst. It was simultaneously proclaimed by the FDA that there were 25,000 brands of laxative on the market. That meant one gastro-intestinal catharsis for each FBI investigation, with a couple of thousand loose shits remaining for the ghost of J. Edgar Hoover to smear across "No Left Turn" signs. Patty Hearst had become a vehicle for repressive action on the right and wishful thinking on the left.
The prosecutor asked her, "Were you acting the part of a bank robber?"
"I was doing exactly what I had to do," she replied. "I just wanted to get out of that bank. I was just supposed to be in there to get my picture taken, mostly."
Ulysses Hall testified that after the robbery, he managed to speak on the phone with his former prison mate, DeFreeze, who told him that the SLA didn't trust Patty's decision to join them. Conversely, she didn't trust their offer of a "choice," since they realized she'd be able to identify them if she went free--and so they made her prove herself by "fronting her off" at the bank with DeFreeze's gun pointed at her head.
In 1969, Charles Bates was Special Agent at the Chicago office of the FBI when police killed Black Panthers Fred Hampton and Mark Clark while they were sleeping. Ex-FBI informer Maria Fischer told the Chicago Daily News that then-chief of the FBI's Chicago offfice Marlon Johnson personally asked her to slip a drug to Hampton; she had infiltrated the Panther Party at the FBI's request a month before. The drug was a tasteless, colorless liquid that would put him to sleep. She refused. Hampton was killed a week later. An autopsy indicated "a near fatal dose" of secobarbital in his system.
In 1971, Bates was transferred to Washington, D.C. According to Watergate burglar James McCord's book, A Piece of Tape, on June 21, 1972, White House attorney John Dean checked with acting FBI director L. Patrick Gray as to who was in charge of handling the Watergate investigation. The answer: Charles Bates--the same FBI official who in 1974 would be in charge of handling the SLA investigation and the search for Patty Hearst. When she was arrested, Bates became instantly ubiquitous on radio and TV, boasting of her capture.
In the middle of Patty's trial--on a Saturday afternoon, when reporters and technicians were hoping to be off duty--Bates called a press conference. At 5 o'clock that morning, they had raided the New Dawn collective, the aboveground support group of the Berkeley underground Emiliano Zapata Unit. Was there a search warrant? No, but the FBI had a "consent to search" signed by the owner of the house, who later admitted to being a paid FBI informant. Accompanying a press release about the evidence seized at the raid were photographs still wet with developing fluid. Bates posed with the photos.
Six weeks later, I received a letter by registered mail on Department of Justice stationery, signed by Charles Bates, advising me that I was on an Emiliano Zapata Unit "hit list" seized during a search. The information "is furnished for your personal use and it is requested it be kept confidential. At your discretion, you may desire to contact the local police department responsible for the area of your residence."
But I was more logically a target of the government than of the Emiliano Zapata Unit--unless, of course, they were the same. Was the right wing of the FBI warning me about the left wing of the FBI? Did the handwriting on the wall read Cointelpro Lives? Questions about the authenticity of the Zapata Unit had been raised by its first public statement, which included an unprecedented threat of violence against the left. A communique from the central command of the bomb-leaving New World Liberation Front charged that "the pigs led and organized" the Zapata Unit. "We were reasonably sure that it was a set-up from the beginning, and we never sent one communique to New Dawn because of our suspicions."
Jacques Rogiers, aboveground courier for the NWLF, told me that the reason I was on their hit list was because I reported that Donald DeFreeze had been a police informer.
"But that was true," I said. "It's a matter of record. Doesn't that make any difference?"
"If the NWLF asked me to kill you," Rogiers replied, "I would."
"Jacques," I said, "I think this puts a slight damper on our relationship."
And I found another place to live.
© 2004 Paul Krassner
Paul Krassner is the author of *Murder At the Conspiracy Convention and Other American Absurdities, and the editor of *Magic Mushrooms and Other Highs: From Toad Slime to Ecstasy. His latest stand-up satire CD is The Zen Bastard Rides Again. Website: paulkrassner.com