Ayers was a founding member of
a radical group known at the Weather Underground that carried out
bombings of federal buildings including the Pentagon and the U.S.
Capitol in the 1960's. It was in protest of the Vietnam war. Ayers and
his wife Bernadine Dohm spent a decade as fugitives from the FBI, which
classed the Weather Underground as a "domestic terrorist group." They
resurfaced in 1980 after charges against them were dropped because of
misconduct in collecting evidence against them. They both became
professors in Chicago where Ayers was an education professor at the time
that he became a campaign controversy in 2008. Ayers has been
unrepentant about his Weather Underground activities and has been quoted
as saying they "didn't do enough."
The nature of Barack Obama's relationship with William Ayers was a
subject talked about among his critics during the 2008 presidential
campaign, but it became a major issue when Republican Vice Presidential
candidate Sarah Palin brought it to the campaign trail in a speech in
California on October 4, 2008. She said, ""Our opponent is someone who
sees America as imperfect enough to pal around with terrorists who
targeted their own country."
Supporters of Obama said that contact between the two men was not that
significant and pointed to a New York Times story that said their
relationship consisted of attending board meetings of two Chicago
organizations they were involved with and other than that, there had
been no contact between them except bumping into each other on the
sidewalk in the neighborhood in which they both lived. Obama's "Fight
the Smears" web site called the accusations about the Obama-Ayers
connection "phony, tenuous, and exaggerated at best, if not outright
false." The Obama site accused his critics of trying to link him with
terrorism or approving of terrorism. Critics said a special
investigations unit composed of Drew Griffin and Kathleen Johnston from
CNN looked into the Ayers story and concluded that "the relationship
between Obama and Ayers went deeper, ran longer and was more political
than Obama -- and his surrogates."
The CNN story said
A review of
board minutes and records by CNN show Obama, crossed
paths repeatedly with Ayers at board meetings of the
Annenberg Challenge Project in Chicago.
years, Ayers and Obama -- among many others --
worked on funding for education projects, including
some projects advocated by Ayers.
on the Annenberg project, Obama and Ayers also
served together on a second charitable foundation,
the Woods Fund, and that among the Woods Fund
recipients was the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's Trinity
United Church where Obama had his church membership.
Obama praised Ayers' book on the
subject of juvenile justice in a 1997 Chicago Tribune
review, calling it "a searing and timely account of the
juvenile court system, and the courageous individuals
who rescue hope from despair.
On a September 23, 2008, the
Wall Street Journal published an article written by Stanley Kurtz called
"Obama and Ayers Pushed Radicalism On Schools. " In it Kurtz
claims that Barack Obama's relationship with William Ayers is more than
that of just having served together on the board of the educational non
profit organization Chicago Annenberg Challenge (CAC) and that "Barack
Obama's first run for the Illinois State Senate was launched at a 1995
gathering at Mr. Ayers's home."
According to the
article, "in early 1995, Mr. Obama was
appointed the first chairman of the board, which handled fiscal matters.
Mr. Ayers co-chaired the foundation's other key body, the
'Collaborative,' which shaped education policy." Kurtz
raised a question in this article as to how "a former community
organizer fresh out of law school, could vault to the top of a new
foundation?" Even though the Obama campaign had issued a
statement denying Ayres recruitment of Obama, Kurtz observed that
"Mr. Ayers founded CAC and was its guiding spirit. No one would have
been appointed the CAC chairman without his approval."
The New York Times
published an article by Scott Shane about the Senator's relationship
with Ayers on October 3, 2008 called "Obama and ’60s Bomber: A Look Into
Crossed Paths." In it, Shane wrote, "Their paths have
crossed sporadically since then, at a coffee Mr. Ayers hosted for Mr.
Obama’s first run for office, on the schools project and a charitable
board, and in casual encounters as Hyde Park neighbors."
Shane talked to Obama
Campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt, who told him "they have not spoken
by phone or exchanged e-mail messages since Mr. Obama began serving in
the United States Senate in January 2005 and last met more than a year
ago when they bumped into each other on the street in Hyde Park."
for Wall Street Journal Kurtz article
for New York Time Article
for Obama's Fight the Smears statement
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