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Arrest in Capitol Bombing Called 'Fishing Expedition'
By Timothy S. Robinson
Washington Post Start writer The only arrest to grow out of a massive investigation into the bomhing of the US. Cap four years ago wa "fishing expedition,' cording to an FBI official who had direct knowledge of the probe.
The arrest and subsequent indictment of Leslie Bacon was hasert on information provided by an informant for the D.C. metropolitan police department, the FRI official said. The per jury charge that was Indged against the 19 year-old was. subsequently dropped by the government, whose agents derided agii inst making public the electronic informalion they had gathered against her
It was reported earlier this week that the US altorney's office here is conducting an extensive investigation into detailed allegations that undercover agents for the DC. police department and the FBI planted possibly illegal "bugs” in premises orcupied hy various radical antiwar groups here during the war prntest years.
Persons involved in that investigaton would confirm yesterday only that Bacon's name had surfaced in the probe. but said there was no indication she was the object of a questionable wiretap or bug.
The FBI official's commens came aiter Rolling Stone magazine published an
account of the Capitol bombing in which five members of The Weather Underground - a radical antiwar group that has claimed responsibility for several bombings the 1970s
reportedly described how they planted two bornhs in the U.S. Capitol. The first one failed to go off, they said, until detonated by the second.
The account was the first detailed public expianation of how the bombir.g on March 1, 1971, was carried out. A massive FBI investigation file designated "CAPBOM" contains numerous Icads on suspects incluiling those persons quoted in the Rolling Stone interview -- but does not contain a description of the hombing itsell, one source sud
The FBI official, who had direct knowltige of the investigation, said the FBI was stymied on the case froin the start,
"We didn't know a damn thing," said the official, who has since leit the agenry. "Leslie Bacon was the only thing we had and that was just a fishing expedition.
"She was called before a grand jury in Scaitle (rather than in D.C.I because we thought we were more likely to get an indictment out there," the official continued. He described the selection of the Seattle location "Jeliberately rigged ... to get an indictment."
He said further then-FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover
opricred FPL agents ant to comperalc will the DC, police in the investigation, saying that "if they lihe police! have the informant, let them solve the case."
The FBI ultimately com. piind a lengthy list of ::1151Vrts in the case, and most of them were meninors of the Weather Underground who are now fugitivog
Rolling Stone magazine quoted under round fugitive Jeil Jones as sayire the Capitol was chosen as the noinning targni in drainalize. "The fact that Congresis was complirtolv in Nixon's quint. There was nothinly mi ingress Thot was !!king an honest. princil.telewosilmon against the war in Vienam He said soumral yolurers
carried the pupilosive materials in on their vidies and planteit them in an oh scure ronm
chosen by studying a mapor the rapitol.
"As they were putting it in the piace where it was sup mootto go.it fell, there was a sianteil forige where they thought there ws a sheis. when they rralized what had hapid ant that they were still there - they took a couple of deep) hreaths and come out." Juney was qunted a: saying. The press was alerter there would he an explosion that pricht, but the Imboid not go oil, ne avdout.
The liext clay ine !im prs om inderd in plant a spynoni, Sadloos deure in order to dotonate the tost expirasive charne, hr said.
Charles E. Goodell
WHERE DID THE GRAND JURY GO?
"From a legal to a political engine"
Describe for the grand jury every occasion during the year 1970 when you have been in contact with, attended meetings which were conducted by, or allended by, or been any place when ang individual spoke whom you knew to be associated with or afiliated with Students for a Democratic Society, the Weathermen, the Communist Party or any other! organization advocating revolu. tionary overthrow of the United States, describing for the grand jury when these incidenis occur. red, where they occurred, who was present and what was said by all persons there and what you did at the time you were in these meetings, groups, association or conversations. Guy Goodwin, prosecutor
Tucson grand jury, 1970
EETINGS, GROUPS, associations,
and conversations are the First Amendment building blocks of our political process. Unless the government is engaged in a bona fide presentation of evidence of criminal activity to a grand jury, it has no business probing into such activities, frightening citizens away from them, or punishing people who resist revealing them to hostile authorities. Yet, for more than two years, Guy Goodwin and other "special prosecutors" from the Justice Department have been maki & Kafkaesque demands, like the ne above, of hun. dreds of citizens hom they force to appear before grand juries in cities scattered around the country.
The supposed function of grand juries in our system is to sit in judg. ment on the exercise of discretion by prosecutors; to grand jurors we en trust the sensitive job of weighing whatever evidence a prosecutor has gathered, authorizing or forbidding him to proceed further against individuals in a public trial. For this purpose we have given grand juries extraordinary powers to compel testimony and to punish recalcitrant witnesses. But, as the questions that are being asked before today's polit
ical grand juries indicate, federal prosecutors are using these to elicit political intelligence data on the Administration's critics. They are not attempting to persuade these grand juries to authorize indict. ments, and the citizens who have been subjected to these improper and pernicious interrogations are, almost without exception, accused of no crime.
my opinion, the inquisitions are intended to punish and inhibit pro-. lected expression and political activity and to break down the private and professional relationships of academic liberals and of political activists. This must be a matter of concern for all of us. The power to compel testimony behind the closed door of grand jury rooms belongs to what ever political faction wins control of our institutions of government. Today the targets are liberala and radicals tomorrow's victims may be the Daughters of the American Revo lution or the Veterans of Foreigo! Wars.
Because the grand jury operates behind a cloak of secrecy intended to protect suspects from public condemnation, its powers, and their po tential for abuse, have gone largely unnoticed. But in a criminal system that relies on due process and public scrutiny to safeguard the individual's rights and the system's integ. rity, the grand jury has always been an anomaly. Persons ordered to appear before it have no right to be told what crime, if any, is being investigated or whether they are being questioned as potential defendants or as mere witnesses. There are no rules of evidence restricting the scope of the prosecutor's inquiry. Unprotected by the presence of either judge or legal counsel, witnesses face
Copyright © 1973 by Charles Goodal. From his forthcoming book, Political Prisoners in America; printed by permission of Random House, Inc. Former Senator Goodall, a Re. publican, was a Justice Department attorney in the 1950s and now participates in the de fense of Daniel Euberg. Mr. Goodel finds that civil liberties, at a high point today, are more threatened than ever before as the wa to repress dissens flows through less visible channels.
interrogation that can reach into vir. lutionary grand juries in mind have replaced the moribund and porverless tually any corner of their lives. The
been largely disappointed. Thomas antisubversive committees of the prosecutor's unfettered discretion to Jefferson charged that by 1791 the
earlier era. issue subpoenas to anyone, anywhere, Federalists had already transformed whom he wishes to interrogate is grand juries "from a legal to a politeasily transformed into a power to ical engine" by inviting them "10 IN THE FALL of 1970. a grand jury intimidate and harass advocates of become inquisitors on the freedom disfavored ideas. Most importantly, of speech."
ing the purchase of om dynamitr those who are subpoenard can be In the 1920s and 1930s the grand by an alleged Wraturman who had jailee if they refuse to cooperate. jury's power to compel testimony driven away in a car regidered to
proved useful to prosecutors trying woman in Los Angeles The granul
to unravel and expose complex cor. jury indicted the buyer for illegal in. THE GRAND JU KY has been a sort ruption and illegality in municipal terstate tran-portation of the impler
of linie bomb ticking away in the governments, prison administration, sives. For irral month - FBI aposta Anglo-Anerican legal system for police departments, and organized conducted heasy surveillaner of the over eight hundred years. Occasional- crime. People all over the nation fol- car owner's home in an attempt to ly it served the people well, partic. lowed Thomas E. Dewey's racket- confirm their suspicione that is pleal ularly when it investigated the very busting grand juries in the mid-Thir. was brewing, but they found nothing authorities who ran the system and ties. At the time that grand juries Case clorul. At this point, after the brought the corrupt and lawless were beginning to be used in this grand jury liad performed it proprer among them to trial. But the effec.
way, they had already become reli. function, Gus (wonin flew to lur. tiveness of the people's panel" has able "rubber stamps" for the con- to reopen the investigation, always depended on its independence clusions reached by prosecutors who Goodwin is a member of the Sperial from authority. On several occasions merely borrowed the panels' power to Litigation Section of the Justice De in the past, a grand jury, jealous of conduct their investigations. F. Lee partment's Internal Security Divi. its rights, actually excluded the pros. Bailey voiced the sentiments of many sion -a division that had been rela ecutor from its deliberations in or lawyers today when he called the tively inactive since the McCarthy der to be free from the biases and modern grand jury "a flock of sheep period, until it was revitalized in self-interest of those with political led by the prosecutor across the mea- 1970. The Special Litigation Section power. Over the years, however, the dows to the finding he wants." From takes responsibility for prosecuting complexion of grand juries has these two developments-the grand political cases wherever they arise in changed, their anti-authoritarian tra. jurors' increasing tractability and the the federal system. dition has been diluted, and they prosecutor's increasing dependence Goodwin obtained subpoenas rehave become subservient to the in- on the panel's investigative powers quiring five young people who lived terests of the prosecuting authority evolved today's pattern of grand at the California address on the car's over which they were assigned to jury political investigations.
registration to come to Tucson to watch.
During the anti-Communist hyste- testify. Although he asked them a Colonial panels twice refused to ria of the 1950s, a stream of sus. few questions about the use of the indict John Peter Zenger for sedi. pected Communists was brought be. car, his probing generally had no tious libel of the Royal Governor. fore grand juries where federal pros- bearing on any legitimate area of In 1765 a Boston grand jury, elected ecutors pressed inquiries into wit grand jury inquiry. For instance: by the radical-controlled town meet- nesses' political beliefs and affiliaing, refused to oblige Royal officials tions, and those of their acquain
Tell the grand jury every place
you uent alter you returned to who wanted it to indict suspected tances. It was rarely made clear what
your apartment from Cuba, every leaders of the Stamp ‘Act Riots. In crime, if any, was being investigated,
city you visited, with whom and 1768, another panel refused to in. and indictments were not forthcom- by rehat means of transportation dict editors of the Boston Gazette ing to justify the probes. Instead, you traveled, and who you visited who were accused of libeling the witnesses were handed summary con. at all of the places you uent dur. Royal Governor tempt sentences and reports were is.
ing the times of your travels aj. The Constitution, when it went in. sued to pillory those who had been ter you left your apartment in
Ann Arbor, Michigan, in May of to effect in 1789, made no mention subpoenaed and those whose names .
1970. of grand juries. Several state ratify. had been mentioned in the secret ing conventions expressed uneasiness testimony.
Goodwin made these demands of that the new Constitution left citizens The politically targeted grand persons subpoenaed as witnesses. lo rely on the unfettered discretion juries of the McCarthy era resemble They were not, and were not to be of federal authorities to protect them nothing in American experience so accused of any criminal activity. against represive prosecutions; the much as the Congressional antisub- When the witnesses resurd rien Fifth Amendment was ratified in versive investigating committees of to try to detail the travel and balita 1791 to eliminate that danger. It the same period. The Nixon Admin- of friends and political a-oriales, provided that “no person shall be istration's fondness for the people's they were given full inmunity from held to answer for a capital, or other panel is rooted in this aberration of prosecution and asked again, this wise infamous crime," unleas a grand the Fifties, not in the colonial grand time under threat of imprisonment jury authorized the charge. The juries and the tradition underlying if they refused. They chop jail in hoprs of those who drafted the Fifth the Fifth Amendment. In the 1970s, early December 1970, anul there they Amendment with activist pre-Revo the grand jury has almost completely remained until the expiration of that
ties. One lestified, but in refused, raising again the embarrassing ques. lion of governmental wiretap,
TVE BASIC TURIST of the Nixon
Tclinication • * plan for tv
particular grand jury's term at the end of March 1971. They were the first of a new class of political pris. oners. When they were finally released, each was greeted at the cell door with another subpoena to appear before yet another grand jury. Grand juries in the federal system have a life of eighteen months. Faced with Goodnin'- persistence and a potentially rnelle string of eighteenmonth jail sentences, three agreed to testify, telling Goodwin nothing he did not already know about the dy. namite purchase. Goodwin pushed on, however, with his fishing expedi. tion into their personal and political affairs. The two witnesses who held out were again cited for contempt but avoided jail during a string of appeals that went all the way to the Supreme Court and back. Twenty months passed before their contempt convictions were reversed. Recently, in the Camden 28 case, a federal court of appeals upheld release of a couple who had spent fourteen months in jail for refusing to testify before a grand jury. In a precedent. shattering decision, the court held that their continued jailing had be. come punitive rather than an effort to induce testimony.)
With the methods he had refined in Tucson, Goodwin looked for a new angle of inquiry into the amorphous organizations and ad hoc coalescings of the New Left. On March 1 a bomb had exploded in the Capitol. In late April radical organizers converged on Washington to plan and execute a Mayday protest against continua. tion of the war in Vietnam. On April 27 FBI agents arrested nineteen-year. old Leslie Bacon She was held on $100,000 baila a material witness in the Capitol bombing, and she was sen. sationally characterized to the press as a link between the bombers and the organizers of the imminent Mayday demonstrations. By September it became clear that the characteriza tion was false; the Court of Appeals ruled that the FBI had acted arbitrarily and illegally in arresting her without sufficient evidence.
Even before the Mayday demon. strations began, however, Leslie Ba. con was flown to Seattle and subjected to Guy Goodwin's questioning. In the three day befort an experienced lawyer entered the case on her behalí, she answered more than two hundred and fifty questions touching on nearly every aspect of
her hie for the previous six months.
She was cited for contempt and jailed when she refused to cooperate any further with Goodwin's probe. His persistence in pressing for her testimony cannot be explained by a need for information on the Capitol bombing; she had none, she was the only witness called in the investiga. tion, and no one was indicted. He wanted ran data about radicals. The “independence of the grand jury, its freedom from rules governing the scope or relevancy of interrogation, its secrecy- all have invited him to abuse il
In her three days of cooperation, Leslie Bacon supplied Goodwin with a great deal of the intelligence data he sought. She had traveled exten. sively throughout the l'nited States and attended a number of radical conferences in the previous year. Her work on the Mayday demonstrations had put her in touch with still others about whom Goodwin wanted to know more. About a purely social visit to California, Goodwin asked her where she went and what she did, whom she "saw, visited with, or stayed with," the names of those with whom she traveled, and what were the conversations in the car dur. ing the fifty-six-hour drive?"
When he questioned her about the organizers of the Mayday demonstrations, he traced her every movement, asking how she traveled from one place to the next, who was pres. ent at all times, what was said by each person, and even who slept with whom in which rooms of what house. Leslie Bacon revealed enough names and information for him to launch grand jury investigations in New York, Washington, and Detroit, which he subsequently did,
In les York loodu in subpoenaed seven witnesses. The questions went into familiar Goodwin territory and only one of the seven would testify. In Washington, Goodwin subpoe. naed three Vay lay organizers. Two were sentenced for contempt for refusing to testify but appealed and won release on the ground that the government could not refuse to dis. close whether illegal wiretapping formed the basis for the questions. Goodwin was not willing to proceed if he would have to reveal the illegal activities of the FBI, so he moved on to Detroit. There he issued subpoenas to seven others connected by Leslie Bacon to the Mayday activi.
people's panel in clear. From lralie Bacon's initial Seattle tretimony, Goodu in launched three granit juries and questioned a score of uitnees. If no limit is impo-ed upon or ac. cepted by Goodwin anul his fuperuts, the Justice Department can smother radical political linnenit in this cuntry with a blanket of -perial grand juries.
The Sixon Administration ha-al-o bent the grand jury's compulsory process in an attempt to turn nessmen and scholars into inspoligators for the FBIs political intelligence. gathering effort. In Boston, where ihe Justice Department conducted an investigation purportedly aimed at uncovering the facts behind publication of the Pentagon Papers, a stream of scholars, journalists, and writers were subpoenaed and asked to identify the sources of their information and opinions about the Vietnam war. The effect of this probe, and its likely purpose, was to dry up the flow of government information iunclassified as well as classi. fied) that contradicted the Nixon view of the tragic events in Indochina,
The grand jury earned its popular title, “the people's panel," when it served as an instrument of popular government and as the citizen's counterforce to the otherwise un. limited discretion of prosecutors and other officers of government. It was thought to be a crucial link in our system of checks and balances. In the hands of the Nixon Administration its powers have been loaned out to the FBI. The FBI has no authority to force citizens to disclose the details of their personal lives, their political beliefs or assoriations, their sources of information, their travels, or their conversations with others. The FBI, which got almost anything J. Edgar Hoover asked of Congreze, nas denied the subpoena power he requested to as-jut his men in gath. ering just such information. Sow this important safeguard has turn cir. cumvented. By coupling the unique powers of the people's panel with the FBI's continuing survillance of political dissenter-, an institution de.