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WASHINGTON POST 10/17/75
Arrest in Capitol Bombing Called Fishing Expedition
By Timothy S. Robinson
Washington Post Start writer The only arrest to grow oist of a massive investigation into the bomhing of the US. Capitol four years ago was a "fishing expeditinn," according 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... metropolitan pnlice department, the FBI official said. The per jury charge that was Indged against the 19 year-old suhumquently dmpped by the government, whose agents derided agiiinst making public the elorironic informalion they had gathered against her
It was reported earlier this work that the US allorney's office here is conducting an extensive investigation into , detailed allegations that undercover agents for the DC. police department and the FBI planted possinly illegal "bugs' in premises orcupied hy various radical antuar groups here during the war prntest years.
Persons involved in that investigaton would confirm yesterday only that Bacon's name had surfaced in the prone. but said there was no indication she was the object of a questionable wiretap or bug.
The FBI official's commenis came aiier 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 in the 1970s
reportedly described how they planted twn 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 bombirig on March 1, 1971. was carried out. A massive FBI investigation file designated "CAPBOM" contains numerous Icadson suspects incluiting those persons quoted in the Rolling Slone intervirw -- but does not contain a description of the hombing itsell, one source Sud
The FBI official, who had dirert knowlage 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 lelt the agenry. "l.eslie 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 hecause we thought we were more likely to get an indictment out there," the official continued. He described the selection of the Seattle location "deliberately rigged ... to gel an indictment."
He said further then FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover
orvirred FPJ Pnts not in cooperate will the DC police in the investigation, saying that if they line police! have the informant, let them solve the case.
The FBI ultimately com. pilnat a lengthy list of ::1/51rts in the case, and nast of them were meninors of the Weather Underground who are now fugitivas
Rolling Stone magazine quoted inde:r; round sugitive Jell Jones as sayiru.
the Capitol was chosen as the minning largat in drainalize "The fact that Congress was corpirinly in Nixon's want. There will nohouty mimograms thot wils. Hiking an honest. principientewasilion against thos war in 11tnam He said soumral "volusifrers
marrinert the maplosive materials in on their bodies and plantoad them in an ole scure ronm rhosen studying a map of the l'amitol.
"As they were putting it in the piace where it was sup msmt'o go. it fell, there was a slaniped ladige where they thought there wis a shirit, Wihan they rralized what had hapo.01 an't that they were still there - they inok couple of dee';) hreaths and (me out.“ Juney was quoted as saying. The press was alerten there would be an explosion that ther, but the bombod not go oil, ne audent.
The next lay the womers stor inter to plant a spansini. Smalinis device in order to dotoate the bust explosive arra, 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 wich, attended meetings which were conducted by, or attended by, or been any place when any individual spoke whom you knew to be associated with or affiliated with Students for a Democratic Society, the Weathermen, the Communist Party or any other! organization advocating revolu. tionary overthrow of the United Slales, describing for the grand jury when these incidents 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, 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 re. vealing them to hostile authorities. Yet, for more than two years, Guy Goodwin and other special prosecutors" from the Justice Department have been mal & Kafkaesque de mands, 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 entrust 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
FOUNDED IN 1850/VOL. 246 NO. 1476
ical grand juries indicate, federal prosecutors are using these powers to elicit political intelligence data on the Administration's critics. They are not attempting to persuade these grand juries to authorize indictments, and the citizens who have been subjected to these improper and pernicious interrogations are, almost without exception, accused of no crime.
In my opinion, the inquisitions are intended to punish and inhibit protected 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 doon of grand jury rooms belongs to what ever political faction wins control of our institutions of government. Today the targets are liberals and radicals tomorrow's victims may be the Daughters of the American Revo lution or the Veterans of Foreiga! 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 Goodell. From his forthcoming book, Political Prisoners in America; printed by permission of Random House, Inc. Former Senator Goodel, a Re. publican, was a Justice Department attorney in the 1950s and now participates in the de lense of Daniel EUsberg. Mr. Goodell finds that civil liberties, at a high point today, are mare threatened than ever before as the was 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'. unfettured diarretion 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 polit. easily transformed into a power to ical engine" by inviting them “10 IN THE FALL of 1970. a
prane jury intimidate and harass advorates of become inquisitors on the freedom in Tucson, Arizona, investigat di-fasoned ideas. Most importantly. of speech."
ing the purchase of color dynamilr those who are ubpornard can be In the 1920s and 1930s the grand by an alleged Wallman who had jailed if they refuse to cooperate. jury's power to compel testimony driven away in a car registered to
proved useful to prosecutors trying woman in Los Angeles. The grand
to unravel and expose complex cor. jury indicted the buyer for illegal inHE GRAND JIRY has been a sort ruption and illegality in municipal terstate tranportation of the poler
of linie bomb ticking away in the governments, prison admini-tration, sives. For irral month FBinta Anglo-Anerican legal system for police departments, and organized conducted beauty milline of the over eight hundred years. Occasional. crime. People all over the nation fol. car owner's home in an attempt to ly it werved the prople well, partic. lowed Thomas E. Dewey's racket- confirm their pricjone that a pola ularly when it investigated the very busting grand juries in the mid-Thir. was brening, lue they found nothing authorities who ran the system and ties. At the time that grand juries Case cloral. Hi this point, after thir brought the corrupt and lawless were beginning to be used in this granul jury had pwrformed it proper among them to trial. But the effec. way, they had already become reli- function, Gius (modu in fles lol tiveness of the people's panel" has able "rubber stamps" for the con. to reopen the intratigation 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. E. Lee partment's Internal Serurity Dini 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 pro reuting complexion of grand juries has these two developments--the grand political cases wherever they arise in hanged, 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. te-tify. Although he asked them a Colonial panels twice refused to ria of the 1950s, a stream of us. few questions about the use of the indiet 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 lederal pros- bearing on any legitimate area of In 1765 a Boston grand jury, elected ecutors pressed inquiries into wil. grand jury inquiry. For instance: by the radical-controlled town meet. nesses' political beliefs and affilia
Tell the grand jury every place ing, refused to oblige Royal officials tions, and those of their acquain.
you uent alter you returned to who wanted it to indict suspected tances. It has rarely made clear what
your apment from Cuba, every leaders of the Stamp 'Act Riots. In crime, if any, was being investigated,
city you tisited, with whom and 1768, another panel refused to in. and indictments were not forthcom. by what means of transportation dict editors of the Boston Gazette ing to justify the probes. Instead, you trarrled, and who you risited who were accused of liheling 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
ler you let your apartment in to effect in 1789, made no mention subpoenaed and those whose names.
Ann Arbor, Michigan, in May of
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. to rely on the unfettered discretion juries of the McCarthy era resemble They were not, and wrre not to be. of frederal authorities to protect them nothing in American experience so accused of any criminal activity, against reprralle prosecutions: the much as the Congressional antisub- When the witnessps refund rien Fifth Amendment 3 ralihed in versive investigating committees of to try to detail the travel and liabil 1791 to vliminate that danger. It the same period. The Nixon Admin- of friends and political a-sociales. provided that “no person shall be istration's fondness for the people's they were given full immunity from held to an-wer for a capital, or other. panel is rooted in this aberration of prosecution and a-ked again. this wise infamous crime," unless 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 choo jail in hope of those who drafted the Fifth the Fifth Amendment. In the 1970, early December 1970. and there the Amendment with activist pre-Revo- the grand jury has almost completely remained until the requiration of that particular grand jury's terin at the end of March 1971. They were the first of a new class of political pris. oners. When they were finally te. leased, each was greeted at the cell door with another subpoena to appear
ties. One testified, but in refused, raising again the embarraning question of governmental wiretapu.
before yet another grand jury. Grand jurin in the federal system have a life of righteen months. Faced with Goodlu in perjulence and a potentially under tring of righteen. month 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 la 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-yearold Leslie Bacon She was held on $ 100,000 bail us a material witness in the Capitol bombing, and she was ven. sationally characterized to the press as a link between the bombers and the organizers of the imminent May. day demonstrations. By September it became clear that the chararterization was false, the Court of Appeals ruled that the FBI had acted arbi. trarily 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 question ing. In the threr dar before an experienced lawyer entered the case on lier behalf, she answered more than two hundred and fifty questions touching on nearly every aspect of
her hfe for the previous six months.
She was cited for contempt and jailed when she refused to cooperate any further with Goodwin's probe. Hin 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, ils secrecy all have invited him to abuy it
In her three days of cooperation, Leslie Bacon supplied Goorlwin 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 he traveled, and what were the conversation in the car dur. ing the fifty.wix.hour drive?"
When he questioned her about the organizers of the Mayday demonstrations, he traced her every move. ment, 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 ru York Goodnin-ubpoenaed seven witnesses. The question went into familiar Goodwin territory and only one of the seven would testify. In Washington, Goodwin subpoe. nard threr Vandlas organizers. Two. were sentenced for contempt for re. fusing 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 sesen others connected by Leslie Bacon to the Mayday activi.
VIE BASIC TURIST of the Vison
Admini-lation plan for the prople: panel is clear from Lulje Bacon's initial Seattle ferimony, Cooruin launched three grind juries and questioneel it score of wines. If no limit in impo-eed upon or crpted by Goodwin and his roots, the Justice Department can smother radical political ident in this country with a blaushet al .perial grand juries,
The lixon Administration has als) bent the grand jury's compulsory proces in an attempt to turn news men and cholars into investigators for the FBIs political intelligence gathering effort. In Boston, where the 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 unclassified as well as classj. fied that contradicted the Nixon view of the tragic events in Indo china.
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 de. tails of their personal lives, their political beliefs or ascoriations, their sources of information, their travels, or their contersations with others. The FBI, wluich got almost anything J. Edgar Hoover asked of Congorek, was denied the uporna passer he requested to a -jnt bi- men in gathcring just such information. Sow this important safeguard has lu en cir. cumvented. By coupling the unique powers of the people's panel with the FBI's continuing surveillance of political dissenters, an institution de.