Proving a negative can be damn near impossible. So consider this a first, halting effort to refute Michael Graham’s claim that Katherine Ann Power was a member of the Weather Underground.
Power, as you may recall, is a convicted murder — a former student radical who was one of five people responsible for killing Boston police officer Walter Schroeder in a 1970 bank robbery. Last year, Michele McPhee, like Graham a talk-show host on WTKK Radio (96.9 FM), repeatedly claimed that Schroeder was killed by the Weather Underground; that because William Ayers, a former leader of the Weather Underground, knows Barack Obama, it must therefore follow that Obama was being disrespectful to the Schroeder family or something.
Now Ayers has been invited and disinvited to speak at Boston College, which occasions Graham’s missive.
Graham’s evidence is a link to an FBI Web page in which Power is identified as a member of the Weather Underground. Yet it is an odd document to which Graham refers — there is nothing in it about the Schroeder murder or Power. There are, however, photos of Bernardine Dohrn (Ayers’ wife, and indeed a former member of the Weather Underground) and Power. No further information is provided.
There is also a link to an FBI document, in multiple parts and hundreds of pages long, that is a 1976 internal history of the Weather Underground. However, it is unsearchable, as it is in the form of a PDF image file. It would take me many hours to read through it. I don’t have the time, but if anyone would like to try, be my guest. I’d like to know what’s in it.
More interesting is another link Graham provides — to a long article in National Review, published in 1993, not long after Power’s arrest. In it, one of her former Brandeis professors, Jacob Cohen, goes into deep, fascinating detail about Power and her classmate and co-murderer Susan Saxe. Cohen makes it clear that Power and Saxe were consumed by the radical insanity of the time. But Cohen, who knew them well, offers no indication that either of them was a member of the Weather Underground. It just doesn’t come up.
The thing is, Power’s story is well-known. She and Saxe, while students at Brandeis, hooked up with three ex-convicts and robbed a bank so that they could raise money for the Black Panthers. It sounds crazy, and it was. The crime they committed was unspeakable. But with the sole exception of that FBI page, I don’t think you will find anything anywhere suggesting that they were tied to the Weather Underground.
Here is how the New York Times described it following Power’s 1993 arrest:
The bank robbery came in a year when the anti-war movement had splintered, with some groups going underground and turning to violence. That March, three members of the Weathermen, a radical group, blew themselves up in the Greenwich Village town house where they were trying to build bombs.
Then the United States invaded Cambodia. Four days later in early May, four Kent State University students were shot to death by the National Guard during a protest of the invasion. The next day Kathy Power was one of thousands of students who walked out of classes in protest.
A national committee to coordinate student strikes was set up at Brandeis and it included Ms. Power, Susan Saxe and a state prison inmate on a college furlough program, Stanley Bond. All three took part in the bank robbery.
I am trying to find out more. Given the FBI statement, I am treading carefully. But, so far, I have seen no facts that would challenge the public record: that Power and Saxe had nothing to do with the Weather Underground.
Instant update: I just had a flash of inspiration and looked at the index of Weather Underground members in that FBI report (PDF). The place where Power’s name would be (if it’s there) has been blacked out. Saxe is not mentioned at all.
Still more: I see that Graham has referred to me as “some moron who claims to teach at Northeastern University.” We shall see who’s the moron by the time this has been resolved.