“Hello. This is Bernardine Dohrn. I’m going to read A Declaration of a State of War. This is the first communication from the Weatherman underground. All over the world, people fighting Amerikan imperialism look to Amerika’s youth to use our strategic position behind enemy lines to join forces in the destruction of the empire….Tens of thousands have learned that protest and marches don’t do it. Revolutionary violence is the only way…”
“…We fight in many ways. Dope is one of our weapons. The laws against marijuana mean that millions of us are outlaws long before we actually split. Guns and grass are united in the youth underground. Freaks are revolutionaries and revolutionaries are freaks. If you want to find us, this is where we are. In every tribe, commune, dormitory, farmhouse, barracks and townhouse where kids are making love, smoking dope and loading guns—fugitives from Amerikan justice are free to go…
“…Within the next fourteen days we will attack a symbol or institution of Amerikan injustice. This is the way we celebrate the example of Eldridge Cleaver and H. Rap Brown and all black revolutionaries who first inspired us by their fight behind enemy lines for the liberation of their people.”
“Never again will they fight alone.”
With that announcement, broadcast on radio stations across the country on July 31, 1970, the Weather Underground, which included Bernardine Dohrn, Bill Ayers, Mark Rudd, and others, split from Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and declared war on “Amerika.” This group already had a string of bombings, arsons, and other terrorist activities under its belt; two months before the announcement three members of the core group had been killed building a bomb in a Greenwich Village townhouse. An FBI report later stated the group possessed enough explosives to level both sides of the street.
In the two years after the “Declaration of a State of War,” there would be two more high-profile bombings — a New York City police station and the Pentagon.
It’s rather fascinating to compare members of the Weathermen to Anwar al-Awlaki, the American citizen-turned-terrorist who is the subject of the leaked white paper defining the parameters for drone strikes against American citizens abroad. The Washington Post reports:
The U.S.-born Muslim cleric played key roles in the Fort Hood, Tex., shooting rampage in 2009 that killed 13 people, as well as last year’s foiled attempt to put bombs on cargo planes bound to the United States. His words led a young Nigerian to attempt to blow up a jetliner over Detroit, and inspired an unemployed Pakistani man to drive a bomb-laden vehicle into the heart of New York’s Times Square. … So effective was his message that the CIA last year put him on the agency’s official target list, making him the first American citizen to be designated for death, wherever he could be found, without judicial process.
The CIA targeted Awlaki and in 2011 he was killed by a drone strike in Yemen. The DOJ white paper defended such targeted killings of U.S. citizens, asserting
the inherent right of the United States to national self defense under international law, Congress’s authorization of the use of all necessary and appropriate military force against this enemy, and the existence of an armed conflict with al-Qa’ida under international law.
The paper laid out a three-part test for killing a U.S. citizen who is “an operational leader continually planning attacks against U.S. persons and interests” and who is outside the United States:
(1) A high-level official of the U.S. government must determine that the targeted individual poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States;
(2) A capture operation would be infeasible–and those conducting the operation would continue to monitor whether capture becomes infeasible; and
(3) Such an operation would be conducted consistent with applicable law of war principles.
What does any of this have to do with domestic terrorists like Bernardine Dohrn and Bill Ayers?