Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Late-breaking news on the SLA: Old mysteries never die

This post will have the greatest meaning for older people. Nevertheless, I hope that younger folk will pay attention, because this strange and complex tale from days of yore has a lesson for our own time.

Back in the 1970s, paranoia buffs (especially conspiracy queen Mae Brussell) argued that the Symbionese Liberation Army -- the "Marxist" terrorist group that kidnapped heiress Patty Hearst -- was a sham. It was, to use the terminology of General Kitson, a "pseudo-gang."

(If you are unfamiliar with that phrase, go here and scroll down for the scoop on Kitson, who was a very important figure in the history of counterinsurgency.)

While I can't go all the way with Mae, who said many loopy and wrong-headed things, I do think that her SLA conspiracy theory is more than just a theory. If you read the SLA literature carefully -- and quite some time ago, I read all the books, including the transcript of Patty's trial -- you'll see many indicators that the tale has always had a hidden side.

The oddest birds in the SLA aviary were those two notorious "radicals" William and Emily Harris, who somehow managed to avoid the police shoot-out and conflagration in Los Angeles which killed Donald DeFreeze and most of the other SLA cadre in May, 1974. That fire -- which took place only a few months after the kidnapping of Patty Hearst -- shocked the public, especially when it was revealed that one of the SLA women was shot while trying to escape the blaze. (At the time, right-wingers applauded the cremation of the SLA -- yet conservative Americans were later infuriated by the similar Waco and the Randy Weaver incidents. Go figure.)

The Harrises came from Bloomington, Indiana -- where, according to local news reports, they functioned as police informants. "Narcs," to use the argot of the time. (This account lacks footnotes, at least in its published version, but I recall seeing newsclips which prove the point.) William Harris, a former Marine, had shown no interest in radical politics before his sudden move to California in 1972. Once on the West Coast, he immediately set out to ingratiate -- or infiltrate? -- his way into various left-wing organizations.

Many of the more suspicious lefties of that era tended to view the Harrises as the true leaders of the SLA.

The man generally generally credited with heading the group, Donald DeFreeze (or "Cinque" -- always hilariously mispronounced as "Sin-cue") was really just the front man. He was, to put the matter bluntly, an idiot -- a blowhard, a wanna-be badass. A perfect dupe.

Like the Harrises, he had a history as a police snitch throughout the 1967-69 period. He spied on the Panthers and other "black power" groups. The cops used him up and spat him out the moment he started to show pangs of conscience.

Between his "snitch" period and his SLA period, Defreeze spent some time in Vacaville and Soledad prisons, due to an exchange of gunfire with a bank guard. There, he came under the special care of a CIA psychologist named Colston Westbrook. Previously, Westbrook had conducted interrogations in Vietnam -- yet he was allowed to teach special classes in communism to black inmates in Vacaville!

Westbrook made sure that DeFreeze was granted special treatment -- for example, DeFreeze was permitted to use marital trailers even though he was not married. Eventually, he was allowed to walk out of the joint in March of 1973. His "escape" was attended by no barking dogs, no searchlights, no Tommy Lee Jones, and no news coverage.

The SLA was formed later that year, after he met up with the Harrises. Patty was kidnapped in February of 1974. For months, the story dominated the headlines. The SLA demanded a ransom, and the Hearst family set up a food distribution program in poor neighborhoods to appease the terrorists.

When that program failed disastrously, Patty allegedly joined the terrorists, taking part in a robbery. She later said that she "went along" with the SLA for reasons of survival. At the time, most observers felt that her conversion was genuine.

DeFreeze and most of the other SLA members were burned alive during a shoot-out with police at a Los Angeles safe house, on May 17.

William and Emily Harris contrived to be separated from the others at the time of the shoot-out. (They were looking after Patty.) Their actions on that day were, in my view, quite suspicious. Even more suspicious was the pronouncement by the head of the FBI office in San Francisco that the Harrises were relatively insignificant players in the SLA story.

After the fire, and even though he was still on the run, William Harris let it be known that he was infuriated by published insinuations that he really worked for "the Man." In a public communique issued right after the incineration, he seemed more incensed by Mae Brussell's conspiratorial accusations -- "That dizzy bitch can kiss my ass!" -- than by the deaths of his alleged comrades. By contrast, his words about the fallen "Sin-cue" seemed rather perfunctory and free of emotion.

For a brief period, Patty, William and Emily tried to reconstitute the SLA, contacting figures throughout the anti-war underground. During a bank robbery, Emily shot a 42 year-old woman named Myrna Opsahl. Eventually, the trio were captured.

William and Emily Harris served only a brief stint for the kidnapping of Patty Hearst. Nowadays, state law mandates that anyone convicted of kidnapping for ransom receive a life sentence without the possibility of parole. The law may have been more lenient in 1974 -- but it was not that lenient.

The Harrises were not charged in the Crocker bank robbery.

They were never tried for their part in the murder of school superintendent Marcus Foster. (The actual killing was committed by two other SLA members -- disguised as black men.)

They were never charged with extorting the Hearst family.

And they were not tried for the killing of Myrna Opsahl, who was shot during the Crocker Bank robbery in 1975, even though Patty Hearst was willing to testify that Emily pulled the trigger and that William planned the heist. If the police wanted to bust Emily Harris on a murder rap, they could have pressured SLA wannabes Steve Soliah and Wendy Yoshimura to testify.

Kathleen Soliah was a late addition to the story. A naive young progressive from Palmdale, she was recruited by the Harrises after the great incineration. I've always believed that her level of participation in the SLA was pretty low -- indeed, it remains an open question as to whether she was ever truly in the SLA.

Still, she was guilty of "aiding and abetting" the Harrises, as she eventually admitted in court. She was also charged with participating in a scheme to blow up cop cars with pipe bombs. Her fingerprints were found on a receipt used to purchase fuses for explosive devices. She claims that she did not create the bombs or put them into place -- and no evidence disputes her statement.

Kathleen Soliah went into hiding, changed her name to Sarah Jane Olson, and lived a fairly normal life.

The cops finally caught up with her in 1999. They pretty much threw the book at her -- hell, they tossed a library at her. The media frenzy served to whip up renewed hatred of the left during the 2000 election.

I found the harsh treatment of Olson odd. Back in the 1970s, Bill and Emily received more lenient treatment -- both in the press and in court -- for the crime of kidnapping Patty Hearst for ransom.

To the best of my knowledge, no prosecutor ever tried to tie William or Emily to the pipe bombs. The authorities focused on Olson with laser-like intensity.

After they were convicted on the kidnapping rap in the 1970s, Emily and William served a brief stretch in the joint, during which time Emily took computer programming classes. When they were paroled, their release garnered almost no news coverage. I've seen the contemporary news clippings. Considering the spectacular nature of their crimes, the "two inches on page 17" treatment was quite bizarre.

The pair dropped out of sight, although the authorities always kept track of their whereabouts.

The Harrises split up. Emily, who bought a house in Altadena with a ladyfriend, became a computer expert and worked at MGM. Oddly, she never made an attempt to flee the country, despite the lingering potential murder charges in the Opsahl case.

William Harris went on to have an even more interesting career:
[He] has worked as a private detective in San Francisco and at times as an investigator for the district attorney’s office.
You know what's really odd about that? In California -- and in all other states, I believe -- someone convicted of a felony cannot become a private detective. Moreover, anyone who wants to be a detective must
Pass an evaluation by the Federal Department of Justice and a criminal history background check.
Gee. You'd think that such a check would have revealed that Harris had participated in (and probably masterminded) one of history's most notorious crimes.

At the time of Soliah/Olson's 1999 arrest, many voices in the media tried to make that one woman a scapegoat for all the "sins" of the left. The conservative media has always pointed to the SLA as proof that left-wingers are inherently violent -- and Sarah Olson became the face of the SLA.

But a few people also started to make loud noises about the Harrises. Although published news accounts rarely mentioned the pair, behind the scenes, people began to wonder why William and Emily seemed to possess a "get out of jail free" card. In her autobiography, Patty Hearst had made their guilt clear -- yet the state had never made any attempt try them for the murder, or for any of their other crimes (with the unavoidable exception of the kidnapping). Quite naturally, the children of Myrna Opsahl wanted justice -- and they did not go along with the news media's strange obsession with fixing sole blame for the killing on Olson.

As a result, William and Emily were arrested for another time in 2002. Their arrests received far less media attention than did the capture of Soliah/Olson. Finally, after decades, Emily was convicted of murdering Myrna Opsahl.

Here's the upshot.

Oddly -- yet very much in keeping with the history of this strange case -- the afore-cited article goes to great lengths to create the impression that Olson killed Myrna Opsahl. In fact, Emily Harris pulled the trigger. William Harris planned the bank robbery, although most current news accounts say that he merely functioned as a look-out. Olson's role was minimal.

After Olson's arrest, Patty made statements placing her inside the bank during the Crocker robbery. That was not Patty's story previously; see her autobiography, Every Secret Thing. See also the very complete account of the Opsahl murder here: Kathleen Soliah/Sarah Olson is not even mentioned.

I have no explanation as to why Patty Hearst changed her account.

After serving seven years, Sarah Jane Olson is being released today.

And Emily...?
Emily Montague-Harris was paroled in February 2007 after serving half her eight-year sentence. She says she accidentally fired the shotgun that killed Opsahl.

Montague-Harris' former husband, William Harris, was paroled in September 2006 after serving half his seven-year sentence for acting as a lookout during the robbery.
There were no organized efforts to force the parole board to take a tougher stance toward the murderous William and Emily Harris. Governor Schwarzenegger did nothing to impact the parole board's decision.

Did the news media even cover the releases of those two? If so, the coverage was so minimal that their early exits from prison did not come to my attention. In fact, the releases of William and Emily happened so quietly that Wikipedia has yet to notice the events.

In 1974, the FBI in San Francisco dismissed William and Emily as unimportant. Today, the media finds their releases less interesting than Sarah Olson's. Throughout a 35 year period, our journalists have bent over backwards not to cover William and Emily.

Think about it: The guy who committed the most infamous kidnapping in American history (with the possible exception of the Lindbergh baby case) later became an investigator for the San Francisco District Attorney. That's a pretty startling career move. Why did you first learn about it from me? Why didn't the conservative radio ranters ever talk about it?

William Harris does not even rate a Wikipedia entry. Although far less guilty, Sarah Jane Olson does have a Wikipedia entry -- a long one. And now the release of Olson/Soliah has aroused a state-wide cry of outrage.

Why the disparity of treatment? Why did no-one scream about the injustice of it all when Emily walked free after serving a mere four years for a murder committed during a robbery?

How did William Harris, paroled felon, become a private detective and an investigator for the D.A.? Were William and Emily Harris secretly working for "the Man"? Did their "narc-ing" on the left purchase lenient treatment? Were the conspiracy theorists of the 1970s (and Mae Brussell was hardly the only one) simply "dizzy," as William Harris claimed? Or did their suspicions of the Harrises have a sound foundation?

C'mon. Grow up. It's not even a question.
Paul "The Realist" Krassner wrote about the SLA 'mysteries' more or less in real time, when you were probably too young to follow along. He wrote that the cops sent dogs to sniff around the hideout to make sure Patty wasn't there before they firebombed it. He also wrote that Patty was in on the kidnapping - but thought the victim was supposed to be her sister. Chief among the theories for the creation of the SLA was to ferret out the Weather Underground. According to Krassner, the SLA tried to hook up with the WU, but WU would have nothing to do with them. (Too bad you were too young to groove on Haskell Wexler's "Medium Cool" in 1969 - omigod was he a great lefty!) But WU did agree to let Haskell Wexler look around; and they took in Abbie Hoffman when he was on the lam.

Your description of Cinque's 'walking' away from prison sounds too much like the descriptions of Timothy Leary's also 'walking' away from prison (on his way to Algiers).

Fuckit. If you have a turntable, listen to Joni's 'The Last Time I Saw Richard' and The Eagles' 'The Sad Cafe' - especially the scratchy, popping parts; "they're all that's left you" (Paul Simon).
I'm not as young as you may think, and I was always a big fan of Haskell Wexler. The main article in the Realist was Mae Brussell's. Mae got pissed off because he left out the footnotes but had room for a dumb cartoon. Of course, it was in her nature to get pissed off.

She was not the only one voicing suspicion, of course. Dick Russell was another.

DeFreeze's prison stint was damned suspicious. Even if you are a determined non-paranoid, you have to admit that his story was very, very weird. A lot of people presumed that Westbrook did a number on his head, but I'm not sure exactly what went on.

The info about Westbrook doing interrogations in Vietnam -- within MONTHS of establishing his strange "left wing" educational clatches in prison -- came form an old article which I no longer possess. I lost my files and most of my library some years ago. But I am sure of the information, and others may be able to verify.
Yes, there is the Weather Underground question too.

Charges against Dorhn and Ayers were dropped. They were never prosecuted, conveniently due to "tainted FBI investigation with illegal wiretaps and searches". FBI Associate Director Mark Felt (the claimed 'Deep Throat'... hmmm) took the fall. "Although the charge carried a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, Felt was fined $5,000", but was pardoned by Reagan.

There is renewed interest in prosecuting Dohrn for the 1970 bombing murder of a San Francisco policeman "It is a matter of public record that the Park Station bombing case has been re-opened" according to WU infiltrator/informant Larry Grathwol, who gave sworn testimony to the Senate regarding Bernadine having set the bomb according to Ayers.

What did the WU accomplish in its day? The discrediting of the anti-war movement. Who managed to fuck up enough so that none were prosecuted? Nixon's FBI guy.

Grathwol and others have called upon Obama to vigorously pursue the open murder case. It will as surely happen as I will see the Easter Bunny hiding chocolate eggs under my geraniums.
Krassner says he went with Brussell's take based on her Watergate work. I was looking at his piece about Patty's trial here

and that plus your Late-breaking news today resolve into Joe Pesci as David Ferrie being naive but knowing more than anyone else so far and Donald Sutherland in that hat and coat counting out on his fingers but starting with his pinky. (I mean, isn't that like Alex saying "As clear as an azure sky of deepest summer"?)

Hope someone passes that Westbrook article over your transom.

Amazing country. They get away with stuff no one would believe but they let us write about it. Sometimes they snuff investigators.

Your recent visits with Marcy make me wonder if you had checked out the Q&A with Russ Baker about his new Bush family book. (He seemed proud of his several chapters on the JFK murder.)

Why do you call such things 'mysteries'? Do you require some sort of official, approving sanction, like a Report from the Commission? A Congressional hearing? A court decision? An FBI confession (but not from Tackwood this time)? What is it that we don't know yet, pal?
It's an old story, from COINTELPRO's agents provocateur who infiltrated and incited 'left wing' groups (to the degree that it was said anyone attending CPUSA meetings was an FBI informant), to the self-admitted involvement of western powers' intel agencies in causing the train station bombing in Bologna 'by the Red Brigardes,' or whomever was blamed (86 dead, iirc), in their GLADIO program.

"False flag" or "synthetic terror" attacks are in ample evidence throughout history, to current times. They appear to have been the root of the original WTC bombing, the OKC Murraugh building bombing, the 7/7 tube attacks, the Madrid train station bombing, the 2001 anthrax attacks, and etc. (Government agents and agencies were all over those events.)

So true has this been historically, that I argue any such event in the future ought to be given a very careful look, not taken at face value at all, and judgment withheld until this alternative genesis theory is fully explored.

And Natasha Richardson who played Patty Hearst in the movie by the same title passed away a short time ago. RIP.
I am so sorry to learn of Natasha Richardson's passing.

Readers may be interested to learn that Alex Jones, displaying his usual puckish wit, has republished this story on Infowars.

For some reason, re-reading my piece there allowed me to spot all sorts of small typos and infelicitous phrases which had previously escaped my notice. So I have re-written. If anyone else wants to swipe this piece, swipe if from THIS site, not from Jones' site.

The commentary offered by his readership was, of course, almost entirely stupid:

"hi guys. i dont care what country you live or were born in. we all face the same threat. the threat of a global currency, global goverment and hi tech control grid..."

Back in 1974, the people who SUPPORTED the war in Vietnam were the ones caterwauling about the mythical coming "one-world gummint."

Well, I shall return the favor when I review Jones' film on Obama. I've seen about half of it -- it's filled with all the standard conspira-crap -- and I think my snoot is full.
I am so sorry to hear that Jones hijacked your work. Is there anyway you can demand he remove it?
The John Birchers- I mean Alex Jones readers- really don't support much except themselves.

BTW- good stuff. There's some good columns by Jack Anderson on DeFreeze. If you can't find it- I can email them...just say the word (here).
The Patty Hearst Syndrome was a term used to identify how Patty joined and cooperated with her captors to avoid being killed. It is a well know psychological syndrome also known as the Stolkholm syndrome. The fact that the CIA psychologist was involved with the socalled leader Donald DeFreeze who was convienently killed leads one to the conclusion that the Harrises and the CIA was conducting a mindcontrol experiement in this whole situation, not unlike the Jones town massacre.

To any who may want to write this of as a conspiracy theorists dellusional rant I would only say that the you had best wake the hell up and realize all the unsolved phantoms the CIA has us chasing and ask who are real enemie is. It those asses that think they know what the greater good is, that hold the mentallity that the ends justifies the means,
Joseph, The Jack Anderson columns mentioned are in pdf form on my computer....
but this may interest you for now.
Tuesday, December 21,2004
The Deep DeFreeze
You never forget your first death threat

Thanks for the link, kc! I'd love to see the Anderson stuff.

I wonder if anyone has any more on the Bernard Keaton mystery? I saw some of the original newsclippings on that ages ago.
Thanks for the great background info. I was youngish and not paying much attention back in the 70s when most of this happened. But I am from MN and have been scratching head over all the attention paid to where Soliah spends her parole. It's made little sense. And knowing now how her conviction, sentencing and parole contrasts with the treatment of the Harrises has me really wondering. I appreciate your insights!
great research and writing, and thanks for the Mae ling. new we are on the right track again
Excellent post Joseph -- much of Dick Russell's reportage in Argosy was based on the investigation of the SLA headed by the late lefty pi Lane Headley, a now entirely forgotten movement investigator, close to Don Freed. (Headley wrote two superb autobios, including Vegas PI). DeFreeze was a long-time snitch for the LAPD in the late '60s, at one point working closely with detectives within the notorious Criminal Conspiracy Section (CCS), which played a central role in the takedown of the LA Black Panthers, culminating in the shooting of Jon Huggins. During this time, the future Cinque won a 5-year probation for a hefty 200-gun charge.

His luck ran out for a time in '69, when he was sentenced to Vacaville. That's where he met the mysterioso Colston Westbrook. Inmates told Headley that Don DeF was always over-the-top, protected, ultramilitant and violent. Whether Westbrook cranked DeF's already misfiring neurons to even greater velocity is likely unprovable -- maybe the spirit was already willing. DeF was transferred to Soledad. The South Facility from which DeF walked out, undisturbed, to freedom, was a holding section for snitches in Soledad prison. The SLA debacle springs from there, with the assistance of Cannonfire's suspects, the charming Harrises. As for Westbrook, he worked for most of the sixties for Pacific Architects and Engineers, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the CIA, which provided the Agency with logistical support for the Phoenix assassination program in Nam. Westbrook, I vaguely remember, wound up teaching at Berkeley(!) -- wonder where he and Bill Harris are today.
Okay - in these articles it states that Olson served 1/2 her time when discussing all the other SLA releases at 1/2 their sentence.
Am I missing something here? She served 6 years- full sentence.

According to the NYTimes in 2003, Olson was sentenced to 6 years. That would be a full 6 years served.

Sentenced under an agreement with prosecutors to each plead guilty to second-degree murder were William Harris, 58; his former wife, Emily, 56, who remarried and is now known as Emily Montague; Sara Jane Olson, 56; and Michael Bortin, 54. Judge Thomas M. Cecil of Superior Court sentenced Ms. Montague, who fired the shotgun that killed Mrs. Opsahl, to eight years, and Mr. Harris to seven years. Mr. Bortin and Ms. Olson were each sentenced to six years.

Oh well- this may entertain you...
The Realist Archives


The article you cite says: "In 2001, Ms. Olson, who was known at the time of her crimes as Kathleen Soliah, pleaded guilty to attempting to murder two Los Angeles police officers with a bomb planted under their car in 1975. She has been sentenced to 14 years in that case."

'Sentencing' is a crazy joke. Serial bomber, mass drug smuggler, convicted perjuror (and a slew of other creepy crimes), Brett Kimberlin was sentenced to 50 years. He was paroled after 12, and violated parole. All in all he served 15 of 50.

Where is the unrepentant serial bomber (one bomb lead to a man's death) now? Very high profile, but nobody will talk about it.
I have been running the website since June 26, 1999.

This article is rife with errors and selective reporting. For example, at the May 1974 Los Angeles shootout all non-SLA people escaped the house with at most minor injuries. Cammilia Hall charged out of the house firing an automatic weapon. Nancy Ling Perry was killed by a bullet in the spine but she had a pistol next to her.

As for Kathleen Ann Soliah/Sara Jane Olson it was a huge story when it occurred here in the Twin Cities, MN. She was getting support for a number of elected officials and she strongly sought out publicity. Also, it dragged on from the June 16, 1999 arrest until the February 14, 2002 Opsahl sentencing. That is nearly 2 years and 10 months. Add to that the intenet, both for finding books and other related material and also for gathering information for stories.

As for the "Harris's", newswise San Francisco is in many ways a "small town". That goes back to Randy Shilts and his reporting of the AIDS epidemic. Suffice it to say the defense side of this was not happy with the Opsahl story in the Chron.

Bill Harris was denied a detectives license but worked as an investigator, essentially a "researcher". Public Defenders often farm out work and Tony Serra would often work for cheap or free. Practice makes perfect in this line of work and a lot of the prosecution is not political, an example checking up on false disability or welfare fraud cases. For example, if someone collecting disability was suspected of working for cash at a business near me a private detective or licensed investigator might have me be on the lookout for their car, log the times and snap a picture.

It's basic farming out of work.

Here is a test on this. One story is that J Edgar Hoover was very frustrated that Symbia was not found in any published map! Ask people if they heard it and it's true. The affirmative goes up if you add "cross dresser". The problem was the Hoover died on May 2, 1972, way before the SLA.
I know your site, Gregory, and eve corresponded with you a long time ago. To be frank, I do not trust you. The fact that you run a "" and not a "" tells us all we need to know about you and your agenda.

Your "corrections" are of matters that are hardly relevant to my overall thesis. You do not address the salient points.

For example, why was the CIA's Colston Westbrook allowed to set up an alleged pro-Communist "cultural association" in Vacaville? Why was DeFreeze allowed to escape? Why did so many leaders within this "radical" group have backgrounds as police snitches? Why did Charles Bates give the Harrises a pass? Why did the Harrises receive far more lenient treatment than did Kathleen Soliah/Sarah Olson? Why did Patty change her story about who did what at the bank robbery? (You and she would very much like to change the wording of "Every Secret Thing," methinks. But you can't.) Why the utter lack of media coverage of the Harris' release (even on your own site) while -- predictably -- every move made by the inconsequential Sarah Olson received massive treatment?

The only relevant point which you address is William Harris' detective license. I have written to the California Association of Licensed Investigators, and we'll see what THEY have to say about it. Right now, I do not know your source of information.

Did I use that stupid Hoover joke? No, I did not. Don't put words into my mouth.
Thanks for posting the previous comment. I've read virtually everything I can find about the SLA but never heard of the conjugal trailer use by Defreeze. I think it was the book Voices of Guns that described the Black Cultural Association gatherings. Basically, according to VOG, the guards weren't too worried about the BCA "rituals". Basically some of the woman in attendance would go to a corner or under a stage and be "comradely" with the prisoners. This obviously made for a good BCA recruiting tool and the prisoners would likely be on good behavior to keep the gig going.

Defreezes last arrest showed just how incompetent he was as a criminal. DeFreeze picked up a hooker and they went to a motel. After having sex Defreeze hit the hooker and stole her purse that had liquor, drugs and a pistol. Defreeze kicked her out of the room, consumed the booze and drugs. Defreeze passed out was asleep in the motel room. The hooker apparently told either the motel manager or police and they found Defreeze passed out on the bed. They arrested Defreeze but Defreeze asked the police to move his caddy so it wouldn't get towed and gave the police the keys. The police popped the trunk and found some guns that were traced to a gun or sporting goods store break in. Defreeze offered to show them where the rest of the guns were. Defreeze did this but them jumped out of a second story window and escaped. A couple of days later Defreeze was arrested at his usual corner.

Suffice it to say that this is not the actions of a "criminal mastermind".

Convicts have some math skills. When they noticed Defreeze had a "remarkable" ability to avoid consequences(jail) it was easy to conclude "snitch". Defreeze had also lived in a number of integrated neighborhoods so he was good at dealing with whites. In prison DeFreeze only had a couple of "demerits" in more than a year. This is quite typical of a lot of convicts when they are kept on a "short leash".

The people who picked up Defreeze after his escape basically went through an address book before getting the Peking House to take him in for a night. They passed him on to the future SLA. I can't remember right now if Nancy Ling Perry of Patricia Solitisik (sp) eventually took in DeFreeze at the "Concord House" I put the extremely rare book "In Search of a Sister" online (climb up from "sister1" (IE sister2.htm) if the links don't work.

CA didn't even bother issuing a wanted poster on Defreeze for six months. Defreeze was a nobody snitch until public TV reporter Marilyn Baker reported it. I posted the TV Guide article online. Enjoy!

I got involved in this because I wanted justice for Myrna Opsahl but I hope people will learn about the SLA. I hope I have helped. Please visit my for a lot of information. Oh yeah! Goggling also works well.
For starters Patricia Hearst placed STEVEN Soliah Kathleen's brother outside the bank. It turned out that a male bank customer with long blondish hair left just before the holdup. The defense located him just before the trial for Steve. Hearst tried to warn the prosecutors. Steve Soliah used an alibi of being in the sack with Emily Tobak. The problem was that Tobak was visiting a prisoner. This was not discovered until the jury was in deliberation.

I never said that you mentioned the "J Edgar Hoover". I have have had a lot of face to face discussions with local lefties about the case. A lot of them take the "Hoover" bait.

As for me not starting it was already taken. Ironically, the person who first helped get on the web was a "Harris" and he had to use a clunky derivative for his domain name.

I am a lifelong resident of the Twin Cites, MN and had little interest in the SLA beyond my rather lame Cammillia Hall "twofer". I didn't have any idea what happened to Hearst until the OJ trial when a profile of F Lee Bailey mentioned the Hearst trial. I had home internet back then but never bothered to look up Hearst or the SLA.

I openly admit that my politics tend to be conservative but I am not strongly political and don't have political blogs. Try googling me.

A friend of mine used to run a repair training program at a Minnesota Prison. Hispanic, very nice guy his girlfriend made him get a non-prison job before she would marry him.

I met with him and a variety of local prison employees and they concurred that a lot of prisoners "on a short leash" were the best "employees" you could have. That was 1990's Minnesota but we did a lot of analysis of Defreeze. When I told them the details the all agreed that Defreeze would be very low maintainance.

As for Colson Westbrooks role he was a volunteer who received no pay for the prison "black pride"/BCA thing. The US and CIA hired a lot of contractors in Vietnam and it was common for them to "embellish" their roles.

Gosh darned! I guess I was a CIA agent on campus back then! Back then the CIA had the most advanced computers in the world back them. A bit like google today. I was specifically interested in the production and reserves of helium in the Soviet Union around 1970. Living on campus I would query foreign students and returned expats on things like potholes, the state of the phone system, the reliability of the electrical grid, the cost of beer and milk and other such common things.

Basically, the CIA wanted info on these mundane matters to cross check against their other information. I bartered information but I provided only this mundane stuff. I never tried playing "007" but I suspect Colson Westbrook did.
The BCA was certainly not officially or even openly "pro-communist." What are your sources for the "Mod Squad" associations? The rest of your points regarding post-1975 occurrences are interesting ones. And have you ever heard William Harris's statement to the court during his sentencing(it's on the Guerrilla DVD)? Very mysterious . . .
Emily Harris is an out lesbian who lived a mile from my house when she was arrested. Calling her partner her "ladyfriend" is too stupid for words. Unless you're trying to be cute, please realize it's 2009 and most of us are insulted with that kind of silly phrasing.
A couple of counter points to think about.

1. Sentencing for their roles in the death of Myrna Opsahl. CA Stete Law requires crimes and sentences be determined under the law at the time of the offence. In the 1970s you got half time for good behavior. Harris' in their 50s= good behavior= half-terms. These were also plea deals so that they recieved lighter senteces, 7 and 8 years respectively meaning three and a half for William and four for Emily. Under the law there was not much the parole board or the governor could do.

2. Investigator License. CA State law requires licensed investigators to not have any felony convictions, pass backround checks, etc.. However you do not need to be licensed to be a private investigator. I've done it. If you want to take state money cases you have to be licensed or working for somebody who is. So William Harris could work for anybody he wanted if he had a partner whose license he worked under for government money cases. A common pratice. If that partner took a case the DA's office had outsourced and Harris' worked on it then you say he is a DA Investigator. The vast majority of Harris' work was for private attorneys in the criminal defense scene. When he was released from prison in the 70's, he went to work for his lawyer and eventually became a private investigator. Before the Opsahl murder case blew up Harris had tried to get a license and was denied because he had a prior felony. Appealed and denied. So such a check did reveal that fact and he was denied a license and continued to work under a partner's license.

3. The Harris' as narcs. Calling somebody an informant in the local media does not make it true. Outing non-snitchs as snitchs is an old tactic as well. It makes everyone in the scene turn against them and they are out of the scene. That's what the cops want and what rivals want. That charge needs a lot more backing it than rumor.

4.Kathleen Soliah/Sarah Jane Olson.
The reason Olson garnered so much media attention is because she had gone underground. You dismiss this. She went into hiding, changed her name and lived a normal life. The Harris' were tried and convicted, served time, kept ther names, and lived a fairly normal life. The big difference is hid vs did time for crime. The headline of "Fugivtive Radical Found Living As Suburban Housewife" is just too juicy to pass up and she did create her own media storm to build support for the reformed mother. The Harris' lived in the open, knowing that their past could come back to haunt them. The authorities did not have enough evidence or willpower to prosecute a thirty year old murder case, and one that was guaranteed to open a dozen cans of worms. That was until they busted Soliah/Olson. Then they had the will to put the resources together to make the case go forward. And they said they had new information related to the Opsahl murder that they had uncovered during the investigation into her outstanding pipebomb charges. Prosecuting domestic terrorists post-9/11 made for good talk.

5. Why no other cases against the Harris'? The authorities never had enough evidence to pursue cases against the Harris' in connecting to the pipe bombs, the murder of Foster, the bank robbery and death of Opsahl (at the time). In 1975 both Harris' were serving time and if its low priority why fish for a trout you've already caught. Trials are expensive. Also the domestic scene was crazy in the early and mid seventies. You caught a radical, you convict him of something and move on. Spending the time and resources to get them for everything they are suspected of is impractical and impossible. By the time the State had new information to pursue the only thing that the statute of limitations had not run out on was the murder of Opsahl. Which they were charged with and did time for. Other SLA memebers were charged in connection to the other offenses. Russell Little and Joseph Remiro were charged with the murder of Foster. Little won a retrial and won, Remiro is still in prison serving life. Soliah/Olson did time on the pipebomb case charged as attempted murder of a peace officer as well as the Opsahl killing (convictions in seperate cases is why she served a longer sentence). James Kilgore, who was the longest on the run, did time for a different pipebomb charge and passport violations as well as the Opsahl killing.

5. Media coverage: The Harris' got plenty of it when they were being radicals and subjects of the largest manhunt in FBI history. When they were law abiding citizens, not so much. When they were released from prison the first time this craziness was simmering down at home so it makes sense not to rile it up with more media coverage. When the Opsahl murder case happened it was an additional story to the Soliah/Olson buzz, but they were still covered plenty. When released from prison the second time they stayed in California and went back to law abiding life. Soliah/Olson was accidentially released early and then reincarcerated causing some buzz. When she was due to be released on parole she wanted permission to return to Minnisota to serve her parole time. This brought out everybody who was involved in the 1999 fiasco and kicked up the media storm again. Especially because there had been such a big one when she last left Minnisota.

6.Other things I did not address. DeFreeze and Westbrook: As this was more a Harris hit piece and that is where my knowledge is I left Cinque and the Spook out of this. FBI calling Harris' unimportant in the SLA: It wouldn't be the first time the feds got their intel wrong. It could also have been an FBI mind game, don't give them the attention, don't build them up as leaders. The SLA Headquarters firebombing: I disagree that the fact the Harris' were out of the building with Hearst and I believe another SLA member is highly suspicious. The Kidnapping "light" time: Sentences have changed drastically in California over the past 30 years. Kidnapping in the seventies, 8-10 sounds about right. I'm not going to look it up that why it doesn't get a full section. So 8-10yrs with half-time is 4-5yrs which looks very lenient compared to life I agreed, but it was the law at the time.

In Summary: I think I offered some counter points to each of your accuasations. I hope that people can see that the leniency in prosecution/sentencing, the rumors of narcing, the questions about William Harris' worklife, and the issues of the media spotlight being on Soliah/Olson insted of the Harris' that are the underpinnings of your argument have much simpler and clearer answers than the SLA and the Harris' in particular being agents of the government.
In respect to William and Emily Harris, they were model parolees and had a good relationship with their parole agent successfully finishing their program without as much as a violation. Their parole agent was a former police officer and one of the best in the state.

William took a job with an attorney's office, in Oakland, as a paralegal. He was never a private investigator and was never licensed to be such.

In California, attorneys offices do conduct investigations, however someone like William Harris would not have been able to testify as his credibility would have become an issue of "moral terpitude" so his investigations would have been more research oriented or preparation for courtroom examination and redirect testimony preparation.

The office where he worked was at the corner of Sixth Street and Franklin Street and he was well liked by a number of individuals.
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