I had a perplexing deja vu moment on 7 January when the New York Times and other papers, including the Guardian, wrote, with quite some awe and amazement, about a group of anti-war activists who, 43 years after they burgled an FBI satellite office in Pennsylvania, had stepped from the shadows to proudly own up to their crime and place in history.
It was a big story and a rich one, both for how the burglars had exposed massive and systematic FBI surveillance of American citizens - particularly relevant in this new age of Edward Snowden’s exposure of vast NSA spying - and how they had gotten away with it. And now we were being introduced to them. Well beyond the statue of limitations for any criminal charges in the US, they were coming clean.
But, oddly, I knew at least some of this already. The mastermind of the break-in had talked before. In 2003, Susan Braudy, a friend for many years, published a book called Family Circle: The Boudins and the Aristocracy of the Left . It was the story of Kathy Boudin - the former 1960s radical convicted of the killing of a guard when she and an armed gang of acquaintances, tried to rob a Brink’s truck in 1981, in Nyack, New York - and of her extended family. The book was, in effect, a history of the modern American left, with Boudin’s father, Leonard Boudin, a radical lawyer at the center of many left-wing causes and fights of the time, a principal player in the drama. Boudin’s clients included these FBI burglars who were now, once again, front page news.
Boudin and his law partner, Victor Rabinowitz - also lawyers for Daniel Ellsberg, the Pentagon Papers leaker - had been intimately involved in planning the 1971 FBI break in and the escape of the perpetrators, according to Braudy.
Braudy recalled to me the other day in a phone conversation that she was directed to Professor William Davidon of Haverford College, the master mind of the FBI break-in. Davidon recounted the details of the caper and the subsequent dissemination of the surveillance records the burglars had stolen, which helped bring to an end Edgar Hoover’s long reign as FBI director, and told Braudy the names of the other conspirators.
A very nice piece of investigative journalism and forensic history. So, why, 11 years later, was I reading about this as though, mirabile dictu, the lost secrets of the past were suddenly being revealed and now making headlines everywhere? What was I missing?
This article is vomitous, it is worse than any Derp that has been Derped by Glenn Greenwald and David Sirota.