Right wing puts out
Kate Coleman is a marginal free-lance writer from the San Francisco Bay Area. She was hired by the right-wing publisher, Encounter Books, to write a book on the late Earth First! activist Judi Bari. The book is being released under the title, The Secret Wars of Judi Bari: A Car Bomb, the Fight for the Redwoods and the End of Earth First!
It would be an understatement to describe this book as a pack of lies.
It’s more like a truckload of lies. Coleman can’t get even the simplest names, dates and places correct in what pretends to be a biography. The big events in Judi’s life are twisted beyond recognition with the most absurd misstatements and sneering commentary.
To prevent this right-wing hit piece from becoming a sourcebook on Judi Bari, her friends, associates and family are compiling a page-by-page list of the errors, lies and omissions in Coleman’s text. So far, the list has reached 351, more than one mistake per page. View the complete list, or visit a selection of "Coleman's Top 26 Lies". And don’t take our word for it! Also visit the INSTANT PROOF feature, where you can click on documents that test some of Coleman's claims.
In the classic style of trash writing, Coleman attributes gossip to unnamed sources at least 33 times. Most of the rest of her attributions are from the Gang of Four--four notorious enemies of Judi Bari, all with naked motives to lie about her. Coleman repeatedly describes these bitter enemies as “friends” of Judi, and only briefly and sketchily hints of the bitter feuds that these four people waged against Judi during the last five years of her life.
As an ideologically-subsidized publishing house sponsored by the far right-wing, Encounter Books has multiple motives to go after Judi Bari. Not only was Judi an acclaimed and powerful environmental leader, but she was a leftist and an uppity feminist. Even after her death, Judi made headlines through victory in her lawsuit (Bari v. United States of America) over the abuse of her rights when the FBI and Oakland Police tried to frame her following the 1990 car bombing.
Encounter Books attacks Judi in much the same way as it tried to pull down another uppity feminist, Hillary Rodham Clinton. In The Hillary Trap (2000), Encounter Books argues that Hillary was a fraudulent feminist because she didn't divorce her philandering husband. Although Hillary pretends to be "the strong, assertive, mature feminist," the book argues that her "leftist" politics are "guaranteed to keep women as dependent on government, unions and even the United Nations--as she was on Bill." [More on Encounter Books.]
Even cruder propaganda is directed at Judi Bari. She is smeared as “braless” (four times), a drug abuser, violent, dishonest, and hypocritical. In brazen disregard of the historical record, Coleman accuses Bari of ignoring forestry activism in favor of her lawsuit against the FBI, and of causing “The End of Earth First,” as proclaimed in the book’s title.
The FBI’s flagrant abuse and false arrest of Judi after the 1990 car bomb attack is defended by Coleman, even though a jury was so incensed by the FBI’s conduct that it awarded Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney a record $4.4 million damages after a civil rights trial in 2002.
To belittle Bari in the same way Encounter Books went after Hilary Clinton, Coleman falsely alleges that Bari was engaged in “secret wars” with her ex-husband, Mike Sweeney. Was Judi Bari really a tough feminist with a brown belt in karate? It was a sham, says Coleman, who serves up gossip from the Gang of Four that she was a silent victim of “beatings” and “rape.” Was Judi Bari devoting all of her energy to Redwood Summer? Not at all, says Coleman, who serves up more gossip that her “most secret war” was a dispute over child custody with her ex-husband, even though the public record shows no evidence of any such dispute.
The purpose of the malicious gossip about “secret wars” is to contribute to innuendoes and speculation about who carried out the 1990 car bombing which injured Bari and Cherney on the eve of Redwood Summer. Bari was convinced she was targeted because of her timber activism, possibly with the provocation or cooperation of police agencies. Coleman and her right-wing paymasters don’t like that theory, so Coleman twists every fact and chases every innuendo to suggest that either (1) Bari was actually carrying the bomb for later use or (2) her ex-husband did it. But in the end, however, after an orgy of mud-slinging, she is forced to admit there is no evidence supporting either theory. Coleman fails to undercut Bari's own statement that her ex-husband had neither motive or opportunity.
If Judi Bari was still alive today (she died of cancer in 1997), she would laugh the loudest at Coleman’s clumsy hatchet job, cut it to ribbons with her famous wit and sharp tongue, and then point us to the real story—the non-violent Earth First! mass protest movement in defense of the forests. As Judi would be the first to admit, she was nobody without the courage and commitment of thousands of protestors who stand up to environmental crimes.
Coleman’s hit-piece should stimulate interest in the real history of Judi Bari and the fight for the redwoods. It’s documented in detail at the official Judi Bari website, www.judibari.org. It’s also told in Judi Bari’s own words in her book Timber Wars (1994, Common Courage Press).
A forthcoming book by Pulitzer-prize winning author Susan Faludi may also capture Judi’s irrepressible spirit and charisma. Faludi was able to freely interview Judi’s friends, associates and family. Coleman had no such access, because she revealed at the beginning that she was only interested in doing a right-wing hit-piece. Her first writing about Bari was published in 1999 in Bruce Anderson’s notorious Anderson Valley Advertiser, and it faithfully echoed the hate campaign that Anderson had been waging against Bari since their highly-public feud began in 1993.
In an interview with East Bay Express in 2003, Coleman revealed the Big Lie she intended to spread about Bari: “I think that Bari ruined the ability to extend Earth First by focusing all of their efforts and money in her fight with the FBI instead of focusing on the forests.” Coleman also revealed her bias against forestry activists, who she said “just trespass on land and fuck with the loggers who are working for a living.” (East Bay Express, 1/15/03)
Although Coleman was able to trick Bari’s 20-year-old daughter Lisa into an interview in 2002, few people who were actual associates of Bari would talk to her and Coleman didn't even bother to contact many of them. Instead, Coleman made herself an obedient mouthpiece of the Gang of Four-- fringe political figures who bitterly feuded with Bari. This group—Anna Marie Stenberg, Bruce Anderson, Mary Moore and Irv Sutley—had spent years fighting, denouncing and exposing each other as liars before they started working together against Bari--especially after her death, when she could no longer answer them.
The dishonesty of these individuals, and their strong motives to lie about Judi Bari, are well documented. Read all about it….
Anna Marie Stenberg—We can only assume that Coleman neglected to research what her other key source, Bruce Anderson, printed about Stenberg over the years in his Anderson Valley Advertiser. Here’s a sampling of his descriptions of Stenberg:
“a disturbed person” (AVA,
“a liar of middling abilities” (AVA,
“a lying psychopath on the pseudo-left” (AVA,
“a pathological liar” (AVA,
“the perpetual lie machine” (AVA,
“coward and slanderer” (AVA,
“lunatic fringe” (AVA,
“a confused dingbat” (AVA,
“an obviously unstable, untrustworthy person” (AVA,
Of course, what Bruce Anderson
says about anyone else needs to be taken with a large grain of salt, since
these characterizations of Stenberg also describe Anderson himself so
well. We need verifiable facts to confirm
First, it should be noted that sober people of good reputation, and no friends of Bruce Anderson, use almost identical terms to describe Stenberg.
Betty Ball, founder of the
an environmental activist and close friend of Judi Bari who was at her side when she died, sums it up like this: “Anna Marie
is a pathological liar, a fact that is pretty well recognized.” (e-mail,
Stenberg’s reputation as a slanderer dates back at least to the mid-1980s, when she accused a rival child care business of engaging in Satanic rituals and child molesting. Bruce Anderson tells it like this:
“I see Stenberg as I first
met her as she sat drinking coffee after coffee at her kitchen table,
breathlessly explaining to me that a pair of
The Satanist story is so outrageous that it sounds like another Bruce Anderson hoax, but it’s actually true. Stenberg confirmed the story to Coleman, who wrote in her 2003 manuscript for her book[at page 392], “Stenberg had joined the fray based upon what she says today her own day care families had told her….The two accused women eventually left the county with no charges filed against them, but still disgraced in the collective view of the community…” Coleman also quotes Stenberg’s ex-husband as claiming he witnessed Stenberg stealing merchandise.
And Coleman quotes Stenberg in her 2003 manuscript as claiming an extravagant personal history including that she was the daughter of a mentally ill mother, spent time in foster homes, was beaten as a child, and raped in jail. But somehow, Coleman still thinks she can offer Stenberg as a credible source of gossip about other people. All this damning information about Stenberg's credibility was dropped when Coleman's 2003 manuscript was rewritten into the book released in 2004.
Not long after the Orr sisters were driven out of business and out of town by the slander campaign, Stenberg discovered politics. For a brief period around 1990, Stenberg cooperated with Judi Bari in the fight to save the redwoods and a plan to set up a chapter of the radical Wobblies (IWW) among timber workers.
The cooperation between
Ball continues: “Judi
obviously confronted them—but at that point was willing to continue working
with them—if they would give her the checkbook and the mailing list so
she could keep track of the money and keep in touch with Local 1 members
and interested people and make the required reports to IWW…..But Stenberg
and Roanne went ballistic—far out of proportion to the incident—and
began accusing Judi of being a control freak…” [email,
This report found its way into the Anderson Valley Advertiser:
“THAT WAS QUITE a lively
anarchist’s meeting at Anna Marie Stenberg’s
Alicia Littletree remembers, “it was a really ugly breakup.” [email,
Soon afterwards, Stenberg
allied herself with the closest known gathering of
In the meanwhile, Stenberg
pursued a strange career as a political activist in
Stenberg’s main focus was
the county’s garbage crisis. She was a leader of a group which demanded
the county close its landfills and build concrete silos to store all of
the trash until something better could be found to do with it. This wasn’t
a joke. Stenberg and her group submitted long papers to the county outlining
their plan. She approached this issue in the same way she dealt with
her child care competitor in
Throughout this spectacle,
Stenberg showed her apparently uncontrollable habit of inventing whatever
lies suited her purposes. This prompted most of Bruce Anderson’s drumbeat
of denunciations of Stenberg’s credibility, and his observation that “Stenberg
has vilified a whole range of individuals…she’s basically just a confused
dingbat to whom politics is always a matter of secret individuals working
in conspiratorial fashion against the public good.” (AVA,
On June 16, 1994, Judi Bari hosted a session of the weekly Environmental Show on KZYX radio to discuss Anna Marie Stenberg. Bari stated that Stenberg's campaign against Supervisor Henry and slander campaign over the garbage issue had "just gone over the edge for me. I don't think what she's doing is helpful for the environmental movement. I think it's helping the extreme right...And I think it's time we all stand up and disassociate from this because I think it's reprehensible." Bari added: "It discredits the whole movement and distracts us from the real work that needs to be done. We're in a battle over the last tree in Mendocino County and we're all running around yelling about garbage, and with weird distortions. Anybody who opposes their particular little lunatic way of approaching this is accused of being a dupe of WMI [Waste Management Incorporated]."
Bari noted that a Stenberg ally, Charlie Acker, had written to KZYX complaining that "Judi Bari is Stenberg's arch political rival." Bari denied this and said it was Harry Merlo of L-P and Richard Held of the FBI who were her arch political rivals. She added: "We're not going to be able to take on the real powers if we have this craziness pouring down on us distracting us and discrediting us."
On the KZYX show, Judi marveled over a fax entitled "Prayer for the deliverance from enemies" that Stenberg had sent around the county. Its first line was quoted on the air: "By the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all evil spirits who wander thru the world for the ruin of souls." Bari commented that Stenberg's action in sending out this fax seemed like "nuttiness." To round out her attack on Stenberg, Bari added, "Anna Marie supported Ross Perot, she supported Frank Riggs against Dan Hamburg, I think she had basically right wing instincts."
Mary Moore got a hard lesson
about Stenberg’s truth problem on
Anderson is a much more accomplished liar than Anna
Marie Stenberg. His weekly inventions are the main feature of his Anderson
Valley Advertiser, which is a kind of small-time National Enquirer,
without the photos. While Stenberg is prone to whisper lurid charges
over the telephone,
Continued on page 2.