Encounter Books' author Kate Coleman peddles the Big Lie that Bari gave up forest activism in favor of self-aggrandizement and the FBI litigation.

Not all falsehoods are equal.  To see a list of Coleman's Top 26 lies, Click here.

Also visit the complete page by page list of Coleman's mistakes & lies. 351 falsehoods found so far! Click here.

 

Right wing puts out
hit-piece on Judi Bari

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.

NEW!
Read Los Angeles Times   Book Review,  blasting Coleman for "dubious speculation."

Read Santa Rosa Press-Democrat Book Review, blasting Coleman for "mistakes large and small."

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.

"I could slit my throat."-- Kate Coleman, responding to the many mistakes in her book. San Francisco Chronicle 2/1/05. See more on Coleman

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 StenbergWe 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, 3/11/92 )

Anna Marie Stenberg cartoon
Anna Marie Stenberg as portrayed in Anderson Valley Advertiser, 3/18/92  

a liar of middling abilities”     (AVA, 4/1/92 )

a lying psychopath on the pseudo-left” (AVA, 4/29/92 )

a pathological liar”  (AVA, 6/10/92 and 11/8/92

the perpetual lie machine”     (AVA, 11/24/93 )

coward and slanderer”   (AVA, 11/24/93 )

‘breathless psychotic”    (AVA, 1/19/94 )

lunatic fringe”    (AVA, 1/26/94 )

a confused dingbat”   (AVA, 2/9/94 )

wacky   (AVA, 5/4/94 )

an obviously unstable, untrustworthy person”   (AVA, 6/29/94 )

lunatic   (AVA, 12/14/94 )

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 Anderson ’s diagnosis of Stenberg.  And these are available, both from Anderson and elsewhere.

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 Mendocino Environmental Center and its co-director from 1987 to 1997, said:  “Anna Marie is a legend in her own mind—and most of what she says is delusional or just a lie.  And yep—she’ll do anything to be in the limelight—she’s been itching to discredit Judi et al for a very long time.”  (e-mail, 5/16/03 )

Alicia Littletree, 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, 5/15/03 )

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 Fort Bragg sisters named Orr were involved in a Satanist child molestation conspiracy.  ‘Hmmm,’ I concluded, ‘another kitchen neurotic.’  It seemed not to be mere coincidence that the Orr Sisters were also in the daycare business, as was Stenberg at the time.”    (AVA, 6/8/94 )

Information Sources on Judi Bari

Reliable information about Judi Bari is available at:

www.judibari.org/    Official website of the Redwood Summer Justice Project

and

“The Judi Bari Bombing Revisited:  Big Timber, Public Relations and the FBI,” by Nicholas Wilson.

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.

When Bari was bombed in 1990, Stenberg immediately contacted the FBI and accused her own ex-husband, Mike Koepf, of being the bomber based on his alleged fascination with guns and bombs and his supposed domestic violence against Stenberg.  There was never a shred of evidence against Koepf, but Stenberg’s vindictive efforts succeeded in causing him considerable embarrassment, including having his name mentioned in a video documentary as a possible suspect.

The cooperation between Bari and Stenberg came to a sudden end in August, 1991 when Bari accused Stenberg of misappropriation of IWW union funds.  As Betty Ball remembers,  “Judi discovered that Stenberg and [Roanne] Withers had spent most or at least a lot of the money and had absolutely no records of what they had spent it for—and it was money from IWW—which HAS to be accounted for to IWW in order to get any more.”

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, 5/20/03 ]

 This report found its way into the Anderson Valley Advertiser:

“THAT WAS QUITE a lively anarchist’s meeting at Anna Marie Stenberg’s Fort Bragg house a couple of weeks ago.  IWW Local One was meeting to discuss Anna Marie’s plans for the group’s treasury, about $1,800 of it….At one point in her losing presentation she and Naomi Wagner wound up in a wrestling match in Anna Marie’s living room over possession of the IWW’s checkbook.  At another point in the proceedings, Anna Marie stomped out of her own house, only to be reluctantly readmitted by her comrades some minutes later.  The upshot?  Anna Marie lost.  Judi Bari has the $1,800 check but the Anna Marie faction retains control of one of two necessary signatures to negotiate it.”     (AVA, 9/4/91 )

Alicia Littletree remembers, it was a really ugly breakup.” [email, 5/15/03 ]  It gave Stenberg an enduring hatred for Judi Bari“It was a huge fight,” recalls Naomi Wagner, an eyewitness.  “At one point there was a physical confrontation.  We kind of pulled them apart in the kitchen.”  (Telephone conversation, 6/2/03 )

Soon afterwards, Stenberg allied herself with the closest known gathering of Bari enemies--the Irv Sutley group in Sonoma County Sutley was angrily defending himself against Bari ’s accusations that Sutley was a police agent who had tried to set her up before she was bombed.  Stenberg attended meetings in 1994 with Sutley and Mary Moore to promote Sutley’s counterclaims against Bari , and in 1996 she signed Mary Moore’s “Message to Judi and Darryl” demanding that Bari stop making allegations against Sutley.

In the meanwhile, Stenberg pursued a strange career as a political activist in Mendocino County that lacked any coherent principle except ambition and revenge.  This included running against the incumbent pro-environment county supervisor Liz Henry in 1992, and getting 8% of the vote.   Then Stenberg signed onto a timber industry recall campaign against Henry in 1994, which failed.  Stenberg also signed a proposed county ballot initiative, sponsored by the timber industry, that would have blocked any local restrictions on logging.  All the while, Stenberg presented herself as a radical environmentalist. 

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 Fort Bragg —with poisoned gossip.  Bruce Anderson noted Stenberg had “issued another volley of misleading letters to the local press claiming, essentially, that there is a conspiracy led by the County Administrator and supported by people like Mike Sweeney and yours truly on behalf of Waste Management Inc. to capture control of the County’s trash.” (AVA, 2/9/94 )

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, 2/9/94 )

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 December 4, 1999 , when Moore told a public meeting at Walden Pond Books in Oakland that Bari had fled with her children from her property in Redwood Valley (shared with her ex-husband Mike Sweeney) just before the 1990 bombing.  Immediately, friends of Bari stood up and exposed this as an absurd falsehood, since it was a matter of record that Bari was still living on the property at that time, hadn’t fled anywhere, and had left the children in Sweeney’s care.  Backpedaling fast, Moore could only say, “Well, that is what Anna Marie Stenberg told me.”   [Noelle Hanrahan, email, 12/6/99 .  There is also a videotape of the meeting].

Bruce 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, Anderson puts his insults in print for all to enjoy.

Continued on page 2.