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Tuesday, September 9

Steve Diamond, John Batchelor try yet again to clear smoke around William Ayers/Barack Obama relationship

Questions for Barack Obama in John Batchelor's review of what is known, and not yet known, about the relationship between former Weatherman William Ayers and the Democratic nominee for the President of the United States.

Some of the questions on the list are quite odd, which suggests that Batchelor is not at liberty to reveal a source:
Mr. Obama, answer the questions, please, to the best of your recollection:

1. When and where did you first meet Billy Ayers?

2. When and where did you first meet Bernadine Dohrn?

3. When was the last time you spoke on the telephone to Billy Ayers?

4. When was the last time you received a text message from Billy Ayers?

5. Early on Tuesday September 11, 2001, did you make a comment to Billy Ayers about the great news of the lavish New York Times feature about the publication of his new book, "Fugitive Days: A Memoir?" --

6. A feature in which Billy Ayers is quoted saying, "There is a certain eloquence to bombs?"

7. Did you condemn Billy Ayers's remarks that rationalized his part in the bombings of the U.S. Capitol in 1971 and of the Pentagon in 1972?

8. Did you speak to Billy Ayers again later that same day, after the World Trade Center fell down and America went to war?
Meanwhile, in an Annenberg-gate update at his Global Labor blog, also posted here, Steve Diamond finds himself in the role of Alice as he asks: Did University Warn Obama/Ayers Ally of National Review Inquiry?

The story coming out of the University of Illinois and from former Chicago Annenberg Challenge (CAC) Executive Director Ken Rolling regarding the CAC records flap is the following:

Ken Rolling, who now lives in Mississippi, was surfing the web in early August and coincidentally saw reports of some sort discussing CAC records.

As the former Executive Director of the CAC, which dissolved in January 2002, Rolling was concerned that the records were not supposed to be public, even though the records had been handed over to the University in early 2002 for their library and for public access.

Non profits must make certain key records, such as board minutes and other materials, available to the public and it is not uncommon to deposit such records with public libraries like that at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) which has a large collection of archives in their Daley Library of Chicago-based organizations.

So on August 11, Rolling told the Chicago Tribune, he saw references to CAC records and he called the library at UIC and asked if the CAC records were being made available and, if they were, to shut off public access.

The library complied.

On August 22 the University reversed its original decision and said the records were validly held by them and they made a finding aid available to the public.

Rolling then asked the University to prevent access to certain files based on his review of the records. He discussed this with the University's president, B. Joseph White, and University Counsel, Thomas Bearrows. These University executives agreed to give consideration to his request.

So this would appear to contradict my suggestion that the University tipped off Rolling about the interest of researcher Stanley Kurtz, a conservative writer from the National Review, in the records.

However, Stanley Kurtz now confirms to me that his first contact with the University regarding his interest in seeing the records was on August 11!

He was told by a librarian that day that he could, indeed, come to see the records and he was provided a finding aid that described the holdings in greater detail. However, the very next day he was told by that same librarian and then by Professor Ann Weller, the head of the Special Collections Department, that he would not be allowed to see the CAC records after all.

This timing obviously suggests that Rolling, in fact, was tipped off to the interest of conservative author Kurtz in the CAC records. Those records - since I have seen copies of many of them through Brown University's Annenberg Insitute collection before Brown stopped answering my requests for more - indicate that Barack Obama and Bill Ayers worked closely together from the very inception of the CAC in early 1995.

Of course, Rolling was no longer ED of the CAC and the records of the CAC were validly in the hands of the University. Thus, there was no legal basis to alert Mr. Rolling, to offer him an opportunity to recommend restrictions on public access, or to delay Mr. Kurtz' access to the documents. And Mr. Rolling had no legal standing or authority to speak for the CAC. Upon dissolution of a non profit the only individual who can speak for its beneficiaries, who are the people of the state of Illinois, is the Attorney General of Illinois, Lisa Madigan.

I should point out that soon after I first blogged on the CAC records in June, Brown University stopped responding to my requests for additional documents although until then they had quite pleasantly responded to those requests. I have now asked them whether they, too, were in contact with anyone associated with the CAC.

Curiouser and curiouser.....

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