UIC releases controversial Obama papers

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August 29, 2008

11:10 AM

Notes detailing the Obama-Ayers connection made public by university

The silence in the library has been broken.

Tuesday, the University of Illinois—Chicago released more than 1,000 documents, known as the Chicago Annenberg Challenge papers, relating to an allegedly radical group in which Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama and Vietnam-era ex-radical William Ayers were involved.

Presumptive Republican presidential candidate John McCain suggested a connection between Obama and Ayers. That suggestion has turned the usually quiet library into a hub of press and pundit activity. According to the Associated Press, the papers from the Chicago Annenberg Challenge report only minimal interaction between Obama and Ayers.

UIC limited the documents’ availability to the media earlier thishttp://www.flathatnews.com/textpattern/index.php?event=article month. Since lifting the restriction, organizations across the nation are reviewing the papers, looking for any signs that Obama harbors radical opinions.

In 1969, Ayers co-founded the Weatherman Group, a violent, anti-capitalist split from the Students for a Democratic Society. Later that year, the group planted a bomb which destroyed a downtown Chicago statue dedicated to police casualties during the 1886 Haymarket Riot. Though no one was killed, the federal government issued a warrant for Ayers’ arrest and he went into hiding. In 2001, Ayers released a “part fiction” book detailing the group’s involvement in several other non-fatal bombings in the 1970s. Though Ayers came out of hiding in 1980 and became successful in the world of academia, he remained unashamed of his past.

“Did we do something that was horrendous, awful?” Ayers told PBS in 2001 when questioned about his group’s anti-Vietnam War protests. “I don’t think so. I think what we did was to respond to a situation that was unconscionable.”

In the mid-’90s Ayers became instrumental in the conception of the Annenberg Challenge, a group sponsored by the Annenberg Foundation to improve Chicago schools. Obama served as a chair to the Challenge for a few years in the 1990s. The two attended meetings together from 1995-2001.

In response to the media’s interest in his relationship with Ayers, Obama pointed out that he was growing up in Hawaii during Ayers’ radical days.

“This is a guy who lives in my neighborhood,” Obama said in a debate earlier this year. “He’s not somebody who I exchange ideas from on a regular basis.”

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