Obama "Palling Around With Terrorists"?

CBS News Investigative Producer Laura Strickler wrote this story for CBSNews.com.

Over the weekend, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin accused Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) of associating with terrorists.

"Our opponent is someone who sees America as imperfect enough to pal around with terrorists who target their own country," Palin said.

What is she referring to?

FACTS: Palin is talking about Obama's association with a 1960's anti war radical who now lives in Chicago named Bill Ayers. Obama met Ayers in 1995. The senator has repeatedly noted that when Ayers committed his domestic acts of terrorism forty years ago, Obama was eight years old.

Ayers was one of the founders of a radical anti-war group called the Weather Underground that claimed responsibility for a bombing in San Francisco that killed a police officer and hurt another. Ayers's group also claimed to be involved in plans to bomb other locations aimed at disrupting the Vietnam war effort. However, despite his involvement and that of his wife, they were never convicted of any crimes due in part to prosecutorial misconduct.

Over time Ayers emerged in Chicago as a community activist, became a professor and got involved in public school reform. This is how Obama met Ayers at a meeting on schools. Ayers reportedly hosted a campaign event for Obama's early forays into statewide politics in 1995 and the two men sat on two different foundation boards together where their job was to distribute educational grants to organizations. Ayers still sits on the board of The Woods Fund of Chicago but Obama left the board in 2002. That was the last time Obama had any official link to Ayers.

There is no evidence that Ayers gave money to or has been involved in the Obama campaign. There is also no indication the two have been in regular communication for at least six years.

In response today, Senator Obama said:

"He's a professor at the University of Chicago - ah, Illinois, teaches education, and he engaged in these despicable acts 40 years ago when I was 8 years old. I served on a board with him. And so now they're trying to use this as guilt by association, and as you said, they've explicitly stated that what they want to do is to change the topic because they don't want to talk about the economy and the failed policies of the last eight years."

By Laura Strickler
  • Laura Strickler

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