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Former FBI Informant Details Spying on Radical William Ayers

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This is a rush transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," October 29, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: "Personal Story" segment: Back in 1969, the FBI was closely watching the radical Weather Underground movement and using informants to provide information. One of those informants was Larry Grathwohl, a Vietnam vet who befriended a radical named William Ayers. Mr. Grathwohl joins us from Cincinnati.

Good to have you on the program. But first, is it relevant, what you saw and heard from Ayers and his radical pals almost 40 years ago? Does it have any relevancy to today?

LARRY GRATHWOHL, INFILTRATED WEATHER UNDERGROUND: Well, I think it does, Bill, in the sense that the purpose of the Weathermen was to — the Weathermen was to overthrow the government. They were placing bombs in various federal and state buildings and police stations.

Bill Ayers has not apologized for that. As a matter of fact, he stated on 9/11 of 2001, that his only regret was that the Weathermen hadn't done more.

O'REILLY: Yes, we know all that. I mean, he's unrepentant. We caught up with Ayers last week. We gave him a chance to apologize and explain. He didn't want to do that. He ran inside his house and called the cops, ironically, on us.

GRATHWOHL: I saw that.

O'REILLY: OK. So we know — we know he's a bad guy, but people might say look, "Hey, look, you know," Barack Obama is saying that: "I was 3 when he was doing this. It doesn't matter now."

So I don't know whether it matters now or not. Let's go ahead to what you saw from Ayers. You were in this little crew. They thought you were one of their compatriots, but you were informing for the FBI. What did Ayers do and say? Is he really a bad guy?

GRATHWOHL: Well, I was in meetings with him when we were planning to put bombs at the Detroit police officer's association building in the 13th Precinct, and he specified that the bomb should contain fence staples in order to have an anti-personnel effect, in other words to kill people.

I also pointed out the fact that the restaurant next door to the Detroit Police Officers Association would sustain more damage from the bomb than the DPOA building would. And his response was, "In a revolution, innocent people have to die."

I also would point out that during a criticism session in Buffalo, New York, he told us that it was — it was bad that the — or the cell I was part of was not producing more bombs and doing more bombings; and noted that it was a sad situation when the leader of the organization, Bernadine Dohrn, had to plan, build the bomb, and then commit the bombing at the Park Police Station in San Francisco that resulted in the death of a police officer named McDonald.

O'REILLY: What do you think about the federal government failing to convict Ayers of any crimes? I think that, you know, was one of the worst botched cases I have ever seen.

GRATHWOHL: Unfortunately, Bill, the — back in those days, in the late '70s and early '80s when Bill came, you know, out from the underground, the wiretaps had been ruled as illegal. So technically, Bill got off on a technicality.

O'REILLY: But they could have brought you in as an informant, and you could have said to the jury exactly what you said to me right now, and I think a jury would have sent him away.

GRATHWOHL: Well, I wasn't the person making that decision.

O'REILLY: I understand.

GRATHWOHL: If I had been, I would have said go for it.

O'REILLY: That's what I am saying. I just don't think that was a great prosecution for the U.S. attorney involved. Now, let's fast forward to today. You're an American, a voter. Are you holding it against Barack Obama that he had an association with Ayers?

GRATHWOHL: I think it calls into question Barack Obama's ability to judge character and people. His association with the Reverend Wright. And now this Khalidi. And Bill Ayers certainly raised questions as to how he judges individuals and their character. Yes, I think it's relevant.

And I don't hold it against him that he associated with those people, but I think he owes us an explanation as to why so many of these radicals and terrorists are in his background.

O'REILLY: Now, Ayers in Chicago, in some circle, far left circles, the University of Illinois at Chicago, is a very well-respected educator. Isn't that something, that a guy was that radical? He's pretty — he's considered a solid citizen. That's what Barack Obama says: "Hey, this guy is, you know — he's in the establishment in Chicago. Why should I shun him?"

GRATHWOHL: Well, his idea of education — and that's what Bill teaches at the University of Chicago, is not an emphasis on reading, writing, and arithmetic. The focus is on radicalism.

O'REILLY: He's a radical, no doubt.

GRATHWOHL: Yes. And that's what he believes our children should be taught.

O'REILLY: All right, Mr. Grathwohl. We appreciate you coming on in here. We've always said from the jump that this Ayers is a bad man. And I think he retains that status.

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