New book reveals Weather Underground secrets

This is a rush transcript from "The Kelly File," March 30, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


DINESH D'SOUZA, FILMMAKER OF "AMERICA": The thing to realize is that guys like Ayers, even if they don't have an official position on the campus, are now beginning -- they have moved out. They've moved out of the universities now into the high schools and into the elementary schools.


MEGYN KELLY, HOST: That was filmmaker Dinesh D'Souza on our "The Kelly File" special "Who is Teaching our Kids?" talking about how a number of former domestic terrorists decided to sort of abandon their protest movement in favor of instead teaching the next generation in classrooms around this country. And tonight a new book reveals the story of one more, Ronald Fliegelman was a bomb maker for the Weather Underground taking on the role after three members of the group managed to blow themselves up trying to make a bomb. Fliegelman admits to working of the 1970 bombing of the NYPD headquarters, and soon after took on a new gig, teaching children in the New York City public schools. The author that broke this story joins me now.

Bryan Burrough is a special correspondent at Vanity Fair. And the author of "Days of Rage: America's Radical Underground, the FBI, and the Forgotten Age of Revolutionary Violence."

Bryan, great to see you. Wow. So obviously we had a long exchange with Professor Ayers and documented not only his history as a domestic terrorist but his stint as a college professor getting a state paycheck from the, you know, big brother against whom he railed. This is another example of it. I mean, the guy he's still getting the taxpayer dollars.

BRYAN BURROUGH, SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT, VANITY FAIR: He is. As a matter of fact, it's funny. If you go back and look at the most senior ten to 12 members of the Weather Underground leadership, I would say eight or nine ultimately entered education.

KELLY: How do they do that?

BURROUGH: Well, I think the better question is how do they not do that? One of the problems with the Weather Underground is there were no successful prosecutions afterwards. So there's really, well, I can understand the moral outrage so many people might have at this, there's really no legal reason to stop it. These people had not been charged with crimes. And the crimes that we now know they did commit, the Statute of Limitations had long gone passed.

KELLY: This guy Fliegelman, he bombed among other things the Pentagon. We talked about that with Ayers. He was the one who made the bomb.

BURROUGH: He says he can't remember. I think I'm about 99 percent sure he built the bomb.

KELLY: Uh-huh.

BURROUGH: He told me that in the six years that he built bombs for the Weather Underground they might have done two or three actions without him, but that he built everything else.

KELLY: So he bombs the Pentagon among other places, according to you, you believe that based on your research. And he spoke to you as well as many others of the Weather Underground did as well.


KELLY: And then he goes underground, right? And as Bill Ayers did and others did. Does anybody ever come calling? Did the cops ever try to bring a case against him or knock on his door?

BURROUGH: No, absolutely not. When the Weather Underground kind of imploded in 1976 and 1977, many of its members simply returned to ordinary life. In Fliegelman's case, he returned to his parent's house in Philadelphia and to the job that he'd left, to go Underground in 1969, teaching under-privilege children. Six years later he began teaching in the New York City schools.

KELLY: Unbelievable. And still getting a pension, $40,000 a year. Does he know Ayers? What does he think of Ayers?

BURROUGH: I don't believe I asked him his opinion of Bill Ayers.

KELLY: How about the other members of the Weather Underground?

BURROUGH: Well, one of the things you find in interviewing alumni of Weather and the other underground groups is there's a good deal of resentment toward the handful all the people who attracted all the attention in the media. First and foremost, Bill Ayers. There's a feeling and I can't necessarily personally ascribe this to Ron, but there's a feeling among some of these people that we built the bombs, we took the risk and they're out there getting the credit.

KELLY: Oh, I see. The beef that they have with them. Now, one other thing, this book puts the lie to something Bill Ayers told me. And here's the clip.


KELLY: You realize people could have been hurt. You admitted it in the beginning.

BILL AYERS, CO-FOUNDER, WEATHER UNDERGROUND: I said people could have been hurt and thank God they weren't. And we made every attempt not to and they weren't.

KELLY: But do you appreciate the recklessness of that?

AYERS: I don't say it wasn't reckless.

KELLY: Who are you to potentially endanger the lives of those individuals who may have been in or around those buildings?

AYERS: I don't say it wasn't reckless and I don't say it wasn't illegal. It was illegal. We cross lines of legality --

KELLY: It's not about legality.


KELLY: He made every attempt not to hurt people.

BURROUGH: Turned out to be not so true. The question actually is two answers. There were two phases of the Weather Underground. What Bill Ayers does not want us to know because he just doesn't, is that for the first three months of the existence in early 1970, in fact the Weather Underground did set out to kill people, policemen. It made several attempts including one that I disclosed for the first time in the book to kill policemen. What happened unfortunately was they managed to blow themselves up first.  And this necessitated in a change in tactics. And that led to the second phase of the Weather Underground that Bill Ayers refers to which did not attack and attempt to kill people. It was largely protest bombings at the Capitol, the Pentagon and buildings like that late at night that by and large did not injure or wound people.

KELLY: Wow, Bryan Burrough, I recommend the book to everybody. Again, it's called "Days of Rage" and it comes out a week from today.


KELLY: All right. A week from today. You can preorder it right now, Thank you for being here.

BURROUGH: Thank you.

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