---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 14 Feb 2002 18:45:56 -0800
From: radtimes <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Olson brother-in-law tells how he and others, lost faith in America
June 1999: Olson brother-in-law tells how he and others, lost faith in America
by Chuck Haga
Published Jan 19 2002
Michael Bortin, one of five members of the Symbionese Liberation Army
arrested this week in connection with a 1975 California bank robbery that
left a woman dead, said in a 1999 Star Tribune interview that he and others
"lost our faith in the country" in the early 1970s.
Bortin is married to the younger sister of Sara Jane Olson, the St. Paul
woman who pleaded guilty and was to be sentenced today in a Los Angeles
court for aiding an attempt to blow up police cars with pipe bombs. She was
known then by her birth name, Kathleen Soliah.
Bortin also said he roomed in the early 1970s with Soliah's younger brother
Steve, who was the only person tried in connection with the robbery of the
Crocker National Bank in Carmichael, a Sacramento suburb. He was acquitted.
Michael and Josephine Soliah Bortin live in Portland, Ore., where he was
arrested Wednesday. In a Star Tribune interview shortly after his
sister-in-law's arrest in St. Paul in June 1999, Michael Bortin talked
about their political beliefs and activities in the early 1970s.
Largely because of the Vietnam War, "We lost our faith in the country, in
due process, in law and justice," he said. He and Steve Soliah painted
houses together, and they took part in political meetings and
demonstrations. So did Kathleen and Josephine.
"Everybody in Berkeley was pretty political at the time," Bortin said in
1999. "Vietnam was so pervasive then. There was always some step, always
something happening on a very intense scale."
Bortin took a second job delivering telegrams. Sometimes they were
telegrams from the Defense Department, informing families that a relative
had been killed.
"I tore up the telegrams to give them a little extra time," he said.
He denied having anything to do with the bank robbery or the killing of
Myrna Opsahl, who was in the bank to deposit money for her church.
Newspaper heiress Patty Hearst alleged in her 1982 book, "Every Secret
Thing," that both Bortin and Kathleen Soliah/Olson were involved in the
bank robbery. But Hearst's book is "self-serving," Bortin said. "She told
authorities what they wanted to hear," then fleshed that out in the book.
Larry Hatfield, a San Francisco reporter who covered the SLA story from its
beginnings, acted as an intermediary between Soliah's family and
authorities before she was arrested. Bortin asked him to tell police that
Kathleen would surrender if she could get probation and a fine, no jail
time. The police said they'd talk, but they wanted to see her, and the
Soliah side "got a little antsy," Hatfield said in 1999.
When the FBI offered a $20,000 reward on the 25th anniversary of the Los
Angeles shootout and went to "America's Most Wanted," negotiations stopped.
Bortin said the FBI knew all along where Kathleen was. They wanted to raise
her profile with the TV broadcast, he said, and then make the dramatic
arrest, even though they had told her parents 10 years earlier that she was
no longer being sought.
The FBI and Los Angeles Police Department denied in 1999 that they had ever
stopped looking for Soliah.
Bortin said the Sara Jane Olson who was portrayed as such a good citizen in
St. Paul should not be contrasted to the young radical he knew as Kathleen
Soliah in California.
"There's not this dichotomy between what Kathy was and what she is now," he
said in the 1999 interview. "She was doing the same things in the early
'70s. You can't fake a resume for 25 years. It's who she isjust the same
Kathy. She was just as wonderful then. She just wasn't rich."
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