Marilyn Jean Buck, a self-described "anti-imperialist freedom fighter," received an additional 10 years in prison yesterday for her role in the bombing of several government buildings, including the U.S. Capitol.
The sentence, imposed by U.S. District Judge Harold H. Greene, closes another legal chapter in the life of a woman who, at one time, was the only white member of the revolutionary Black Liberation Army and a key link to several underground organizations in the 1960s and 1970s.
Buck, 42, now has been sentenced to 80 consecutive years for her actions, including buying weapons for the underground in 1973 and her role in the 1981 Brinks armored car robbery in Nanuet, N.Y., which netted $1.6 million and resulted in the slayings of two police officers and a guard.
With more than 50 supporters intently watching the proceedings, Buck read an 11-page statement, handwritten on a yellow legal pad. She traced her activism to the 1960s and the oppression of blacks, and said the U.S. government sought her and her "comrades" for opposing its policies at home and abroad.
"It tries to criminalize and delegitimize political opposition so that it will not be forced to face its own criminal behavior and make serious changes," she said of the government.
Far less combative than she has been in the past -- she once refused to enter a plea and loudly protested her cause -- Buck nevertheless raised her fist in salute when she entered the courtroom. She threw kisses at her supporters, who were behind a plexiglass wall. But when she read her statement, her voice cracked with emotion, and twice she paused momentarily.
"I have cast my lot with oppressed nations. Because of this, I am now imprisoned," she said.
But her central claim -- that she is a political prisoner, hounded by the U.S government and akin to those jailed by repressive regimes elsewhere -- was roundly rejected.
"Let me make quite clear the position of this court," Greene said. "The defendant is not a political prisoner."
On the contrary, Greene said, Buck was never denied freedoms to assemble or to speak. Instead, she chose a far different course, becoming part of a plot to destroy government buildings, culminating in the November 1983 bombing of the U.S. Capitol.
Buck and two associates, Laura Whitehorn and Linda Evans, all pleaded guilty in September to two counts of conspiracy, one for their role in the Capitol bombing and the second for their role in the bombing of other government installations in 1983 and 1984. Whitehorn and Evans, both 43, will be sentenced Dec. 6.
Greene sentenced Buck to the maximum 10 years, to be served consecutively, for the bombing of the Capitol. On the second count, she received a four-year sentence, one less than the maximum, to be served concurrently. Her attorney, Daniel Meyers, said the sentences will not be appealed. It is unclear when Buck will be eligible for parole.
Meyers spent almost 50 minutes tracing Buck's history, starting with her childhood in Texas and including her support for what she said were oppressed groups, such as American Indians, Vietnamese, blacks, Puerto Ricans, Palestinians and Iranians.
But Assistant U.S. Attorney Peggy Ellen said the eight bombing attempts presented another side of Buck, one that remains a threat. "It is really only by chance that one of these bombs didn't maim or kill an innocent victim," Ellen said. "Even today, her philosophy has not changed, and she continues to be a danger to others."
Buck, who has been in the pre-trial system for five years, has undergone two operations while in jail, one to remove a lump in her breast and another to remove her thyroid gland. Meyers said the medical treatment has been deficient, and Greene, citing circumstantial evidence that this is so, said he would contact the proper authorities.