Shootout On East 54th Street – Explosions In Dublin – Week Of May 19, 1974

Looking for somebody named Tania at the moment.

Looking for somebody named Tania at the moment.

. . . or click on the link here for Audio Player – CBS Radio – The World This Week – Week ending May 19, 1974 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection.

A rather violent week, the one ending May 19th, 1974. Capturing the majority of attention (at least in the U.S.) was the shootout taking place at an otherwise anonymous looking house on an otherwise anonymous looking suburban street in Los Angeles. The occupants were believed to be members of the Symbionese Liberation Army, along with their famous hostage, newspaper heiress Patty Hearst. She had been kidnapped by the group earlier in the year and had undergone something of a metamorphosis; embracing the radical group and assuming the properly revolutionary name of Tania.

The standoff was the culminating event which got rolling shortly after the group robbed a bank in Bay Area in late April. Intelligence and tip-offs all pointed to this house on East 54th Street as the group’s hideout.

And on May 17th, on live television, the standoff unfolded – ending in a fiery conflagration with 6 members of the group dead and a queasy suspicion one of the dead would be Patty. As the story continued, it was finally confirmed that none of the dead were, in fact Patty, but were all members of the SLA who were also wanted for the Bank robbery. And then the question became; “where is Patty Hearst?”

But while that was going on – there was violence springing up in other places. In Dublin during rush hour, parked cars packed with explosives went off, killing over 20 and wounding more than 100 in a particularly grim scene of death and destruction.

In the Israeli village of Ma’alot, a hostage scene with some 100 Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, held by 3 Arab Guerrillas turned violent as the Israeli Army threw a ring around the schoolhouse where the Hostages and Guerrillas were holed up. After negotiations proved fruitless, the order was given to take the schoolhouse by assault. The ensuing chaos left some 80 children dead and wounded, as the Guerrillas turned their guns on the children.

In retaliations, waves of Israeli fighter-bombers attacked refugee camps in Lebanon, hitting the Guerrilla headquarters as well as killing several hundred civilians. Israeli gunboats also shelled Guerrilla installations near the southern Lebanese port of Tyre. The Israeli Army also tightened security on their Norther border in anticipation of the inevitable guerrilla reprisals.

The latest wave of violence in the Middle East had a detrimental effect on the proposed Peace negotiations promoted by Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, casting doubts whether anything could be salvaged and prompting Kissinger to fly home. After three weeks of shuttling back and forth between Tel-Aviv and Damascus, Kissinger felt enough was enough. There was however, a glimmer of hope, as Kissinger managed to put forward a proposal regarding hills in Israeli hands which the Syrians wanted. Kissing was able to put together a compromise that Syria’s Assad had accepted and this was deemed a breakthrough of sorts in the slow and painstaking peace process.

But while all that was going on, there was still the matter of Watergate preoccupying Capitol Hill. The House Judiciary Committee continued its impeachment inquiry behind closed doors. That indicated the sessions were secret, with none of the details revealed – however, that wasn’t the case and a goodly degree of blabbing was going on to the Press. The White House, themselves guilty of dropping a few leaks from time to time, protested the latest set of leaks and, through attorney James St. Clair, requested the Committee open all sessions. The argument being, since important details were getting out anyway, why not let everything out? In short; hold Public hearings. Committee Chairman Peter Rodino wasn’t crazy about the idea, but was considering the request.

And that’s how this week unfolded, the week ending May 19, 1974 as reported on The World This Week from CBS Radio.

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