- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 1, 2008

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Sara Jane Moore, who took a shot at President Ford in a bizarre assassination attempt just 17 days after a disciple of Charles Manson tried to kill Mr. Ford, was paroled yesterday after 32 years behind bars.

Moore, 77, was released from the federal prison in Dublin, east of San Francisco, the Federal Bureau of Prisons said.

Bureau spokeswoman Felicia Ponce said that she had no details on why Moore was let out but that inmates who demonstrate good conduct while serving a life sentence can apply for parole after 10 years.

Moore was 40 feet away from Ford outside a hotel in San Francisco when she fired a shot at him on Sept. 22, 1975. As she raised her .38-caliber revolver and pulled the trigger, Oliver Sipple, a disabled former Marine standing next to her, pushed up her arm. The bullet flew over Mr. Ford’s head by several feet.

Two weeks earlier, Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, a follower of Manson’s, tried to kill the president in Sacramento, Calif.

In recent interviews, Moore said she regretted her actions, saying she was blinded by her radical political views and convinced that the government had declared war on the left.

“I was functioning, I think, purely on adrenaline and not thinking clearly. I have often said that I had put blinders on, and I was only listening to what I wanted to hear,” she said a year ago in an interview with KGO-TV in San Francisco.

During what was expected to be a routine pretrial hearing before a federal judge, Moore blurted out that she wanted to plead guilty, and her lawyer couldn’t stop her. The judge immediately accepted the plea.

Moore’s background included five failed marriages, name changes and involvement with political groups like the Symbionese Liberation Army. Her motive for the shooting baffled the public and even her own attorney.

“I never got a satisfactory answer from her as to why she did it,” said retired federal public defender James F. Hewitt. “There was just bizarre stuff.”

Mr. Ford died just more than a year ago. There was no immediate comment from the Ford family on Moore’s release.

Moore was born Sara Jane Kahn in Charleston, W.Va. She acted in high school plays and dreamed of being a film actress.

In the 1970s, Moore began working for People in Need, a free food program established by millionaire Randolph Hearst in exchange for the return for his daughter Patty, who was kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army in 1974.

Moore soon became involved with radical leftists, ex-convicts and other members of San Francisco’s counterculture. At this time, Moore became an informant to the FBI.

She has said she fired at Mr. Ford because she thought she would be killed once it was disclosed that she was an FBI informant. The bureau ended its relationship with her about four months before the assassination attempt.

“I was going to go down anyway,” she said in a 1982 interview with the San Jose Mercury News. “If the government was going to kill me, I was going to make some kind of statement.”

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