Thug: 13th century robbers and killers in India: Thugs preferred to kill their victims at certain suitable places, called beles, that they knew well. They killed their victims usually in darkness while the thugs made music or noise to escape discovery. Each member of the group had its own function, like luring travellers with charming words or that of guardians to prevent escape of victims while the killing took place.
The Statement: Republican vice presidential candidate Gov. Sarah Palin said Saturday, October 4, that Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama is "someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect that he's palling around with terrorists who would target their own country."
The Facts from CNN: In making the charge at a fund-raising event in Englewood, Colorado, and a rally in Carson, California, Palin was referring at least in part to William Ayers, a 1960s radical. In both appearances, Palin cited a front-page article in Saturday's New York Times detailing the working relationship between Obama and Ayers. CNN's review of project records found nothing to suggest anything inappropriate in the volunteer projects in which the two men were involved.
Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt told CNN that after meeting Obama through the Annenberg project, Ayers hosted a campaign event for him that same year when then-Illinois state Sen. Alice Palmer, who planned to run for Congress, introduced the young community organizer as her chosen successor. LaBolt also said the two have not spoken by phone or exchanged e-mail messages since Obama came to the U.S. Senate in 2005 and last met more than a year ago when they encountered each other on the street in their Hyde Park neighborhood.
The extent of Obama's relationship with Ayers came up during the Democratic presidential primaries earlier this year, and Obama explained it by saying, "This is a guy who lives in my neighborhood … the notion that somehow as a consequence of me knowing somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago — when I was 8 years old — somehow reflects on me and my values doesn't make much sense."
The New York Times article cited by Palin concluded that "the two men do not appear to have been close. Nor has Mr. Obama ever expressed sympathy for the radical views and actions of Mr. Ayers." Other publications, including the Washington Post, Time magazine, the Chicago Sun-Times, The New Yorker and The New Republic, have said that their reporting doesn't support the idea that Obama and Ayers had a close relationship.
Verdict: False. There is no indication that Ayers and Obama are now "palling around," or that they have had an ongoing relationship in the past three years. Also, there is nothing to suggest that Ayers is now involved in terrorist activity or that other Obama associates are.
So the question remains: is Sarah Palin just a thug in 21st century guise?