PLEASANTON, Calif. -- Sara Jane Moore says she is sorry about the day she raised her revolver and fired at President Gerald R. Ford - sorry she missed.
'This is the price one pays in this country for dissent,' she said during an interview at the Federal Correctional Facility in Alameda County.
'I'm sorry I missed. I don't like to be a failure.'
Mrs. Moore has spent seven years in jail since she fired a single shot at Ford in front of the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco Sept. 22, 1975. Experts say she missed by five feet. She blames a faulty gun sight.
Mrs. Moore, now 52, spent five years in a maximum security section of a federal prison in Alderson, W. Va., and did not join the general prison population until she was transferred in December to the relatively comfortable prison in southern Alameda County.
Technically, she could be paroled in September 1985. She says the thought of eventual freedom keeps her from suicide but that, realistically, she does not expect to ever be released.
Whem she shot at the president, she believed she had been targeted by the FBI to be killed for confessing to several San Francisco area radical groups that she had spied on them for the government.
'I finally joined those who have only violence as a means of change,' she told the San Jose Mercury in an interview published Monday.
'I was going to go down anyway,' she said. 'And if I was going to go down, I was going to do it my way. If the government was going to kill me, I was going to make some kind of statement.'
Mrs. Moore had a short relationship with the FBI that ended four months before the assassination attempt. Mostly, she said, she turned over information about San Francisco area radical groups.
But after hearing one agent brag about his letter-writing campaign against leftists and another talk about the government's 'war' against the left, she decided to sever her connection with the FBI.
Before long, she said, she became convinced that everyone from leftists to government agents was plotting her death.
'I was so raged that day,' she said of her anger over social conditions in the United States. 'By that time, it was coming down a great deal, like I was locked into a script.
'I don't know ... you rehearse, you rehearse, you rehearse and you rehearse. At a certain point, you have to go, although you're scared. In my mind, at that time, was there anything else I could have done? At that time probably not.'
'I was stunned that I missed. I couldn't believe it,' she said. 'Yes, I'm sorry I missed ... but as a human being I'm eternally grateful that I didn't kill another human being.'