Time Bomber Book Videos, with other odds and ends


Monday, October 14, 2013

Michael Nolan of The Freeman chatting about Time Bomber the Book

Recorded October 10, 2013

A free-form chat with Michael Nolan about the book and events of the era.  We go everywhere from the intentional detonation of the San Francisco Bank of America bomb on September 7, 1971 to the Diggers and Emmett Grogan's rape of Anita Hoffman (Abbie's wife).  The latter was punishment for a copyright infringement.  He was the editor for my first magazine article about this story.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Cover Update

Okay, here we go again.  Without being so wordy this time, the idea here is as stated by Chip Kidd, book designer extraordinaire of Alfred A. Knopf/Doubleday: "What does the story look like?"

Since I wrote every word in the book I might know a little too much about what the story looks like.   So it took a while to boil it down.

I got my information from dozens of newspaper articles and other sources, and all of the people who wrote about it had one common piece of information to work from: The Note.

When you get to the basics, the story "looks like" that guy on the front cover, who wrote the four page note you see on the back cover.  He copied that note by hand, many times, and sent it to a lot of news people, most with a safety-deposit box key taped to page one.

I imagine that everybody who received those notes remembered them for the rest of his life and saw the notes in his mind when the story came up years later.  Same for anybody who remembers the announcement on television, or read about it in the papers.  Those hand-scribed notes are what the story looks like.

Would Chip Kidd make a cover like that for this book?  I doubt it, since I am no Chip Kidd.

- Steve

Friday, September 27, 2013

This is how the news broke across America ...

Throughout the day, news organizations in New York, Chicago, and San Francisco began reporting about a plot to take property hostage. By the time the network anchors came on the air, the rest of the country heard the news.

The images below come from the FBI file of legendary Chicago columnist, Mike Royko  (Part 2 of 2, p.33 - 36).  Other versions were published in the New York Times, January 8, 1972 and other newspapers, however the accompanying transcription below is by me (all spelling of the note writer, the book version retains his annoying punctuation too):

Prototype Bombs In Symbolic Banks, January 1972

Prototype Bombs In Symbolic Banks

During July 1971 nine unusual prototype bombs were planted in different banks across the country.  These bombs were placed in safety deposit boxes in the vaults of the banks listed below.  Enclosed is one key to one of these boxes.

* [Key No. 305637 to Box No. 47440 in First National Bank of Chicago, attached with clear tape]

New York City
1. First National City Bank - 107 William St.
Box No. 6160, Key No. ____
2. Manufacturers Hanover Trust Co. - 40 Wall St.
Box No. 215, Key No. 59
3. Marine Midland Grace Trust Co. of N.Y. - 140 Broadway
Box No. 1716, Key No. 372
* 4. Continental Illinois National Bank - 231 S. LaSalle St.
Box No. E-396 Key No. E-396.
5. The First National Bank of Chicago - 1 First National Plaza
Box No. 47440  Key No. 305637
6. The Northern Trust Company - 50 S. La Salle St.
Box No. 7936  Key No. 2002
San Francisco
7. Bank of America - Market - New Montgomery
Box No. 1508  Key No. R537
8. Crocker-Citizens National Bank - 1 Montgomery St.
Box No. 2511  Key No. ____
9. Wells Fargo Bank - Market – Montgomery
Box No. 3114  Key No. 3114


What makes these demonstration time bombs unusual are the long-range tuners in them.  Clock timers used in time bombs typically have a cycle of 12 hours and can therefore only be set up to 12 hours in advance.  The timers used in this demonstration bombing have a cycle of 7 months or 217 days.  With such a functioning timer a bomb can be planted up to seven months in advance of the intended time of detonation.

The principle is simple.  Calendar clocks and watches have seven-day weeks and 31-day months.  Any given day and date combination represents itself only once every 217 days.  Let say that day be any given day and date (e.g., Sunday the 31st), then the time piece “day” and “date” of any future day can easily be calculated.  Every time the target “day” comes up on the time piece, one switch is closed for 24 hours.  The same happens to another switch when the target “date” comes up.  Only when the target “day” and “date” come up together are both switches closed at the same time, completing the detonation circuit.

The prototype timers were made of low quality cordless electric clocks.  In future bombings, they will be highly reliable, nearly silent electronic watches.  Similarly, the slow-burning powder


placed in these safety deposit boxes would, instead, be compact plastic explosive.

Kidnapping people and demanding property (or money) in exchange for their lives exemplifies the anti-Life property value of our sick and brutal society.  The Movement in Amerika would do better to kidnap property and offer it in exchange for the freedom of our people.

How would one kidnap a Luxury hotel, a corporate office building or a superhighway and demand the release of political prisoners as ransome?  Simple again.  A seve month time bomb could easily be embedded in the structure of a building under construction (e.g., the new FBI building in Washington) [Ed. not sure who underlined that] or under the roadway of a highway not yet paved over.  In 3 or 4 months continued construction would make the device virtually undetectable.  The authorities and the public would then be told who is to be freed in exchange for the exact location of the device.  They would also be told how much time remained on the timer.  In case the authorities should claim to not beLieve that the threat is real, then planting two devices and telling the media where one of them is Located would cure the misconception.


Of course, the power structure could refuse to meet our demands.  They would then have the option of sitting around for months waiting for some portion of one of their empty toys to blow up.  Who wiLL want to vacation in that hotel, meet in that boardroom, or drive on that super highway for the next few months?


Remember George Jackson And Sam Melville.


Below is the list of news people and organizations who received the notes by the time of the indictment, image from the indictment:
Walter Jacobson, the WMAQ-TV (Chicago NBC affiliate, channel 5) news anchor I watched broadcast the news in January, 1972.  He was at WMAQ for only about two years.

Nicholas Von HoffmanWashington Post.  I have been trying to contact him about this story.

The Seed, Chicago "underground" newspaper outlet of the Weather Underground.

Paul Jacobs, KQED TV (PBS affiliate, San Francisco channel 9)

Mike Royko, Chicago Daily News.  The full letter featured above is from his FBI file.

Tim Findley, San Francisco Chronicle.  He was featured in the January 17, 1972 issue of Time as a letter recipient.

Ron Dorfman, Chicago Journalism Review, now on the board of In These Times.  I am trying to contact Mr. Dorfman about this project.

Additionally, Dave McQueen of KSAN News, San Francisco was mentioned as having received a note from the bomber.

Not mentioned in the indictment, but mentioned in several wire service articles, the Weather Underground connected Berkeley Tribe, received a letter too.  As reported by the Associated Press and the New York Times, they sent a transcript to KPFA-FM, a favorite station of the Weather Underground.

Posted also on this page of this blog.

Thursday, July 18, 2013


- Full First Chapter: January 7, 1972: The Beginning of an Exciting Month -

This short chapter could have been an introduction as well.  This chapter is now the introduction.  It covers what was going on at the time this story erupted across America on television and in print.

This is the only chapter of the book that is posted here in full.
ack in January 1972, I was a 10 year old technology and news geek in Matteson, Illinois.  It was a remarkable time to be a lad with those interests.  For years, it seemed, every single day the news mentioned a hijacking,[1] bombing, attempted bombing, the occasional domestic biological warfare plot,[2] or high-profile kidnapping.  For many of you reading this today, I am here to tell you, post 9/11 America is pretty darn calm.  Even the week of 9/11/2001 was calm compared to January 1972, and you really should count your blessings.
Knowledge of terrorism from that period is not only lost on the young.  A few years later, when I left Chicagoland for the Tennessee Valley, I discovered that much of this terrorism news was ignored or forgotten outside of the larger cities. 
The institutional amnesia effect was confirmed yet again at the family Independence Day picnic the year I write this, 2013.  I asked one of my aunts if she remembered the November 1972 hijacking of Southern Airways flight 49, a flight that made national news when the hijackers wanted to crash the plane into the nuclear reactor at Oak Ridge National Labs.[3]  One of the hijackers, Louis Moore, was from Knoxville, Tennessee (where I write) and still lives here.  Nope, she did not remember a bit of that, but she remembered the “streaking” craze on the University of Tennessee campus. 
I remembered the hijacking, as a youngster in the Chicago suburbs, because my mother’s family is from the area targeted by the hijackers.  I remembered the streaking craze too, but I just don’t find that as important an issue as hijackings, bank bombings, and home grown biological warfare attacks. 
It was not just here in East Tennessee, throughout my life I’ve met people reared in every corner of the country who had no idea that between January 1, 1969 and April 15, 1970 there were over 8,200 bombings, attempted bombings, and bomb threats attributed to “student unrest” alone.[4]  In 1970 there were over 450 terror attacks in the USA, and the next year, just a shade over half that many.[5]  Of course, different people “score” these events differently.  So, for every number I reference, other sources have different numbers.  Dennis Sodomka, of the Chicago Daily News, reported in January 1972 that in California alone “more than 100 bombs explode every month.”[6]  The fact remains, whatever source you use, that era was very active in bombings, attempted bombings, and hijackings. 
Perhaps the reason this case stood out for me, the case of the time bomber, is because it was near the end of a long series of terrorist events, and it was so different from the others in the US. 
These days, never a terrorist attack goes by that I don’t mutter, “That is not as unique or new as they are making it out to be.”  I said that about the Boston Marathon bombing of 2013, and I said it about the beheading of a British Soldier the same year. 
In this case, an instance of a bomber setting seven-month long time bombs in banks, or on other property, and holding said property for ransom, I have not noticed replicated yet, but I am sure that it is just a matter of time before someone dusts the idea off and it is reported as “unprecedented.”

[1] “Airliner Hijacked by Armed Pair Lands in Florida,” The Evening News, Beacon, NY, January 7, 1972. Accessed June 25, 2013.
[2] “The terrorist mind—a look back at a 1972 plot to poison Chicago,” Chicago Reader, Michael Miner, September 25, 2012. Accessed June 25, 2013.
[3] “Convicted hijacker shares story, details 1972 threat to Oak Ridge,” WBIR-TV May 25, 2011. Accessed July 6, 2013.
[4] Congressional Quarterly, Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report, p. 2726, Volume 28, Part 4, 1970. Accessed June 25, 2013.
[5] “Four Years of US Terror Attacks Listed and Detailed,” Guardian UK, April 17, 2013. Accessed June 22, 2013
[6] “Militants show bomb know-how,” Chicago Daily News, p. 11, January 7, 1972
 Note: This is the only blog post where the footnotes are the same as the book.  They do not reset by chapter, they continue to the end sequentially.


- Chapter Opening: Time Bombs Across America -

This chapter covers the news of the bomb plot as it was reported on January 7, 1972.  It tracks closely to the way I remember hearing and reading about it.

Beyond this preview, the chapter continues with early connections that could have been made between the bomber and others.  Information that was in the notes appears here, as well as information about the bombs that was not widely reported.

Update: Moving photos of the bomber's 4 page note along with a transcription, to this chapter.  The bomber's punctuation will be corrected in the transcript.  If anybody wants to read the annoying version as he wrote it (the letters A and L are capitalized throughout the note), they can look at the note itself.  I will place the annoying version of the transcript in another page on this blog.

The embeded news clip on this page is the same one referenced in the book.

n Friday January 7th a particular story grabbed my attention.  Harry Reasoner announced[1] on the ABC Evening News that someone had planted time bombs in safe deposit boxes of prominent banks across the country.  Instead of sending audio tapes to the Marxists at KPFA-FM ala the Weather Underground, this bomber sent hand written notes.  Not to them, but to other Marxists and the rest to more mainstream outlets in Chicago, New York city, and the San Francisco Bay area.  He printed in block letters and had a quirky capitalization of the letters A and L no matter where they appeared in his text. 
Use of the scribe method usually results in some differences in notes, which may account for some differences in transcription; even though newspaper reports said the notes were “identical,” save for the notation to which safety deposit box an included key belonged.  The version sent to the Berkeley Tribe then edited by Matthew Landy Steen of the Weather Underground was transcribed, distributed by the Associated Press wire service, and printed by papers from the New York Times to the Geneva Times.[2]  The Chicago Daily News transcribed and published the copy sent to their columnist Mike Royko.[3] 
All were mailed from the Lincoln Park postal station in Chicago, located at 2643 North Clark Street, all stamped Special Delivery.  The letters destined for Chicago addresses were postmarked within a few minutes of 4:35 PM, January 6, 1972.[4]  The letters for San Francisco addresses were mailed one day earlier, all were delivered on January 7, 1972 to the following recipients: 
·         Dave McQueen, news anchor KSAN, San Francisco
·         Tim Findley, San Francisco Chronicle·         Walter Jacobson, news anchor for WMAQ-TV Chicago (NBC)
·         Walter Cronkite, CBS Network News Anchor, New York city
·         David Brinkley, NBC Network News anchor, New York city
·         Tom Fitzpatrick, Chicago Sun-Times writer
·         Nicholas Von Hoffman, Washington Post·         Seed, Chicago "underground" newspaper outlet of the Weather Underground
·         Paul Jacobs, news anchor for KQED-TV, PBS affiliate, San Francisco channel 9
·         Jack Mabley, Chicago Today·         Ron Dorfman, Chicago Journalism Review·         Mike Royko, Chicago Daily News[5]
While not included in the criminal complaint, the Berkeley Tribe received a letter too.
The selection of recipients was a calculated move.  Sending to network news anchors in New York increased the chances that the news would hit the national airwaves.  Although nobody at ABC received a copy, they appear to have obtained one from a newspaper. 
The mainstream newspaper selections, especially one morning paper and one evening paper in Chicago, were papers whose articles were regularly reprinted across the country. Of course, the “underground” papers would spread the news across the country from their Chicago and San Francisco centers. In those days, newspapers ruled the news, and if you wanted to get the word about something out there, you needed to get it into the big papers of the big cities.

[1] ABC Nightly News, “Jan. 04, 1972: Terrorist Bomb Threats.” Title and page note the wrong date.  Video shows correct date. Accessed June 21, 2013
[2] “Text of the plot to free prisoners,” Geneva Times, January 7, 1972, p. 2 from the Fulton History collection.  Clip of headline featured on the cover.  Accessed June 21,  2013
[3] “Text of letter on bombs,” Chicago Daily News, p. 2, January 7, 1972
[4] “6 bomb letters mailed at Lincoln Pk. station,” Chicago Daily News, January 14, 1972
[5] Recipient list from Ninth District Court complaint, see Documents chapter.
 Note: The footnotes here begin at 1, but in the book they do not reset by chapter.


- Chapter Opening: Weatherman Plot or Not? -

I noticed a Seinfeld episode that unintentionally captures my take on Weatherman, as a pack of brats who should be ridiculed.  My Fair Use (satire) edited version on YouTube appears in this post.  The book references a page on this blog that includes the same clips.
This chapter deals with the question of wether this set of bombs were part of a Weatherman action.  My view of Weatherman should be apparent, I do not want any reader to get the wrong impression about my thoughts, or of what the Weathermen really were.

I did find it necessary to include, because almost from the start the FBI linked this series of bombs to the Weathermen.

If you are looking for why the Weathermen chose their club name, look anywhere else but here.  That reference has been copied and pasted so many times, that no article about them is written without it (some writers actually rearranged the words a little, bully for them).  Except this one.

ne item that leans away from a Weatherman plot is where the bombs were planted. Nine bombs and not a one found in a bathroom!  Weatherman, Weathermen, Weatherpersons, Weatherpeople, Weather Underground,[1] no matter what their name of the month was, they had a thing for bathrooms.
Before I continue, if you are looking for yet another repeat of where Weatherman took their name, you will not find it here.  Every single story on this Soviet sponsored terrorist organization tells the tale of the minstrel and the song where these disaffected suburban youths got their club name.  What I have prepared is closer to reality, and it comes from “The Jacket” episode of Seinfeld.  A fair-use clip can be viewed here: and the relevant dialogue goes like this:
Alton Benes: “I don’t need anybody to tell me it’s gonna rain. All I gotta do is stick my head out da winda.”
Alton Benes: “All right, you boys get yourselves together. We’ll head out to the restaurant. I’ll leave a note for Elaine. I’m goin’ to da batroom.”
They blew up a bathroom in the Pentagon, they hit a couple bathrooms in the State Department, they got one in the US Capitol, and the list goes on. 
However, there were quite a few similarities.  The mention by the bomb-note writer of a “nearly silent” timing mechanism is interesting.  Electric clocks of the day had a faint hum, even the cordless variety hummed.  Electric watches had a hum too, but it was more faint, since a smaller motor equals less noise. 
If you want to hide a bomb well, you want the thing to be as quiet as possible, especially if you plan on taking a building “hostage” for months on end until your demands are met. In these bombs, there was no remote activation. Radio remote detonation did not come into vogue for a few more years,[2] and it is questionable if that technique would work with a bomb intentionally buried under tons of reinforced concrete. 
[1] They never used the name “Weathergirls,” but Paul Schaffer of The Late Show with David Letterman produced a singing group by that name a few years later.
[2] Cleveland Magazine, “The Bombing Business,” Edward P. Whelan, April, 1977.  Accessed June 28, 2013
Note: The footnotes in the book begin in chapter 1 and continue sequentially throughout.  They do not reset by chapter.


FBI photo
- Chapter Opening: Manhunt for Christopher C. Mohr: September 1971 -

This chapter covers when the manhunt for the bomber actually began.  No spoilers here, the bomber's real does not appear until a later chapter.  The chapter continues to reveal more details of what the bomber was doing, where he was living, and various deceptions used.  "Mohr" was one of his aliases, and the actual person the bomber stole this identity from is revealed.

s it turns out, the manhunt actually began four months earlier, on the morning of September 7, 1971.  A bomb planted in safe deposit box #1508, in the San Francisco Bank of America branch at MarketNew Montgomery, blew up around 12:35 AM. The box was rented to Christopher C. Mohr, 560 West Arlington Place, Chicago, Illinois.  From all accounts, it appears that the FBI kept news of the explosion quiet.  There was nary a peep in the press about the explosion until after they were alerted on January 7 to the existence of that already exploded bomb, and eight more, through the hand written notes mailed to them. 
The Bank of America box was rented in January 1971 for a yearly fee of $7.  The last visit to that box was by Mr. Mohr, recorded as July 16, 1971.  Incidentally, that was the same date someone visited all three of the safety deposit boxes he rented in Chicago, Illinois.  One of the signature cards of that date for a Chicago bank is in the Documents section, and it is signed Christopher C. Mohr. 
After the bomb at Bank of America exploded, fingerprints were recovered on documents related to the box, as well as on remnants of the bomb.  On the bank documents, Mr. Mohr described himself as a 25-year-old writer from Los Angeles.  As it turns out, this became part of the charges in his indictment.  Lying to bankers in an FDIC insured bank is a felony, even if you are paying for one of the few services that the FDIC has nothing to do with,[1] renting a safety deposit box. 
FBI agents questioned the building manager at 560 West Arlington Place, the address Mohr gave eight of the nine banks.  The exception: He gave a non-existent “500 W. Arlington Place” address to the Continental Illinois National Bank.  Dan Madori, president of the American Management and Maintenance Corporation,[2] told the FBI, the IRS, and the press that “Mohr” only lived there (560 W. Arlington) for a few days in December 1970.  Mohr described himself to Madori as a physicist from Boston, Massachusetts, and the building manager said Mohr had impeccable references and that he was working with a good company. 
Mohr moved in some furniture and introduced another young man, presented as a student who would be Mohr’s part-time roommate.[3] Both men were described as being in their 20s, although Mohr was over 30 at the time.
[1] Accessed July 17, 2013
[2] “Suspect sought for 6 months,” Chicago Daily News, p. 10, January 7, 1972
[3] “Who’s Mystery Man Mohr?,” San Francisco Examiner, p. 5, January 7, 1972
 Note: The footnotes here begin at 1, but the footnotes in the book do not reset by chapter.  They continue sequentially until the end.


- Chapter Opening: Private James Edward Jensen, US Army -

This chapter opens with a bit of what was going on in the country at the time.  Jensen is one of the several aliases used by the bomber, and this is how he spent his fall and early winter in 1971.

The notion that ending the slavery of conscription is some Rightist plot to undermine protests is one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard, and it took me by complete surprise when both Mark Rudd and Peter Coyote said the same thing, using almost the same words, in book promotion appearances for their various books.  I highly encourage everybody to read their books, their support of slavery notwithstanding.

I do not include the links to their video statements here, partly because the only versions of their videos are not easily queued to the supporting statement.  The links should be here and in the book before publication.
n 1971, conscription was still a part of life for men of a certain age in America.  The US was still fighting the war in Vietnam, as well as keeping the Soviets out of Western Europe and the Chinese out of South Korea.  The Gates Commission had published their report the previous year, recommending Dr. Milton Friedman’s idea of an all-volunteer military.[1]  However, in 1971 the Congress extended conscription another two years, into 1973.
One slogan that those on the squishy Left, and us True Right Minarchist libertarians can agree on: Conscription is Slavery.  For the hard Left Marxists (or just hard Left without Marx), you can hear the distress in the voices of Mark Rudd, Peter Coyote, and others, that conscription is gone.  They believe, and vocally complain, that an all-volunteer military is a Rightwing plot to thwart student protests. 
For those of us on the Right, it is not just a slogan, we really mean it and everyplace that has adopted the libertarian, free-market approach to manning their military has eliminated conscription.  As for the Marxists regimes, they never eliminate conscription until they eliminate their Stalinist modeled governments.  The Soviets continued their draft long after we ended ours, and it continues to this day in Russia, as well as Red China, North Korea …
Just in time for the 1971 draft season, the US Congress changed the draft system eliminating deferments and instating a lottery-type system.  I suppose the idea was to make the slavery “fair.” 
The draft lottery was televised that year, if I recall I watched a bit of it, but it did not make much sense to me as a nine year old.  However, it made perfect sense to Mike Martin and Harold Harris.  Harris had an undergraduate degree from North Carolina, and Martin was on the verge of completing his Architecture degree from Oklahoma State when his birth date drew a low lottery number.  Martin ran right out and joined an Oklahoma National Guard unit, did his active duty training, finished school and completed his National Guard commitment. 
The two became friends in Basic Training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri in August 1971, along with another fellow.  A tall, scrawny, pale college dropout by the name of James Edward Jensen.[2]

[1] Accessed June 23, 2013
[2] Accessed June 23, 2013.
 Note: The footnotes here begin at 1, where in the book they begin at 1 in the first chapter and continue incrementally to the end.  They do not reset by chapter.

Book Chapter: PASSPORT NUMBER B-2362296

- Chapter Opening: Passport Number B-2362296 -

n late December 1971, armed with his new US Army issued identification card and accompanying piles of Army paper with the Jensen name and Social Security numbers all over them,[1] Private Jensen stopped off in Berkeley, California with a panel truck, to clean up his belongings from the rooming house owned by Leonard Coats[2] at 1314 Poe St.[3] and on December 20 he also picked up a new passport. 
From a Brazilian Federal Police document, their government and presumably others were not informed until August 10, 1972 that Jensen (Passport No. B-2362296) might be stopping by or passing through.
[1] In 1979, every Army anything I had was emblazoned with my name and SSAN, even my duffle bags.
[2] New York Times, January 14, 1972.
[3] San Francisco Examiner, “Bay Address – Alias Traced Bank Bomber”, January 15, 1972.
Note: The footnotes here begin at 1, but in the book they begin at 1 in the beginning and increase throughout the book, they do not restart by chapter.

This chapter continues with a translation of the Brazilian Federal Police documents.  Images of the original are in the Documents chapter of the book.

Book Chapter: PASSPORT NO. B-078103

This is the chapter that begins the details of who the bomber really is.  It is rife with spoilers from beginning to end, so I won't be pasting the beginning here.  Yes, the chapter title is the passport number that goes with his real name and comes from a Brazilian Federal Police alert that is freely available online.


- Chapter Opening: FBI HUNTING AWOL GI -

The video above shows how the FBI wants the public to think their criminal identification labs work, with a focus on fingerprints.  In reality, it just does not work that way and this case demonstrates that in spades.

This chapter covers how the investigation progressed, through the eyes of the public.
hat REDACTED BY AUTHOR did between February 1970 and December of that year is not clear in the information publicly available, but he was busy for sure, establishing alternate identities, traveling coast-to-coast, learning how to build bombs, and assembling the needed materials for his bombs.
At least one of the Social Security Account Numbers (SSAN) he used was issued sometime in 1970, for the birth certificate of someone who was born and died in the 1940s.  He first opened savings accounts for $1 at each bank to establish a “business relationship” with each, then in December 1970 he rented his first two safety deposit boxes in Chicago, the one at First National Bank on December 22, and then in January 1971[1] he rented boxes in New York and San Francisco 
Sometime before July 1971, he constructed nine time bombs and traveled across the country depositing them in the nine safety deposit boxes he rented.  It is not clear if he constructed them in Chicago, or if they were assembled in their respective target cities.  We do know someone identifying himself at Mohr signed in to access boxes at banks in Chicago and San Francisco on the same day, July 16, 1971. 
On January 13, 1972, the FBI announced REDACTED BY AUTHOR was the bomber that they were hunting.[2]  REDACTED BY AUTHOR photo was on the front pages of the Chicago Daily News that day, and in newspapers from New York to San Francisco the next.  The story had been in every edition of every paper, in the three cities where the bombs were found, every day for a week already; now the subject of the story had a real name. 
The FBI gave an estimate at the time of $40.27, and three hours time, to construct each bomb.[3]  The total financial cost of the project they estimated at $785 (about $4,515.11[4] in 2013 dollars), if he traveled by air between cities, and only one trip between each.

[1] “All Removed Safely In 3 Major Cities,” Sarasota Herald-Tribune, January 8, 1972. Accessed July 8, 2013.
[2] “FBI hunting GI, says he planted bombs in banks,” Chicago Daily News, p. 1, January 13, 1972.
[3] “U.S. hunting bank-bomb money men,” Chicago Daily News, p. 4, January 20, 1972.
[4] Calculated with using years 1971 and 2013.
Note: The footnotes here begin at 1, but in the book they are sequential from beginning to end.


This chapter brings the story up to date with regard to what was going on the rest of the month of January 1972.  The safe deposit box bomber was driven from the headlines mid-month by Chicago teens who formed a biological terrorist group called R.I.S.E.  To this day, as far as I know, nobody has been able to decode what the letters in the acronym really mean.  Michael Miner wrote about the case for the Chicago Sun-Times in 1972, and he did a followup in 2012.

After Mr. Miner's story was published, the bank bomber evaporated into obscurity, as if he was not already obscure enough.

A few more stories will be included from a bit later in the year here too, like the hijacking of Southern Airways flight 49.  The hijacking that gave us metal detectors at airports to prevent airliners from being flown into buildings.

As I type, this chapter is just in the beginning stages.


Sorry, too many spoilers in this chapter.  The bomber is named in the beginning and throughout the chapter.  However, I will reveal this.  It is a longer than original version of the article I wrote for The Freeman (a large portion of that submission was cut in the editing process. and spoilers at the link), about how all this security theater just costs us more money and liberty, yet it does not offer any measurable additional protection.

Following the public document references come the books and magazines that reference this particular bomber, like in the debut edition of CounterSpy.

Also, this chapter is not finished yet.


- Preview Opening of "Thomas Roy Gifford" chapter -

n 1978 the fifth season of Barney Miller aired on the ABC television network.  I was a huge fan of that show, and I remember a December episode (Season 5, Episode 11) that faintly reminded me of the safety deposit box bomber case.  In the episode titled “The Radical,”[1] a 1960s agitator hid out for about a decade in his apartment.  The Internet Movie Database (IMDB) entry describes the plot as follows:
A shoplifting suspect turns out to be a wanted 1960s-era radical, whose raging about the Vietnam War stirs up passions and polarizes the precinct. An overweight burglar becomes the butt of jokes.
Other online archives[2] describe the episode as:
The squad arrests a man who turns out to be a famous radical who disappeared in the 1960s. He's disappointed that his arrest has not generated more controversy. Inspector Lugar argues himself into a possible heart attack debating the man. Harris collars a rotund burglar.
And then there is this, from Paul Krassner:
And an episode of Barney Miller would show a police officer looking at an arrestee’s record muttering, “A Yippie huh?”  He then read from the rap sheet: “Making bombs, inciting to riot . . .” That’s disinfotainment.[3]
See all of the scenes with Corey Fischer portraying Jonathan Dodd from this episode here
Mr. Krassner gets a bit annoyed when Yippies and Weathermen are lumped together, as he told me in an email about that passage.  He was the guy who coined the term Yippie, and if anybody is an expert on YIP, it is he. 
From my memory, Detective Arthur P. Deitrich (played by Steve Landesberg) dug out an unsolved case file, a hobby of his he would do every year or so, and went looking for the fugitive.  In a day or two, he found Jonathan Dodd / Gerald Morris (played by Corey Fischer)[4] and I suppose shoplifting was part that.  
(My memory merged two different episodes.  In "The Radical" Dodd was pinched by Detective Sergeant Wojohowitz, after a shoplifting incident at Cotterman's Market.  He spontaneously confessed to being wanted Yippie Jonathan Dodd.)
(The next season, season 6, episode 17, "Uniform Day" was the episode where Detective Lieutenant Dietrich captured a different criminal, who robbed Cotterman's almost seven years earlier.  He stayed in his apartment waiting out the statute of limitations and thought every cop in the city was after him the whole time.  Dietrich had only recently started looking.)
Captain Barney Miller (played by Hal Linden) and his staff of detectives checked around with various federal agencies to see if any of them wanted to pick up the nabbed radical, and nobody was interested.  He was given at least the requisite “one phone call” and asked someone about Abbie Hoffman, but Hoffman was still in hiding at the time so he was not able to get in touch. 
In one scene, he launched what he thought was a stinging verbal attack at Det. Wojciehowicz about being an authoritarian "maco crewcut shooting off guns."  Wojo responded, “Yea, maybe so.”  The character had that “aging radical” persona that I would become familiar with a few years later when I went to college.  More like the second trip to college a decade after “The Radical” aired, when I showed up more often and actually hung around the campus all day.  It foresaw the “professional students” who “hid out” in college for decades and were upset younger students were not expressing their own individuality, or the same concerns, that they approved of.  That aspect was brought out when a college friend of Dodd, now working as a life insurance salesman, comes to visit him in his cell.
By the end of the episode, Captain Miller released the disappointed radical because “nobody cares anymore.”
Oddly, the 12th Precinct station of “Barney Miller” was in Manhattan’s West Side neighborhood of Greenwich Village, where numerous fugitives, from Weatherman members[5] to others liked to hide out.  The December 1978 episode aired just a bit over one year before the baby store Bernadine Dohrn was managing in the area became involved in an investigation a pair of armored truck robberies. 
And in two of the armored car robberies, in early 1980, the police are studying an apparent connection between the rental of the vehicles and personal identification supplied several months earlier by unsuspecting customers at Broadway Baby, an Upper West Side children's wear shop that was managed by Bernadine Dohrn, a former Weather Underground leader. Miss Dohrn has not been publicly linked to the Brink's case or any of the other robberies.[6]
The attempted robberies resulted in the deaths and injuries of several people.  The driver’s licenses of some of the Weatherman and Black Panther members who attacked the trucks were linked to identity theft of customers from the baby store Dohrn managed. 
Another interesting oddity is that the show was filmed at the ABC Television Center, in Los Angeles, California.  The show began filming in 1974, around the same time that Thomas Roy Gifford showed up in LA.  Born around 1943, Mr. Gifford found work as a maintenance man at a convalescent home, and continued with them until a little while after meeting Martha Leicester in the mid-1980s.  They were married in February 1984. 
Martha was with the United States Parks Service, working in the Santa Monica Mountains, until she was transferred to the Golden Gate National Recreational Area and the couple relocated to the Marina District of San Francisco.  Thomas was hired by the World Affairs Council and became their building manager in San Francisco.

[1] Accessed July 9, 2013.
[2] Accessed July 9, 2013.
[3] Paul Krassner, Confessions of a Raving, Unconfined Nut: Misadventures in the Counterculture, p. 176 (Berkeley, CA : Soft Skull Press : Distributed by Publishers Group West, 2012)
[4] Accessed July 9, 2013
[5] Accessed July 9, 2013
[6] “BEHIND THE BRINK'S CASE: RETURN OF THE RADICAL LEFT,” New York Times, February 16, 1982.  Accessed July 14, 2013. 
Note: The footnotes here start at 1, but in the book they are sequential from the beginning.

Side notes:  1) Of course it is a cliffhanger!  This is the chapter that reveals the capture of the bomber.

2) “BEHIND THE BRINK'S CASE: RETURN OF THE RADICAL LEFT,” New York Times, February 16, 1982.  Accessed July 14, 2013. was referenced in numerous articles in  2008, but not a one of them that I found bothered to give the whole date, or even enough information to find the five page article.  It may have been behind the pay-wall in 2008, but it is online for anybody to read free as I type.  Those references are to a story that has nothing to do with this one.