Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Go Fund Me Campaign


I've started a GoFundMe campaign for the latest FOIA documents.

This is page one of what I received from the FBI. The goal is the $880.00 mentioned in the letter. If additional funds are raised, they all go toward the book project anyway. Their deadline is January 9, 2017.

FBI letter, December 9, 2016. Anything you can contribute is appreciated.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Title Change

Some weeks ago I finally realized that a title change was in order.  At least a subtitle change.

Seems that many, many folks have forgotten what a Yippie is, or that they ever heard the word before.  This includes folks who you would think would know a lot about the group, like those older than me who were one step away from being Yippies themselves.

Found the same effect with the Weathermen too, though not as much.

These days people do recognize the alternative spelling of America as "Amerika" and might not really know what it means, but they are familiar with it.  So the new title is Time Bomber: The Movement in Amerika, from the phrase used in the bomber's notes.

Will get back into Gimp and rework the cover sometime when I can get to it.

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.