Julie Kelly’s helpful January 6 fact sheet lays out the realities of that day and the ongoing inquisition surrounding it. With the “insurrection” narrative unraveling, readers may wonder what an actual armed attack on the U.S. Capitol might look like. As it happens, the 40th anniversary of one is coming up this fall.
“Listen carefully, I’m only going to tell you this one time,” a caller from the “Armed Resistance Unit” told the operator at the Capitol switchboard on November 7, 1983. “There is a bomb in the Capitol building. It will go off in five minutes. Evacuate the building.” A Senate document, “Bomb Explodes in Capitol,” describes what happened.
The caller warned that “a bomb had been placed near the chamber in retaliation for recent U.S. military involvement in Grenada and Lebanon.” At 10:58 p.m. “a thunderous explosion tore through the second floor of the Capitol’s north wing.” The device, hidden under a bench at the eastern end of the corridor outside the Senate chamber, “blew off the door to the office of Democratic Leader Robert C. Byrd.”
“The blast also punched a potentially lethal hole in a wall partition sending a shower of pulverized brick, plaster, and glass into the Republican cloakroom.” The adjacent halls were virtually deserted, so “many lives had been spared.”
Later that night, the Armed Resistance Unit called National Public Radio and proclaimed, “Tonight we bombed the U.S. Capitol.” The bombers “purposely aimed our attack at the institutions of imperialist rule rather than at individual members of the ruling class and government. We did not choose to kill any of them at this time. But their lives are not sacred and their hands are stained with the blood of millions.”
In a Smithsonian magazine article headlined “In the 1980s a Far-Left, Female-Led Domestic Terrorism Group Bombed the U.S. Capitol,” historian William Rosenau outlined the group’s back story.
The Armed Resistance Unit was part of the May 19th Communist Organization, named for the shared birthdays of Malcolm X and Ho Chi Minh, and dedicated to the violent overthrow of the United States government. According to Rosenau, the May 19th Communist Organization was the “the first and only women-created and women-led terrorist group,” with leaders including Judy Clark, daughter of high-level Communist Party officials, Marilyn Buck, and Susan Rosenburg.
“They are sort of an offshoot of the Weather Underground, which essentially cracked up in the mid-1980s,” Rosenau explained. “These women decided to continue the armed struggle. Many of them had been in the Weather Underground, but they thought the Weather Underground had made important ideological mistakes.”
The terrorist group’s bombings claimed no victims but “they really at least debated amongst themselves quite intensely the assassination of police officers, of prosecutors, of military officers.” Their inventory of weapons included dynamite, detonation cord and fully automatic Uzi submachine guns.
Marilyn Buck attended UC Berkeley, joined Students for a Democratic Society, and later lent her services to the Black Liberation Army (BLA). Susan Rosenberg, daughter of progressive parents, saw herself as part of the struggle against U.S. imperialism.
At 29, Rosenberg made the FBI’s most wanted list as a suspect in the prison escape of Joanne Chesimard of the BLA. Rosenberg was also wanted for a 1981 Brinks robbery in which two police officers and a guard were killed. In 1984, police caught Rosenberg with 12 guns, some 200 stolen sticks of dynamite, more than 100 sticks of DuPont Tovex explosives, and hundreds of fake identification documents.
Rosenberg was sentenced in 1985 to 58 years in federal prison, but through a plea deal she escaped additional time for aiding and abetting a series of bombings at the U.S. Capitol, the National War College, and the New York Patrolmen’s Benevolent association. After 16 years in prison, the veteran of the May 19th Communist Organization caught a break.
On January 20, 2001, his final day in office, President Bill Clinton commuted Rosenberg’s sentence. That drew criticism from New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Senator Charles Schumer, and law enforcement officials such as Bernard Kerik. As the former New York police commissioner told Fox News, “I’m sure she would have killed every single one of us if she could have.”
The FBI and Capitol Police did not prevent Rosenberg and her comrades from bombing the U.S. Capitol. The bombing was an actual crime, an act of political terrorism, so no need for false charges, altering or withholding evidence, and so forth.
On January 6, 2021, the FBI had agents and informers at the Capitol Building. As the video reveals, the Capitol Police welcomed Trump supporters into the building. As Julie Kelly notes, some entrants behaved badly but none packed firearms, set off bombs, or anything of the sort.
No police officers died from injuries sustained on January 6, and officer Brian Sicknick died of a stroke. The only shots fired came from Capitol Police officer Michael Byrd, who shot unarmed Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt, as Kelly explains, one of four Trump supporters to die as a result of excessive force that day.
Others found themselves denied bail, held in solitary confinement, and smeared as domestic terrorists. So far, they haven’t gotten any favors from politicians in the style of actual domestic terrorist Susan Rosenburg. In 2011, Rosenberg published An American Radical: Political Prisoner in My Own Country.
For the real story on November 7, 1983, see Tonight We Bombed the U.S. Capitol, by William Rosenau. For the ongoing story of January 6, you can’t do better than Julie Kelly.