In the furor over the January 6 riot, which Sen. Mitt Romney called an “insurrection incited by the president of the United States,” a more serious assault on the Capitol has been overlooked. For those who weren’t around or may have forgotten, here’s what went down on the evening of November 7, 1983.
“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. “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 than 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.”