About the National Archives

Welcome Remarks for "Tonight We Bombed the U.S. Capitol"

McGowan Theater, National Archives Building, Washington, DC
January 16, 2020

Good afternoon, and welcome to the William G. McGowan Theater at the National Archives. I’m David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, and I’m pleased you could join us for this afternoon’s program, whether you are here in the theater or joining us through C‑SPAN, Facebook, or YouTube.    

Before we hear from William Rosenau about his new book, Tonight We Bombed the U.S. Capitol, I’d like to tell you about two other programs coming up next week here in the McGowan Theater.

On Tuesday, January 21, at noon, Julie Des Jardins will be here to talk about her new book, American Queenmaker: How Missy Meloney Brought Women Into Politics. Marie Mattingly Meloney lived in an America where women could not vote but, as a journalist and magazine editor, she recognized the power that women held as family decision-makers and created the idea of the female demographic.

And on Thursday, January 23, at noon, Kathy Peiss will discuss her book, Information Hunters: When Librarians, Soldiers, and Spies Banded Together in World War II Europe.

Her work reveals how book and document collecting became part of the new apparatus of intelligence and national security, military planning, and postwar reconstruction.

To keep informed about events throughout the year, check our website, Archives.gov, or sign up at the table outside the theater to get email updates. You’ll also find information about other National Archives programs and activities.

Another way to get more involved with the National Archives is to become a member of the National Archives Foundation. The Foundation supports the work of the agency, especially its education and outreach programs. Check out their website—archivesfoundation.org—to learn more about them and join online.

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Often we assume that a historian’s new work will send us back to times far in the past, beyond anyone’s natural memory. Today, however, William Rosenau brings us a startling story that happened within our lifetimes. His new book, Tonight We Bombed the U.S. Capitol, introduces us to a homegrown terrorist organization called M19—the only American terrorist group organized and led by women. Their operations, which culminated in a shocking bombing of the Capitol in November 1983, are documented in many sources, including those in the custody of the National Archives. In a recent interview, Rosenau recalled spending “days going through boxes of federal court records, which have everything from transcripts to affidavits from FBI agents to grand jury testimony to evidence picked up at the various crime scenes. Those trial records,” he remarked, “were absolutely invaluable to really get inside this group.”

And now let us hear from the author himself about this little-known domestic terrorist group and their campaign of violence.

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William Rosenau, a senior policy historian at CNA’s Center for Strategic Studies, is an expert on United States and international military advisory roles and missions, international police training, terrorist innovation, and political warfare. His articles appear regularly in the media, and his books include Acknowledging Limits: Police Advisors and Counterinsurgency in Afghanistan and Internal Security Assistance to South Vietnam: Insurgency, Subversion, and Public Order.

Before joining CNA, Rosenau was a political scientist at the RAND Corporation, a senior policy advisor in the Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism at the Department of State, and an adjunct professor in the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University. At Harvard University, Rosenau was a Teaching Fellow in the Department of History and a Research Coordinator for the National Security Program at the John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome William Rosenau.