The Best Quotes From “Citizen K: The Deeply Weird American Journey of Brett Kimberlin”
Brett Kimberlin has been in the news a lot lately. He has filed suit against some conservative bloggers, he’s called the workplace of Stacy McCain’s wife, some people believe he’s behind a website that has posted the personal information of bloggers and others believe he’s connected to the SWAT-ting of three conservative bloggers. According to Robert Stacy McCain, “at least three people…say they have talked to the FBI about what is, supposedly, an ongoing investigation of (SWATting/Brett Kimberlin).”
This is not the first time Brett Kimberlin has made national news. He first made a reputation for himself as the “Speedway Bomber.” While he was in prison for that crime, he claimed to have sold pot to Dan Quayle. This caught Mark Singer’s eye and he wrote a very credulous piece about Kimberlin’s claims in the New Yorker. Afterwards, Singer apparently found Kimberlin to be such a fascinating subject that he spent four years working on a book about him, which came out in 1996.
That book was Citizen K: The Deeply Weird American Journey of Brett Kimberlin. Although Kimberlin probably wouldn’t agree with this assessment, Singer still seemed to be sympathetic to him in the book. In fact, Singer comes across as someone who researched what he was told by Kimberlin, unwillingly had the blinders ripped away from his eyes, and felt compelled to note what he had seen even though he found it unpleasant.
Here are some excerpts of note, which should fall under fair use given that this is a 381 page book. Enjoy.
“I already knew that I was listening to someone who, as a teenager, had been convicted of perjury; that he had progressed from small-time marijuana dealer to big-time marijuana smuggler; that in the late seventies he was regarded as suspect, though never charged, in a murder case that was never solved; and that in 1981, after a protracted prosecution in Indianapolis that included several bizarre elements, he was convicted of six apparently motiveless bombings in the town of Speedway, Indiana, the last of which left a man severely maimed. (In all, eight bombs detonated, but the government based its case on only six.) — P.8
“If Clinton gets elected, I’m out; I know I’ll get a pardon,” Kimberlin told me at one point. “But you can’t say that. It looks like I’m (claiming I sold pot to Quayle) for political reasons, like I’ve got an agenda.” — P.23
A couple of weeks shy of his eighteenth birthday, in May 1972, Kimberlin was indicted and charged with having sold 2.3 grams of cocaine to someone who turned out to be a government informer. — P.46
The Star went on to say: “Kimberlin first drew the notice of Federal drug agents who heard of his reputation of being a “multi-kilo’ dealer in drugs. An informant told agents the youth was selling marijuana as a freshman at North Central High School.” Finally, the article referred to a narcotics agent who worked on the case as having “testified at an early hearing that Kimberlin was known to have contacts with large-scale dealers in cocaine and heroin in Texas. He flew a private plane on some trips, the agents said.” — P.49-50
Going to jail the first time taught Kimberlin some useful lessons, if not precisely what the judge who sentenced him had in mind. His perjury trial and conviction took place on a single day, in November 1973, but Kimberlin didn’t actually enter custody until the following February. …..During this temporary inconvenience he had visits from family members and drug partners, as well as limited use of a telephone, and thus managed to buy and sell five thousand pounds of marijuana. — P.51
I’ve met smugglers who thought that some of my methods were too ballsy. I looked at it as just the opposite. If you do something right out in the open, as long as you don’t trip up and make a mistake, then nobody’s going to suspect it. — Brett Kimberlin, P.57
Kimberlin said he followed self-imposed rules that, for many years, enabled him to survive unscathed in his high-risk occupation. He never did business using his home telephone. He didn’t use the same pay phone repeatedly. He wrote down few of the phone numbers of his business associates, relying instead upon his “incredible memory.” If he did write a number down, he would invert certain digits. He never transported dope in his own car. He never told a woman what he was actually up to. When he checked into a hotel or bought a plane ticket, he paid cash and used an alias. He rotated through dozens of aliases. (When he went to Washington, he was “Mr. Smith.”) He carried false identification — Social Security card, passport, driver’s license. — P.61
From the beginning of his friendship with Sandi, Kimberlin said, her younger daughter developed an attachment to him. Sandi would come to Eagle Creek, to tend his horses and ride her own; Jessica would tag along, and “she used to hang on me, she didn’t want to let me go.” Jessica was ten years old and Kimberlin was twenty. — P.76
For three consecutive summers, 1974 through 1976, they took vacations of a week or longer in Disney World, Mexico, and Hawaii. Sandi couldn’t get time off from work, so on these summer trips it was just the two of them — Brett and Jessica.
Eyebrows levitated. A drug-dealing colleague had memories of conversations with Kimberlin that struck him as odd: “We’d see a girl, who pubescent or prepubescent, and Brett would get this smile and say, ‘Hey, what do you think? Isn’t she great?’ It made me very uncomfortable.” Another recalled Kimberlin introducing Jessica as “my girlfriend,” and if irony was intended, it was too subtle to register. To a coworker at IU-PUI, Sandi confided that Kimberlin was “grooming Jessica to be his wife.” To another, Sandi explained that although Kimberlin’s relationship with Jessica was chaste, he intended “to wait for her and would marry her.” — P.78
“One day in June, I called (Jessica) at the apartment and said I’d come pick her up. I told her I was coming and I had a friend with me. She said ‘Who?’ It was (William) Bowman” — a drug-dealing associate. “When I got there she wasn’t there and she left a note that she was at her grandmother’s. I called over there and said I was coming to pick her up and (Julia Scyphers) said, ‘Well, Jessica’s with me today. You’ll have to see her later.'” — Brett Kimberlin, P.80
On a three-by-five index card, the detective from the Speedway Police Department who interviewed Judith Johnson — the interview took place 3 August 1978 — recorded the following quotation from her, separate from her signed statement: “Brett Kimberlin had vengeance on his face when he talked about Mrs. Scyphers. He radiated hatred.” — P.82
Kimberlin did not shoot Julia Scyphers, nor did anyone ever insist that he had. Only two people — the victim and her husband — got a close look at the killer. …The calm manner of the killer — as well as the apparent lack of motive, since nothing was stolen — suggested the work of a professional. — P.84
…(Fred Scyphers) identified William Bowman as the man who seven months earlier had come to his front door and put a bullet in his wife’s skull. …For a murder trial to proceed, eyewitness testimony was essential, but Fred Scyphers was no longer available. Nine days after confronting Bowman in the courtroom, he collapsed and died of a stroke. — P.111
The first night — Friday, 1 September 1978 — four explosions occurred, at irregular intervals: shortly before ten o’clock, in a trash container in front of a stereo equipment store in a shopping center; fifteen minutes later, in a dumpster in a motel parking lot; half an hour after that, in a residential area; finally more than three hours later, under a crab apple tree near the entrance to a school.
….That no one was injured seemed more a matter of luck than of design. A fifth blast and then a sixth — in a cornfield and outside the Speedway Lanes bowling alley — took place in the following two nights.
…The bomber decided to take a day off — which did nothing to lessen the tension — and then upped the ante by planting one beneath a Speedway Police Department patrol car at an apartment house near Cunningham Drive.
…As it happened, however, the next explosion destroyed Carl DeLong’s right leg. — P90-91
The search of the Impala yielded, in addition to the timers, a six volt battery, an ohm meter (for measuring electrical current), two twenty-five-pound bags of double-aught lead shot, three boxed of .445 caliber lead balls, four types of ammunition (approximately eighty rounds in all), and four gallons of Coleman lantern fuel. The government’s agents had no basis for believing that the car belonged to anyone other than Kimberlin… — P.99
Kimberlin also said he was being framed for the bombings and the ATF should be looking for three FBI agents who had a vendetta against him, and had been conducting the vendetta for years. He said the vendetta was a result of the fact that his father, an attorney for Public Service of Indiana, had won the largest cash settlement in history from the United States government, and that the only way the government could get back at Mr. Kimberlin was through Brett. When asked the names of the three FBI agents, Kimberlin refused to name them and said he refused because he is not a snitch and did not want to get anyone in trouble even if they were framing him. — P.109
(Kimberlin) filed a $24 million damage suit against Ronald Confer, claiming his testimony contained “malicious falsehoods” that were intended to “cause harm.” When nine months passed without Barker’s appointing a special prosecutor, he sued her as well, along with two dozen law enforcement officials (including William French Smith, the attorney general of the United States) and several witnesses (including Lynn Coleman and, for good measure, Confer again). There could be no mistaking his fundamental jurisprudential strategy: Sue the [email protected]; then sue them more; then some more. — P.182-183
(Kimberlin) had resisted a sexual predator by tossing powdered chlorine cleanser in his face. The predator was African American, Kimberlin told me, and as he fended him off he shouted, “You f*cking n*gger! You motherf*cking n*gger! Get the f*ck away from me! I’ll kill you, you motherf*cker!” Kimberlin enjoyed telling this story. — P.183
At Oxford, (Kimberlin) was assigned as a quality-control clerk at a prison factory that manufactured cables for military aircraft and tanks. His task was to inspect the finished goods. Each day, he said, he did his work quickly and then tried to immerse himself in a book, but the prison guard who was his overseer objected to his reading on the job. When he persisted, the guard threatened to give him a “shot” — write an incident report that could lead to disciplinary action. So he stopped bringing a book to work, he said, and instead devoted his spare time to sabotage. “I’d run the cable through quality control,” he said. “I’d check them. I’d sign off on them. And then I’d cut some of the damn wires.” — P.184
“I started suing everybody — all the people who lied about me” (Kimberlin said). “I sued the agents who performed the illegal search and seizure of my home and property.” Eventually, Kimberlin filed more than a hundred lawsuits and motions in the federal courts on his own behalf…. P.185
In a separate scam, (Kimberlin) claimed, he and two other convicts availed themselves of a corporate telephone credit card access code, ran up charges well into six figures, and never got caught. — P.188
As a LEGAL matter, the bombings conviction was, barring a presidential pardon, for once and all, irreversible. — P.211
Sifting through this little heap of mendacity, I asked myself whether Kimberlin lied for sport or whether an assortment of small lies coalesced into a gang of tar babies that then encircled him. — P.316
When Kimberlin delivered a similarly sanctimonious oration at his sentencing hearing, he apparently believe in his innocence. At the end of the day, I decidedly did not. — P.323
The Quayle story was Kimberlin’s most successful creation, the invention that propelled him further than any other. Someone he knew, but not Kimberlin himself, had either sold or claimed to have sold pot to Quayle — and (Kimberlin) appropriated this for himself. — P.335
I spent four years asking questions about Kimberlin, and along the way I never met a soul who could offer genuine corroboration of the fable that brought him to my attention in the first place. — P.337