Steve Jobs’ FBI File: Bomb Threat, Drug Use Noted in Background Check

Feb 9, 2012 11:20am
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Steve Jobs introduces the Macbook Air in 2008. Jeff Chiu/AP Photo

With Reporting By ABC News’ Pierre Thomas and Jason Ryan:

Steve Jobs, the Apple co-founder who transformed personal computing, communications and other fields with such products as the iPhone and iPad, also had a 191-page FBI file that detailed a federal background check, a bomb threat made against him, and second-hand reports of drug use.

Released today under a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, the FBI file shows that Jobs’ background was checked in 1991 for an appointment to the White House Export Council under President George H.W. Bush; and that he and other Apple employees were targets of a bomb threat in 1985.

The bomb threat, as described by the FBI, must have made for a scary day. On the morning of Feb. 7, 1985, it said, an unidentified male made a series of calls to Apple staff, claiming three “devices” had been placed at Jobs’ home and those of two other executives. The caller said a fourth bomb had also been placed, but refused to give the location. There was a warning: “This one would go off, if authorities notified.”

The caller demanded $1 million. He told Apple officials to go to a San Francisco Hilton and look for a table next to a candy machine. Under the table they would find a note with instructions. The caller said this had to be done by 2:30 that afternoon or “bombs would go off.”

Police traced the call to a garage near the San Francisco Airport. Bomb sweeps were done. Police went to all the locations and dusted for fingerprints. No bombs were found and, according to the FBI file, no one was arrested.

Jobs Courted by Bush Administration

The bulk of the FBI file dates from 1991. It reveals no felony convictions and dryly lists lawsuits in which Jobs was involved, but also cites unnamed associates who mentioned Jobs’ drug use and questioned his “honesty.”

During the background investigation, an agent wrote, “Several Individuals commented concerning past drug use on the part of Mr. Jobs.” It adds, “Mr. Jobs also commented concerning his past drug use.” (p.37)

On the same page: “Several individuals questioned Mr. Jobs’ honesty, stating that Mr. Jobs will twist the truth and distort reality in order to achieve his goals.”

“[Name redacted] also advised that he was aware that Mr. Jobs used illegal drugs, including marijuana and LSD while they were attending college.” (p. 41)

The file also notes (p. 40) that “based on the background information furnished by Mr. Jobs, he has no close relatives residing in communist-controlled countries.” Former associates at Apple said they “recommended him for a position of trust with the Government.”

Having passed the background check, Jobs served on the Export Council during the first Bush administration from 1991 until the end of the administration in 1993, according to the International Trade Administration.

The file was posted on the FBI website this morning. Many of the themes in it have already been reported in news stories and Walter Isaacson’s biography, “Steve Jobs,” but the report adds some details.

In includes a description of a 1991 interview with a woman who knew Jobs well (her name, like almost all others, is removed), and “was somewhat reluctant to discuss the Appointee since she has questions concerning his ethics and morality.” Sentences following that have been redacted.

It goes on: “She described his personal life as being lacking due to his narcissism and shallowness. She added at the same time that he has far reaching vision and can vitalize plans and goals much the same as what he accomplished at Apple Computers.”

 

ABC News’ Mary Bruce contributed reporting.

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