Steve Jobs Was Given Bush Sr.-Era Post Despite LSD Use, Reality Distortion
February 13, 2012 11:32 AM
Mr. Jobs was dishonest and had used drugs, one former co-worker said, but he was a good fit for the fed. gov't
After you die, the
U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation
is required to unseal, in most cases, its records on you if someone asks for them via a
Freedom of Information Act
(FOIA) (5 U.S.C. § 552) filing. As you can imagine, this leads to some interesting revelations.
I. FBI Investigates Bomb Threat
The FBI was apparently quite familiar with Apple, Inc. (
) co-founder and CEO Steven P. Jobs, who
passed away in October
Reportedly the agency twice crossed paths with Mr. Jobs, first during the investigation of a 1985 bomb threat extortion attempt against Mr. Jobs, and then during an extensive background check for his bid at a George H. W. Bush appointment.
The bomb threat came on Feb. 7, 1985 from a pay phone that the FBI traced to a garage at the San Francisco airport. The man claimed to have planted three bombs inside Mr. Jobs' house. He demanded $1M USD in unmarked, undyed bills be placed aboard a BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) train. He warned that if the police became involved, a fourth explosive would go off.
An extortionist tried to milk $1M USD from Mr. Jobs via a bomb threat. He asked that the money be placed aboard a BART train. [Image Source: Kong/SF.Streets.Blog]
Mr. Jobs was skeptical of the claims and did not cave to the demands. The FBI would go on to investigate the incident, dusting the phone for prints and searching Mr. Jobs residence for explosives.
II. A Presidential Appointment
The agency would later cross paths with the tech luminary in 1991, when he interviewed for a post on the president's Export Council, during the presidency of George Herbert Walker Bush.
Like any government post on a federal level, a thorough background check was required.
The background check interviewed 29 individuals, including friends and co-workers. It was marked "Presidential Expedite" and "Secret", but the latter classification was crossed out at a later date, allowing the records release. At the time Mr. Jobs had left Apple and was serving as the president of NEXT Computer, as well as CEO and chairman of Pixar.
(NEXT would later be bought by Apple, while Pixar was later purchased by The Walt Disney Comp. (
The FBI was frustrated by its requests for information being stifled by Mr. Jobs' former employer, Apple, under the command of CEO John Sculley. The agency writes, "[T]he Apple Computer Company has been less than cooperative, in terms of providing assistance as requested of the Legal Department"
Its findings "supported" Mr. Jobs own claims to have experimented heavily with LSD, a hallucinogen. Sources commented "concerning past drug use on the part of Mr. Jobs" in the file.
It also noted Mr. Jobs' tendency towards dishonesty and spinning reality to his own viewpoint (the legendary "distortion field"). The agency writes, "Several individuals questioned Mr. Jobs’ honesty stating that Mr. Jobs will twist the truth and distort reality in order to achieve his goals."
Ultimately this denial of reality would -- in part -- lead to Mr. Jobs' tragic demise, perhaps, as he reportedly refused treatment of his pancreatic cancer until it had reached advanced stages. For some time Mr. Jobs persistently believed, according to biographer Walter Isaacson, that he could will away the illness with his mind -- an approach that did not work.
However, many of these individuals still recommended Mr. Jobs for the post. One individual remarked that a person did not need honesty or integrity to be a perfect fit for the American federal government. He subsequently recommended Mr. Jobs -- who he called "dishonest" -- "for a position of trust and confidence with the Government."
Sources said Mr. Jobs was dishonest and distorted reality to his liking.
[Image Source: Chris Wahl]
As for Mr. Jobs' professional character otherwise, his colleagues saw him as more of a creative force rather than a technical one. One stated that while he was "not an engineer in the real sense, he understands base technology and technical jargon to the extent that he is an innovative force within the technical community, in terms of the contributions he has made."
Some noted his strong relationship with Asian suppliers and retailers (whom he would deal with in his pending appointment), commenting, "[Mr. Jobs] understood the Japanese culture and had a great deal of contact in dealing with companies in the Orient."
Opinions on Mr. Jobs' professionalism varied wildly with some calling him
harsh and abrasive
, while another opined that he "treated people fairly and was considerate of others problems and needs."
The file notes several past or pending lawsuits against Mr. Jobs -- which include a suit from a female employee Mr. Jobs encouraged to come to NEXT from Apple and then fired shortly thereafter; an
U.S. Security and Exchange Commission
trading violation investigatio
n; a class action shareholder lawsuit over Apple Lisa; and a settled 1985 case over Mr. Jobs taking employees and technical information from Apple when he left the firm that year.
Despite the concerns about Mr. Jobs' dishonesty and drug experimentation, President Bush apparently felt him a good fit for the job and appointed him anyways. The FBI agreed with the decision, stating that there was no compelling reason to ban him from the post, based on their findings.
The full case file can be viewed
, courtesy of
FBI [via Wired]
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