T.E. Mosher (see arrow) disrupting a Stanford faculty meeting, ‘70
Although Mosher’s been lost sight of over the decades since the turbulent ‘60s/early ‘70s, a rough timeline of his whereabouts and activities can be sketched:
• 1942: Born in Chicago 1960: Attended Loyola Univ, Chicago
• 1961: Enlisted in Marines, just 2.5 months active duty, inactive reserve.
• 1962: Enrolled at Stanford Univ 1965: Dropped out of Stanford, did civil rights work in Mississippi 1966: Returned to Chicago, joined ‘Rising up Angry’ (RUA), a radical working-class white outfit which interacted with national SDS Hq, Chicago, through its affiliate JOIN or ‘Jobs or Income Now’.
• Summer 1967: An SDS national leader described Mosher as a “freelance organizer” who was “most enthusiastic about [carrying out] diversionary actions” to distract the Chicago police should they attempt to put down a Black ghetto uprising.
• 1968: Involved with SDS at the national level, worked with Rennie Davis: Spring: With RUA/JOIN contingent, attended SDS National Council meeting, Lexington, KY Summer: Chosen by Bernadine Dohrn to go to Cuba, met with Vietnamese Communists Fall: Attended SDS National Council meeting, Boulder, CO; bunked with Mark Rudd.
• 1969: Returned to Stanford, majoring in Economics Volunteered services to Palo Alto FBI Infiltrated activist groups at Stanford and in San Francisco Bay Area Penetrated Black Panther National Office in Oakland Linked Panthers with other left groups in Bay Area Trained with weapons and explosives in the mountains November: Learned of executions within Panther circles of victims of FBI disinformation
• March, 1971: Testimony before US Senate Committee
• September, 1971: Published a brief summary in Reader's Digest magazine under the title “Inside the Revolutionary Left.
• Summer, 1971: Lived in Cambridge MA under an assumed name.
In his three days of testimony to a Senate subcommittee chaired by Senator Eastland of Mississippi, Mosher recounted in detail his extensive journey inside the left, initially as an activist and then as an FBI informant. During ’68, he appeared to have good access to the SDS national leadership in Chicago, even to the extent of providing the subcommittee with a floor plan of the headquarters building and layout of the offices. More importantly, Mosher reported on SDS plans for a ‘training school’, with various sessions led by Yale historian Staughton Lynd; Bernardine Dohrn, who led the Weathermen the following year; Rennie Davis later of the Chicago 7 trial; and Brother Jeff on ‘organizing in the military’. In this context, he amplified his testimony on Jeff describing him as “the first editor of a GI paper … now deceased.” Later in the spring when J. Edgar Hoover put VGI and its editors under surveillance and FBI agents came calling at the apartment Jeff occupied with Jim Wallihan and Bill O’Brien, the group became more vigilant. It may have been around this time that a new guy appeared, an ex-Navy petty officer who had served in Vietnam, offering to work on the paper. Jeff and Jim, sensing that he may not have been kosher, turned him away.
The following year, not long after Jeff’s death in June ’69, the Chicago 7 conspiracy trial opened, and the former naval petty officer reportedly turned up as a prosecution witness. Meanwhile in 1969, Mosher had returned to Stanford, signed on with the FBI, and managed to infiltrate the California National Office of the Black Panthers, and, according to a journalist, “pulled armed robberies ‘to support the revolution’, supplied friends with guns and explosives, started fights, set fires, helped a fugitive to escape, and established a mountain hideaway for would-be revolutionaries ….” It was later that year that he learned from a Black friend of the execution-murder of a Panther leader at their remote mountain hideout, promptly reported it to his FBI liaison, and, according to what he told the Senators in ’71, was dismayed and no doubt personally scared when the FBI ignored the crime resulting from their planted disinformation.
In his continuing testimony, Mosher seemed to be in the room with Jeff, Dave Komatsu, Jim Wallihan, and other VGI editors as they discussed the history of GI protest, dating back to the Philippines in ’45 when US troops protested the slow pace of demobilization. As he testified,
The people who organized this paper [VGI] were very familiar with the history of that movement. I remember them discussing it in depth, and they talked about the possibility of organizing [GI] coffee shops near bases, distributing newspapers within the military and so on. … [T]he question of their success is not moot. I mean, they have been successful.In my interviews with Jeff’s editorial team, nothing has turned up about Mosher; no one fitting his description has been mentioned. Of course during early ’68 when VGI was first being published monthly, meetings, editorial and otherwise, were neither secret nor exclusive. Jeff needed many hands to get the paper out – typists to transcribe the numerous GI letters to the editor, drivers to run the originals up to the printer in Wisconsin, others to address envelopes and packages, and volunteers to drop the mailings in post boxes throughout the greater Chicago area as well as in neighboring cities to avoid postal surveillance. Under these circumstances, VGI meetings were of necessity relatively open.
A few months after his Congressional appearance, Thomas Edward Mosher was heard from publically one more time, writing in Reader’s Digest: “I am taking no chances; I have left the San Francisco Bay Area. I am usually disguised, always armed. It will be months, perhaps years before I can lead a normal life.” He had fled to Cambridge MA where he lived under the assumed name of Edward 'Tim' Cox.