On this day, Jan. 12, in 1971, the "Harrisburg Seven," as they became to be known, were indicted on charges of conspiring to kidnap presidential adviser Henry Kissinger and of plotting to blow up steam tunnels under federal buildings in Washington. Six of the seven were Irish Catholic nuns or priests, including the Rev. Philip F. Berrigan, who was serving a six-year prison term on charges of destroying draft records in protest of the Vietnam War.

During the 1972 trial in Pennsylvania, prosecutors relied heavily on a jailhouse informant who claimed he transcribed letters describing the plot between Berrigan and Sister Elizabeth McAlister.

Although the government spent $2 million prosecuting the case, the jury remained hung and the defendants were freed. Berrigan died of cancer at age 79 in Baltimore.

Scott McCabe