Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Ted Kaczynski: The Unabomber

Madman's Manifesto

The Manifesto is published in the Washington Post (AP)
The Manifesto is published
in the Washington Post

After consulting Attorney General Reno and FBI Chief Freeh, The New York Times and The Washington Post decided to publish the Unabomber's rambling and repetitive rant. The papers, which split publishing costs, agreed with Freeh and Reno — surely someone would recognize the writer by his choice of words or philosophy.

Other papers also published the Manifesto, as did Time-Warner — its billed the Manifesto as "the first epic-length attack on technology to be sent everywhere on a computer network."

"The purpose of submitting the information on the Internet is ... Internet users are precisely the type of individuals that to date have been recipients of explosive devices attributed to UNABOM; scholars and researchers. - FBI Special Agent Tafoya, May 1995. Then, the FBI didn't have its own Web site!"

The Manifesto — available in its entirety on — is a long, rambling rant against progress. One of its more deranged sentences runs, 'In order to get our message before the public with some chance of making a lasting impression, we had to kill people.'

He pronounced the Industrial Revolution, as "a disaster for the human race," as was, the use of technology. Presumably FC excepted advances in the printing process, which made mass distribution of his diatribe possible.

On its surface, much of the writing was reasoned, but in the end he invoked pseudo- intellectual arguments to validate his totally unacceptable actions. As to whether he was sane or not, it depends on whose writings you believe. Certainly he was sociopathic, in that his antisocial actions were not associated with remorse or guilt — his ability to rationalize and blame his behavior on others was huge.

Also symptomatic was the fact that, when the Unabomber was unable to direct his aggression outwards, he attacked himself — In jail, he apparently tried to suicide by hanging himself with his underwear.

In his book Unabomber: A Desire to Kill, Robert Graysmith says he believed "the suicide attempt was a sham." But Dr. Sally Johnson's psychological report sheds a very different light on this speculation.

All over America, scholars and students studied the Manifesto, hoping to find some clue that would pinpoint the Unabomber — and reap the one million dollar reward for identifying him.

One man — David Kaczynski — came to the sickening realization that the Manifesto's writing style and philosophy closely matched that of his older brother Theodore (Ted) Kaczynski. David and his wife Linda were devastated by the thought that Ted could have spent 18 years terrorizing and killing so many innocent people. But the more they read, the more similarities they discovered.

Most telling was the Unabomber's reversal of the saying "You can't have your cake and eat it too." Writing about the negative consequences of eliminating industrial society, the Unabomber wrote: " can't eat your cake and have it too. To gain one thing you have to sacrifice another." Ted's quirky use of the aphorism was precisely the way he — and his mother — had always phrased it.

There were many other similarities — far too many for David to ignore. So, after much soul searching, David and his wife Linda felt they had a moral imperative to make contact with the FBI before more harm could be done.

Still, they had to be sure. So they contacted an old friend — private investigator Susan Swanson — to enlist her help. They told Susan they thought a 'friend' could be the Unabomber, and asked her to have some of Ted's writings analyzed and compared with those in the Manifesto.

Swanson came back with an answer David hoped he'd never have to hear. After linguistic experts and profilers evaluated and compared the writings, they concluded the same person probably wrote them. So, David and Linda made the painful decision to take their concerns to the FBI.

Swanson arranged for a friend — attorney Tony Bisceglie — to act as intermediary between the Kaczynskis and the FBI. But first David and Bisceglie agreed on some guidelines. Mostly, these involved maintaining David's anonymity. The FBI agreed not to tell Ted that his own brother had named him as a possible suspect.

Later, when they broke their promise of confidentiality, the media hounded David and Linda mercilessly. Straight arrow members of the task force were infuriated that the leak had occurred — not just because of the Unabomer case, but because their lowered credibility could well deter future witnesses from coming forward.

The FBI did, however, honor their promise to handle the matter discreetly. This they did — they realized a ham-handed approach could well see the bomber self-immolate if they pounced.

David and Linda still hoped against hope they were wrong. Finally, with the help of others — especially Agent Mollie Flynn — they managed to convince the FBI that the man who didn't fit the popular profile might well be the bomber, and must be investigated.

Six weeks later, on April 13th 1996 the task force arrested Ted Kaczynski at his ramshackle cabin outside Lincoln, Montana.

The tiny dwelling was crowded with proof that they'd found the Unabomber.

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