kaczynski theodore

I believe in nothing. Whereas I don’t even believe in the cult of nature-worshipers or wilderness-worshipers. (I am perfectly ready to litter in parts of the woods that are of no use to me - I often throw cans in logged-over areas or in places much frequented by people; I don’t find wilderness particularly healthy physically; I don’t hesitate to poach.)

A note found by the FBI in Ted Kaczynski’s cabin.

While Ted Kaczynski barely ever expressed sympathy for other humans during his childhood and later years, he showed great compassion towards animals.

His younger brother David Kaczynski recalls an incident, when their father had caught a young rabbit and put it into a cage for the neighbour children to look at. When Ted saw the little animal cowering in the corner, he became distressed and urged his father to let it go. No one but Ted had noticed how frightened the rabbit was.

On another occasion, Ted Kaczynski, Sr. took young Ted on a hunting trip. Ted enjoyed being on the lookout for animals, but when his father eventually shot a rabbit dead, Ted’s mood changed. He seemed crushed at the sight of the dead animal and started crying, “Oh the poor, poor bunny!”

Taken from “Every Last Tie:The Story of the Unabomber and His Family” by David Kaczynski

A letter from Theodore Kaczynski to one of his victims, Yale computer science professor David Gelernter.

Dr. Gelernter:

People with advanced degrees aren’t as smart as they think they are. If you’d had any brains you would have realized that there are a lot of people out there who resent bitterly the way techno-nerds like you are changing the world and you wouldn’t have been dumb enough to open an unexpected package from an unknown source.

In the epilog of your book, “Mirror Worlds,” you tried to justify your research by claiming that the developments you describe are inevitable, and that any college person can learn enough about computers to compete in a computer-dominated world. Apparently, people without a college degree don’t count. In any case, being informed about computers won’t enable anyone to prevent invasion of privacy (through computers), genetic engineering (to which computers make an important contribution), environmental degradation through excessive economic growth (computers make an important contribution to economic growth) and so forth.

As for the inevitability argument, if the developments you describe are inevitable, they are not inevitable in the way that old age and bad weather are inevitable. They are inevitable only because techno-nerds like you make them inevitable. If there were no computer scientists there would be no progress in computer science. If you claim you are justified in pursuing your research because the developments involved are inevitable, then you may as well say that theft is inevitable, therefore we shouldn’t blame thieves.

But we do not believe that progress and growth are inevitable.

We’ll have more to say about that later.


P.S. Warren Hoge of the New York Times can confirm that this letter does come from FC.

Timothy McVeigh’s thoughts on his death sentence, or in his words “state-assisted suicide.” These excerpts are from the book American Terrorist: Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City Bombing by Lou Michel and Dan Herbeck.

For a man entering a super-secure prison to await the death penalty, McVeigh seemed markedly, almost wilfully, unconcerned. Anyway the wind blows, doesn’t really matter to me, he thought, recalling the line from Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” On a personal level, McVeigh would welcome death; it would be his crowning achievement. The government he reflected, would be doing him a favor, ending a long march that had turned hollow in the final years. His execution would be a relief.

“I’ll be glad to leave this fucked-up world,” he said. “Truth is, I determined mostly through my travels that this world just doesn’t hold anything for me.” But as the weeks rolled by, the isolated hours he spent in the four-cell special disciplinary unit at Supermax provided time for self-examination, and he would come to realize that he was not immediately suicidal. “I figure, why not take a few years in retirement. Sit in my cell; write letters, make peace with everyone. What does that make the death penalty, if that’s what it is?” In McVeigh’s opinion, it was nothing more than state-assisted suicide. “I knew I wanted this before it happened. I knew my objective was a state-assisted suicide and when it happens, it’s in your face, motherfuckers. You just did something you’re trying to say should be illegal for medical personnel.”

Like McVeigh, Kaczynski preferred the idea of execution to life in prison. But when Kaczynski made his preference public, McVeigh thought his fellow prisoner had made a big mistake—particularly since Kaczynski was seeking a retrial. “Ted messed up,” he said. “They’re not going to want to seek death now because they know he’s being tortured with life… They won’t give the opportunity for the death penalty again, either with a federal retrial or a state trial. If one is serious about it, you should never show your hand.”

McVeigh wanted to find a way to tell Fortier that he wasn’t upset at him for testifying. He figured that Fortier might be blaming himself for McVeigh’s receiving the death penalty, and he wanted to tell him that it was his own doing. But in the end McVeigh couldn’t bring himself to speak so openly about his carefully calculated plan to have the government execute him. He feared that by making it known he had sought “a deluxe suicide-by-cop package” it might somehow hurt his chances of realizing it. McVeigh could only hope that his easygoing manner would let Fortier know he did not hate him.


A letter from Theodore Kaczynski to the authors of the book American Terrorist: Timothy McVeigh & the Oklahoma City Bombing.

I should begin by noting that the validity of my comments about McVeigh is limited by the fact that I didn’t know him terribly well. We were often put in the outdoor rec yard together in separate wire-mesh cages, but I always spent most of the rec period running in a small oval, because of the restricted area of the cages and consequently I had only about 15 or 20 minutes of each rec period for talking with other inmates. Also, I was at first reluctant to become friendly with McVeigh because I thought (correctly) that any friendly relations between McVeigh and me would be reported to the media and I also thought (incorrectly, it seems) that such reports would lose me many supporters. But my reluctance very soon passed away: When you’re confined with other people under the conditions that exist on this range of cells, you develop a sense of solidarity with them regardless of any differences or misgivings.

On a personal level I like McVeigh and I imagine that most people would like him. He was easily the most outgoing of all the inmates on our range of cells and had excellent social skills. He was considerate of others and knew how to deal with people effectively. He communicated somehow even with the inmates on the range of cells above ours, and, because he talked with more people, he always knew more about what was going on than anyone else on our range.

Another reason why he knew more about what was going on was that he was very observant. Up to a point, I can identify with this trait of McVeigh’s. When you’ve lived in the woods for a while you get so that your senses are far more alert than those of a city person; you will hardly miss a footprint, or even a fragment of one, and the slightest sound, if it deviates from the pattern of sounds that you’re expecting to hear at a given time and place, will catch your attention. But when I was away from the woods, or even when I was in my cabin or absorbed in some task, my senses tended to turn inward, so to speak, and the observant alertness was shut off. Here at the ADX, my senses and my mind are turned inward most of the time, so it struck me as remarkable that even in prison McVeigh remained alert and consistently took an interest in his surroundings.

It is my impression that McVeigh is very intelligent. He thinks seriously about the problems of our society, especially as they relate to the issue of individual freedom, and to the extent that he expressed his ideas to me they seemed rational and sensible. However, he discussed these matters with me only to a limited extent and I have no way of being sure that he does not have other ideas that he did not express to me and that I would not consider rational or sensible. I know almost nothing about McVeigh’s opinions concerning the U.S. government or the events at Waco and Ruby Ridge. Someone sent me a transcript of his interview with 60 Minutes, but I haven’t read it yet. Consequently, I have no way of knowing whether I would consider his opinion on these subjects to be rational or sensible.

McVeigh is considered to belong to the far right, and for that reason some people apparently assume that he has racist tendencies. But I saw no indication of this. On the contrary, he was on very friendly terms with the African-American inmates here and I never heard him make any remark that could have been considered even remotely racist. I do recall his mentioning that prior to the Gulf War, he and other soldiers were subjected to propaganda designed to make them hate the people they were going to fight, but when he arrived in the Persian Gulf area he discovered that the “enemies” he was supposed to kill were human beings just like himself, and he learned to respect their culture.

McVeigh told me of his idea (which I think may have significant merit) that certain rebellious elements on the American right and left respectively had more in common with one another than is commonly realized, and that the two groups ought to join forces. This led us to discuss, though only briefly, the question of what constitutes the “right.” I pointed out that the word “right,” in the political sense, was originally associated with authoritarianism, and I raised the question of why certain radically anti-authoritarian groups (such as the Montana Freemen) were lumped together with authoritarian factions as the “right.” McVeigh explained that the American far right could be roughly divided into two branches, the fascist/racist branch, and the individualistic or freedom-loving branch which generally was not racist. He did not know why these two branches were lumped together as the “right,” but he did suggest a criterion that could be used to distinguish left from right: the left (in America today) generally dislikes firearms, while the right tends to be attracted to firearms.

By this criterion McVeigh himself would have to be assigned to the right. He once asked me what kind of rifle I’d used for hunting in Montana, and I said I’d had a .22 and a .30-06. On a later occasion McVeigh mentioned that one of the advantages of a .30-06 was that one could get armor-piercing ammunition for it.  I said, “So what would I need armor-piercing ammunition for?” In reply, McVeigh indicated that I might some day want to shoot at a tank. I didn’t bother to argue with him, but if I’d considered it worth the trouble I could have given the obvious answer: that the chances that I would ever have occasion to shoot at a tank were very remote. I think McVeigh knew well that there was little likelihood that I would ever need to shoot at a tank—or that he would either, unless he rejoined the Army. My speculative interpretation is that McVeigh resembles many people on the right who are attracted to powerful weapons for their own sake and independently of any likelihood that they will ever have a practical use for them. Such people tend to invent excuses, often far-fetched ones, for acquiring weapons for which they have no real need.

But McVeigh did not fit the stereotype of the extreme right-wingers. I’ve already indicated that he spoke of respect for other people’s cultures, and in doing so he sounded like a liberal. He certainly was not a mean or hostile person, and I wasn’t aware of any indication that he was super patriotic. I suspect that he is an adventurer by nature, and America since the closing of the frontier has had little room for adventurers.

McVeigh never discussed the Oklahoma City bombing with me, nor did he ever make any admissions in my hearing. I know nothing about that case except what the media have said, so I’m not going to offer any opinion about whether McVeigh did what they say he did. However, assuming that the Oklahoma City bombing was intended as a protest against the U.S. government in general and against the government’s actions at Waco in particular, I will say that I think the bombing was a bad action because it was unnecessarily inhumane.

A more effective protest could have been made with far less harm to innocent people. Most of the people who died at Oklahoma City were, I imagine, lower-level government employees—office help and the like—who were not even remotely responsible for objectionable government policies or for the events at Waco. If violence were to be used to express protest, it could have been used far more humanely, and at the same time more effectively, by being directed at the relatively small number of people who were personally responsible for the policies or actions to which the protesters objected. Such protest would have attracted just as much national attention as the Oklahoma City bombing and would have involved relatively little risk to innocent people. Moreover, the protest would have earned far more sympathy than the Oklahoma City bombing did, because it is safe to assume that many anti-government people who might have accepted violence that was more limited and carefully directed were repelled by the large loss of innocent life at Oklahoma City.

The media teach us to be horrified at the Oklahoma City bombing, but I won’t have time to be horrified at it as long as there are greater horrors in the world that make it seem insignificant by comparison. Moreover, our politicians and our military kill people in far larger numbers than was done at Oklahoma City, and they do so for motives that are far more cold blooded and calculating. On orders from the president, a general will kill some thousands of people (usually including many civilians regardless of efforts to avoid such losses) without bothering to ask himself whether the killing is justified. He has to follow orders because his only other alternative would be to resign his commission, and naturally he would rather kill a few thousand people than spoil his career. The politicians and the media justify these actions with propaganda about “defending freedom.” However, even if America were a free society (which it is not), most U.S. military action during at least the last couple of decades has not been necessary for the survival of American society but has been designed to protect relatively narrow economic or political interests or to boost the president’s approval rating in the public-opinion polls.

The media portray the killing at Oklahoma City as a ghastly atrocity, but I remember how they cheered the U.S. action in the Gulf War just as they might have cheered for their favorite football team. The whole thing was treated as if it were a big game. I didn’t see any sob stories about the death agonies of Iraqi soldiers or about their grieving families. It’s easy to see the reason for the difference: America’s little wars are designed to promote the interests of “the system,” but violence at home is dangerous to the system, so the system’s propaganda has to teach us the correspondingly correct attitudes toward such events. Yet I am much less repelled by powerless dissidents who kill a couple hundred because they think they have no other way to effectively state their protest, than I am by politicians and generals—people in positions of great power—who kill hundreds or thousands for the sake of cold calculated political and economic advantages.

You asked for my thoughts on the behavior of federal law enforcement officers. My personal experience suggests that federal law enforcement officers are neither honest nor competent, and that they often disobey their own rules.

I’ve found by experience that any communication with journalists is risky for one in my position. I’m taking the risk in this case mainly because I think that McVeigh would want me to help you in the way that I have. As I indicated near the beginning of this letter, when you’re locked up with other people you develop a sense of solidarity with them in spite of any differences.

Sincerely yours, Ted Kaczynski.

An excerpt from the May 2001 issue of Esquire magazine featuring correspondence between Timothy McVeigh and Phil Bacharach.

In May 1998, Theodore Kaczynski, the Unabomber, became McVeigh’s neighbor. Along with World Trade Center bombing mastermind Ramzi Yousef, they made up the trio of Supermax’s most notorious inhabitants.

MAY 22, 1998

Friday PM

I have started this letter 3 times and have so far failed to put my thoughts into any meaningful or coherent order. This is a reflection of my haggard mental state at this time (due mostly to fatigue/lack of sleep). I’ll try again… . This place has turned into a complete circus.

Now I’m gonna mention this, but don’t you dare discuss it in future letters . . . as it would probably be considered a security breach and cause to restrict my mail privileges (although I write it with no criminal intent, so I have no problem telling you).

Kaczynski is literally my neighbor—and hence, most of my problems stem from this.

Before he arrived, I was moved to a “new” cell (there are 4 on this range). After I thoroughly cleaned it (my new home), they moved me back here (to my original cell) after 3 weeks. My cell had been brutally thrashed by a pig-inmate (Luis Felipe—he’s resident #3. His story appeared in The New York Times. He lives like a pig—crap smeared on the walls, etc.), so I began cleaning again. Guess who they moved into the one I had just cleaned?!? Kaczynski. Things just get worse from there, including a change (to my detriment) to their lighting policy (in my cell only) at night; a guard stationed out front of my neighbor, who, depending on personality can engage in 8-hour arbitrary harassment (clicking cuffs, etc.)—all right after I get a favorable 6-month review. (It’s a conspiracy, I tell ya!)

So things have been far from stable here.

As for the final episode of Seinfeld; after much internal strife, I opted for Unforgiven on ABC (possibly the best movie ever made). Fuck ABC for having me have to make such a decision in the first place; but I didn’t have a VCR and may never have seen Unforgiven again.

I aggured I could catch Seinfeld on a re-run, but after viewing it during commercial breaks on ABC, I didn’t really care to see it. It looked lame, and I did see the ending—dumb.

That was the only bright spot this May: In a span of 4 days, I saw Unforgiven, Forrest Gump, and The Rock (All on my “Top Ten Movies” list.)

One of the guards out in the hall last night told another of the shootings at the school in Springfield, Oregon. The other guard’s response? (I’m not kidding… . )

“Job security.”

In the “bombers wing” of Supermax prison, McVeigh eventually warmed up to his fellow celebrity inmates, Kaczynski and Yousef. The trio, allowed outside in the prison exercise yard for ten hours each week, sometimes made small talk, separated by small individual wire-mesh enclosures. Yousef and Kaczynski discussed languages while McVeigh chatted with them about the movies they watched on the twelve-inch black-and-white TVs in each cell.

More letters here: http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/a1265/esq0501-may-mcveigh

Et qu’est-ce qui a été fait concernant les problèmes psychologiques des temps modernes ? Les médicaments, la psychothérapie – qui sont, de mon point de vue, des offenses à la dignité humaine.
—  Theodore J. Kaczynski, L’effondrement du système technologique