A mailbox in Lincoln, Montana, shows the name Ted Kaczynski in faded lettering. Known as the Unabomber, Theodore Kaczynski was arrested and later pled guilty to mail bomb attacks that killed three people and injured 23.
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.)
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”
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… . )
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.