Archive for Sunday, July 28, 2002

Unabomber’s views find print again

Kaczynski essay makes it out of prison and into radical environmental newsletter

July 28, 2002


The last time Theodore Kaczynski had a lengthy article published, his 35,000-word manifesto led his brother to identify him as the Unabomber, the man who had killed three people and injured 23 more during a 17-year mail-bomb spree that authorities could not solve.

Seven years later, locked behind the walls of a federal maximum security prison in Colorado, Kaczynski apparently has managed to get his controversial views in print again.

In an article published this spring by Green Anarchy, a radical environmental newsletter, Kaczynski calls on revolutionaries to "eliminate the entire techno-industrial system" by "hitting where it hurts" and disparages the activities of most radicals as "pointless."

The essay, which repeats Kaczynski's contention that modern society must be destroyed, has disturbed Unabomber survivors as well as prison officials, who are investigating whether the article violated rules that prohibit prisoners from publishing under their own names. Even the newsletter's editors objected to some of Kaczynski's views.

"I'm surprised that he's able to write these things," said Charles Epstein, a California physician and researcher who lost fingers from one hand when he opened a mail bomb sent by Kaczynski in 1993. "To the extent that his message potentially influences malleable people, it's a concern."

Authorities are still reviewing the case, but they said they believed the essay was authentic. U.S. Bureau of Prisons officials declined to say whether they had asked Kaczynski about the article or whether they may have come across it as they monitored his outgoing mail.

However, they noted that the article expressed views similar to Kaczynski's opinions in the 1995 manifesto which was jointly published by The Washington Post and the New York Times after the then-unidentified bomber threatened more attacks if it was not printed.

One of the newsletter's editors, John Zerzan of Eugene, Ore., said he corresponded regularly with Kaczynski and received the essay from him, written in longhand.

"It's right in keeping with his general take on things," said Zerzan, 58. "There's not a total agreement with his point of view among the editors. But very often his views are worth publishing. ... We definitely concur with his views on the dangers of technology."

The Green Anarchy article is not Kaczynski's first published piece from prison.

In 1999, OFF! Magazine, produced by students at the State University of New York at Binghamton, published a "parable" by Kaczynski titled "Ship of Fools," in which Kaczynski ridiculed the advocates of animal rights, gay rights and other leftist causes.

Kaczynski, now 60, is serving four consecutive life terms in the federal prison near Florence, Colo., where he is confined to his cell 23 hours a day but is allowed mail privileges.

The Bureau of Prisons is generally free to monitor all the incoming and outgoing mail of the inmates, except for their correspondence with legal counsel, the news media and other specially designated people, said spokesman Daniel Dunne.

The Green Anarchy essay would not have been allowed to leave the prison if it had been recognized as an article for publication, Dunne said.

"We don't know if it was sent out legitimately or not," Dunne said. "This is a matter we are reviewing."

In a rambling style, Kaczynski's Green Anarchy piece dismisses the tactics of anti-globalization and pro-environment militants who focus on "smashing up McDonald's or Starbucks" instead of working to "destroy ... modern technology itself."

He says the "most promising target for political attack is the biotechnology industry," whose leaders should be encouraged to "get out of biotech."

Kaczynski repeatedly stresses in the treatise that he is not advocating violence or "illegal activity of any kind," but he also uses a number of violent analogies, including fistfights and vandalism against bulldozers.

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