Mail Bomber Links an End to Killings to His Manifesto
Unveiling an apparent motive and a possible way out of his murderous ways, a serial mail bomber has delivered to The New York Times and The Washington Post a 35,000-word manifesto calling for revolution against what he says is a corrupt industrial-technological society controlled by a shadowy international elite of government and corporate figures seeking to subvert human freedom.
The self-described anarchist, in a series of accompanying letters, said that if his full manuscript was published by one of the newspapers within three months, and if that paper printed three annual follow-up messages, he would stop trying to kill people. But the bomber, who threatened to blow up a plane this week, did not pledge to stop property destruction in his 17-year campaign of postal terrorism.
The documents were contained in parcels received by The Times on Wednesday and The Post yesterday and were turned over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. After examination and laboratory tests, the bureau said the manuscripts were apparently authentic writings of the terrorist who has killed 3 people and wounded 22 others with 16 mail bombs since 1978. The series of crimes has come to be known by the F.B.I. code name for the case, Unabom.
The killer, in a letter to The Times in April, said he wanted to tell his story and was working on an article of 29,000 to 37,000 words "that we want to have published" in The Times or in Time or Newsweek magazines. He said he would end his killing if his publication terms were met. The documents received this week apparently were a follow-up to that letter.
The Times and The Post, in separate statements yesterday, said they were considering whether to publish the manifesto, a 62-page, single-spaced document that often reads like a closely reasoned scholarly tract, touching on politics, history, sociology and science as it posits a cataclysmic struggle between freedom and technology. If published, the document would fill about seven pages of The Times.
The manifesto sketches a nightmarish vision of a deteriorating society and a future in which the human race is at the mercy of intelligent machines created by computer scientists. He urges a revolution in which factories would be destroyed, technical books burned and leaders overthrown. Out of the chaos, he expresses the hope that a return to "wild nature" might prevail.
The document, mixing revolutionary rhetoric and back-to-nature sentiments in a blend that might have come from Trotsky or Thoreau, laments increasingly overcrowded cities, the rapidity of social change and the "breakdown" of traditional values; rails against leftists and conservatives, and seems to add definition to the terrorist, about whom little is known.
The bomber, whom the F.B.I. believes is a man but who generally refers to himself as "us" or "we," claims to represent a terrorist group that he calls FC. But he is believed to be a loner who lives somewhere in the area of Sacramento, Calif.
In a series of accompanying letters that were delivered to The Times and are in the possession of the F.B.I. -- letters addressed to The Times, to Scientific American magazine and to Bob Guccione, the publisher of Penthouse magazine -- the bomber twitted the F.B.I. as "surprisingly incompetent." He scoffed at journalistic inaccuracies in reporting his exploits and claimed that his recent killing of a California lobbyist was not inspired by the terrorist bombing in Oklahoma City.
In addition, describing himself as "angry," the bomber appeared to be summing up the motivations and emotions of 17 years of violence and death, and, in a kind of epiphany, offered himself and the nation a way out of the killing.
Even so, he did not promise to end his campaign of terrorist bombings completely if his manuscript were published by The Times or The Post.
Distinguishing between terrorism, which he said was intended to cause death or injury, and sabotage, intended to destroy property, he reserved what he called the right to engage in sabotage even if the manuscript were published by one of what he called the "respectable" newspapers.
In his letter to Mr. Guccione, the bomber said The Times and The Post were being given "first claim on the right to publish," and that if both refused, Penthouse would be given publication rights thereafter, but on terms that might add one more death to his string and therefore increase pressure on the newspapers to publish the document.
"To increase our chances of getting our stuff published in some 'respectable' periodical we have to offer less in exchange for publication in Penthouse," he wrote. "We promise to desist permanently from terrorism, EXCEPT that we reserve the right to plant one (and only one) bomb intended to kill, AFTER our manuscript has been published."
Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr., publisher of The Times, said in a statement yesterday that the newspaper was considering whether to publish the manifesto. "The manuscript is long and we're just starting to look at it closely and study our options," he said. "There seems to be an implicit promise that bombs will not be sent while we're considering the document."
Mr. Sulzberger added: "We will act responsibly and not rashly, knowing that lives could be at stake. It seems we've been given three months to think the issues through. One issue that we find especially troubling is the demand that we not only publish the initial document but then open our pages for annual follow-ups over the next three years. Such a commitment is not easily made."
In Washington, Donald E. Graham, publisher of The Post, said: "The Post takes this communication very seriously. We are considering how to respond, and we are consulting with law enforcement officials."
Yesterday's developments came in a bizarre week in which the bomber, who had never previously issued warnings, first sent a letter to The San Francisco Chronicle threatening to blow up an airliner out of Los Angeles International Airport before the Fourth of July, and then -- in a brief message included in the package of documents sent to The Times -- called the threat a prank.
"Since the public has a short memory we decided to play one last prank to remind them who we are," he said. "But, no, we haven't tried to plant a bomb on an airliner (recently)."
The F.B.I. said the messages to The Chronicle and The Times were both the work of the bomber.
Prank or not, the threat prompted tightened security at California airports, delaying many flights and disrupting mail deliveries throughout much of the state on Wednesday. Yesterday, as travelers prepared to depart for the long Fourth of July weekend, tension was still evident among passengers at airports in Los Angeles, San Francisco and elsewhere in California.
While airlines reported normal service and no drop in the number of passengers, it was not a typical day. Some passengers were interrogated. Luggage was carefully scanned with X-rays. Extra police and security officers patrolled terminals. Postal authorities maintained a close watch over packages big enough to contain a bomb.
And Jim R. Freeman, the San Francisco special F.B.I. agent in charge of the Unabom case -- a code name adopted because the early targets were people associated with universities and airlines -- said all the precautions were justified.
"The F.B.I. reiterates that based on the Unabomer's prior history of violence, and specifically violent acts directed against airline passengers, the F.B.I. is continuing to take the threat as stated in the letter to The San Francisco Chronicle very seriously," Mr. Freeman said.
The Chronicle building in San Francisco was evacuated for an hour yesterday after someone noticed an unattended toolbox outside. A three-block area was cordoned off, while police closed in, but the toolbox turned out to be harmless.
While the bomber's lengthy manifesto outlined his complaints against society and his apparent aims, the letters that accompanied it were in some respects more pithy, particularly as they touched on the F.B.I., which has been unable to trace him.
"For an organization that pretends to be the world's greatest law-enforcement agency, the F.B.I. seems surprisingly incompetent," he asserted in the letter to The Times. "They can't even get elementary facts straight. Many news reports based on information provided by the F.B.I. are incorrect and even contradict each other."
Contrary to published reports, he said, the bomb that killed the lobbyist, Gilbert Murray, in April was not a pipe bomb and was set off by "a home made detonating cap." He also complained that the name on the address label was erroneously reported.
In another passage, he addressed questions of "morality of revolutionary violence," saying it was senseless to apply moral criteria to such violence. As for his own motives, the bomber said: "The answer is simple: Anger. Why are we so angry. You would do better to ask why there is so much anger and frustration in modern society generally. We think our manuscript gives the answer to that question."
In the letter to Scientific American, the writer displays a technical virtuosity in discussing an article on whether advanced nuclear reactors could initiate runaway reactions, and cites the subject as "a good example of the arrogance of scientists, who routinely take risks affecting the public."
The manifesto, entitled "Industrial Society and its Future," opens with a basic assertion: "The industrial revolution and its consquences have been a disaster for the human race." While benefiting some in advanced countries, it says, they have caused widespread suffering, robbed human beings of dignity and damaged the environment.
Technology, he argues, has only made matters worse, "permanently reducing human beings and many other living organisms to engineered products and mere cogs in the social machine." There is no way to reform the system, he contends, adding: "We therefore advocate a revolution against the industrial system."
The document calls the desired revolution political, with the object of overthrowing the economic and technological basis of society, not governments.
He defined freedom as "being in control" of one's own life, free from the power of others "no matter how benevolently, tolerantly and permissively that power may be exercised." Constitutional rights, he said, are not as important as they are made to seem, with personal freedom more determined by economics and technology than law.
The manifesto makes only a few oblique references to the bombings attributed to its author and refers to them not as opening shots in a revolution but as part of an effort to draw attention. -------------------- Limit on Parcels
LOS ANGELES, June 29 -- In the aftermath of the threat to blow up a Los Angeles flight, the Postal Service today said it would refuse to accept parcels flown into California or mailed from the state if they weighed more than 12 ounces and were sent by anyone other than a known shipper.
The only other time the service instituted a similar measure was during the Persian Gulf war.
To stop the flow of parcels into California's mail drops, the Postal Service has put notices on collection boxes telling people to send their packages either parcel post or through international surface mail, neither of which use airlines.
Packages left in collection boxes will be returned to the sender, said David Mazer, a spokesman for the Postal Service. Parcels from known shippers -- like Sears and L. L. Bean -- are still being accepted by the post office but are not being sent on commercial airliners.
Postal officials said the policy would affect about 30 percent of the 400,000 parcels usually mailed daily in California. The policy will continue indefinitely.
Postal authorities said that by tomorrow they expected to clear all of the hundreds of thousands of packages that have piled up over the past two days as they checked for suspicious markings, odors and wires.