Ted Kaczynski Crunches The Numbers
Unabomber obsessed with government Xerox skills
JANUARY 11--He killed and maimed victims during a decades-long bombing spree, but what keeps Ted Kaczynski up at night in his Colorado prison cell is the fear that federal officials are doing an inadequate job copying reams of his documents in advance of the material’s sale at auction.
The convicted Unabomber is distressed at the haste with which he thinks government officials are moving to reproduce tens of thousands of pages of material--much of it handwritten by Kaczynski--seized from the murderer’s Montana cabin.
Originals of the documents will be sold off, with the proceeds going to victims of Kaczynski’s bombing campaign.
A federal judge has ordered that Kaczynski be provided copies of the papers, which total somewhere between 20,000 and 40,000 pages. He plans on providing that material to the University of Michigan's Special Collections Library, where curator Julie Herrada oversees an archive devoted to anarchist and social protest material.
In letters written to his attorney over the past two weeks, Kaczynski griped that prosecutors are not allowing enough time to review the copies to make sure that each page is legible, that no documents are “cut off” at the top or bottom of a page, and that no pages fail to be copied.
In a January 1 letter to lawyer Erin Radekin, Kaczynski accuses her of incompetence for failing to aggressively take “measures to ensure that copies of all pages of all the seized papers are included among the copies provided by the government.” The felon, who wrote in a December 27 letter to Radekin that a prosecutor “has really taken you for a sucker,” informed his court-appointed attorney that, “I need to be represented by other counsel so that he or she can argue that you acted incompetently.”
Kaczynski, who holds a Ph.D. in mathematics, noted that the government’s offer to allow a representative of the killer 40 hours to compare the copies with the originals was inadequate. “Reviewing 40,000 pages in five days at eight hours a day, you could spend only 3.6 seconds on each page; for 20,000 pages, 7.2 seconds per page,” Kaczynski noted. He added that Herrada thought she would need a minimum of 90 days to properly review the material.
He offered a slightly different analysis in his December 27 correspondence (which, like the January 1 missive, Kaczynski filed with the U.S. District Court in Sacramento, California). If his collection amounted to 20,000 pages, “if you spend just one minute on each page, it will take you more than 8 ½ weeks at 40 hours a week to review” all the pages.
But in an asterisked footnote at the end of the handwritten letter, Kaczynski tweaked his numbers: “[*Computational error. In place of ‘more than 8 ½ weeks’ read ‘8 1/3 weeks.’]”
No replies to the Kaczynski letters have been docketed, according to a review of district and appellate court records. The murderer, serving a life term, is imprisoned at the supermax prison in Florence, Colorado, where he is likely crunching more numbers for his next printed lamentation. (11 pages)