Manhunt: The Search for the Unabomber

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Manhunt: The Search for the Unabomber

Post by Upton_O_Goode » Sat Feb 23, 2019 12:17 pm

I checked this video out of the library last Saturday and watched the eight 50-minute episodes over four days. It certainly held my attention, although it also certainly embroidered the story a lot. The central character in it was FBI profiler James R. Fitzgerald, who was indeed the man who nailed the linguistic analysis that finally got a search warrant for Ted Kaczinski's cabin. Apparently, this character in the movie was "a composite of several people involved in the investigation," according to Fitzgerald himself. In order to get a dramatic story out of the raw narrative, the writers portrayed Fitzgerald as a lonely pioneer in the field of "forensic linguistics," despised by the traditionalists, who wanted forensic and eyewitness evidence that they could never get and didn't have a clue about the fact that the use of language identifies a person. (Have they never looked up the history of the word "shibboleth"??) In reality, Fitzgerald didn't come into the case until after Kaczinski's brother had already turned him in.

And some parts border on the unbelievable: Would the FBI have been allowed to take Kaczinski out of his cell and drive him to an air base where his shack had been transported without his lawyer present and try to break him down? I somehow don't think so.

Still, it's a fascinating story, and I enjoyed it a lot.
“It is certainly sad and regrettable that so many innocent people died…Stalin was absolutely adamant on making doubly sure: spare no one…I don’t deny that I supported that view. I was simply not able to study every individual case…It was hard to draw a precise line where to stop.”

Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Skryabin (“Molotov”)

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Re: Manhunt: The Search for the Unabomber

Post by bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Sat Feb 23, 2019 12:31 pm

This makes no sense to me. There is nothing "to nail" once the suspect is ID'ed and arrested after the brother turns him in. Not that the show cannot be good, it obviously is.........just no nailing going on. confirming what is already proven by other evidence? No nails, no screws, no glue, no clamps.........not even rubber bands.
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Re: Manhunt: The Search for the Unabomber

Post by Upton_O_Goode » Sun Feb 24, 2019 4:10 pm

bobbo_the_Pragmatist wrote:
Sat Feb 23, 2019 12:31 pm
This makes no sense to me. There is nothing "to nail" once the suspect is ID'ed and arrested after the brother turns him in. Not that the show cannot be good, it obviously is.........just no nailing going on. confirming what is already proven by other evidence? No nails, no screws, no glue, no clamps.........not even rubber bands.
The brother's testimony wasn't proof. They needed more than linguistic evidence to get a conviction.

But I really can't help you if this makes no sense to you. Did you try reading the link I provided?
“It is certainly sad and regrettable that so many innocent people died…Stalin was absolutely adamant on making doubly sure: spare no one…I don’t deny that I supported that view. I was simply not able to study every individual case…It was hard to draw a precise line where to stop.”

Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Skryabin (“Molotov”)

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Re: Manhunt: The Search for the Unabomber

Post by landrew » Sun Feb 24, 2019 6:01 pm

The US taxpayer didn't get much for their money from the FBI in my opinion, for what was probably millions spent over two decades of investigations into finding the unabomber. As we know, it was his own brother who eventually turned him in. This is not to say that they wouldn't have eventually caught him using their own methods, but it's a testament to that Kaczynski's intelligence was a mismatch to their own, that he was able to keep ahead of them for so long. The story makes for a fascinating TV series, but it may as well have been about the Three Stooges with regard to the success of their efforts to "nail" the unabomber.

I shared a bus ride with Ted Kaczynski sitting across the aisle from me from Great Falls Montana to Helena around 1993. Although I didn't know who he was at the time, he formed a strong impression in my mind of gravitas, even though his appearance was shabby and derelict. When I saw pictures of him in 1996 at the time of his arrest, I recognized him instantly as the bus passenger I had seen 3 years earlier.

Although I haven't watched the series, it would be more instructive and entertaining (in my opinion) to see all the ways they went wrong in failing to "nail" the unabomber for many years. I'm very much in favor of glorifying law enforcement in the media when they are successful, but not when they fail. Be it political interference, personal and inter-departmental rivalries or downright incompetence, I think the drama of that would be a good recipe for an entertaining series.
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Re: Manhunt: The Search for the Unabomber

Post by bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:24 pm

Upton_O_Goode wrote:
Sun Feb 24, 2019 4:10 pm

The brother's testimony wasn't proof. They needed more than linguistic evidence to get a conviction.
Breathe deeply and fix that. You are mixing up the brother with the linguistic expert and evidently don't know what a nail is.
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Re: Manhunt: The Search for the Unabomber

Post by Upton_O_Goode » Mon Feb 25, 2019 11:12 am

bobbo_the_Pragmatist wrote:
Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:24 pm
Upton_O_Goode wrote:
Sun Feb 24, 2019 4:10 pm

The brother's testimony wasn't proof. They needed more than linguistic evidence to get a conviction.
Breathe deeply and fix that. You are mixing up the brother with the linguistic expert and evidently don't know what a nail is.
No, I'm not. You're the one who is mixed up here. But I'll admit that "testimony" isn't quite accurate. "Evidence" would have been better. It's what was told to the FBI. There was no actual testimony in court, as Kaczynski pleaded guilty.
“It is certainly sad and regrettable that so many innocent people died…Stalin was absolutely adamant on making doubly sure: spare no one…I don’t deny that I supported that view. I was simply not able to study every individual case…It was hard to draw a precise line where to stop.”

Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Skryabin (“Molotov”)

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Re: Manhunt: The Search for the Unabomber

Post by Upton_O_Goode » Mon Feb 25, 2019 11:18 am

landrew wrote:
Sun Feb 24, 2019 6:01 pm
The US taxpayer didn't get much for their money from the FBI in my opinion, for what was probably millions spent over two decades of investigations into finding the unabomber. As we know, it was his own brother who eventually turned him in. This is not to say that they wouldn't have eventually caught him using their own methods, but it's a testament to that Kaczynski's intelligence was a mismatch to their own, that he was able to keep ahead of them for so long. The story makes for a fascinating TV series, but it may as well have been about the Three Stooges with regard to the success of their efforts to "nail" the unabomber.

I shared a bus ride with Ted Kaczynski sitting across the aisle from me from Great Falls Montana to Helena around 1993. Although I didn't know who he was at the time, he formed a strong impression in my mind of gravitas, even though his appearance was shabby and derelict. When I saw pictures of him in 1996 at the time of his arrest, I recognized him instantly as the bus passenger I had seen 3 years earlier.

Although I haven't watched the series, it would be more instructive and entertaining (in my opinion) to see all the ways they went wrong in failing to "nail" the unabomber for many years. I'm very much in favor of glorifying law enforcement in the media when they are successful, but not when they fail. Be it political interference, personal and inter-departmental rivalries or downright incompetence, I think the drama of that would be a good recipe for an entertaining series.
I agree with you. It took them two decades to nail the guy. The series I watched explains that as the result of the conservatism of FBI agents, who didn't trust profilers and refused to admit that language could be a clue to anything. They had to have Kaczynski handed to them on a platter by his brother and sister-in-law, and that was purely on the basis of language. As the series presented it---and here I have doubts as to its accuracy---Fitzgerald had to use underhanded methods to (1) get hold of the tip from David Kaczynski's lawyer, which the FBI had discounted and (2) find out where David lived and seek him out. I'm pretty sure all that is pure fiction.
“It is certainly sad and regrettable that so many innocent people died…Stalin was absolutely adamant on making doubly sure: spare no one…I don’t deny that I supported that view. I was simply not able to study every individual case…It was hard to draw a precise line where to stop.”

Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Skryabin (“Molotov”)

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Re: Manhunt: The Search for the Unabomber

Post by bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Mon Feb 25, 2019 11:26 am

Gee Upton, you're making me feel awful dumb. If they needed more than linquistic evidence to get a conviction, then how did the liguistic evidence "nail" Kaczynski? Its usually the nail that "makes" a conviction. REREADING: OOPS. I see, the linguistics expert only nailed the SEARCH WARRANT. Geese! You think without liquistics that no search warrant would have been secured?......................ha, ha. Here: pull my finger.

...........and no, I have not watched Eight 50 minute videos but I have read the short bio on Fitzgerald that tells me nothing of interest. Is there a third link? Given the importance of Kaczynski, I'd purely guess that about any schlube saying it looks like Kaczynski to me, eg: His Brother, would have secured a search warrant. How about no search warrant at all and just go visit the guy in the woods? What do you think would happen then?

Sorry to have not recognized and stayed focused on what was nailed. Popsicile houses usually use little tacks or glue. Nails are too big..........
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Re: Manhunt: The Search for the Unabomber

Post by Lausten » Thu Feb 28, 2019 7:14 pm

Upton_O_Goode wrote:
Mon Feb 25, 2019 11:18 am
They had to have Kaczynski handed to them on a platter by his brother and sister-in-law, and that was purely on the basis of language. As the series presented it---and here I have doubts as to its accuracy---Fitzgerald had to use underhanded methods to (1) get hold of the tip from David Kaczynski's lawyer, which the FBI had discounted and (2) find out where David lived and seek him out. I'm pretty sure all that is pure fiction.
Aren't we missing a key aspect of the story? And I'm pretty sure this is fact. The reason they published the manifesto was the hope that someone would see it and recognize either the odd use of certain words or the overall theme. This was before the internet, so they didn't have all the problems we would have with attempting to do that today. The key scene in the series showed his sister in law sister at a cafe in Paris and picking up the paper. That fact could be fairly easily to verify. Regardless, the FBI's reason for doing it remains the same.
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Re: Manhunt: The Search for the Unabomber

Post by landrew » Thu Feb 28, 2019 7:20 pm

Lausten wrote:
Thu Feb 28, 2019 7:14 pm
Aren't we missing a key aspect of the story? And I'm pretty sure this is fact. The reason they published the manifesto was the hope that someone would see it and recognize either the odd use of certain words or the overall theme. This was before the internet, so they didn't have all the problems we would have with attempting to do that today. The key scene in the series showed his sister in law sister at a cafe in Paris and picking up the paper. That fact could be fairly easily to verify. Regardless, the FBI's reason for doing it remains the same.
The decision was made for public safety reasons. The Unabomber had threatened to kill more people if the manifesto were not published.

https://www.poynter.org/reporting-editi ... manifesto/
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Re: Manhunt: The Search for the Unabomber

Post by Lausten » Thu Feb 28, 2019 7:35 pm

Upton_O_Goode wrote:
Mon Feb 25, 2019 11:12 am
bobbo_the_Pragmatist wrote:
Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:24 pm
Upton_O_Goode wrote:
Sun Feb 24, 2019 4:10 pm

The brother's testimony wasn't proof. They needed more than linguistic evidence to get a conviction.
Breathe deeply and fix that. You are mixing up the brother with the linguistic expert and evidently don't know what a nail is.
No, I'm not. You're the one who is mixed up here. But I'll admit that "testimony" isn't quite accurate. "Evidence" would have been better. It's what was told to the FBI. There was no actual testimony in court, as Kaczynski pleaded guilty.
The parts of the documentary where they try to get him to confess are some of the most interesting, fact or not, I think they paint a reasonable picture of the thought process. Linguistic evidence was a new thing and Kacynski saw a weakness in that. He might have been able to win that defense. According to the documentary, they convinced him that if he won, he would have to claim he was not the unabomber and he would be watched so he would have to stop being the unabomber, his plan to wake up the industrialized world to its evils would be thwarted. He would have to blend into the very culture he despised.
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Re: Manhunt: The Search for the Unabomber

Post by landrew » Thu Feb 28, 2019 8:47 pm

I read a book about the Unabomber about 20+ years ago, written by an FBI profiler but started before he was caught, and then abridged after he was arrested. I don't recall the title and it may no longer be in print, but it seemed to be riding the wave of profiling as a "wonder tool" in the 90s, before it became vilified as discriminatory towards minorities. I recall in the book that they said the pattern for bombers was that most of them were of Polish ethnic extraction. Such an assertion would probably cause controversy today. There are several similar books, written by former FBI agents, which try to glorify the investigation, touted as the "most expensive FBI manhunt of all time."
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Re: Manhunt: The Search for the Unabomber

Post by Upton_O_Goode » Thu Feb 28, 2019 8:57 pm

Lausten wrote:
Thu Feb 28, 2019 7:14 pm
Upton_O_Goode wrote:
Mon Feb 25, 2019 11:18 am
They had to have Kaczynski handed to them on a platter by his brother and sister-in-law, and that was purely on the basis of language. As the series presented it---and here I have doubts as to its accuracy---Fitzgerald had to use underhanded methods to (1) get hold of the tip from David Kaczynski's lawyer, which the FBI had discounted and (2) find out where David lived and seek him out. I'm pretty sure all that is pure fiction.
Aren't we missing a key aspect of the story? And I'm pretty sure this is fact. The reason they published the manifesto was the hope that someone would see it and recognize either the odd use of certain words or the overall theme. This was before the internet, so they didn't have all the problems we would have with attempting to do that today. The key scene in the series showed his sister in law sister at a cafe in Paris and picking up the paper. That fact could be fairly easily to verify. Regardless, the FBI's reason for doing it remains the same.
You are correct. That portion of the series was reported accurately. The publication was deliberately done to see if anybody would recognize the writing style and ideas, and it was Kaczynski's sister-in-law who first noticed the clear resemblance.

What I think was fictionalized was (1) the FBI's rejection of what David Kaczynski and his wife reported, (2) the FBI's response to David that Ted was not a suspect, (3) Fitzgerald's obtaining unauthorized access to the FBI file that had been labeled "CLEARED," and (4) Fitzgerald's knocking on David's door to get the investigation reopened. This was all embroidered to enhance the narrative of a lonely pioneer fighting for a new technique against conservative opposition.
“It is certainly sad and regrettable that so many innocent people died…Stalin was absolutely adamant on making doubly sure: spare no one…I don’t deny that I supported that view. I was simply not able to study every individual case…It was hard to draw a precise line where to stop.”

Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Skryabin (“Molotov”)

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Re: Manhunt: The Search for the Unabomber

Post by bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Thu Feb 28, 2019 9:29 pm

always go for the combo plate.
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