Unabomber News History

Copyright 1995 The Times Mirror Company  

Los Angeles Times

July 4, 1995, Tuesday, Home Edition

SECTION: Part A; Page 1; Metro Desk

LENGTH: 1070 words





University of California psychology professor Tom R. Tyler acknowledged Monday that it was he who received a package from the Unabomber last week. Tyler said he is glad the serial terrorist was engaging in a written dialogue rather than more violent acts, and plans to reply.

"I'm very pleased the Unabomber appears interested in providing education about his beliefs," Tyler said in a prepared statement released by the university after review by the FBI.

Tyler last Friday received a package the size of a manila envelope. Mistaking it for a thesis, he opened it, discovering a letter and a copy of a manuscript from the Unabomber that appears to be a carbon copy of a lengthy manifesto sent last week to East Coast newspapers.

In keeping with his criticism of technology, the bomber apparently writes his letters on a manual typewriter and makes copies with carbon paper and ordinary typing paper, said an official familiar with the investigation, who added that the manuscripts have many typographical errors.

The bomber, he said, "doesn't believe in whiteout."

Investigators believe the bomber is something of a pack rat who has hoarded wire and stamps used in the bombings, the source said. These things are generic in nature and not easily traceable, making the terrorist hard to find. The bomber has kept stamps of varying denominations for a significant period of time, the source said, and efforts to find out where he purchased the stamps used on his packages have proved a dead end.

In preparing his bombs, the source said, the Unabomber repeatedly used wire from the same roll -- a brand of wire sold throughout the nation so it was not traceable to a specific region.

Authorities also believe the bomber is someone who has a small workshop or access to one. "He doesn't go to Radio Shack and buy things. He makes them," the source said.

* Voicing surprise at getting the package at his office, the professor said the bomber was responding to comments he made in an article published in May in the San Francisco Chronicle about "social malaise." Tyler said he is preparing a response to the material.

"I think discussion about these issues is a far more positive and ultimately much more effective way to bring about change than violence," said the 45-year-old academician.

FBI spokesman George Grotz would not comment on Tyler's statement except to say: "The FBI views the professor's comments as positive and responsive to the issues raised in the manuscript sent to him last week."

University officials said the package did not contain any threats to the professor or anyone else on campus. Instead, said Vice Chancellor Horace Mitchell, "it was clearly an attempt to provide him information."

The latest activity by the Unabomber started last week when he surfaced for the first time since April 25, when a timber industry executive was killed by a bomb sent to his office at the California Forestry Assn. office in Sacramento. The bomber sent a letter to the Chronicle threatening to blow up an airliner at Los Angeles International Airport. He later said the threat was a prank.

On Monday, airport and postal authorities said security would remain tight for the Independence Day weekend. Both the Federal Aviation Administration and an airport spokesperson denied rumors that security precautions were being reduced there.

"We will be maintaining our security level through the holidays, at least through July 5th," said Cora Fossett, an LAX spokeswoman. "At that time we'll re-evaluate. The FBI and FAA will consult with our top management and a decision will be made."

FAA spokesperson Carol Long said Monday that she doubted that any of the security precautions would be made permanent.

"As with past instances such as the Gulf War where we took security precautions, it goes back to business as usual -- sooner or later," she said. "And that's what we expect to happen here. In the meantime, the threat was supposed to be for six days, so the security will at least be maintained until the holiday is over."

Dan Mihalko, chief spokesman for the Postal Inspection Service in Washington, said restrictions imposed last Wednesday on shipment of packages of more than 12 ounces on commercial airliners leaving California remain in effect.

"We're still continuing our heightened security measures," he said. "We still feel it's a credible threat, and we're evaluating it on a daily basis."

Meanwhile, more details began to emerge about the Unabomber's package to Tyler as well as a more complete portrait of the bomber.

Tyler was quoted May 1 in a San Francisco Chronicle story that sought to compare bombers such as the one in Oklahoma City with the Unabomber. The article said they seemed to share a fear of a monolithic order robbing individuals of control.

In the article, Tyler, head of the social psychology group at Berkeley, said: "Whether it's the technological elite or the government, it's the same basic idea. . . . It's an exaggerated idea of a kind of secret, all-powerful group that's controlling people's lives."

On Friday, Tyler received the package, including a cover letter and what appeared to be the manifesto. Despite telltale signs that campus police say should have raised a caution flag, Tyler opened the flat package thinking it was a thesis. He read the contents before turning it over to campus police.

Tyler teaches classes in legal psychology, political psychology and social justice. He is the author of two books, "The Social Psychology of Procedural Justice" and "Why People Obey the Law." He joined the UC Berkeley faculty in 1990.

In his statement Monday, Tyler said: "Since the author has taken the time to respond to my published comments by sending me his manuscript, I will try to consider the positions he has outlined in it." A date for the response was not mentioned.

The Unabomber sent his manifesto to the New York Times, the Washington Post and Penthouse magazine, saying he wanted it printed as a condition for ending his 17-year stretch of package bombings. The investigation is code-named Unabom because early bombings targeted universities and airlines. Three of the bombings have been fatal, including two in Sacramento and one in New Jersey.

Paddock reported from Berkeley and Gladstone from Sacramento. Contributing to this story were Times staff writers John Glionna in Los Angeles and Ronald Ostrow in Washington.