Jan 23, 1998.
"Now we'll have plenty of time to watch the Superbowl". This comment by Ted Kaczynski's lawyer, Quin Denvir, following Kaczynski's plea of guilty to the Unabomber charges in return for life imprisonment without parole, summarizes the quality of his defense team.
Denvir, and his other representative Judy Clarke, complained that they had problems controlling their client. They deliberately prevented sympathetic people from meeting Ted by losing letters addressed to him. They refused to take his instructions. Of course, they could say that they were only trying to save his life, by pursuing a mental illness defense, the only strategy which could have avoided the death penalty given the evidence for the prosecution. But Ted Kaczynski is not insane. He is perfectly capable of weighing up the risks in a political defense.
The whining of the media, the judge, the defense and the prosecution all pointed to Ted's success in terrifying them with the prospect of a political trial.
"The system is playing right into his hand... Except for the necessity to accord him a fair trial, the best solution would be to bundle him off to the federal prison equivalent of his Montana cabin and keep him there, incommunicado, until he dies a natural death. No speeches. No parading around the courtroom. No Internet sites. No book contracts. Nothing." - San Francisco Examiner, January 14.
He was not allowed to use the services of Tony Serra, a brilliant lawyer who would have defended him for nothing. He was not even allowed to defend himself.
This article by Michael Mello, a prominent public defender, explains why Ted should have been entitled to the defense of his choosing, comparing him with abolitionist John Brown.
After he was diagnosed as schizophrenic, the government would have found it difficult to execute him. Ted was not some mentally retarded defendant like the one Clinton had executed in Arkansas to boost his election chances in 1992. Here was a man who could put the system on trial.
There was virtually no chance of the jury letting him off. But he would have made the prosecution squirm, perhaps forcing them to give a better plea bargain than the one he ended up with. He should have retained the right to appeal the legality of the original search of his cabin.
"Clearly, the government recognized the risk that a jury wouldn't have sentenced Kaczynski to death, even if he had been convicted, because of sympathy or pity for him or his family. The Feds also probably understood that any conviction and/or death sentence for Kaczynski would have been terribly suspect and subject to reversal because of doubts about his competency to stand trial and the judge's refusal to allow him to represent himself." , wrote Andrew Cohen on Fox News.
But in any case, Ted has achieved an outstanding victory. Industrial Society And Its Future is now one of the most famous documents of our time. There is no question that his strategy - conducting a campaign of sporadic bombings against active promoters of industrial development - has worked. Civilization is being questioned. This is not to deny or minimize the ethical problems involved in sending devices through the post, whereby innocent people could obviously get hurt. We do not entirely agree with the Unabomber manifesto, but we are part of the same general trend - the struggle for the future, against industrial society.