Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Lis Wiehl's "Hunting the Unabomber"

Lis Wiehl is the former legal analyst for Fox News and the O’Reilly Factor, and has appeared regularly on Your World with Neil Cavuto, Lou Dobbs Tonight, and the Imus morning shows. The former co-host of WOR radio's WOR Tonight with Joe Concha and Lis Wiehl, she has served as legal analyst and reporter for NBC News and NPR’s All Things Considered, as a federal prosecutor in the United States Attorney’s office, and was a tenured professor of law at the University of Washington. She appears frequently on CNN as a legal analyst. She lives near New York City.

Wiehl applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Hunting the Unabomber: The FBI, Ted Kaczynski, and the Capture of America's Most Notorious Domestic Terrorist, and reported the following:
Of the hundreds of pages in Hunting the Unabomber, it turns out that page 99 contains the single most significant decision in the dramatic history the book recounts. If that decision had gone another way, then the Unabomber might never have been caught – and this book wouldn’t exist.

The hunt for the Unabomber remains the longest running and most expensive investigation in FBI history. Ted Kaczynski managed to elude detection for nearly two decades, carrying out his reign of terror from a remote cabin in the woods of Montana.

His nearly two-decade spree began in Chicago in May 1975. Nine years and ten attacks later, investigators were still in the dark as to the identity of this serial bomber. In 1987, an eyewitness claimed to have seen the man who had left a deadly package in the parking lot of a computer store in Salt Lake City, Utah, and she was able to provide investigators with their first hard clue. The woman’s description led to the infamous sketch of a hooded man with aviator sunglasses, and breathed new life into the stalled investigation.

But, by 1993, the team of investigators “was no closer to arresting someone than they were six years earlier” -- when the Unabomber sketch had been released to the public. The lack of any real progress in the case prompted some at FBI headquarters to question whether the bureau should continue the investigation. “There was speculation that the Unabomber might never resurface either because he was no longer alive, or he had been arrested or was incarcerated for some other crime.”

Then, in December, FBI Agent Patrick Webb, who had been at the center of the investigation, was asked to organize a UNABOM conference in San Francisco. At that conference, Webb and others working the case learned that headquarters intended to shut down the investigation. But Webb would have none of it.

The entire premise of this book is to go behind the headlines and tell the real story about what it really took to unmask and apprehend the Unabomber. Page 99 concerns the pivotal moment in the case when a decision to disband the FBI’s efforts to catch this serial bomber had been made at the top (at headquarters in D.C.) yet, was turned around by a handful of heretofore unnamed agents in San Francisco, who had been valiantly working the case and who believed this killer would strike again.
Visit Lis Wiehl's website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

--Marshal Zeringue