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Slice of history on view in Unabomber's cabin

Museum recounts FBI, news links

Unabomber Ted Kaczynski's cabin is part of an exhibition recounting the FBI's relationship with the news media. Unabomber Ted Kaczynski's cabin is part of an exhibition recounting the FBI's relationship with the news media. (Newseum via associated press)
Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Brett Zongker
Associated Press / June 20, 2008

WASHINGTON - The tiny Montana cabin where the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski, hid now stands a few blocks from the Washington headquarters of the FBI, which spent 17 years searching for him.

The 10-by-12-foot cabin is on public display for the first time in a new exhibition, "G-Men and Journalists: Top News Stories of the FBI's First Century," which opens today at the Newseum, a museum about the news.

When FBI agents found Kaczynski, they also found a live bomb in the cabin. Over nearly two decades, his homemade bombs killed three people and injured 23 others. Visitors can look inside the mostly bare cabin's front door and envision the Unabomber sleeping against the wall.

"You can still see the outline, we think, of his body from the soot and smoke that built up from the wood-burning stove," said Cathy Trost, a Newseum official.

The cabin was stored in an FBI evidence facility after Kaczynski's bombing spree from 1978 to 1995. Kaczynski is serving a life sentence with no possibility of parole.

Newspapers including The Washington Post and The New York Times faced an ethical dilemma over whether to publish Kaczynski's manifesto, also on display. "In the end they did publish it, and in the end that's what led to his capture, because his brother saw phrases that looked familiar to him" and tipped off the FBI, said Newseum vice president Susan Bennett.

The exhibit features stories and artifacts from other memorable FBI investigations, including the Branch Davidian siege in Waco, Texas, the Oklahoma City bombing two years later, and, more recently, the 2002 Washington-area sniper shootings. It includes a replica of the car trunk used by John Allen Muhammad and teenage accomplice Lee Boyd Malvo in the shooting spree that left 10 people dead.

"This is a great example of how there was confrontation between the media and the FBI," Bennett said. When a reporter got a tip on the suspect's license plate number, the FBI did not want it revealed for fear it would cause the suspects to ditch the car and flee.

Newseum curators retained editorial control of the exhibit, though many of the artifacts are on loan, Bennett said.

"We told them we're not going to include just the good stories of the press either," she said, noting a section on how newsman Walter Winchell traded favors with FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.

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