Unabomber News History

Copyright 1995 Plain Dealer Publishing Co.

The Plain Dealer

May 6, 1995 Saturday, FINAL / ALL


LENGTH: 470 words





NASA officials, concerned that the so-called Unabomber might target agency scientists, this week told the FBI to remove a computer file that was set up as the first "Wanted" poster in cyberspace.

The FBI's Unabom file, accessible over the Internet, was created in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's computer in December 1993 to solicit tips in the frustrating case. The Unabom file, which was the first known use of the Internet in a major criminal investigation, offers a $1 million reward for clues leading to the arrest of the elusive suspect who since 1978 has killed three and injured 23 in attacks from New Jersey to California.

The document, which can be read by any computer user with access to the World Wide Web, will be accessible at a new address after it is moved to a Justice Department computer. It includes a sketch of the bomber and recounts the case's chronology. The file indicates it was last updated in March.

In a phone conversation Thursday, Dr. David Cooper of NASA's Ames Research Center in California told FBI Special Agent Joel Moss that the FBI must remove the file by June 30 because space agency officials fear its presence might provoke the bomber to attack their scientists, according to an internal FBI memo. Previous Unabomber victims have included a number of scientists and professors.

Neither Cooper nor Moss would say yesterday whether the Unabomber had made specific threats against any NASA scientists.

"This is a sensitive issue here, and I've been advised not to comment on any of this matter until more time goes by," Cooper said.

NASA also told the FBI that agents working on the Unabom case may no longer receive e-mail about the case at the agency's Internet address and must remove any case files from NASA computers, according to the memo.

Moss declined to comment.

The FBI will move the Unabomber file and another public file with information about last month's bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City to a computer run by the Justice Department, a NASA spokesman said.

"We helped them get it set up and running, because we have a lot of expertise with computers and the Internet," said Brian Welch, NASA spokesman. "But we don't have any involvement in the case, and it makes sense for them to be on a Department of Justice" computer.

Welch said that NASA has helped other government entities - including the White House - to create public files on the World Wide Web that later were moved to other computers.

Currently, a computer user who wants to read the FBI's Unabomber page would use a software program called a web browser that connects to files on the World Wide Web. The address of the FBI page, until the end of June, is http://naic.nasa.gov/fbi/

Officials said they do not yet know what the new address will be.