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Archive for January 25th, 2018

Retired FBI Agent: The Ongoing Attempt to Denigrate the Unabomber TV Series and My Role in the Investigation

James R. Fitzgerald spent 31 years in law enforcement – 11 years as a Bensalem (PA) police officer/detective/sergeant and 20 years in the FBI as an agent/supervisor/profiler/forensic linguist – before retiring in 2007.  He is now a consultant and an author.

By James R. Fitzgerald, FBI (Ret.)

If you watched the eight-hour Discovery Channel scripted limited-series, Manhunt: Unabomber, which aired during the summer of 2017, and is presently available on DVD, Netflix, and other streaming services, you may recall the protagonist of the series.

His name was Jim Fitzgerald, aka, “Fitz.”  He was portrayed by actor Sam Worthington.  Well, it’s the “real” Fitz (as opposed to the “reel” Fitz) who is the author of the article you are presently reading.  I’m the now-retired FBI  agent/supervisor/criminal profiler/forensic linguist who was directly involved in the actual Unabom case and helped finally bring the 17-year-long investigation to its conclusion with the arrest of Theodore J. Kaczynski in 1996.

James Fitzgerald

I chose to submit this article to ticklethewire.com to address numerous false allegations made about me and my role in the Unabom investigation in two separate articles previously published on this site.  They were each written by an individual named Greg Stejskal.

In both of these articles (dated August 10, 2017 and January 05, 2018) he presented opinions regarding Manhunt, which were very negative regarding its plotline, its supposed historical inaccuracy and other related issues.  At the same time, he alleged certain “facts” which were very negative regarding me.  Upon reading Stejskal’s second article, I decided to take this opportunity to provide a public retort to both of them and his continued grossly inaccurate statements about me, the “real” Fitz, which are contained therein.

Before proceeding any further, let me clearly state that I have no problem whatsoever with Stejskal expressing his negativity toward the “Based on True Events” Manhunt: Unabomber series.

If he sincerely didn’t like it for whatever reasons, he certainly has a right to express his opinions including in forums such as ticklethewire.com – even if he only watched one episode of Manhunt before writing and submitting his first highly deleterious critique, in which it is evident that he doesn’t seem to quite comprehend that the series was not a documentary, that he has little, if any,  concept of what is a “composite character,” and that he apparently lacks an understanding of what the phrase “Based on…” means in Hollywood parlance.

That being said, when I read in Stejskal’s second article the repeated and demonstrably erroneous accounts of the Real Fitz’s/my role, or alleged non-role, while assigned to the Unabom Task Force (UTF) in ’95 and ’96, despite my well-documented contributions to the eventual identification, arrest, and successful prosecution of Kaczynski, I knew it was time to respond to Stejskal and his repeated “fake news,” certainly as it pertained to me.

By the way, if you haven’t read his second article, Stejskal, also a retired FBI agent, cites a recent letter ostensibly written by Ted Kaczynski, a.k.a., the Unabomber, in a bizarre attempt to somehow bolster his (Stejskal’s) negative opinion of Manhunt.  (Spoiler alert: the Unabomber didn’t like the series either – even though, like Stejskal, he never actually watched it.)

I’ll withhold the behavioral implications of this peculiar dynamic for perhaps a subsequent article.  However, I will state here that if another FBI agent has ever quoted an imprisoned convicted serial killer to enhance his or her own personal image, reputation, opinion, and/or agenda, to somehow prove he or she was “right” about something outside of law enforcement circles (in this case, doubts about the accuracy of a television show), I’m not aware of it.  Stejskal may be a true trailblazer in this regard.

Theodore Kaczynski (FBI photo)

Before getting into the facts regarding my real role in the Unabom case, a brief summary is in order regarding the genesis of Manhunt: Unabomber.  How it made its way from the sloping hills of Lincoln, Montana, to the rolling streets of San Francisco to the Atlanta area (where it was filmed), to the Discovery Channel and other media is an interesting story in and of itself.

After Retiring 

The making of Manhunt began in earnest when I first retired from the FBI in 2007.  That’s when my good friend Jim Clemente (a fellow FBI profiler; ret. 2009) and I got together and decided that telling the story of the Unabom investigation in a television limited-series format would be a highly worthwhile undertaking.

We wanted to showcase to the world how our agency, the FBI, initially struggled, but then finally succeeded in resolving this 17-year-long investigation of an unknown serial bomber who had killed three, seriously injured dozens, and almost brought down a commercial airliner.

While committing these crimes, this nameless offender was also taunting the FBI and the public with his various pseudonymous letters (each signed with only “FC”), not to mention trying to get his “Article,” a.k.a., Manifesto, published in a mainstream newspaper.  Clemente and I knew we had in this long-term investigation an excellent story about a group of dedicated agents and analysts going up against the consummate criminal mastermind, the likes of which U.S. law enforcement, to include the FBI, had never before encountered.  We even came up with an early working title for the series – Manifesto.  Now, it was time to put pen to paper, or more accurately, fingers to keyboard.  And that’s exactly what we did.

Jim Clemente and I eventually brought our friend Tony Gittelson into the project.  He is a long-time professional screenwriter based in Los Angeles.

Read more »

Special Counsel Probe Closes in on Trump After 8 Months of Interviews

President Trump, via White House.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An eight-month special counsel probe into ties between Donald Trump’s campaign and Russian officials has hit a critical stage as investigators close in on the president over allegations of obstruction of justice and collusion with an adversarial country.

Special counsel Robert Mueller and his legal team plan to soon question Trump in what could carry enormous consequences for the presidency and the country.

Since May, Mueller’s team has already interviewed more than 20 White House employees, and legal analysts believe, based on those meetings, that Mueller is pursuing obstruction of justice charges against Trump for allegedly firing his FBI director James Comey for refusing to drop an investigation into the president’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn.

But legal experts are growing skeptical that Mueller’s team has enough evidence to charge Trump with colluding with Russia to undermine Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

It’s unknown whether the special counsel team is pursuing other charges against the president.

Trump has repeatedly dismissed the investigation as a “witch hunt” and accused the FBI’s leadership of conspiring to bring him down.

On Wednesday, Trump said in an impromptu press conference that he “looks forward” to the special counsel investigation, insisting he did nothing wrong.

Trump Says He’s ‘Looking Forward’ to Speaking Under Oath As Part of Russia Probe

President Trump, via White House

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A defiant and resolute President Trump said Wednesday he is “looking forward” to testifying in the special counsel investigation into ties between his campaign and Russians, insisting he did nothing wrong.

Trump told reporters at an impromptu question-and-answer session that he’s so confident of his innocence that he will testify under oath – a move that could have enormous consequences for his presidency.

“Here’s the story, just so you understand,” Trump said in the West Wing.

“There’s been no collusion whatsoever. There’s no obstruction whatsoever, and I’m looking forward to it.”

Trump cast himself as the victim of an over-zealous crusade to undermine his presidency and pledged to vigorously defend himself.

“You fight back,” Trump said.

The surprise press conference comes during a tumultuous week of discoveries for the president. Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions, became the first cabinet member last week to be questioned by special counsel Robert Mueller. 

Trump also was accused of asking the acting FBI director Andrew McCabe about whom he voted for in the presidential election. 

And Trump’s new FBI director, Christopher Wray, threatened to resign after coming under intense pressure from the administration to fire McCabe.

Flynn Met with FBI Investigators without an Attorney or Trump’s Knowledge

Former National Security Adviser Michael T. Flynn

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Just two days after he was sworn in as President Trump’s national security adviser, Michael Flynn secretly met with FBI investigators to answer questions about his communications with Russians.

Flynn, who pleaded guilty late last year to lying to the FBI about ties between Trump’s campaign and Russia, didn’t bother to bring an attorney and never mentioned the meeting to the president or his inner circle, NBC News reports. 

As part of an agreement with the FBI, Flynn has pledged to cooperate with the special counsel team investigating ties between Trump’s campaign and Russia.

The FBI interview on Jan. 24, 2017, is considered a key moment in the special counsel investigation, setting in motion an ever-increasing probe with allegations ranging from collusion to money laundering. The investigation, led by Robert Mueller, so far has produced indictments against four of Trump’s closest associates, and the president said Wednesday that he is “looking forward” to clearing his name in an interview with the special counsel team.

Flynn was fired after less than a month on the job for lying the Vice President Mike Pence about contacts with Russians who wanted Hillary Clinton defeated.