CBS’s Unabomber Report Forced FBI To Move In Early
NEW YORK (AP) _ FBI agents had to move in on the Unabomber suspect earlier than planned after CBS reported they were about to execute a search warrant on his remote Montana cabin, FBI sources charged.
But an agency spokesman in Montana denied the network forced the FBI’s hand.
``That’s not true,″ George Grotz, an FBI spokesman in Helena, Mont., said today.
CBS also denied wrongdoing.
Many in the agency were reportedly angry at the network’s report Wednesday, saying it may have jeopardized the case against Theodore John Kaczynski.
``The news leak forced us to go with what we had at that point and get a warrant to search the place,″ the Daily News quoted an unidentified source as saying.
``I’m sure that continuing surveillance would have given us the strongest possible case. We didn’t have that luxury,″ the source said.
``There was a great deal of consternation about CBS breaking that story,″ another FBI official who demanded anonymity told The Associated Press. ``This was a case of the news driving the investigation rather than the investigation driving the news.″
The FBI official said agents also were upset that the role Kaczynski’s family played in turning him in had been disclosed.
But Grotz said CBS’s actions had no bearing on when the FBI decided to move in, and that the network acted responsibly.
And CBS news executives said they granted a request from the Federal Bureau of Investigation to hold the story for two days.
``We held the story so as not to jeopardize the surveillance or the safety of people involved,″ said CBS News president Andrew Heyward. ``We consider ourselves citizens first and journalists second.″
CBS went with the report Wednesday afternoon, executives said, because it feared other networks were about to break the story.
Kaczynski was charged Thursday with one count of possessing bomb-making materials.