How the FBI Decided a Famous Novelist Might Be the Unabomber

William T. Vollman, pictured left, is not the Unabomber. He's a National Book-Award winning novelist, and a certified weirdo, but he's not the Unabomber. Or, for that matter, the Anthrax mailer. And yet the FBI thought he might be.

Vollman discovered this odd fact when he requested his FBI file, an event he writes about in the most recent issue of Harper's. Apparently an informant—noticing what he or she believed to be Unabomber-like "anti-growth and anti-progress themes" in Vollman's historical novel Fathers and Crows—alerted the FBI to the possibility that Vollman might be the behoodied terrorist. The Washington Post describes Vollman being swallowed into self-propelling national-security terror-hunt system:

Even more conclusive, the FBI observed ominously that “UNABOMBER, not unlike VOLLMANN has pride of authorship and insists his book be published without editing.” [...]

Perhaps most alarming, he discovered in his heavily redacted file that he was considered a terrorist suspect even after the Unabomber had been apprehended in 1996. After the 9/11 attacks, he realizes, “I had graduated from being a Unabomber suspect to being an anthrax suspect.” Even today, his international mail often arrives opened. A private investigator explains to him: “Once you’re a suspect and you’re in the system, that ain’t goin’ away. . . . Anytime there’s a terrorist investigation, your name’s gonna come up.”

Vollman talked about his file with NPR today.