The Oklahoma City Bombing: A Morass of Unanswered Questions

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by
Steven Yates


The
question comes up: are the missing FBI documents the product of
a foul-up of monumental proportions even for a government agency
or the result of deliberate concealment? A lot of conspiracy theories
have circulated around the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal
Building on April 19, 1995, not all of them consistent with one
another, some of them plausible, none of them proven. Although I
have no specific theories of my own, I've had the suspicion from
the start that someone in the federal government had advanced knowledge
that something nasty was going to happen in Oklahoma City that day.
As to the details, I am as much in the dark as anyone who wasn't
there. Compounding the matter is the fact that – so far, anyway
– McVeigh himself isn't talking. He seems to have dismissed
all conspiracy theories and reports of "John Doe No. 2's"
with the remark in a recent interview that "You can't handle
the truth. And the truth is that it is pretty scary that one guy
can do this all alone."

Perhaps
McVeigh temporarily forgot about his official partner Terry Nichols.
But is he covering for others who have never been identified, at
least not publicly? Several of the FBI documents apparently refer
to a mysterious figure named Robert Jacques (sometimes the name
appears as Jacks). There are allegations of connections with a white
supremacist compound named Elohim City, near the Oklahoma-Arkansas.
I am rather dubious that this is significant, because Terry Nichols
was twice married, once to a Mexican woman and the other time to
a woman from the Philippines. This doesn't sound like white supremacist
behavior to me. Other allegations connect the Oklahoma City bombing
with Osama bin Laden, the Middle East terrorist. Multiple allegations
insist that McVeigh was sighted the morning of the bombing, and
was never by himself. The FBI allegedly has 22 or more surveillance
tapes from cameras mounted on the front of the Murrah Federal Building
that survived the blast and would have shown the front of the Ryder
truck itself including the driver's and rider's seats – presumably
revealing whether McVeigh was alone or in the company of others
up to the final seconds before the blast. The FBI has refused to
release these tapes, although an independent investigator named
David Hoffman has sued to obtain them under the Freedom of Information
Act.

Does
McVeigh even know all the players? It is clear, first of all, that
McVeigh held the federal government responsible for the holocaust
at Waco. His own anger was enormous. Could it have been used by
others, some of them having infiltrated his circle of associates
to learn of his plans and then acting without his knowledge? These
questions are rhetorical, obviously. We just don't know – at
least, not yet. At least one item that was circulated my way on
the Internet suggests that McVeigh cut a secret deal with the feds
some time ago. In exchange for his continued silence, the federal
government would spare his life at the last minute. I don't find
this idea all that plausible, either. I have a hard time seeing
McVeigh, a soldier who faced death in the Gulf War, cutting deals
with a government he despises to save his life here. Clearly, whatever
one thinks of him, there are things of more value to him than his
own life. Perhaps he sees himself as either a martyr or a prisoner
of what he perceives to be the cold war going on between patriots
and an out-of-control federal government. (Of course, the explanation
for McVeigh's silence could be more prosaic, relatively speaking:
a desire to protect his family from possible retaliation.)

John
Ashcroft has pledged not to delay McVeigh's execution again. But
if by some chance it should become clear that others — perhaps agents
of the federal government itself — were involved in the worst bombing
ever to occur on American soil, a bombing that killed 168 people
including 19 children and injured hundreds more, heads will roll.
The execution of Timothy McVeigh could well be postponed indefinitely
as his lawyers demand a new trial. This, of course, is yet another
u2018if,' and we may seem to be piling still more rhetorical questions
on top of speculations here. But there are an awful lot of unanswered
questions floating around. I tend to think many people dismiss “conspiracy
theories” as a kind of reflex, because they have been trained to
do so. Some readers may have seen the Internet tract entitled Thirty
Oklahoma City Bombing Questions That Demand an Answer Now!
This
tract raises questions no one has yet addressed, and about which
there has been dead silence. Here is a sampling of unanswered questions
that suggest that the federal government had advanced knowledge
that the Oklahoma City bombing was coming, and that it could not
have happened the way the official accounts say it did.

  1. A
    number of federal employees were killed in the explosion, but
    no BATF employees. There were, as everyone knows, BATF offices
    in the Murrah Federal Building. But very shortly after the bombing,
    we learned that no BATF personnel were even injured – because
    none were in the building. Why were all BATF personnel away
    from their desks on a regular weekday morning? Did someone tip
    them off in advance? This, obviously, would have required advance
    knowledge of what would take place that morning. (One story
    of BATF "heroism," that of a Resident Agent Alex McCauley
    who supposedly fell three floors in an elevator and then helped
    rescue others, turned out to be a hoax; there is such a person,
    but like the rest of the BATF personnel he was nowhere near
    the building when it exploded.)
  2. At
    least one independent report cites "over 70 witnesses"
    who claimed to have seen Timothy McVeigh on the morning of the
    explosion in the company of others who were never identified.
    This includes those who rented McVeigh the Ryder truck in Junction
    City, Kansas. The manhunts for "John Doe No. 2" were
    finally discontinued. Some of the composite sketches of other
    "John Does" seemed to be people of Middle Eastern
    origin. Who were these people seen by dozens of witnesses, and
    why did none of these witnesses testify at McVeigh's trial?
    Was there a behind-the-scenes campaign to block the airing "conspiracy
    theories"?
  3. U.S.
    Judge Wayne Alley, whose office was located in the Federal Building,
    reported the next day of having been warned in a Justice Department
    memo about an unspecified "terrorist act" to be directed
    against the Federal building? Who issued this memo, and what
    happened to it? Judge Alley's statement was published in the
    Portland Oregonian. Since then he has refused to repeat
    the allegation and refused all requests for interviews. Why?
    Along very similar lines, the Oklahoma City Fire Department
    was allegedly warned by the FBI the weekend before the bombing
    to be on alert for something that would take place over the
    next few days.
  4. "Norma"
    (not her real name), a witness who worked down the street from
    the Federal Building, reported seeing what appeared to be bomb
    squad personnel in the area at 7:45 a.m. – over an hour
    prior to the explosion. Were these really bomb squad personnel,
    and if so, what were they doing there if no one had advanced
    knowledge that the Oklahoma City bombing would take place? Other
    witnesses claimed to have seen bomb squad personnel around that
    morning, and still others claimed to have seen suspicious activity
    in the Federal Building itself the day before – which fits
    with the idea that someone had planted explosive devices inside
    the federal building. It might be worth noting that according
    to Thirty Oklahoma City Bombing Questions "Norma"
    was one of several such witnesses who have since quit their
    jobs and relocated, also refusing to talk about the incident
    any further. Were these people threatened?
  5. Geophysicist
    Charles Mankin, Director of the University of Oklahoma's Geological
    Survey in Norman, just southeast of Oklahoma City, contended
    that according to two different seismographic records in the
    Oklahoma City area there were two distinct explosions, the second
    coming approximately eight seconds after the first. Along these
    same lines, several witnesses reported two distinct events,
    describing how the first event enabled them to dive for cover
    before the Ryder truck exploded, possibly saving their lives.
    Within 24 hours such reports would also vanish from the official
    accounts. Why? Again, no one alleging a two-explosions account
    of the Oklahoma City bombing was called to testify.
  6. It
    seems clear that Timothy McVeigh wanted to be caught. According
    to one account, he actually stopped and asked directions to
    the Murrah Building, placing himself on the scene. Within 48
    hours after the explosion, he was stopped by police while speeding
    toward the state line at almost 100 miles an hour in a car with
    no license plate. Why has he done so little to defend himself
    this whole time, knowing full well that silence and inaction
    could cost him his life? (We may well have answered this above.)
  7. Very
    damning to the government's conclusions was the revelation that
    McVeigh used an ANFO (ammonium nitrate and fuel oil) bomb. According
    to Military Explosives, a Department of the Army and
    Air Force Technical Manual No. 9-1910, an ANFO requires a 99%
    or greater purity of ammonium nitrate, as well as a specific
    dryness, before it can be mixed with the fuel. FBI testimony
    held that McVeigh used 50 bags of ammonium nitrate fertilizer,
    which comes in much weaker concentrations than the 99% purity
    necessary for explosives. From this one can infer that that
    even under ideal conditions, McVeigh's concoction could not
    have created a blast capable of destroying the Murrah Building's
    concrete structure, nor would it leave a crater the size of
    the one at the Murrah Building. In other words, the government's
    own source materials lead to the conclusion that the Oklahoma
    City bombing could not have happened in the way the FBI says;
    it is physically and chemically impossible. Are the details
    here correct? No one in the government has to my knowledge come
    forward with a refutation of this account.
  8. Still
    more damning is the testimony of Retired Air Force Brigadier
    General Benton K. Partin, former Commander of the Air Force
    Armament Technology Laboratory, a demolitions expert with 25
    years experience in the design and development of explosives
    and bombs. He stated, "When I first saw the picture of
    the truck bomb's asymmetrical damage to the Federal building…,
    my immediate reaction was that the pattern of damage would have
    been technically impossible without supplementary demolition
    charges at some of the reinforced concrete bases inside the
    building, a standard demolition technique." Partin went
    on: "[R]einforced concrete targets in large buildings are
    hard targets to blast. I know of no way possible to reproduce
    the apparent building damage through simply a truck bomb effort."
    In other words, again the truck bomb alone couldn't have
    done it. Interestingly, General Partin's lengthy statement
    earned him a smear, a false accusation associating him with
    the John Birch Society when his report was picked up and reprinted
    by the John Birch Society publication The New American
    – something not of his doing. General Partin had to threaten
    lawsuits to end the smear campaign. His detailed evaluation
    was entered into the Congressional Record, but has been completely
    ignored by federal investigators and by the news media. Why?
  9. Also
    demonized as "cranks" and "right wing extremists"
    were other explosives experts and professional demolition contractors
    (such as former FBI agent Ted Gunderson) who reviewed the circumstances
    surrounding the destruction of the Murrah building and concluded
    that it was a professional job, with top-grade explosives and
    devices planted inside the building. No one I know of
    has come forward to refute the substance of these allegations.
  10. The reaction to the bombing by both the Clinton Regime and
    the Republican-controlled Congress was swift. The former immediately
    blamed "right wing" talk show hosts and militias –
    despite no evidence connecting Timothy McVeigh or Terry Nichols
    with either. We saw long articles in leading newspapers like
    the New York Times dragging "angry white males"
    (critics of affirmative action) into this thing. A number of
    "domestic terrorism" bills were introduced in Congress
    in a matter of days, covering such topics as the banning of
    firearms to authorizing Federal wiretaps on private citizens
    and monitoring their activity on the Internet. The million dollar
    question: was this a pre-arranged and carefully organized
    response to a tragedy deliberately planned at the highest centers
    of power to discredit the militia movement and other critics
    of the federal government's progressive abandonment of Constitutional
    government? Was it part of the ongoing campaign to disarm
    U.S. citizens through so-called gun control laws? Did the
    federal government sacrifice some of its own employees (and
    their children) and ruin the lives of many other people just
    to discredit its critics? The militias were among the first
    to denounce the bombing. Their leaders took no credit for it,
    wanted nothing to do with it. They reiterated that their posture
    was defensive. But since 1995 the number of citizens' militias
    has dropped from over 500 to under 200, suggesting that if this
    was the motive, it worked.

There
are additional allegations of curious events taking place when rescue
workers first appeared on the scene following the blast. Some of
these allegations involve sightings by rescue personnel of unexploded
devices being removed from the debris. Others involve a severed
leg that was never matched to any of the known victims. It is difficult
to verify these accounts completely. The federal government sequestered
the area immediately; no one who did not have official approval
was allowed in. Eventually, of course, what was left of the building
was bulldozed to the ground, its secrets (if there be any) buried.

One
of the first rescue workers on the scene, an Oklahoma City police
officer named Terrence Yeakey, had expressed deep concern about
some of the things he saw to family members. One day not long after
he turned up dead. His death was ruled a suicide. Shades of Vince
Foster: a very unusual "suicide" it was. The man apparently
cut his wrists, made another cut on his elbow and then cut both
sides of his neck around the jugular vein. Having already lost a
great deal of blood, he was able to walk out into a fenced-off area
at the outskirts of the city where he shot himself. His service
revolver was not the weapon used. No autopsy was done, despite it
being standard procedure to do an autopsy when a police officer
dies under unusual circumstances. The obvious question: was Officer
Yeakey about to reveal information about the Oklahoma City bombing?
Members of his family think so, but of course no one can prove it.
Officer Yeakey's briefcase had disappeared. It turned up later,
but had been in the hands of the police who did not want to release
it to his family. There was plenty of time and opportunity for someone
so inclined to have removed incriminating documents or photographs.
It should be added that Officer Yeakey had the respect of his fellow
police officers and those in the communities he served. He was not
a nut.

While
the federal government has more and more relied on brute force to
accomplish its goals, domestic as well as foreign, it is still hard
for most ordinary people to believe that even the Clinton Regime
or Janet Reno's Justice Department could be involved in something
as evil as this. I cannot blame people for being skeptical. These
were the federal government's own employees – and their innocent
children – not to mention the countless other people working
there or who just happened to be in the building or in the vicinity
when the bomb(s) went off. Many skeptics will dismiss this as paranoia
gone out of control. A flip response is that a little paranoia never
hurt anybody, and that just because you're paranoid doesn't mean
someone is not out to get you. Seriously, I would prefer that the
skeptics be right, but I am not convinced they are.

The
problem is that the official account of what happened in Oklahoma
City on April 19, 1995, has more holes than Swiss cheese. Every
independent investigation I am aware of has concluded that others
besides Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols were involved, though
they diverge on the details. Some pick up on obscure remarks in
McVeigh's recent letter to Fox News as pointing to a connection
between the bombing and the leading terrorist Osama bin Laden, suggesting
that Terry Nichols met with bin Laden's agents in the Phillipines
two months earlier to help plan the bombing. Jayna Davis, an NBC
reporter in Oklahoma City, claimed to have turned up evidence that
McVeigh was involved with Iraqi immigrants. There was a group of
around 5,000 Iraqi soldiers who had deserted Saddam Hussein's army
and were able to win asylum in the United States following the Gulf
War. One such group was settled in Oklahoma City. It was this group
that had become the target of Miss Davis' investigation. She was
sued by one of its members. The federal lawsuit went on for two
years. Jayna Davis finally won. Neither the lawsuit itself nor the
outcome was ever reported in any national media.

McVeigh's
silence is admittedly the most troublesome aspect of all the theories
we have. There is no way to get inside his head and divine his motives.
But we have already seen that there are reasons why he would be
silent. His claiming sole credit for the Oklahoma City bombing doesn't
make it so. Exactly what is the truth here? Did the BATF have advanced
knowledge of the Oklahoma City bombing? Had they perhaps infiltrated
a local terrorist cell and simply allowed the terrorists and McVeigh
to do their dirty work for them, knowing that the Clinton Regime
and the media were ready to blame it on militias and "right
wing extremists"? Again, I would insist: we don't really know.
But the best thing the FBI could do at this point is come clean
about what we haven't been told about the Oklahoma City bombing,
and to do so now – because obviously the official story doesn't
add up. If by some chance there is a connection to terrorist movements
originating with immigrants or even overseas, members of the public
have a right to know about it! It could significantly impact the
public's willingness to tolerate continued open immigration. As
an alternative, the least the FBI and the media can do is consider
allegations such as those above and show in detail that they are
erroneous – or at least discuss the issues they raise. Anything
is better than the official silence that has been in place now for
six years running.

May
19, 2001

Steven
Yates [send him mail]
has a Ph.D. in Philosophy and is the author of Civil
Wrongs: What Went Wrong With Affirmative Action
. He is presently
compiling selected essays into a single volume tentatively entitled
What Is Wrong With the New World Order and Other Essays and
Commentary and a work on a second book, The Paradox of Liberty.
He also writes for the Edgefield
Journal
, and is available for lectures. He lives in Columbia,
South Carolina, and is starting his own freelance writing business,
Millennium 3 Communications.

Steven
Yates Archives

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