"The Oklahoma City Bombing and The Politics of Terror"
"No Stone Unturned"
"We will leave no stone unturned in our effort to get to the truth."
- Attorney General Janet Reno
"McVeigh and Nichols are going to hell regardless. I'm just looking forward to sending them there a little sooner." - U.S. Attorney Joseph Hartzler
Almost from the beginning, the Justice Department and the mainstream press focused their attention on Timothy McVeigh, painting him as a spurned ex-soldier who was angry for failing to make the Special Forces; an extremist Right-wing "Patriot" who hated the government with a passion for their atrocities at Waco. McVeigh, the angry misguided loner, it is alleged, conspired with anti-government tax protester Terry Nichols to teach the Federal Government a lesson in Oklahoma.
Like the arrest of Lee Harvey Oswald, the "capture" of Timothy McVeigh was an incredible stroke of timing and luck. Like Oswald, who was arrested for walking into a movie theater without paying, McVeigh would be arrested for speeding down the highway with a conspicuously missing license plate.
In both cases, the FBI was quickly notified that their "suspect" was in custody. With their extraordinary run of good luck, the FBI was able to instantly trace the serial number found on the bomb truck to Ford, then to Ryder, then to Elliott's rental agency, then to a "Bob Kling," and finally to "McVeigh."(703)
Like Oswald's Mannlicher-Carcanno rifle, which the FBI traced from its entrance into the U.S., to an importer, to Klein's Sporting Goods, to a sale to an "A.J. Hidell," then to Oswald--all without computers and over a weekend--the FBI would quickly trace the Ryder truck to the lone bomber.
Finally, like "lone nut" Lee Harvey Oswald, "lone nut" Timothy James McVeigh would be transferred from the Noble County jail, paraded in front of onlookers and the press as the mass murderer. While there was no Jack Ruby to intervene this time, McVeigh would be led away in a bright orange jumpsuit, without a bullet-proof vest, which he had specifically requested.
Ironically, his departing words were, " I might be Lee Harvey Oswald, Jr. You remember what happened with Jack Ruby."(704)
As in the arrest of Lee Harvey Oswald, the circumstances surrounding the arrest of McVeigh and Nichols would prove highly questionable. The media widely reported that McVeigh was stopped by Highway Patrolman Charles Hanger 78 minutes after the blast(s), heading north on I-35, near Perry. McVeigh was driving without a license plate. As Trooper Hanger's affivadit states:
" That I stopped the vehicle and the defendant was the driver and only occupant of the vehicle. That as the defendant was getting his billfold from his right rear pocket I noticed a bulge under the left side of his jacket and I thought it could be a weapon. That I then told the defendant to pull his jacket back and before he did he said, 'I have a gun under my jacket. ' That I then grabbed a hold of the left side of his jacket and drew my own weapon and pointed it at the back of his head and instructed him to keep his hands up and I walked him over to the trunk of his car and had him put his hands on the trunk. "
Yet accounts vary. Some acticles stated that McVeigh was speeding at 81 miles per hour. Yet Hanger only cited him for no license plate, no insurance, and possession of a concealed weapon. Were these accounts meant to suggest that McVeigh was trying to make a fast get-away? If so, why would a man who had just committed such a heinous crime wish to draw attention to himself?
McVeigh supposedly just blew up a building and killed 169 innocent people--men, women, and children--including a number of federal agents. It is 78 minutes later, and he is being pulled over by a state trooper. He has no tags, no insurance, and is carrying a concealed weapon without a permit. He is most likely going to jail, where his name, Social Security number, and description will be uplinked to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) at the FBI--an FBI that is now on full alert.
McVeigh is carrying a large combat knife, and a Glock model 21 automatic pistol loaded with deadly hollow-point bullets. McVeigh is a trained soldier, a top marskman, and a hardened combat veteran.
The cop is exiting his vehicle and walking over to McVeigh's car. McVeigh's life outside the electric chair is very likely about to come to an end. What does McVeigh--this hardened combat veteran, this brutal killer of 169 innocent people--do? He casually informs the cop that he has a concealed weapon, and meekly hands himself over for arrest.(705)
Of course the mainstream press wouldn't make any attempt to analyze this bizarre inconsistency in McVeigh's behavior, only reporting that he was "uncommunicative," (Time), "calls himself a 'prisoner of war,'" (New York Times), and is refusing to cooperate with investigators and prosecutors " (U.S. News & World Report)--a story which would be repeated by numerous other papers.
Yet as McVeigh stated to Newsweek, "I never called myself a prisoner of war."(706) McVeigh's account is backed up by the Los Angeles Times, which obtained McVeigh's arrest records. As the Times' Richard Serrano notes:
.They reveal a McVeigh sharply different from the one sources had earlier portrayed. He was not the silent soldier who gave jailers only his name, rank and serial number. Rather, he was often polite. And smooth.(707)
With only the serial number of a truck differential and a sketch to work with, the FBI fanned out through Junction City. Upon examining the rental receipt at Elliott's Body Shop, the FBI discovered all the information on it was false. As Agent Henry Gibbon's affidavit states:
The person who signed the rental agreement identified himself as Bob Kling, SSAN 962-42-9694, South Dakota driver's license number YF942A6, and provided a home address of 428 Maple Drive, Omaha, Nebraska, telephone 913-238-2425. The person listed the destination as 428 Maple Drive, Redfield, South Dakota. b. Subsequent investigation conducted by the FBI determined all that information to be false.
Yet employees of Elliott's Body Shop did recognize the sketch of Unsub #1 as the man who rented the truck used in the bombing. The FBI then took the sketch of Unsub #1 to the Dreamland Motel, where they found that Unsub #1 had rented a room from April 14 through the April 18. As the FBI affidavit states:
An employee of the Dreamland Motel in Junction City, Kansas, identified Timothy McVeigh as a guest at the motel from April 14, 1995, through April 18, 1995. This employee, when shown a photo lineup identified Timothy McVeigh's picture as the individual who registered at the motel under the name of Tim McVeigh, listed his automobile as a Mercury bearing an Arizona license plate, and provided a Michigan address, on North Van Dyke in Decker Michigan.(708)
On April 21, only hours before McVeigh was due to be released from the Perry County Jail, "District Attorney John Maddox received a call from the FBI telling him to hang onto the prisoner.(709)
As the New York Times reported, " a routine check of his Social Security number matched one flagged by the FBI as belonging to a suspect in the bombing."(710) This subsumes that the FBI had obtained McVeigh's Social Security number from the accurate registration information at the Dreamland, not the false information at Elliott's.
Why would Tim McVeigh--who was bent on committing such a terrible crime--use a fake name and address at the Ryder rental agency, yet use his real name and address at a motel right down the street?(711) Perhaps because, as will be explained below, McVeigh never visited the rental agency.
While in custody, McVeigh listed James Nichols as a reference. Why would McVeigh list the brother of his so-called accomplice as his only reference?
On April 21, Terry Nichols was busy with chores around his new home in Herrington. Unbeknownst to him, a team of 11 FBI agents had already staked out his house.
Later that afternoon, Nichols heard his name being broadcast as a possible suspect. At 2:42 p.m. he and Marife got into their blue pick-up, and drove to the Herrington police station, with the FBI on his tail. According to Marife, Terry was frightened, and anxious to know why his name was being broadcast. Inside, Nichols asked why his name was being mentioned on the radio in connection with the bombing. The cops replied that they didn't know, but they had some questions for him. "Good," Nichols said, "because I have some questions for you."
Strangely, FBI agents then read Nichols his Miranda rights, something not normally done unless someone is under arrest, and told him three times he was free to go.
In fact, Nichols wasn't free to go. An arrest warrant had been issued five hours earlier, but Nichols wouldn't be informed of this until almost midnight. In the interim, he and Marife were questioned by the FBI for over nine hours.
Back at his house, a SWAT team had already arrived, and agents were sealing it with crime tape, and checking it for booby traps. It was there that agents would claim to discover 55-gallon barrels, rolls of primadet detonator cord, non-electric blasting caps, and a receipt for 40 50-pound bags of ammonium-nitrate with McVeigh's thumbprint.
If Terry Nichols was an accomplice in the bombing, why would he leave such incriminating items in his house? Wouldn't he have attempted to hide the items before driving over to the police station?
Moreover, if Nichols was a co-conspirator in the largest domestic terrorist attack in the history of the country, why would he casually stroll into the police station asking why his name was being broadcast on TV? This makes about as much sense as Timothy McVeigh casually pulling over for Officer Hanger and meekly handing himself over for arrest.
Several days after McVeigh's arrest, Hanger claimed to have recovered a crumpled business card from behind the front passenger seat of his patrol car, where McVeigh had been sitting. The card for Paulsen's Military Supply of Antigo, Wisconsin, contained a handwritten note: "Dave. TNT at $5 a stick. 708-288-0128. Need more. Call after 1 of May, see if I can get some more."
Had McVeigh actually left such a note in the cruiser? When McVeigh defense team investigator Marty Reed attempted to interview Hanger, he was told by OHP chief legal counsel John Lindsey, "The FBI has requested that no one interview Trooper Charlie Hanger."
And as in the Kennedy case, the evidence collected by the FBI in their case, code-named "OKBOMB," would prove just as specious. The FBI quickly claimed that they had traced the Ryder truck from a serial number--6 4 PVA26077--found on its rear differential, which had flown 575 feet through the air "like a boomerang" and landed on a Ford Fiesta. (For those confused about the FBI finding the serial number on the "axle," it was actually on the axle housing.)(712)(713)
Curiously, while Deputy Sheriff Melvin Sumter told me he had found the axle, an Oklahoma City Policeman, Mike McPherson, claimed that he had in fact discovered it, as did an FBI agent. These three accounts were contradicted by Governor Frank Keating, who claimed that he had actually found the axle.
The Ryder truck belonging to the axle, rented under the alias of "Bob Kling," the FBI claimed, was the instrument of the deadly destruction in Oklahoma City.
But had it actually been rented by Timothy McVeigh?
The "McVeigh" Eldon Elliott described to the grand jury was 5' 10" to 5' 11", with medium build, weighing between 180-185 pounds. Elliott's mechanic Tom Kessinger stated that the man had a "rough" complexion with "acne," and employee Vicki Beemer said he had a deformed chin.
Not only is McVeigh clear-skinned, he is a lanky 6', 2", and weighs only 160 pounds. He does not have a deformed chin.(714)
Readers will also recall that ATF informant Carol Howe, who had penetrated the Elohim City enclave, told ATF and FBI agents that the sketch of John Doe 1 who rented the truck appeared to be Elohim City resident and close Strassmeir friend Peter Ward.(715)
According to J.D. Cash, so did Dennis Mahon. Mahon told the reporter that Ward was "known at Elohim City as 'Andy's shadow'... Ward went everywhere Strassmeir did and is dumb as dirt." Mahon also added, " you know his brother, Tony, has a pocked complexion..."(716)
Yet authorities insist that it was McVeigh who rented the truck on April 17. They introduced surveillance footage from a Junction City McDonalds, slightly over a mile from Elliott's, showing McVeigh walking towards the cashier at approximately 3:55 p.m. Yet McVeigh was not wearing military attire as was "Kling." Nevertheless, the prosecution contends that McVeigh left the restaurant, walked the 1.3 miles to Elliott's during a light drizzle, then showed up nice and dry, wearing completely different clothes.
Eldon Elliott would play along for the prosecution. In spite of his previous grand jury testimony, and the FBI 302 statements of his employees, Elliott testified at McVeigh's trial that Timothy McVeigh was the man who rented the truck.(717)
Interesting that he could make such an assertion, when the FBI hadn't brought him before a line-up eventhough they had questioned him just 48 hours after the bombing. In fact, the FBI didn't show Elliott a photo line-up until 48 days later. During McVeigh's trial, Elliott attempted to compensate for the discrepancy in McVeigh's height by stating that McVeigh had "leaned" on the counter while filling out the reservation form.
Had Elliott been coached by the prosecution?(718)
"From his body language, the way he acted nervous, avoided my questions, I could tell he was under some sort of pressure," said former Federal Grand Juror Hoppy Heidelberg.
When defense team investigator Richard Reyna went to interview Elliott, he was told the FBI had instructed him not to talk to anyone about the case because "they didn't want to get things distorted." He then handed Reyna the card of FBI Special Agent Scott Crabtree.
When Marty Reed and co-investigator Wilma Sparks approached Elliott a week later, he referred them to a man named Joseph Pole. Pole stated that he was "working for Ryder indirectly." He refused to speak with the investigators and excused himself, saying he had to make a phone call. When Sparks and Reed went outside, they noticed a government car with the license number G-10 03822, parked in front of the shop.
When they returned the next day, they were again met by the mysterious "Ryder employee" who didn't produce a business card. When they asked the body shop's employees why the government car was there, they were told it was being worked on. But the investigators saw no signs of damage. Upon returning the following day, the car was parked between two campers, ostensibly in an attempt to conceal it.(719)
Was the FBI attempting to influence a key witness? A reporter who worked the case later told me, "They were very hooked in with the FBI the Ryder security was obtained through the FBI and they're in constant touch with the FBI for briefings, or they were. And I got that from the PR guy who's the Vice President of Ryder in Miami A Newsweek reporter that I work with got Elliott on the phone, and somebody clicked down the phone as he was talking to her. Elliott was saying 'let me just finish, let me just finish,' and all of the sudden, the phone went dead."(720)
Such a symbiotic relationship between the FBI and Ryder shouldn't be surprising. According to one bombing researcher, Ryder's CEO, Anthony Mitchell, is a member of the Trilateral Commission--the New World Order folks. She also uncovered the fact that both the FBI and the ATF have leasing contracts with the company.(721)
To rent his Ryder truck, "McVeigh" allegedly used his pre-paid phone card, obtained in November of 1993 through the Spotlight under the name "Daryl Bridges," to call Elliott's and make the reservation. Vicki Beemer told the FBI she recalled speaking to a man named "Kling." Records supposedly indicate the call was made on April 14, from a Junction City, Kansas bus station.(722)
Yet the FBI had no way of proving that the call placed to the Ryder agency under the name "Kling" was actually made by McVeigh, or even that the Spotlight card was used for the call. OPUS Telecom, which runs the system used for the pre-paid card, maintains no records indicating exactly who placed a specific call.(723)
As an example of the uncertainties promulgated by the FBI, they originally asserted the call was made at 8:44 a.m. from a pay phone at Fort Riley. They later decided it was made at 9:53 a.m. from a pay phone in Junction City. However, Beemer, who took the call, said it came at 10:30 a.m.
At the time the FBI alleged McVeigh made the 9:53 a.m. call, he was at a phone booth down the street from a Firestone store, where he had been negotiating a deal on a 1977 Mercury. The store manager who sold McVeigh the car, Thomas Manning, testified that his customer excused himself, then came back 10 or 15 minutes later. The FBI contends that McVeigh used this period to make two calls, one to Terry Nichols' house, and one to Elliott's. Yet, as the Rocky Mountain News noted:
An early version of the FBI reconstruction showed two calls within two minutes from phones 25 miles apart, which implied involvement by someone other than McVeigh and Nichols, since neither was then in the second location.
But the location of that call later was reassigned to a place fitting the government's case.(724)
Moreover, as the defense pointed out, Manning hadn't bothered to mention the fact that McVeigh left the Firestone store for over a year-and-a-half, despite being interviewed by defense attorneys and FBI agents 11 different times.(725)
Additionally, while rental receipts and employee testimony indicates "Kling" rented his truck on the 17th, a Ryder truck was seen days earlier by James Sargeant and other eyewitnesses. Sargeant reported seeing several unidentified men crawling in and out of the cargo area for three days, backed up to the lake so that no one ashore could see inside. "I really began to wonder about why someone would be wasting their money on a rental truck out there... no one was ever fishing, either."(726)
Barbara Whittenberg, owner of the Sante Fe Trail Diner in Herrington, recalled seeing a Ryder truck, along with McVeigh, Nichols, and John Doe 2, on Saturday, April 15. The men had stopped by the restaurant for breakfast at 6:00 a.m., and Whittenberg reported seeing a large Ryder truck at Geary State Fishing Lake later that afternoon.(727)
Lea McGown, owner of the Dreamland Motel in Junction City, and her son Eric, both recall seeing McVeigh pull into the motel with his truck on the afternoon of Easter Sunday, April 16, as did residents Renda Truong, Connie Hood, David King, and King's mother, Hetta. The truck appeared to be an older, privately owned Ryder truck. McGown had just returned from Manhattan, Kansas, where he and his mother were having lunch. The time was approximately 4:00 p.m. Truong testified she had seen it after Easter Sunday dinner, which would have been around dusk.
Yet under examination by the prosecution during McVeigh's trial, Eric McGown would not testify as to the exact date he saw the truck. Yet his FBI 302 said: "He thinks the man came there with a truck on April 16, 1995, and that the Ryder truck sat at the motel all day on April 17, 1995."(728)
His mother, like both Hood and Truong, was certain it was the 16th. As she stated in her FBI 302:
She is certain that the Ryder truck she saw parked at the DREAMLAND MOTEL and in which she observed TIM MCVEIGH sitting on one occasion was driven into the motel grounds on Sunday, April 16, 1995.
She recalls that the Ryder truck that was parked at the DREAMLAND MOTEL on April 16, 1995, through April 18, 1995, did not have the word Ryder on the back doors as do other Ryder trucks she has seen. She recalls the back doors of the Ryder truck in which she saw TIM MCVEIGH were a plain faded yellow color, with no printing visible on them.(729)
Hetta King was also sure it was Sunday the 16th. "There's no question in my mind--it was Easter Sunday," King testified.
The reader will recall that this is the exact same day that Phyliss Kingsley and Linda Kuhlman saw the convoy, including "McVeigh," John Doe 2 and 3, and the Ryder truck at the Hi Way Grill just south of Oklahoma City. It was approximately 6:00 p.m.
The two locations are hundreds of miles apart--too far apart to drive in two hours.
This is also the same day the FBI alleged Nichols drove from Kansas to Oklahoma City to pick up McVeigh, who had left his Mercury Marquis near the YMCA as the "get-away" vehicle. Yet a witness at the Dreamland recalled seeing McVeigh's yellow Mercury at the motel the next day.
Interesting that "McVeigh" and his car could be in two places at once.
Real estate agent Georgia Rucker and her son also saw a Ryder truck at Geary Lake days before "Kling" rented his. Then on Tuesday morning, as Rucker again drove by lake, she not only saw a Ryder truck, but two other vehicles as well. She thought this was "very suspicious."(730)
On Monday, April 17, Connie Hood saw the Ryder truck again. This time, there were several men "fiddling with the back of the truck." Hood thinks one of those men was Michael Fortier; she recalls he had scraggly hair and a beard. Those who recall the photo of Fortier taken after the bombing may recall that Fortier had just shaved off his beard, leaving a clearly visible demarcation line.
While these are all blatant discrepancies in the FBI's official timeline, the Bureau was apparently interested in McGown's testimony because the Dreamland is the only place where McVeigh, or someone purporting to be McVeigh, signed his real name.
What is curious is that the FBI has consistently promoted the idea that there was only one Ryder truck involved. Yet the statements of McGown, Bricktown warehouse worker David Snider, and others indicate that there were two Ryder trucks involved. When a Newsweek reporter spoke to the security guard at Elliott's, he said "Think about two trucks."(731)
This fact was reiterated by grand juror Hoppy Heidelberg. "A small number of people testified during the grand jury hearings about two trucks," said Heidelberg. "McVeigh picked his truck up on Monday. John Doe 2 had his truck the weekend before. The fact that there were two trucks I'm very comfortable with."(732)
If McVeigh had rented his truck on April 17, as the FBI contends, why did witnesses report seeing a Ryder truck at Geary State Fishing Lake as early as April 10? It was at this lake, on April 18, the FBI originally asserted, that the two suspects built their magic ANFO bomb. FBI agents reported finding diesel fuel and strands of detonator cord on the ground.(733)
Yet at the time witnesses first saw the truck at the lake, neither McVeigh or Nichols were in Kansas. As the Denver Post reported:
Nichols was returning from a gun show in Michigan, and McVeigh was holed up in a residence hotel in Kingman, Arizona. The government's key witness, Michael Fortier, also was not in Kansas.(734)
Interestingly, shortly before the start of McVeigh's trial, the prosecution dropped its contention that the bomb was built at Geary Lake. It's possible they did so because had the defense brought up the witness sightings on the 10th, it would have conflicted, not only with the prosecution's carefully constructed timeline, but the fact that there were additional suspects.(735)
As will be seen, this is not the first time the government excluded witnesses who's testimony didn't fit with their carefully crafted version of events.
Nevertheless, it was this truck, rented by "Kling" on April 17, authorities insisted, that was loaded with ammonium-nitrate and guided by the lone bomber to its final and fateful destination at the Alfred P. Murrah Building.
To build their magic ANFO bomb, the FBI reports McVeigh and Nichols began searching for racing fuel and detonator cord in September of '94. Using the calling card McVeigh and Nichols had obtained under the pseudonym of "Daryl Bridges," ostensibly inspired by the film "Blown Away" staring Jeff Bridges, McVeigh allegedly made over 22 calls to various companies who supply chemicals, racing fuel, and even one of the country's largest explosives manufacturers.
His first call was to Paulsen's Military Supply, just outside of Madison, Wisconsin, looking for detonators. According to authorities, McVeigh left Paulsen's business card in the patrol car upon his arrest, that read, "Dave" (presumably David Paulsen, Ed Paulsen's son, who McVeigh had met at a gun show), with the notation, "More five pound sticks of TNT by May 1."(736)
A salesman at Fatigues and Things, a military store in Junction City, said McVeigh and another man bought a book entitled Improvised Munitions two weeks before the bombing. The other man was not Terry Nichols.
Prosecutors also called an old friend of McVeigh's, David Darlak, who allegedly received a call from him in an attempt to obtain racing fuel.
Another friend was Greg Pfaff, whom McVeigh had met at gun shows. Pfaff testified that McVeigh had called him seeking to buy det cord. McVeigh was so eager to obtain the cord, Pfaff said, that he offered to drive to Virginia.
Another of the calls reflected on the mens' calling card was to Mid-American Chemical. Linda Juhl, an employee of the company, remembered receiving a call in the Fall of 1994 from a fellow in Kansas who wanted to purchase Anhydrous Hydrazine, a rocket fuel which can be used to boost the power of an ANFO bomb.
The FBI also reported that two individuals, one named "Terry Tuttle," visited Thumb Hobbies, Etc. in Mariette, Michigan in mid-December, 1993, looking to buy 100 percent nitromethane model airplane fuel. According to Sanilac County Sheriff Virgil Stickler, the store clerk inquired about ordering it, then told the customers several weeks later that he could not or would not do so. The clerk said that "Tuttle" replied that it was okay, that they had found another source.(737)
Another incident not made public until the County Grand Jury investigation was the recollection of Gary Antene, who saw McVeigh and John Doe 2 at Danny's Hobby Shop in Oklahoma City the Saturday before the bombing. The two men asked him if Danny's carried 100 percent nitromethane fuel.
"I explained that no one in the RC (remote-controlled) airplane hobby used 100 percent nitromethane as a fuel, that at most we generally used nothing over 20 percent," said Antene.
Antene reported the incident to the FBI a couple of times, but was not called to testify at McVeigh's trial, probably because his account didn't fit into the FBI's "official" timeline.(738)
On October 20, the FBI alleged that McVeigh checked into a motel in Pauls Valley, Oklahoma. The next day, he drove 170 miles to the Chief Auto Parts Nationals drag race in Ennis, Texas. Timothy Chambers, an employee of VP Racing Fuels, testified at McVeigh's trial that he and co-worker Brad Horton sold a man resembling McVeigh three 54 gallon drums of Nitromethane racing fuel for $2,775. The man said the fuel was for him and his friends who race Harleys once a year in Oklahoma City. Chambers testified it didn't make sense for a few motorcycle racers to buy that much fuel, and had never seen anyone pay cash for that large a purchase.(739)
Interestingly, the FBI didn't announce this new lead until one month before the start of McVeigh's trial, as other evidence, including that from the FBI's crime lab, began falling apart. The Rocky Mountain News reported that Glynn Tipton had alerted the ATF to the strange purchase as far back as October of 1994.(740)
Yet this "new" evidence would coalesce perfectly with the government's emerging case, now that many Americans were convinced that a simple ANFO bomb hadn't destroyed the Murrah Building. A bomb built with volatile, highly-explosive racing fuel would make the prosecution's case much more convincing.
The startling discovery of McVeigh's racing fuel purchases, like the new revelations of Thomas Manning, or those of Eldon Elliott, were reminiscent of the sudden discoveries by Lockerbie investigators of Libyan terrorists. The 1988 bombing had originally been attributed to Iran, contracted through former Syrian army officer Ahmed Jibril of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC), in retaliation for the American downing of an Iranian passenger liner a year and-a-half earlier. Now that George Bush needed the cooperation of the Syrians for his Gulf War coalition, the blame needed to be shifted to someone else.
Then, ten months after the bombing, Lockerbie investigators discovered new evidence. The owner of a clothing store on Malta suddenly remembered to whom he had sold some baby clothes that had been found in the bomb suitcase onboard the plane. In fact, not only had he recalled the customer, he remembered the precise date of the purchase, and recalled the man clearly enough for artists to render a sketch. He was Abu Talb, a PFLP-GC member who was known to have visited Malta shortly before the bombing.(741)
At least that's what the FBI wanted the public to believe. In fact, owner Tony Gauci and his brother Paul made 18 different statements to authorities, most of which were vague and contradictory. They then signed statements eventhough they couldn't read English. Nevertheless, investigators quickly placed 24-hour guards around the shopkeepers bearing this valuable "new evidence," just as the FBI had done with Eldon Elliott.
Yet records show that the calls to chemical companies continued in October of '94 from Kingman, around the same time that the suspects allegedly drove there to hide stolen explosives, and around the same time they allegedly began purchasing ammonium-nitrate. The indictment states that Nichols allegedly stole Dynamite and an explosive called Tovex from the Martin Marietta quarry in Marion, Kansas, not far from where Nichols had been working as a ranch hand.
Bud Radeke, a blaster and driller for Martin Marietta, testified at McVeigh's trial that 299 dynamite sticks, 544 blasting caps, detonator cord, and Tovex was stolen over the long Labor Day weekend. FBI agents discovered a drill bit in Nichols' home that they claim matched the hole drilled in one of the magazine's locks. The suspects had allegedly made the mistake of leaving one of the five locks they had drilled into behind.
Yet could the FBI actually tell from a hole drilled in a lock which particular bit had made the impression? The FBI hadn't discovered the bit in Nichols' tool kit until six months after the robbery. No doubt it had been used since, as Nichols, a handyman, had recently moved into his new house. The signature of the drill bit would undoubtedly have been altered.
How could the FBI be so sure it was the bit which had drilled the locks at the quarry?
Ed Hueske, a firearm and tool examiner at Weckerling Scientific Laboratory near Dallas said a drill bit can "leave marks that are characteristic of the nose of the bit," especially "if the bit is worn or damaged." A former forensic specialist with the Tulsa Police Department, Hueske added that such a test is "not routine," but is "theoretically possible."(742)
Yet if the bit was used afterwards on metal, or if it had been sharpened, it would change the striations of the markings. If it still contained bits of metal shavings from the lock, however, then a match could be made. But agents testified that no shavings were found.
Then how did the FBI match the bit? Frank Shiller, a firearm and tool examiner at Forensic Consultant Services in Fort Worth, offered his opinion: "Some of that type of work has been done, but it's not a very frequent thing. I don't think it would be very productive."
Shiller, who has 36 years experience in forensic science, has never even been asked to conduct such a test, nor has his boss, Max Courtney, with 27 years experience.
"It would be extremely difficult to match a drill," said Shiller, "because of the random motion of the drill moving through its moving up and down the hole. So it would be hard to track any imperfections or microscopic markings that might be present. That would be a pretty tough task."(743)
Even Hueske, who admitted the theoretical possibility of such a test, said that the two or three drill bit tests he's conducted over the years produced no results.
The quarry also had pre-mixed professional grade ANFO in stock. Why didn't Nichols steal that too, since, as the government alleges, it was the prime ingredient in the bomb? This certainly would have been easier and more discreet than buying large quantities of ammonium-nitrate, diesel, and racing fuel, then attempting to mix it into a gigantic bomb. But for some reason, our prime suspects decided to leave the professional grade ANFO behind, and go to the trouble and expense of making their own.
The two men then allegedly drove to Kingman on October 4, where McVeigh rented a storage locker to hide the goods.(744) It was in Kingman that McVeigh allegedly showed his dangerous booty to his friends, Michael and Lori Fortier. Lori testified at trial that McVeigh asked her to wrap up the blasting caps as Christmas presents for the long ride back to Michigan.
A friend of Nichols and McVeigh, Kevin Nicholas, testified that he helped McVeigh unload his car upon returning to Decker. "I was just grabbing stuff and just throwing it in the back of my truck; and Tim said, "Don't handle them. I'll take care of them two Christmas-wrapped packages there."(745)
Phone records also show that McVeigh called military surplus dealer Dave Paulsen on December 17 from Kingman, and Nicholas testified that McVeigh drove to Chicago to see Paulsen in late December to sell him the blasting caps.
On September 30, 1994, according to the FBI, McVeigh and Nichols, who used the alias "Mike Havens," purchased forty 50-pound bags of ammonium-nitrate at the Mid-Kansas Co-Op in Manhattan, Kansas. Then, on October 17, after renting a room in Salina under the name "Havens," Nichols rented storage locker No. 40 at Boots U-Store-It in Council Grove, under the alias "Joe Kyle." On October 18, the dynamic duo was back again at the Mid-Kansas Co-Op, stocking up on more fertilizer, buying another forty 50-pound bags to be stored at the locker in Council Grove.
Nichols attorney, Michael Tigar, attempted to explain his client's use of aliases by stating that Nichols wanted to hide his assets from Chase Manhattan bank, which had won a large credit card lawsuit against him. This explanation does not explain why Nichols used the alias while purchasing fertilizer.
Finally, there would be the ordinance found at Nichols' home and the farm of his brother James. The Decker, Michigan farm contained 28 fifty-pound bags of ammonium-nitrate, non-electric blasting caps, a 55-gallon drum containing fuel-oil, and large fuel tanks which appeared to contain diesel fuel. As previously mentioned, neighbors Daniel Stomber and Paul Isydorak told authorities that the Nichols brothers and McVeigh would experiment with the items to make small homemade bombs.
A search of Terry Nichols' home by the ATF and FBI allegedly turned up 33 firearms, an anti-tank launcher (which was inert), five 60-foot Primadet detonator cords, non-electric blasting caps, ammonium-nitrate, a fuel meter (which was inoperable--a fact that was never mentioned), and four 55-gallon blue plastic drums. (Nichols' son Josh, who frequently played at his dad's house, believed the barrels were white with blue tops.)
While some accounts indicate that the drums were of the type used in the bombing, the New York Times wrote on April 30, " it is not clear that they match blue plastic fragments found at the blast site."(746) In fact, the FBI never stated that the fragments removed from bombing victims matched those from Nichols' home. Certainly the FBI, with the most sophisticated crime lab in the world, would have been able to determine whether the fragments were of the same type. Moreover, most of the fragments, if they had come from Nichols' home, would have been white, not blue.
Nichols' attorney, Michael Tigar, raised this issue while cross-examining an FBI agent during a pre-trial hearing. According to Tigar, the FBI's inventory list described the barrels simply as white without blue lids. The agent replied that the FBI doesn't list the lids separately. When Tigar asked the agent why they had inventoried a collection of 5-gallon buckets with the lids listed separately, he had no response.
Those blue fragments may very likely have been from the 80 or so blue trash barrels distributed throughout the building for the purposes of trash collection. As Richard Williams, a 51 year-old GSA manager testified at McVeigh's trial, "They were placed throughout the building for pickup during the week."
One month later, Nichols would write his cryptic letter to McVeigh, instructing him to extend the lease on unit number 37, which allegedly contained stolen coins and guns, and "liquidate 40," in case Nichols failed to return from his last trip to the Philippines. It was this letter that contained the infamous phrase, "You're on your own. Go for it!"
Was this a message inspiring McVeigh to bomb a federal building, or a note encouraging him to make a success of himself in the military surplus business? According to James Nichols, it was the later. Nichols claims his brother was about to make a large cash loan to McVeigh for this purpose, and the note was simply in case of his death. Terry, he said, was a very meticulous and thorough man who always made certain his affairs were in order.(747)
Nichols family friend Bob Papovich also claims the pair was selling fertilizer at gun shows as plant food, along with an odd assortment of other items sold at gun shows, repackaging it in smaller bags to increase their profit margin.
Yet two tons of fertilizer is an awful lot to sell at gun shows. Had McVeigh and Nichols actually purchased that much fertilizer? What is interesting is that employees of Mid-Kansas Co-op were never able to positively identify McVeigh or Nichols during the purported fertilizer buying trips. Although employee Frederick Schendler thought one of the men may have been Terry Nichols, he said during a pre-trial hearing that the second man wasn't McVeigh. He was driving a truck that didn't appear to be Nichols', with a red trailer attached. Papovich told me that Nichols owns no such truck.
Federal prosecutors were also counting on a receipt found in Nichols' home for the purchase of a ton of ammonium-nitrate, allegedly containing McVeigh's thumbprint. Had Nichols foolishly kept a receipt for bombing materials that could be traced back to him? Was he as stupid as Mohammed Salemeh, the World Trade Center bomber who returned to the Ryder agency after the bombing in an attempt to retrieve his rental deposit? Or was McVeigh's fingerprint actually on the receipt after all?
FBI agent Louis Hupp testified at trial that he hadn't found McVeigh's fingerprints at Elliott's, in motel rooms where McVeigh stayed, or in the storage lockers where McVeigh allegedly stored the bomb-making materials.(748)
Ramsey: Agent Hupp, you identified--or handled many documents with regard to fingerprints, didn't you, with regard to this case?
Hupp: Yes, ma'am.
Ramsey: Did you also test the Ryder rental truck reservation form?
Hupp: Yes, I did.
Ramsey: And did you find Timothy McVeigh's fingerprints on that?
Hupp: No, ma'am.
Ramsey: Did you find Timothy McVeigh's fingerprints on the Ryder rental truck form where he actually--where it was actually rented?
Hupp: No, ma'am.
Ramsey: Did you check the counter at Elliott's Body Shop for fingerprints? I don't recall if I asked you that or not.
Hupp: The countertop was removed by me and transported back to headquarters and was in fact processed for latent prints.
Ramsey: And did you find any fingerprints of Timothy McVeigh?
Hupp: No, ma'am.
Ramsey: And did you also check to see if there were any fingerprints on any of the storage units that have been discussed in this case?
Hupp: Yes, ma'am.
Ramsey: And did you find any fingerprints of Timothy McVeigh?
Hupp: No, ma'am.
Hupp also testified that he had not found McVeigh's prints on the rental paperwork, or the key belonging to the Ryder truck, found in a nearby alley. Yet Hupp explained, "There are many times a person doesn't leave prints. It's a chance impression."
What if the FBI had claimed it had discovered prints?
On November 22, 1963, after JFK's murder, the FBI took Oswald's Mannlicher-Carcanno rifle to their Washington, D.C. crime lab. The technicians concluded that Oswald's prints were not on the weapon. The FBI then returned the rifle to the Dallas Police Department. Shortly thereafter, the DPD excitedly announced that they had "discovered" Oswald's palm print.(749)
This "new evidence" forced even the Warren Commission's chief counsel, J. Lee Rankin, to conclude, "Because of the circumstances which now exist there is a serious question in the minds of the Commission as to whether the palm impression that has been obtained from the Dallas Police Department is a legitimate palm impression removed from the rifle barrel or whether it was obtained from some other source ."
In 1984, FBI Agent Vincent Drain, who handled the weapon, was questioned by JFK researcher Henry Hurt. Drain concluded that there never was such a print. "All I can figure is that [Oswald's print] was some kind of cushion because they were getting a lot of heat by Sunday night. You could take that print off Oswald's card and put it on the rife. Something like that happened."
In spite of this, the Warren Commission made no effort to resolve the issue, and presented Oswald's so-called palm print as fact.(750)
Yet the fertilizer receipt containing McVeigh's thumbprint wasn't the only ammunition in the FBI's arsenal of specious evidence. Prosecutors would rely heavily on an explosive component called PETN, allegedly found on McVeigh's clothing. A pair of earplugs found on McVeigh also reportedly tested positive for EGDN, a chemical found in dynamite. Finally, there was a piece of plywood from the Ryder truck which contained glazed ammonium-nitrate crystals.
Yet once again, this evidence was highly questionable. It seemed the crystals had disappeared before independent experts for either the prosecution or defense could confirm its existence.
Interestingly, affidavits of Frederick Whitehurst, a Special Agent in the FBI's lab division, announced to an incredulous public in September of 1995 that the Bureau had been mishandling evidence and slanting results to favor prosecutors for years.(751)
As one FBI lab technician told the New York Times, "You get an inadvertent bonding of like-minded individuals supporting each other's false conclusions."
After federal agents searched the residence of Richard Jewell, a private security guard who was an early suspect in a bombing at the Atlanta Olympics FBI scientists and other specialists warned that "you've got the wrong guy," an FBI laboratory official said. But their cautionary remarks, based on the absence of even trace amounts of explosive materials, went unheeded for months.(752)
In March of 1997, the Los Angeles Times reported the findings of the Justice Department Inspector General's office, which concluded that the lab made "scientifically unsound" conclusions that were "biased in favor of the prosecution" in the Oklahoma City bombing case.
The still-secret draft report, obtained by the paper, also concludes that supervisors approved lab reports that they "cannot support" and that FBI lab officials may have erred about the size of the blast, the amount of explosives involved and the type of explosives used in the bombing.
According to the Times, the draft report shows that FBI examiners could not identify the triggering device for the truck bomb or how it was detonated. It also indicates that a poorly maintained lab environment could have led to contamination of critical pieces of evidence, the Times said.(753)
Whitehurst also told the Inspector General that the agents who conducted the tests in Oklahoma City, including Tom Thurman, Chief of the Explosives Unit, and Roger Martz, Chief of the Chemistry and Toxicology Unit, were not even qualified to do so.(754)
During the 1993 World Trade Center bombing investigation, Whitehurst decided to secretly test efficiency and procedures at the lab. He mixed human urine with fertilizer and added it to some of the bomb material being tested. Martz subsequently excitedly identified the urine-fertilizer mixture as an explosive.(755)
Whitehurst also contended that Martz's examining room was contaminated, making it impossible to accurately test for explosives and other substances, including the PETN allegedly found on McVeigh's clothes.(756)
During the prosecution's closing argument, Martz made an interesting Freudian Slip: "The evidence shows that Mr. McVeigh's clothing was contaminated with excuse me, Mr. McVeigh's clothing was filled with bomb residue."
Whitehurst also claimed that Martz had perjured his testimony in prior cases. Whitehurst himself was even asked to alter his reports. Materials-analysis-unit chief Corby "had me come into his room one day and told me they--I don't know who 'they' were--wanted me to take statements out of my report.... Whitehurst refused.(757)*
During the 1991 trial of Walter Leroy Moody, convicted of killing Federal Judge Robert Vance with a letter-bomb, both Thurman and Martz "circumvented established procedures and protocols [and] testified in areas of expertise that [they] had no qualifications in, therefore fabricating evidence in [their] testimony," Whitehurst wrote in a memorandum to the Bureau's Scientific Analysis Chief James Kearny.
Both Martz and Thurman were fully aware of the fact that they were in violation of procedures and protocols of the FBI Laboratory and did knowingly and purposely commit perjury and obstruction of justice in this matter.(758)
Interestingly, the chief prosecutor in the case was none other than Louis Freeh, who was an Assistant U.S. Attorney at the time. According to Whitehurst, Freeh did not have a single piece of evidence tying Moody to the crime. Thurman got around this little inconvenience by sending the evidence to his friend Roger Martz, who, like Thurman, was not qualified to perform the examination. Both Thurman and Martz were recently removed from their positions due to allegations of falsification of evidence and perjury.
Thurman's original claim to fame was the Pan Am 103 case. He had concluded that a tiny fragment of microchip, amazingly discovered two years after the bombing, was part of a batch of timers sold to the Libyans by the Swiss firm MEBO. This "new evidence" allowed the U.S. government to point the finger of blame at Libya, conveniently letting Syria--originally implicated in the bombing--off the hook.
After the assassination of JFK, nitrate tests conducted on Lee Harvey Oswald concluded that he had not fired a rifle on November 22. Yet this fact, like the false palm print, was kept secret for 10 months, then buried deep inside the Warren Commission Report.(759)
In the Moody case, Freeh possessed copies of reports that disproved the prosecution's allegations, but did not even make them available, or known, to the jury. Freeh also failed to inform the jury that his chief witness, Ted Banks, failed a lie-detector test regarding his association with Moody. In 1995, Banks testified at an appeal hearing that Freeh had threatened and coerced him into testifying against the defendant.(760)
In the World Trade Center case, Whitehurst testified that he was told not to provide any information or evidence, such as alternate explanations to the urea-nitrate theory, that could be used by the defense to challenge the prosecutors' hypothesis of guilt.(761)
In Oklahoma, Whitehurst conducted a test on McVeigh's clothes, but found nothing.
While the FBI claimed it found traces of PETN in McVeigh's pants pocket, on his shirts, and on a set of earplugs, Agent Burmeister acknowledged on cross-examination that no PETN or ammonium-nitrate was found at the blast scene.
Nor was ammonium-nitrate found in McVeigh's car, his personal effects, hotel rooms he had stayed at, the various storage sheds the suspects allegedly used to store the bomb-making components, or in Nichols' Herington, Kansas home. The Bureau also found no evidence of explosives residue in samples of McVeigh's hair, or scrapings from his fingernails.(762)
Burmeister also testified that crystals of ammonium-nitrate, which he found on a piece of wood paneling from the Ryder truck, later vanished.
"That piece has gone through a lot of hands since the time that I've seen it," Burmeister testified, "and I can't speak to how they could have disappeared."(763)
As Canadian County Sheriff Deputy Clint Boehler said, "The FBI disturbed and removed evidence. They don't tell anybody else; they don't work with anybody else. How did they know it was the truck? They never looked at so many obvious things."(764)
Yet, as in the Kennedy case, Federal Prosecutors went to trial armed with deliberate lies and other distortions that favored their somewhat questionable version of events.
While the FBI's evidence procedures would be called into question, prosecutors would seek to impress the jury with evidence of the suspects' militant Right-wing leanings. Prosecutors began with letters McVeigh sent to his sister Jennifer, expressing his rage over the events at Ruby Ridge and Waco, at the same time millions of Americans were expressing the very same anger.
"The Federal Government was absolutely out of control," said Sarah Bain, the San Antonio school teacher who served as forewoman of the jury that acquitted the [Davidian] sect members of most of the serious crimes they were charged with. "The wrong people were on trial," Bain complained. "It should have been the ones that planned the raid and orchestrated it."(765)
But it was other evidence--more incriminating and disturbing--that would provide the critical elements needed to convince the jury of McVeigh's malicious intent. In November of '94, McVeigh visited his family in Lockport, New York, where he confided to his sister Jennifer that he had been driving around with 1,000 pounds of explosives.
In a letter sent to her in March, a month before the bombing, McVeigh wrote, "Something big is going to happen in the month of the bull."
Finally, to prove McVeigh's malevolent intentions, prosecutors introduced a letter stored on Jennifer's computer. The letter, addressed to the ATF, warned, "ATF, all you tyrannical motherfuckers will swing in the wind one day, for your treasonous actions against the Constitution and the United States. Remember the Nuremberg War Trials. But... but... but... I was only following orders!...... Die, you spineless, cowardice bastards!"(766)
McVeigh also supposedly left a letter to a "girlfriend" (which media psychojournalists claimed he didn't have) in the glove compartment of his car, outlining plans to bomb additional targets.
Had McVeigh actually left such a letter in his vehicle, and dropped Paulsen's business card in the patrol car? While it is possible, such scenes are reminiscent of the doctored photograph of Lee Harvey Oswald holding a rifle and Communist newspaper, or Earth First! activist Judi Bari holding a machine gun, which was loaned to her for the photo by an FBI informant--a photo which he took.
In Oklahoma City, as in all criminal conspiracies, the old adage, "follow the money" would apply. Certainly a pair of lone nuts with a fertilizer/fuel bomb wouldn't need much--a couple of thousand dollars at most--considering they didn't have to pay off a web of co-conspirators.
A November '94 robbery in Arkansas would prove to be just the crime investigators needed to put the final piece of the puzzle in place. When the indictments were returned, the grand jury concluded the bombing was financed by the robbery of gun dealer Roger Moore (AKA: Bob Anderson), who had known McVeigh and let him stay at his home.
Yet what is interesting is that the FBI had already come to the conclusion that the bomb components were already purchased or stolen by the date of the robbery.
The indictment was also incongruously worded: "McVeigh and Nichols "caused" the robbery of $60,000 worth of guns, coins and precious metals. Exactly how had they "caused" the robbery? The prosecution first presented the testimony of McVeigh's friend Kevin Nicholas:
Nicholas: He said that he screwed him some way out of some money or something.
Mackey: Who is "he"?
Nicholas: That Bob did for when Tim worked for him.
Mackey: And as a result?
Nicholas: He said he--that he'd be an easy guy to rob because he lived way back in the sticks and, you know, there was woods around his house and stuff.
Yet McVeigh had a solid alibi. He was at a gun show in Kent, Ohio on November 5.
Still, the government attempted to have Michael Fortier implicate his friends at trial by testifying that McVeigh called him and said, "Nichols got Bob!" This largely hearsay testimony would not be backed up by further evidence.
Authorities never proved that McVeigh or Nichols actually robbed Moore, but did prove that on November 7, 1994, Nichols rented a storage locker--number 37--in Council Grove, under the alias "Ted Parker" to store some of the stolen items.
In his "confession" to authorities, Fortier said that McVeigh met him in Kingman on the 15th, whereupon they drove to Kansas. On the way, Fortier testified, McVeigh pointed out the Murrah Building as the target of the upcoming attack. When they reached the storage locker, they loaded 25 guns into Fortier's rented car.(767)
Back in Kingman, Fortier pawned the weapons, or sold them to friends, including his neighbor, James Rosencrans.
On November 16, Nichols rented locker Q-106 at AAAABCO Storage in Las Vegas, where ex-wife Lana Padilla discovered gold and silver bars, jade, along with wigs, masks, and pantyhose. A safety deposit box key belonging to Moore was found at Nichols' home.
The 60-year-old Moore claimed he was surprised one morning shortly after 9:00 a.m., when two masked men accosted him outside his kitchen door. The men, wearing woodland-style camouflage fatigues, bound him and ransacked his house, taking guns, coins, jewels, and personal effects.
What is strange is that the thieves left a number of expensive handguns and large-capacity magazines, both highly desirable items. The private gun dealer, who had enough weapons to supply a platoon, did not have an insurance rider for the guns, and most of the serial numbers weren't registered.
Moore told the author he didn't have a rider because he was afraid some insurance company secretary would see his large collection and tell her boyfriend, who would then come and rob him. A curious explanation for failing to insure a highly valuable collection. Moore claims he only got a limited settlement--approximately $10,000.
Interestingly, one well-connected source I spoke to asserted that "the [Moore] robbery was staged. that's the truth. He (Moore) used a lot of aliases, he had eight different social security numbers, eight different dates of birth, and that's only the ones that I know about. "
This source also claimed, long before defense attorney Michael Tigar's allegations were made public, that the motive of the "robbery" was insurance fraud, staged with the help of Nichols and McVeigh. "Nichols had simply bought weapons [from Moore] . Moore approached Nichols about the fraud originally. Moore took payment of some odd items that winds up in Terry Nichols' [storage locker]."
This assertion was reinforced at Nichols' trial, when Tigar questioned Moore's girlfriend, Karen Anderson, about why she had included on her list--a list she claimed had been drawn up in late 1992 or early 1993--a gun that hadn't been purchased until late 1994!(768)
When I spoke to Moore's friend and neighbor, Nora Waye, she told me Moore had complained to her that the local Sheriff who investigated the robbery, "blew [Moore's] cover."
Could a phony robbery set-up explain the wigs, masks, and pantyhose in Terry Nichol's storage locker? Given the relationship between McVeigh and Moore, it is possible the two men made some sort of deal.
Former grand juror Hoppy Heidelberg is another person who had doubts about Moore: "Something wasn't right about him," said Heidelberg. "It wasn't that his testimony wasn't believable. He was just cocky. He had a strange attitude for a man testifying before a grand jury. He was so casual about it, that was strange. He testified like a man who had done it many times before. It wasn't anything he said, it was his attitude. You'll see the same attitude in an FBI agent whose testifying."(769)
"Moore's being protected," said my source. "No matter how this thing's going to get played out. He'll talk to you all day long and won't tell you a thing. He knows how to talk."
John Doe Who?
"We have no information showing anyone other than Mr. McVeigh and Mr. Nichols are the masterminds" - U.S. Attorney Beth Wilkinson
On the day of the deadly attack, Attorney General Janet Reno announced, "The FBI and the law enforcement community will pursue every lead and use every possible resource to bring these people responsible to justice. It is very important that we pursue each lead it is going to be very important that we leave no stone unturned "
In fact, numerous stones were left unturned.
While the Justice Department (DoJ) focused its efforts on McVeigh and Nichols, scant attention was focused on other suspects--John Doe 2, the mysterious entity who was seen with McVeigh, and had accompanied him the morning of the bombing. Witnesses also saw him with McVeigh in the Murrah Building, in stores, at restaurants, at a bar, and at the truck rental shop before the bombing. Still others claim to have seen him speeding away from the scene. All in all, there are almost two-dozen witnesses who reported seeing John Doe 2.
The FBI made a big show of tracking down this illusive, menacing-looking suspect. "The FBI has conducted over 9,000 witness interviews and has followed every possible lead in an intensive effort to identify and bring to justice anyone who was involved in this disaster," stated U.S. Attorney Patrick Ryan in a letter to the victims' families.(770)
The search for John Doe 2 quickly became the biggest man-hunt in FBI history. What authorities weren't saying however, was that not only was there a John Doe 2, there were least four John Does! Yet the issue was quickly and quietly narrowed down to just one John Doe 2.
On April 23, four days after the bombing, The Washington Post quoted a senior law enforcement official who said "at least four" men were involved in the terrorist act last week and "there very well could be more."(771)
The FBI then requalified its position on May 15: "Wherever we look, it's Terry and Timmy, Terry and Timmy--and nobody else," quipped an unnamed FBI official in Time magazine.
Yet on June 11, another FBI official was quoted in the Post as saying, "I think when this is over we'll have at least six or eight guys indicted and in custody. It's just too big for two guys to pull off."(772)
Then on June 15, the FBI backtracked again. "Periodically you just get something in an investigation that goes nowhere. John Doe 2 goes nowhere. It doesn't show up in associations, it doesn't show up in phone calls. It doesn't show up among the Army buddies of McVeigh "(773)
The previous day, the FBI put out a story that John Doe 2 may have actually been Todd Bunting, a soldier at Fort Riley, Kansas who had rented a truck at the same dealer McVeigh had. The FBI stated that Bunting wore clothing similar to that ascribed to John Doe 2, that he had a tattoo in the same place, and that he wore a hat similar to John Doe 2's.
Yet Elliott's employees dismissed Bunting as the person who was seen with McVeigh, and Bunting held a press conference stating that he had in fact rented a truck at Elliott's--24 hours after McVeigh allegedly rented his.
The Bunting story was officially dropped.
Then, on January 28, 1996, the prosecution switched tracks again, officially resurrecting the Todd Bunting story. In a long brief, the government disclosed that Elliott's employee Tom Kessinger was the only one who could recall John Doe 2 well enough to describe him.
Now, after a November interview with a prosecutor and two FBI agents, Kessinger was "confident that he had Todd Bunting in mind when he provided the description for the John Doe 2 composite." Kessinger, the brief continued, is "now unsure" whether anyone accompanied McVeigh. But his two co-workers "continue to believe that two men came in to rent the truck."
In that brief, the prosecution speculated that the defense might use "Kessinger's admitted confusion" to challenge his identification of McVeigh.
It seemed it was less "Kessinger's admitted confusion" than a deliberate fabrication by prosecutors and the FBI to cover up the existence of John Doe 2. As Kessinger told bombing victim Glenn Wilburn, who conducted his own investigation, "I don't know how they came up with that one."
Kessinger later changed his story at the urging of federal prosecutors Patrick Ryan and Joseph Hartzler. During a pretrial conference, Jones challenged Kessinger:
"How can you be so wrong 60 hours after the event and so right a year and a half later?" Jones asked him. "Could you be changing your mind because the government wants you to?"
"No," Kessinger replied.(774)
Yet on March 25 and April 5, Hartzler had written Jones that "The existence and identity of this John Doe 2, whom we are confident is not Mr. Bunting, is the subject of a continuing investigation."
And in a May 1, 1996 letter written by Hartzler, the government prosecutor informed Jones that Kessinger and Beemer had been shown a picture of the cap Bunting wore when he picked up a truck on April 18. "They both stated that the cap was not the same one they saw on John Doe II," Hartzler wrote, "and they reaffirmed that this second individual accompanied 'Kling' when he rented the truck."(775)
Yet at a hearing on April 9, federal prosecutor Beth Wilkinson stated that the government "has no information showing anyone but Mr. Nichols and Mr. McVeigh were the masterminds of this bombing."(776)
"They keep telling us they're looking for John Doe No. 2, but then they turn around and give statements indicating that they don't believe there is a John Doe No. 2," said a woman whose husband was killed in the bombing.(777)
Other victims, like naive children, blindly placed their faith in the government's dubious assurances. Hartzler held one meeting with bombing victims in which he "discussed and disposed of some of the more bizarre theories."
"I just got a better feeling about what's going on," said Bud Welch, whose daughter, Julie, died in the attack. "The prosecution assured us that there was no evidence that was suppressed. We really didn't know that," added Welch.
"We know what's going on now and that they're there for us," Pamela Weber-Fore said of the prosecutors.(778)
Other victims weren't as easily fooled. "I don't think that there's any question about the fact that they're covering up who was involved in the bombing," said V.Z. Lawton, a HUD worker who was injured in the blast. "I've talked to five witnesses myself who saw McVeigh with John Doe number two in Oklahoma City that morning, within fifteen minutes of the blast... tells me that there is something wrong."(779)
As Nichols' attorney Michael Tigar said, "It's strange that the official version has focused on Nichols and McVeigh, and that the government is now busily engaged in denying all possibility that there could be anybody else."(780)
Grand Jury Bypass
"The FBI has thoroughly investigated all leads and I am confident in the investigation."- lead prosecutor Joseph Hartzler
Naturally, while many eyewitnesses stepped forward to tell the FBI they had seen additional suspects, not one was ever called before the grand jury.
Yet federal prosecutors still had one hurdle to overcome before they could make their case. They had to deal with Hoppy Heidelberg. Heidelberg, who often quoted from the grand juror's handbook, was aware that the grand jury was charged with the task of determining the relevance of the evidence, and asking those questions pertinent to the case. So far, all the evidence centered around Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols. Heidelberg wanted to know why prosecutors had not subpoenaed the many witnesses who had seen John Doe 2.
"No one who saw McVeigh with other suspects, was ever allowed to testify before the federal grand jury," said Heidelberg. The obvious inference being that those who saw McVeigh would have also seen John Doe 2.
But Patrick Ryan seemed to be controlling the jury. He did not like Heidelberg's tendency to go against the flow. In a letter to the victims' families, Ryan states:
The United States has never maintained or even suggested, that no other person or persons were involved with McVeigh and Nichols in the commission of these crimes. As stated earlier, the question of involvement of others is the subject of intensive investigation by federal investigators and prosecutors who are totally devoted and committed to identifying and prosecuting all persons involved in the planning or commission of these crimes.
Yet, as in the Kennedy assassination, federal prosecutors simply paraded before the grand jury those witnesses favorable to their preordained view of the case, ignoring leads and witnesses that conflicted with their highly dubious version of events.
Although Heidelberg attempted to question grand jury witnesses, he was repeatedly stonewalled by prosecutors. In an interview with journalist Jon Rappaport, Heidelberg stated, "They said I'd have to get the prosecuting attorney's okay for each question I wanted to ask. But you know, in dialog one question leads to another right away, so you can't cross-examine that way.
"They kept promising and promising to answer all my questions, but ultimately they stalled me. I was had."(781)
In an interview on CBS This Morning, Stephen Jones said, " what is troubling here is that the prosecutors, in effect, according to this grand juror's allegation, took away from the grand jury their duty to go after the full story, not just concentrating on the two people that had already been arrested."(782)
Not buying the government's story of a couple of pissed-off whackos with a fertilizer bomb, Heidelberg also asked that bomb experts be called in to identify the type of bomb used. "Let's get the answer Let's get the architects and engineers who built the building in there and question them," Heidelberg told Rappaport.
"Did you request that?" asked Rappaport.
"Of course! I demanded bomb experts all along. And engineers and geologists. They said--do you want to know what they said? They didn't have the money! I said I'd go down to the University of Oklahoma and bring some geologists back myself for free. They wouldn't let me.
"The bomb is the key to the whole case."(783)
In order to satisfy the grand jury that an ANFO bomb blew up the building, prosecutors called in one bomb expert--Robert Hopler. Hopler, it turns out, recently retired from Dyno-Nobel, an explosives manufacturer in Salt Lake City. Dyno-Nobel used to be Hercules Powder Company--a reputed CIA front.
"I knew he was CIA," said Heidelberg. "It was pretty obvious to me and most of the jury."(784)
Judge David Russell eventually dismissed Heidelberg from the grand jury for having the audacity to question the government's case. In a letter to Heidelberg dated October 24, 1995, Russell states:
Effectively immediately, you are dismissed from the grand jury. Your obligation of secrecy continues. Any disclosure of matters that occurred before the grand jury constitutes a contempt of court. Each violation of the obligation of secrecy may be punished cumulatively.
The government's excuse for dismissing Heidelberg was an anonymous interview he supposedly gave to Lawrence Myers of Media Bypass magazine. As previously noted, Heidelberg never consented to be interviewed by Myers, and in fact, Myers had surreptitiously obtained the content of an interview conducted by the investigator for Heidelberg's attorney, John DeCamp.
But Heidelberg claims the real reason was a letter he wrote to Judge Russell dated October 5th, in which Heidelberg states:
The families of the victims deserve to know who was involved in the bombing, and there appears to be an attempt to protect the identity of certain suspects, namely John Doe 2 .
"I think they (the government) knows who John Doe 2 is, and they are protecting him," said Heidelberg in an interview in Jubilee Magazine. "This is because John Doe 2 is either a government agent or informant and they can't afford for that to get out."(785)
Eventually, the FBI dropped the John Doe 2 lead altogether. John Doe 2 had been a red herring, a false lead, the Justice Department claimed. John Doe 2 had never really existed.(786)
Dozens of credible witnesses think otherwise.
Catina Lawson, who was friends with McVeigh, remembered John Doe 2 from the Summer of '92, when she and her friends would hold parties and invite soldiers from nearby Fort Riley. McVeigh showed up with Andy Strassmeir, Mike Fortier, and Michael Brescia. In fact, Lawson's roommate, Lindsay Johnson, dated the handsome, well-built Brescia.
Two days after the bombing, Lawson called the FBI and told them that Brescia closely resembled the sketch of John Doe 2.
Yet in spite of overturning 21,000 stones, the FBI never even bothered to follow up on her story.
Robert Gohn, who lived across the road from McVeigh in Kingman, recalled seeing one of the mysterious John Does around the early Summer of '94. According to Gohn, one day a short, stocky man who looked "like a weight lifter" arrived at McVeigh's trailer with Terry Nichols.(787)
On April 7, Dr. Paul Heath was working in his office at the Murrah Building when "McVeigh" and two of his companions stopped by for a chat. Heath recalled one of the men as "American-Indian looking" and "handsome."(788)
As the Associated Press reported on April 27, 1995:
[U.S. Attorney Randy] Rathburn said neighbors of Nichols' reported that Nichols spent April 12-14 with McVeigh and several unidentified men. One of the men resembled sketches of John Doe 2. (789)(790)
On Saturday, April 15, Barbara Whittenberg served breakfast to three men at the Sante Fe Trail Diner in Herrington, Kansas. One of the men was dark-skinned and handsome. When he told her they were on their way to Oklahoma City, McVeigh shot him a hard look that said "keep quiet."(791)
Early the next day, around 1:00 a.m., Melba was working the deli counter at Albertson's Supermarket on South May in Oklahoma City, when "McVeigh" and John Doe 2 stopped by for sandwiches.(792)
"McVeigh," it seems, was still in town when Phyliss Kingsley and Linda Kuhlman saw three vehicles pull into the Hi-Way Grill, just south of Oklahoma City, around 6:00 p.m. on Sunday. McVeigh came in and ordered hamburgers and fries to go, and was accompanied by a short, stocky, handsome man, of either Mexican or American Indian descent. The man closely resembled the FBI sketch of John Doe 2.(793)
That same day, back at the Dreamland Motel in Junction City, Connie Hood was returning to her room around 12:45 a.m. when a man in room 23 quickly opened the door as if expecting a visitor, then quickly closed it when he saw Hood. The man, who startled her, was in his early 20s, about 5'8" tall, 180 lbs., with dark hair brushed straight back and an olive complexion. Hood recalls he closely resembled the sketch of John Doe 2, but with slightly fuller features. She described him as a "foreigner."(794)
The following day, Hood and her husband Donald returned to the Dreamland to visit their friend David King in room 22. A Ryder truck pulled up at the same time they did, the driver strongly resembling the man Hood saw the previous day.
Shane Boyd, a helicopter mechanic who was also staying at the Dreamland, later told reporters and investigators that he saw a bushy-haired man resembling the John Doe 2 sketch in the parking lot near room 25--Timothy McVeigh's room.
One exit away from the Dreamland Motel sits the Great Western Inn. According to the manager, a Middle Eastern man stayed at the motel on the 17th. "He spoke broken English," said the manager. "[He] gave a foreign name and was driving a Ryder truck." The man closely resembled the FBI's sketch of John Doe 2.
"Sometime on Monday," recalled Connie Hood, "those two--McVeigh and the foreigner--loaded up together, in a Ryder truck, and pulled out of the Dreamland parking lot together that was the last I saw of them."(795)
Later that day, janitors Katherine Woodly and Martin Johnson were working the 5-9 p.m. shift in the Murrah Building when they saw "McVeigh" and John Doe 2. McVeigh spoke to Martin about a job, and John Doe 2 nodded to Woodly.(796)
At 3:00 p.m. on Monday, or possibly Tuesday, Jerri-Lynn Backhous and Dorinda Hermes were working at the Easy-Mart in Newkirk, 100 miles north of Oklahoma City, when a convoy pulled in. One of the vehicles--a light blue pick-up with a camper top--was being driven by Terry Nichols. Backhous recalled Nichols' passenger as average height, dark-skinned, with black hair and a muscular build. "He looked just like the John Doe 2 sketch," she said.(797)
Debbie Nakanashi was working at the Post Office across the street from the Murrah Building around on Monday or Tuesday when "McVeigh" and John Doe 2 stopped in and asked where they might find federal job applications. Nakanashi helped provide the description for the well-known profile sketch of John Doe 2 in the baseball cap.
Guy Rubsamen, a security guard at the Murrah Building saw a large Ryder truck pull up to the curb in front of the building around 4:00 p.m. on Monday, the 17th. Rubsamen later concluded it was a dress rehearsal.
"There was either two or three men, but one jumped out the driver's side, and one or two out the passenger side," Rubsamen told the Rocky Mountain News. "The first thing that struck me was how quickly they jumped out. Those guys were in a hurry."(798)
The Ryder truck would make its appearance the following evening at the Cattle Baron's Steakhouse in Perry, Oklahoma. Jeff Meyers and another customer recalled seeing McVeigh and a companion, who stopped by for a few beers. The man was approximately six feet tall and weighed 260 pounds--a description not befitting the John Doe 2s described by other witnesses.(799)
Richard Sinnett, the assistant manager of the Save-A-Trip convenience store in Kingman, Kansas, sold fuel to McVeigh and three other men at approximately 1:30 a.m. on April 19. Sinnett saw three vehicles in all, including a Ryder truck, an older brown pick-up (possibly belonging to Steven Colbern?), and a light colored car.
Sinnett described John Doe 2 as muscular, 170 to 180 pounds, with short light brown hair and a light complexion. He recalled the Ryder truck was towing a trailer that contained a large, round tank filled with clear liquid. The store is about 175 miles north of Oklahoma City.(800)
Fred Skrdla, a cashier at a 24-hour truck stop near Billings, told the FBI he sold fuel to McVeigh between 1 and 3 a.m. on April 19. The station is about 80 miles north of Oklahoma City.
As the sun rose, McVeigh and a friend sat down for coffee at Jackie's Farmers Store in Mulhall, Oklahoma. Mulhall Postmaster Mary Hunnicutt stood right next to McVeigh as he ordered his coffee. She was "advised" not to discuss what she had seen, lest she be summoned before the Federal Grand Jury. She wasn't.(801)
Ten minutes before the blast, Leroy Brooks was sitting in his car at the Sooner Post Office across from the Murrah Building, when a Ryder truck pulled up across the street, trailed by a yellow Mercury. The drivers of both vehicles got out and walked to the back of the truck, where they spoke for a few seconds, and exchanged a small package. After Brooks came out of the Post Office, he saw that the Ryder truck, which contained a passenger, had moved in front of the Murrah Building. "McVeigh" was walking briskly across 5th Street towards the Journal Record building.
Danny Wilkerson sold "McVeigh" a pack of cigarettes (McVeigh doesn't smoke) and two soft drinks at a deli inside the Regency Towers apartments a block from the Murrah Building. Wilkerson recalled a passenger sitting in the cab of the Ryder truck, which had a cab overhang, and was shorter than the 24-foot model the FBI claimed McVeigh had rented.(802)
Federal authorities had still more witnesses to call on had they wanted to. Mike Moroz, who was at work at Johnny's Tire Store on 10th and Hudson, on April 19, looked up to see a Ryder truck pull in at 8:40 a.m. The occupants were looking for directions to the Murrah Building. Moroz caught a glimpse of the passenger--a stocky man with dark curly hair wearing a ball cap, and a tattoo on his upper left arm.
Several minutes earlier, David Snider was waiting for a delivery in Bricktown, about 25 blocks away, when a Ryder truck passed slowly by, as if looking for an address. However, this time the driver was a dark-skinned man with long, straight black hair, wearing a thin mustache and tear-drop sunglasses. The passenger was "McVeigh." Since Snider's account of the occupants differed remarkably from the previous accounts, could this have been the second Ryder truck described by witnesses? If so, did this mean there were two "McVeighs" and two John Doe 2s?(803)
At approximately the same time as Snider saw the Ryder truck, Tulsa banker Kyle Hunt came upon the truck at Main and Broadway, trailed by a yellow Mercury. Hunt said the Mercury driver was Timothy McVeigh. "He gave me that icy, go-to-hell look," said Hunt. "It kind of unnerved me."(804) While Hunt didn't see the occupants of the truck, he did recall two passengers in the car. One of them, he said, had long hair, similar to the man Phyliss Kingsley saw on Sunday at the Hi-Way Grill. None of the men was Terry Nichols, who was in Herrington that morning.
Just outside the Murrah Building, Dennis "Rodney" Johnson was driving his catering truck, when he suddenly had to brake to avoid hitting two men who were running towards the parking lot across the street.(805)
The men, who were in "a fast lockstep" with each other, appeared to be Timothy McVeigh and John Doe 2. Johnson described McVeigh's companion as "Mexican or American-Indian." He was "dark-skinned probably about 5-8 and maybe 160 pounds," Johnson said. "He was wearing blue jogger pants with a stripe across the side. He had slicked-black hair."(806)
Then there was Gary Lewis. A pressman for the Journal Record, Lewis stepped outside to smoke his pipe just minutes before the blast. As stood in the alley across from the Murrah Building, a yellow Mercury peeled away from its spot and bore down on him. The driver, whom he made brief eye-contact with, appeared to be Timothy McVeigh. And his passenger resembled the sketch of John Doe 2. The car had an Oklahoma tag (not an Arizona tag as authorities claimed) dangling by one bolt.
Even FBI Agent John Hersley had testified before the Federal Grand Jury that " several witnesses spotted a yellow car carrying McVeigh and another man speeding away from the parking lot near the [building] before the blast."(807)
Finally there was Daina Bradley. A young mother, Bradley was standing by the window of the Social Security office seconds before the blast, when she saw a man get out of the passenger side of the Ryder truck. Moments later, Bradley's world turned to blackness, smoke and dust as she was showered by falling concrete. Bradley, who lost her leg, her mother, and her two children in the bombing, still clearly recalls the man who got out of the truck. He looked like John Doe 2.
Of course, federal "investigators" would show as little interest in these and other discrepancies as they would in the numerous John Does. Some of these witnesses were never even contacted by the FBI, eventhough all of them had repeatedly tried to alert the Bureau. Only after federal prosecutors had coerced Daina Bradley into changing her story, did she testify at McVeigh's trial. None of the others were ever called.
"I know I wasn't called because I would have to testify that I did see John Doe 2. I know I saw John Doe 2," said Rodney Johnson.(808)
Then in March of 1997, after changing it's mind half a dozen times about the existence of John Doe 2, it was "leaked" to the press that the FBI was searching for a John Doe. His name was Robert Jaques.
This "new" John Doe 2 had appeared at the office of real estate broker William Maloney, of Cassville, Missouri, in November of '94, along with Terry Nichols and a man who looked like McVeigh. They were there to discuss purchasing a remote piece of land. Joe Lee Davidson, a salesman in Maloney's office, recalled the encounter with Jaques: "The day he was here, he seemed to be the one that was in control and in charge of what was going on," said Davidson. "Nichols never said a whole lot and McVeigh never did come in ."(809)
Maloney described Jaques as muscular, with a broad, dark face, similar to, but not quite identical as, the original FBI sketch of John Doe 2.
Is it possible the sudden announcement of Jaques was a diversion, to satisfy a public increasingly savvy about the existence of John Doe 2?
Nevertheless, a month after this new lead was announced, the government went ahead with the trial of McVeigh, making no attempt to introduce any additional suspects.
They also dropped the lead on Steven Colbern, in spite of the fact that his pick-up was seen stopped ahead of McVeigh 90 minutes after the bombing.(810)
The Middle-Eastern lead was also dropped. The FBI denied putting out the APB on the brown pick-up containing the three Middle Eastern males seen speeding away from the bombing. And while the FBI knew about Sam Khalid, they did nothing but ask him some questions.
An affidavit submitted by FBI Agent John Hersley stated: "A witness to the bombing saw two, possibly three persons in a brown Chevrolet pickup--fleeing the area of the crime--just prior to the blast." Although agents interviewed the witness who saw Hussain al-Hussaini driving the brown pick-up, she was never brought before a line-up, and never called to testify before the Federal Grand Jury. Hussaini's friend Abraham Ahmed was turned loose as well.(811)
As in the Kennedy assassination, the FBI sent thousands of agents hither and yonder to scour the country, searching out even the most obscure leads. Agents swarmed through Kingman, conducting warrantless searches, arresting innocent people, and wrecking havoc. Dozens more swooped down on Terry Nichols 12-year-old son Josh, whom they thought may have been John Doe 2. Agents were sent to the Philippines to investigate Nichols' activities there, and thousands more had detained and questioned anyone even remotely suspicious.
Yet, as in the Kennedy case, few agents actually knew just why they were following up on any given lead. Very few ever were ever allowed to compare notes, or catch a glimpse of the "big picture."
More importantly, those individuals who should have been prime suspects for questioning were never even detained. No agents were sent to Elohim city to interview Andreas Strassmeir or Michael Brescia, or Peter and Sonny Ward. Likewise, none of the Middle Eastern suspects previously mentioned were arrested.
Had any FBI agents actually attempted to follow up on any of these leads, like their predecessors in Dallas, they would have been quickly reassigned to other cases by Washington.
The same held true for local law-enforcement. FBI SAC Bob Ricks--who doled out a mendacious dose of propaganda during the Waco massacre--was appointed Public Safety Director after the bombing, putting him in charge of the OHP.
The OSBI were made coffee boys and drivers for the FBI. District Attorney Bob Macy, along with local police, were "advised" to stay out of the case.(812)
Six days before the start of McVeigh's trial, Steven Jones filed a defense motion citing law-enforcement and defense interviews with a Filipino terrorist who admitted meeting with bombing defendant Terry Nichols.
Lead prosecutor Joseph Hartzler called Jones' carefully investigated and researched information "pulp fiction."
Yet a Washington-based terrorist expert who investigated the World Trade Center bombing and is familiar with some the suspects in Jones' brief said, "The whole idea that no one but Timothy McVeigh--that there's nothing wider than this--no one would believe it if the government weren't saying it. It's so implausible a story.
"The government has the nerve to call it pulp fiction," added the highly-respected source. Their story is 'pulp fiction.'"(813)
Apparently, the government was concerned enough about Jones' revelations to order all the witness statements sealed.
In the end, the FBI propounded its disingenuous theory that McVeigh and Nichols were the "lone bombers" just as quickly as they had decided that Lee Harvey Oswald was the "Lone assassin" twenty-eight years ago.
"Stated simply, neither the ATF nor any other federal agency had any advance knowledge of the deadly bomb that McVeigh delivered to the Murrah Building. The prosecution is not withholding anything that even remotely would support such an outrageous charge." - Department of Justice
"I can assure you that there has been no government misconduct and the men and women of the FBI that we're working with are beyond reproach."
- U.S. Attorney Joseph Hartzler
"Our government, unfortunately, has shown remarkable ability to lie."
- Stephen Jones
One example of the Justice Department's refusal to admit the possibility of any suspects other than McVeigh and Nichols was its stubborn insistence on hoarding discovery documents that it should have been rightfully turned over to the defense under the federal Brady requirements. In a motion filed six days before the start of McVeigh's trial, Jones alleged that the prosecution not only lied about the available evidence, they deliberately obsfucated and distorted certain ATF and FBI reports on Elohim City, deliberately misspelling the names Carol Howe, Robert Millar, Andreas Strassmeir, Dennis Mahon and others so that the defense would be unable to retrieve any documents regarding these suspects during their computer searches. As Jones wrote in his brief:
Defense counsel is convinced that the government has engaged in a willful and knowing cover-up of information supplied to it by its informant. The defense was unable to locate this insert using a computer because all major search terms contained in the insert were misspelled. Elohim City was misspelled or misidentified (Elohm City), as was Mahon (Mehaun), Strassmeir (Strassmeyer), the Rev. Robert Millar (Bob Lamar) and in addition, Carol Howe was not identified in the insert at all.(814)
Thus the defense was unable to locate important information that Carol Howe, a ATF informant, had provided critical warnings that the Murrah Building was about to be bombed. As Jones wrote:
Our patience is exhausted We are no longer convinced the documents drafted and furnished to us, after the fact, by bureaucracies whose very existence and credibility is challenged, can be relied upon.
The government has told the district court that it had 'no information" of a possible foreign involvement when it did. The government has told the district court that "Andreas Strassmeir was never the subject of the investigation," when he was.
Statements to the court by the prosecution that it cannot connect Strassmeir and Mahon to the bombing are hardly surprising. They did not try very hard to connect them because had they been connected, and Carol Howe's previous warning disclosed, the resulting furor would have been unimaginable.
The repeated practice of the government and prosecution in this case when the shoe gets binding is to make a partial disclosure, assure the District Court it understands its Brady obligations, and hold its breath, hoping the court does not order further disclosure, or will rely on the prosecution's "good faith".
This is a solemn criminal case, not Alice in Wonderland where definitions mean only what "the Queen thinks" and what she thinks is not known to anyone else.(815)
Lying about additional suspects wasn't the only crime the "Justice" Department was guilty of. Manipulating and confiscating evidence also seemed to be a major tool in their arsenal of deceit.
Richard Bieder, the attorney representing a group bombing victims in their negligence lawsuit against the government, told the London Telegraph that he had seen internal ATF documents which supported many of the claims made by Carol Howe. But the reports for December 1994, probably the most critical ones, have vanished from the files.(816)
On April 14, 1995, the FBI placed a call to Assistant Chief Charles Gaines at the Oklahoma City Fire Department to warn him of a potential terrorist threat within the next few days. Yet like the FBI's warnings of the threat against the life of President Kennedy, or Nixon's infamous Watergate tapes, the audio logs of the Fire Department's incoming calls were mysteriously "erased."
When asked to explain this "accidental" erasure, Assistant Chief Jon Hansen intelligently replied, "We made a boo-boo." Hansen then admitted to reporter J.D. Cash that the tapes had been erased after the national media had requested them.(817)
On April 28th the tape of James Nichols' hearing was released by court order, and it was blank. Nothing whatsoever could be heard on the tape. It was the only record of the proceedings.
On April 19, the seismic data monitor at the Omniplex Museum, four miles from the Murrah Building, had recorded the shock waves of the explosion. The seismograph readings, including one from the University of Oklahoma 16 miles away in Norman, presented startling evidence--evidence that the explosion that ripped through the Alfred P. Murrah building may in fact have been several distinct blasts. The implications of this are ominous.
At a meeting of the Oklahoma Geophysical Society on November 20th, Seismologists Ray Brown of the Oklahoma Geological Survey and Tom Holzer of the U.S. Geological Survey gathered to discuss the findings. Pat Briley, a seismic programmer, who has independently investigated the bombing, attended the meeting, as did U.S. Attorney Patrick Ryan and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jerome A. Holmes.
Although the two scientists disagreed on findings regarding the number of bombs, less than a third of the way through the presentation, Ryan got up, walked to the back of the room, and began giving a private press conference:
"I was certainly satisfied that these scientists could not say that there was anything other than one bomb that caused the seismology reading," said Ryan, a statement obviously inconsistent with the discussion occurring at the time.
"Ryan lied very heavily," said Briley. "This guy really lied."
After the meeting, Briley politely asked Ryan to give him the original seismogram in the FBI's possession. Ryan got up, angrily accused Briley of working for the defense team, then stammered out of the room.(818)
Surveillance cameras located in the parking lot across from the Murrah building, and on neighboring buildings, would have recorded the entire fateful event that terrible morning. The tapes would have also shown the building collapsing. They would have conclusively proven whether the structure was destroyed by cutting charges, or by a truck-bomb. But like Abraham Zapruder's famous footage of the Kennedy assassination, the tapes were quickly confiscated by the FBI.
In an interview with Jon Rappaport, Hoppy Heidelberg said, "The various surveillance videotapes of the bombing, tapes from, say, Southwestern Bell and the Journal Record Building across the street, we don't know that they showed all the details of the bombing, including the perpetrators, but it's possible. None of this material was shown to us in the grand jury."
Certain segments of the footage was presented by the prosecution at trial. One cut included a shot of a blue GMC pick-up with a white camper top (the kind owned by Terry Nichols) driving slowly past the Regency Towers apartments near the Murrah Building on April 16--the day Nichols allegedly drove to Oklahoma to pick up McVeigh.
The prosecution also displayed a still frame of a Ryder truck driving by the Regency Towers on the morning of the blast. The time was 8:59 a.m. They then showed a still of the truck blowing up, stamped 9:02 a.m. Curiously, the government was careful not to show the jury any footage which showed any suspects getting out of the truck.(819)
Surveillance footage taken by Trooper Charles Hanger upon his arrest of McVeigh had caught a brown pick-up stopped just ahead--thought to belong to Steven Colbern. When researcher Ken Armstrong questioned the OHP about the tape, he was told it had been "seized" by the FBI. The OHP would not comment further.(820)
On June 1st, KFOR reporter Brad Edwards sent the Justice Department a Freedom of Information request concerning the various surveillance footage. In their reply, the FBI stated:
A search of our indices to the Central Records System, as maintained in the Oklahoma City Office, located material responsive request (sic) to your request. This material is being withheld in its entirety pursuant to the following subsection of Title 5, United States Code, Section 552: (b) (7) (A)
When Jones finally filed a motion for disclosure after prosecutors refused to hand over the tapes, he was given 400 hours of footage. According to defense attorney Amber McGlaughlin, the tapes did not reveal the presence of Timothy McVeigh.(821)
Of course, who knows what the FBI actually turned over to the defense. In the Kennedy case, the most revealing evidence was the Zapruder film--homemade footage showing Presidents Kennedy's head being blasted towards the right-rear--indicating the fatal shot came from the Grassy Knoll, not the Book Depository as the government claimed. Yet the FBI confiscated Zapruder's film and altered the sequence of the incriminating frames, reversing them to give the impression that Kennedy's head had lurched forward. It was only later that experts revealed the tampering.
The FBI said it was a "mistake."
The Zapruder film was finally released in 1968, the result of District Attorney Jim Garrison's courageous efforts to reveal the truth. The question is, when will the American public get to see the video footage of the Oklahoma City bombing?
While the FBI did their best to keep key evidence from the grand jury, as in the Kennedy case, they even went so far as to convince several witnesses that their former statements were false, and to retract them in lieu of statements more favorable to the prosecution. A primary example is Michael Fortier, who originally told investigators, "I do not believe that Tim [McVeigh] blew up any building in Oklahoma. There's nothing for me to look back upon and say, yeah, that might have been, I should have seen it back then--there's nothing like that. I know my friend. Tim McVeigh is not the face of terror as reported on Time magazine "
But after the FBI raided his home, Fortier reversed his statement, saying that he and McVeigh has "cased" the federal building, in response to an offer of a plea bargain. Fortier was then transferred to the Federal Medical Facility at Fort Worth, Texas. It is not known why.(822)
According to Heidelberg, the FBI brought 24-hour-a-day pressure on Fortier for months before he was arrested. Consequently, Fortier did not retain a lawyer, didn't know he needed one, and was subsequently bullied by the Bureau. By the time he managed to retain a lawyer, Fortier had already been broken.
Lori Fortier testified that McVeigh tried to solicit Nichols' help in building the bomb, but that Nichols wanted out. He then allegedly tried to solicit her husband. According to her testimony, McVeigh got down on the floor of their trailer and, using soup cans to represent 55-gallon drums, demonstrated how to make a bomb.(823)
Were the Fortiers relaying accurate testimony? Like the testimony of Eldon Elliott about McVeigh's height, or that of Thomas Manning regarding McVeigh's phone call to Elliott's, none of this information was contained in prior statements made by the Fortiers to the FBI.
As will be seen with prior incidents of government witness tampering and fabricated testimony, their testimony is highly circumspect.
The Fortiers' testimony is also somewhat questionable due to their drug use. According to co-worker Deborah Brown, who testified at McVeigh's trial, Lori Fortier used crystal methamphetamine almost daily. Methamphetamine is widely known for its ability to induce delusional or even psychotic states over time.(824)
Fortier eventually confessed to transporting and selling stolen firearms, drug possession, foreknowledge of the bombing plot, and failing to inform federal authorities.(825)
Said grand juror Hoppy Heidelberg, "The FBI relied on a man, Fortier, who really couldn't provide anything important to them. You need to remember that. That's important."(826)
Lori Fortier also testified that "I still believed he (McVeigh) couldn't really do it." Jones then asked her, "Ms. Fortier, you said you thought McVeigh really wouldn't carry out his plans, then you said you, 'wanted out.' How can you 'want out' if there was nothing to 'be in'"?
Jones would take this one step further. On cross-examination, he assiduously questioned Fortier's motivations:
Jones: Now, in addition, in your conversation you had with your brother on April the 25th, 1995--that's your brother John?
Fortier: Yes, sir.
Jones: Did you make the following statement: "I've been thinking about trying to do those talk-show circuits for a long time, come up with some asinine story and get my friends to go in on it"?
Fortier: Yes, sir, I made that statement.
Jones: And in the same conversation, did your brother say to you: "Whether the story is true or not, if you want to sit here and listen to a fable, that's all it was at the time is a fable"? And then did you say: "I found my career, 'cause I can tell a fable"? And then did you burst out laughing and say, "I could tell stories all day"?
Fortier: Yes, sir.
Jones: Then do you know an individual named Glynn?
Jones: And his last name, sir?
Fortier: I think you're referring to Glynn Bringle.
Jones: Did you have a conversation with him by telephone on April the 30th?
Jones: And did you say, "I want to wait till after the trial and do book and movie rights. I can just make up something juicy"? And then did you laugh?
Fortier: I'm not sure if I laughed or not, but I did make that statement.
Jones: "Something that's worth The Enquirer, you know." You made those statements.
Fortier: Yes, sir.
The obvious inference was that the "Justice" Department had a hand in generating the Fortiers' testimony. As Jones pointed out during his closing argument, the terms of Fortier's plea agreement provided that any leniency would be contingent upon his performance in court.
Not true, according to the FBI, which spent over 175 hours soliciting statements from the Fortiers; and Joseph Hartzler, who met with his "star witness" between 7 and 10 times to "make sure he told the truth."(827)
In fact, during McVeigh's trial, Lori Fortier testified on cross-examination that she had arrived in Denver five days before she was scheduled for trial. She testified that she spent the better part of Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday practicing for her testimony with federal prosecutors.
Philadelphia prosecutors spent a lot of time with Veronica Jones to "make sure she told the truth" too--convincing her to implicate journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal, accused of shooting police officer Daniel Faulkner. Jones, who was facing unrelated felony charges at the time, originally told police she saw two other men flee the scene. After threats and promises from police, she changed her story, testifying to the government's version of events. Her felony charges were subsequently dropped.(828)
Fortier, whose speech and appearance were magically transformed for his day in court, reportedly received a reduced sentence of three years in exchange for his testimony. His wife Lori was granted complete immunity from prosecution for her's.
Jones also accused the FBI of harassing Jennifer McVeigh and her friends in the days after the bombing, hoping to obtain derogatory information about her brother. He said the FBI scared people "beyond belief with threats of prosecution" if they didn't talk.(829)
On the fifth day of Jennifer McVeigh's interrogation, the FBI ushered her into a room with huge blown up pictures of her and her brother (taken off her refrigerator door), and babies who died in the bombing. Interspersed between the photos were statutes from the U.S. Code pertaining to treason, with phrases such as "Treason is punishable by death," and "The penalty for treason is DEATH." (government's emphasis)
Under cross-examination, Jennifer was asked if she was aware that treason is only punishable in times of war. Stunned by this revelation, she answered, "No."
The FBI also tricked Jennifer into testifying by promising her immunity from prosecution if she cooperated. During a break in the trial, a reporter asked prosecutor Vicky Behenna why Jennifer needed immunity. "She didn't," Behenna replied," but she wouldn't testify without it, so we gave it to her."(830)
The FBI also tricked Marife Nichols into signing a consent form before they searched her house. When she was asked if the agents advised her of her right to retain a lawyer or refuse to answer questions, the 23-year-old Filipino answered, "I don't remember. I don't think so." Marife said that when she asked whether she did need a lawyer, prosecutors and FBI agents discouraged her. "They told me, 'You're okay as long as you are telling the truth. You don't need a lawyer."(831)
James Nichols discovered they were raiding his house after he heard it on the news. "I heard on the radio they were raiding a house in Decker, Michigan. I said, 'Wow, that's awful close to home.' Well, within an hour I found out Mine!"(832)
Nichols believes the ATF, which raided his house, set him up to be murdered, either as an act of revenge or to prevent him from testifying at trial. He told Dateline's Chris Hansen that after the agents entered his home, they asked him to retrieve a gun he kept in his bedroom. Nichols responded, "No, I won't go get it. I told you, send an agent or two in there to go do it." 'Aw, go ahead. Go and do it,' the agent responded, and they all turned their backs, real nonchalantly. I said, 'Whoa, wait a minute ' They'd 'a shot me, because they would have just said 'He pulled a gun on us.' The fate of Terry and Tim would have been signed, sealed and delivered Dead people don't testify."(833)
For his part, Terry Nichols believed that he was not in custody after he walked into the Herrington, Kansas police station on April 21 to see why his name was being broadcast on television. Apparently, the agents were hoping they could get more out of Nichols by leading him to believe they had no intention of arresting him.
"Mr. Nichols was coerced, deceived, and subjected to psychological ploys designed to overcome his will and make him confess," his attorney stated in a legal brief. Defense attorneys also contend Nichols was falsely promised he could review agents' notes on his statements for accuracy, and was falsely told he or his wife could be present at searches.
Prosecutors countered that federal agents acted "with remarkable diligence and in a manner that honored the Constitution."
Part 7 was missing...The Connection
The Oklahoma City Bombing and the Politics of Terror
A well-documented book which proposes that persons within the U.S. government had prior knowledge of the bombing of the Murrah building, with possible connections to the Middle East and neo-Nazis. ...
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