Thursday, January 28, 2010
Oklahoma City Bombing
On April 19, 1995 at 9:02 CST, a Ryder truck carrying over 6,200 pounds of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, nitromethane, and diesel fuel mixture detonated in front of the north side of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. The attack killed 168 people and injured over 800. Soon after the explosion, Oklahoma State Trooper Charlie Hangar arrested 26-year-old Timothy McVeigh for driving without a license plate and unlawfully carrying a weapon. Terry Nichols, McVeigh's old army friend, was arrested within a few days and they were both charged with committing the bombing. It was determined by investigators that they were sympathizers of a militia movement whose motive was to get revenge from the government's handling of the Waco and Ruby Ridge incidents. The bombing occurred on the anniversary of the Waco incident. On June 11, 2001, McVeigh was executed by lethal injection and Nichols was sentenced to life in prison.
The plaintiffs at the trial expressed their belief that McVeigh and Nichols had conducted the bombing with others unknown to the jury. McVeigh himself eventually claimed that he and Nichols were solely responsible for the bombing. He said that the two had obtained fertilizer and other explosive materials over the course of months and assembled the bomb the day before it was detonated. On the day of the bombing, McVeigh drove the truck alone to Oklahoma City, lit the fuse, and fled in a getaway car he had parked days before. Many people have been skeptical of this explanation for a long time.
Now that we know what happened, let's see what some of the conspiracies are. One popular theory suggests that there were additional explosives involved in the bombing. This theory claims that additional explosives were implanted in the Murrah Building which is supported by the fact that local news channels reported the presence of a second and third bomb within the first few hours after the incident. Conspiracy theorists don't believe that the bomb McVeigh used could cause such catastrophic damage. They also believe that the two tremors recorded by nearby seismographs indicate two bombs were used. Experts deny this stating that the first tremor was the result of the bomb detonating and the second tremor was the result of the collapse of the building. A blast effects study published in 1997 analyzing the test results from the Eglin Air Force Base concluded that it was impossible for a single truck carrying 4,800 pounds of ANFO to cause the damage that occurred. Based on that statement, critics of the official explanation say that the damage Murrah Building endured was not caused by the bomb itself, but due to other factors including locally placed charges inside of the building. Some experts think the unusually large blast was from a thermobaric weapon using highly flammable particles such as aluminum mixed with a highly liquid explosive such as nitromethane. If the weapon is ignited in a two-stage process, the device creates a super-high heat and pressure blast capable of flattening buildings.
Another theory is that President Bill Clinton either knew about the bombing in advance or approved it. Some people also believe that the bombing was done by the government to frame the militia movement or enact anti-terrorism legislation. Other theories include linking McVeigh with Islamic terrorists, the Japanese government, German neo-Nazis, as well as the CIA. There is some speculation that an unidentified leg may have belonged to one of the bombers. It was claimed that that the bomber was either in the building when the bombing occurred or had been previously murdered and McVeigh had left his body in the back of the truck to hide in the explosion.
Several witnesses reported seeing a second person around the time of the bombing which investigators would later call "John Doe 2". Several theories suggest that the second person was involved in the bombing and may even have been a foreign connection to McVeigh and Nichols. This was believed because Nichols had traveled through the Philippines while terrorist mastermind Ramzi Yousef of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing was planning his Project Bojinka plot in Manila. Yousef placed the bomb used in the 1993 World Trade Center inside of a rented Ryder van, the same rental company used by McVeigh, indicating a possible foreign link with Al-Qaeda. The FBI arrested Michael Brescia who was a member of the Aryan Republican Army in 1997 because he resembled an artists rendering of Jon Doe 2 based on eyewitness accounts, but soon released him after their investigation concluded that he wasn't involved in the bombing.
Congressman Dana Rohrabacher said in 2006 that that the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the U.S. House Committee on International Relations, which he chaired, would conduct an investigation on whether foreign sources had provided assistance to the bombers. When asked about fueling conspiracy theories resulting from his questions and criticism on December 28, 2006, he said "there's nothing wrong with adding to a conspiracy theory when there might be a conspiracy, in fact." Danny Coulson, who was the deputy assistant director of the FBI at the time of the attack, called for a reopening of the investigation after voicing his concerns. A Salt Lake City attorney named Jesse Trentadue released security tapes that he had obtained from the FBI through the Freedom of Information Act on September 28, 2009. It showed surveillance of the Murrah Building before and after the blast from four security cameras. Oddly, the tapes were blank at 9:02, the time of detonation. The government's explanation was that the tapes were being replaced at the time of the explosion. That's right, four cameras in different locations went blank at the same exact time. Trentadue became interested in the case when his brother died in federal custody during what he believes was an interrogation because Kenneth (his brother) was mistaken for a possible conspirator in the bombing.
The Oklahoma City bombing was truly a tragedy. I think it is certainly plausible that the president or intelligence agencies might have had clues that they didn't properly act on but don't think they caused the bombing just to enact anti-terrorism legislation. It is hard to believe that just one truckload of explosives could cause such catastrophic damage to such a strong building leading me to believe that there is certainly a high possibility that explosives were implanted in the building. Two tremors also makes it plausible that two bombs were used. I don't think the unidentified leg belonged to one of the bombers. If McVeigh rushed to get away, he wouldn't have time to carry a leg out of the truck and place it somewhere before the bomb detonated. He could not have placed it after the bombing because he would be noticed and the fact that he was arrested shortly after the bombing. Just because the same truck and rental company were used in the Oklahoma City Bombing and the 1993 World Trade Center Bombing doesn't suggest in any way that McVeigh was associated with Al-Qaeda. If Al-Qaeda was in fact involved, they would probably have taken full or partial credit for the bombing. It seems that the government might have tampered with the surveillance tapes. The chances of having the tapes of all four cameras replaced at the exact same time the bombing occurred are very slim. I'm not going to say I support the way the government handled Waco and Ruby Ridge, but this is not how revenge should have been taken. When you are involved in situations like that and law enforcement officials are in life threatening situations, it is hard to make right decisions. Revenge should be obtained peacefully and we should forgive and care for one another. After all, we all share a single planet. Regardless of who is to blame, 19 of the victims were babies and children who were in the building's day care center. This bombing was thoroughly tragic and my heart goes to all the families and friends of the victims.