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Monday, April 18, 2005

Decade of Deceit: The Oklahoma City Bombing

During the 9/11 congressional hearings a year ago, there was a common question that the commissioners seemed to enjoy asking: Why was the U.S. not on “war footing” when the 9/11 attack occurred? If the government truly wanted to seek all information regarding intelligence failures leading up to 9/11, the Commission should have asked one of its own members about the Oklahoma City bombing that killed 171 lives (168 plus 3 unborn) a decade ago on April 19, 1995. In one of the biggest cover-ups in the history of the U.S., the federal government purposely avoided investigating incriminating evidence of a plot that pointed directly to Middle East terrorism. The evidence is so extensive and so captivating that I can only hope and suggest that you will read the whole story for yourself.

Reno-Gorelick Justice Department
Shortly after the Murrah Federal Building was bombed a decade ago on April 19, 1995, Jamie Gorelick, then number two at Janet Reno’s Justice Department, appointed Merrick Garland to be the head prosecutor to lead the government investigation. Soon after being named to lead the investigation, Garland notified Oklahoma County district attorney Robert Macy that the Justice Department did not want a local investigation occurring simultaneously. Once this happened, the federal government had complete control over the direction of the investigation.

Despite Gorelick’s claims shortly after the bombing that "We have a lot of very fruitful leads that we're following" and Janet Reno’s promise that “no stone will be left unturned,” the federal prosecution team continually ignored, suppressed and discarded evidence that pointed to unambiguous foreign terrorist links to the bombing.
This dereliction of duty helped to cover up Islamic militants’ terrorist war against the U.S., which our nation would not fully understand until September 11, 2001.

On December 23, 1997, Janet Reno had the audacity to state the following: “Two and a half years ago, when the Murrah Building was bombed, FBI Director Louis Freeh and I promised to follow every lead and bring those responsible to justice. Today, that promise has been kept.”

Background on Conspiracy Theories
Just a brief aside: I’m not a conspiracy theorist.
I don’t believe FDR allowed the Japanese to bomb Pearl Harbor or that JFK was killed by the CIA. I’m sure many people hear the term “conspiracy” and don’t want to hear any more. If the 9/11 Commission used the term “conspiracy,” some people still might question whether terrorists were involved in that attack on the U.S. Instead, the 9/11 Commission used the term “plot,” which is a term that implies greater factual evidence and less speculation. Because the evidence pointing to foreign terrorism is so unmistakable, I think it’s necessary to use the term “plot” to describe the Oklahoma City bombing.

Mid-East Terrorist Links to Oklahoma City
The most comprehensive and accurate public source for the evidence of terrorist complicity to the Oklahoma City bombing is Jayna Davis’s The Third Terrorist: The Middle East Connection to the Oklahoma City Bombing. Davis was an Oklahoma television reporter for NBC-affiliate KFOR-TV and was one of the first reporters on the scene after the bombing. Her book is one of the most meticulously researched and most fascinating investigations I have ever read. After reading her book, I have no doubt that Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols were just two actors in the bombing plot that included Iraqi and other Middle East terrorists. Additionally, I am certain that the FBI was derelict in its duty to investigate the plethora of evidence that Davis offered.

Despite her extensive evidence, the 9/11 Commissioners never even requested that Davis testify during their hearings (or even mention her by name, with the exception of one brief question by commissioner John Lehman).
I am perplexed that, with the release of Davis’ book and the government’s focus on terrorism and the causes of 9/11, there has not been a public demand for a full investigation of Oklahoma City. The best explanation I can offer is that despite the popularity of her book, published in 2004, it seems to have been overshadowed by other significant world events, including the situation in Iraq and the election campaigns in the U.S. With the 10-year anniversary of the bombing this week, I truly hope that the story finally gets the attention it deserves.

Summary of Davis’ Work

Jayna Davis compiled the following evidence over the past decade:
1) Twenty-six sworn affidavits from eyewitnesses who implicate specific Arab men acting in collusion with McVeigh and Nichols during various stages of the bombing plot. 2) Classified government intelligence reports that tie Middle Eastern terrorist organizations to the attack. 3) Court documents, public records and statements by law enforcement and intelligence sources that have independently corroborated the eyewitnesses’ testimonies. The findings have been documented through nearly seventy hours of videotaped interviews, recorded phone conversations, and hundreds of pages of transcripts.

Davis’ evidence pointed to a network of foreign terrorists who were complicit in the bombing, including a former Iraqi soldier named Hussain Al-Hussaini who was identified by several independent witnesses as fitting the description of John Doe 2 with McVeigh in the Ryder truck the morning of the bombing.

On several occasions, Davis attempted to present her evidence to the FBI, but was continually refused. In 1997, she met with an FBI agent to surrender all witness statements and hundreds of pages of supporting information that validated critical aspects of their testimonies. The FBI, however, categorically refused to accept the evidence. The DOJ apparently did not want any more “documents for discovery” to turn over to the defense teams.

This is a great summary of Davis' findings.

Expert Thoughts on Jayna Davis’ Work

While I can understand public skepticism about Davis’ work before reading the evidence, there are many very well respected people who have supported the validity of her claims. The following are just a few examples:

James Woolsey, former CIA Director:
"When the full stories of these two incidents (1993 WTC Center bombing and 1995 Oklahoma City bombing) are finally told, those who permitted the investigations to stop short will owe big explanations to these two brave women (Middle East expert Laurie Mylroie and journalist Jayna Davis). And the nation will owe them a debt of gratitude."

Larry Johnson, former CIA analyst and deputy director for counterterrorism for the U.S. State Department
“Looking at the Jayna Davis material, what’s clear is that more than Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols were involved. Without a doubt, there’s a Middle Eastern tie to the Oklahoma City bombing."

David Schippers, former federal prosecutor and Chief Investigative Counsel for the Clinton impeachment trial: “It is my honest opinion that if the Department of Justice and the federal investigative agencies had not ignored Jayna Davis and instead accepted the mass of creditable evidence compiled by her, indicating direct Middle Eastern involvement in the bombing, the course of future events may have been altered. Had those investigators taken their duties seriously and followed up on the investigation of that information, it is entirely likely that the Twin Towers would still be standing.”

Frank J. Gaffney Jr., president of the Center for Security Policy:
“Thanks to [Jayna Davis] … these facts can no longer be ignored or concealed. And those who Ms. Davis reveals have systematically done both for nearly a decade must be called to account.”

Constantine C. Menges, former special assistant to President George H.W. Bush for National Security Affairs and former national CIA intelligence officer: “[Davis] reveals the facts that the Clinton Administration did not want to confront."

Dan Vogel, retired FBI special agent and former public information officer for the Oklahoma City FBI:
“What they [FBI] did was unconscionable. The American people deserved the truth and the Bureau needed to look into this Middle East network here in Oklahoma City. If they had, maybe they would have come upon the network behind the September 11 attacks.”

Col. Patrick Lang, former chief of intelligence for the Defense Intelligence Agency:
determined that Hussain Al-Hussaini (Davis’ suspected John Doe 2) was likely a member of the Iraq Republican Guard before being recruited into the elite Iraqi Military Intelligence Service.

William Webster, the former director of both the CIA and the FBI
: said that the bombing had “all the hallmarks” of Mideast terror in an interview with the USA Today.

U.S. District Judge Timothy Leonard:
upheld all fifty statements of fact and opinion used by Jayna Davis as “undisputed.”

Interesting Pieces of Information

There is so much captivating information on the Oklahoma bombing that I can’t list them all here. However, below are just a few pieces I find particularly interesting:

-The federal grand jury believed that there were more people involved than just Nichols and McVeigh, as evidenced by its indictment, which charged McVeigh, Nichols and “others unknown.”

-When U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch sentenced Terry Nichols to life in prison, he stated his dissatisfaction with the prosecutors’ story: “It would be disappointing for me if the law enforcement agencies of the United States government have quit looking for answers.”

-To this day, the Justice Department has never cleared Hussain Al-Hussaini, the man identified by witnesses as John Doe 2, the third terrorist who appeared in the Ryder truck with Timothy McVeigh. Yet the FBI did exonerate several other innocent men who were falsely named.

-Hussain Al-Hussaini moved to Boston shortly after the Oklahoma bombing to work at Logan International Airport, where he roomed with two former Iraqi soldiers. He quit his job in 1997, stating, “If something were to happen there, I would be a suspect.”

-On April 19, after hearing the first radio broadcasts that Islamic extremists had claimed responsibility for the attack on the Murrah Building, several witnesses watched their Middle Eastern co-workers who worked with Al-Hussaini cheer in excitement and pledge their allegiance to Saddam Hussein, vowing they would “die for Saddam.”

-Ayman Al-Zawahiri (Osama bin Laden’s No.2 man), traveled to Oklahoma City in the spring of 1995, just a few weeks prior to the bombing.

-Steven Emerson, a CNN
investigative reporter and producer of the PBS documentary Jihad in America, reported on the radical Islamic conferences held in Oklahoma City in the 1990s: “I actually could have envisioned that I was in Beirut considering who attended.”

-When former FBI Director Louis Freeh was questioned at the 9/11 hearings by Commissioner John Lehman about links between Al Qaeda and Oklahoma City, Freeh responded: “Well, other than that [Davis'] book,…I don’t know of any other (emphasis added) credible source with respect to that kind of link."

-Richard Clarke, former counterterrorism advisor to President Clinton, on Terry Nichols’ bomb-making expertise that was derived from the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group (spinoff of Al Qaeda) in the Philippines: “We do know that Nichols’ bombs did not work before his Philippine stay and were deadly when he returned.” He also confirmed that Nichols was in the same city as Ramzi Yousef (1993 World Trade Center bombing mastermind) during Yousef’s visit to the Philippines in 1994.

-Terry Nichols traveled to the Philippines several times from 1990 to 1995, often without his mail-order Philippine bride; he placed over 200 calls to a Philippines dormitory known for housing radical Islamic college students, including 22 phone calls on the day that Ramzi Yousef was captured in Pakistan in 1995.

-Edwin Angeles, co-founder of the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf, insisted to authorities that he had attended a meeting on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines at which Nichols discussed bomb-making with Ramzi Yousef. Angeles was later assassinated in 1998 as he exited a mosque.

-In April 1997 during McVeigh’s trial, the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General sharply criticized the FBI’s Oklahoma City bomb analysis, saying it was “scientifically unsound, not explained in the body of the report and biased in favor of the prosecution.”

-In October 2001 as the U.S. was at war to oust the Taliban in Afghanistan, U.S. soldiers found a guidebook to construct an “Oklahoma-style” bomb on the floor of a Kabul mansion used by bin Laden terrorists.

Terrorism Didn’t Begin on 9/11

Despite the belief among some people that terrorist attacks essentially began on 9/11, terrorism was already taking its form under Al Qaeda and other organizations in the early 1990s. By the time of the Oklahoma bombing, there have already been several terrorist incidents on Americans, including an explosion outside two Yemen hotels in 1992, the killing of Americans in Somalia in 1993 and the World Trade Center attack in 1993. The Oklahoma bombing was then followed by a Saudi Arabian car bombing in 1995, the 1995 failed Bojinka plot in 1995 (to blow up U.S. planes over the Pacific Ocean), the Khobar Towers attack in 1996, the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Africa, the 2000 attack on the USS Cole and the 9/11 attacks.

Experts investigating these attacks have revealed that these attacks take years of planning, financing and organization. However, the Oklahoma bombing supposedly was performed by just two individuals with no outside help. For reasons unknown, the Clinton Administration refused to even consider evidence involving any foreign terrorist involvement in the Oklahoma City bombing. Even today, lawmakers and federal agencies are reluctant to consider reviewing the evidence of the case – perhaps out of fear of a public backlash once Americans realize how badly the Justice Department failed them in the 1990s.

Clinton Law Enforcement Teams Not a Model of Credibility

Before we accept the FBI’s version that the bombing in Oklahoma City was perpetrated solely by Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, consider these examples that fail to inspire confidence:

The FBI recently found explosives at the home of Terry Nichols that they somehow “missed” despite extensive visits and searches over the past decade.

Sandy Berger – assistant to the President for National Security affairs in Clinton’s first term, was recently fined for stealing classified documents from the National Archives. As WorldNetDaily reported in 2004, these documents may have shown evidence of Al Qaeda links to Oklahoma City.

John Deutch – CIA Director for Clinton, was found guilty for downloading classified material to unsecured computers at his home and had his security clearance suspended.

Janet Reno – Attorney General for Clinton, showed her incompetence several times, including her actions in the bungled operations at Ruby Ridge and Waco, Texas.

Major Questions that Need to be Answered

There are many questions that the government needs to answer regarding the Oklahoma City bombing. However, these are a few questions to begin:

Why has the Justice Department never issued a statement exonerating Hussain Al-Hussaini in the bombing, despite repeated requests to do so?

Why has the FBI never questioned Al-Hussaini about the bombing?

Why did the FBI previously suspect Al-Hussaini’s employer (and who also hired several other Iraqis) of ties to the Palestinian Liberation Organization?

Why were the original Cactus Motel registration logs where McVeigh stayed (and was seen by witnesses with Al-Hussaini and other Iraqis) never returned to the motel’s owner? [Note that this is the same motel Mohammed Atta, Marwan Al-Shehhi and Zacarias Moussaoui attempted to stay one month before the 9/11 attacks.]

What happened to the brown Chevy pickup that was seen carrying Middle Eastern suspects from the bomb site?

Why did the FBI flatly refuse to accept mountains of Davis’ evidence that supported foreign terrorist links to the bombing?

What happened to the 22 affidavits with witness statements corroborating Davis’ evidence, which FBI Special Agent Dan Vogel accepted in 1999 but have since been “lost” by the Justice Department?

Motivations for a Federal Cover-up

It became clear within several hours of the bombing that US Federal agencies had been told to suppress any evidence of, or discussion of, any Middle Eastern involvement in the bombing and to direct blame solely at US right-wing militias. The Reno-Gorelick Justice Department acted quickly to suppress any meaningful pursuit of other perpetrators of the bombing.

At the beginning of the investigation, the Clinton Administration blamed radio talk show hosts for instigating right-wing militias to take action against the government. It is quite possible that Clinton wanted to place the blame with conservative political opposition to take the momentum out of the powerful conservative talk-radio programming.

Most likely, the Clinton Administration leadership was anxious to avoid any recognition of Middle Eastern involvement in the bombing because such an event would almost certainly call for a military response against the nations or individuals who helped carry out the attack. Instead, the military response would have to wait another 6 years.

Update: Status of the Investigation

After the release of her book in 2004, Davis again attempted to have the FBI issue a statement exonerating Hussain Al-Hussaini as John Doe 2. The FBI still refuses to do so.
While Jayna Davis says that she is still hopeful that there might well be new developments into the investigation in the near future, I’m less sanguine based on history.

While there have been lighthearted attempts to investigate the massive failures of the FBI related to the Oklahoma bombing, most government officials just prefer to let sleeping dogs lie. U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is one member who is confident that hearings will be held in the near future. "My guess is there will be a hearing," he said, but "it would be a few months down the way. It wouldn't be on the 10th anniversary."

Because there are so many people adamant about not allowing a new look at the Oklahoma investigation, I won’t hold my breath. With all the criticism from some leaders about the failure of U.S. intelligence, an investigation that were to find Middle East complicity in Oklahoma would not engender any new confidence in U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

The family members of 9/11 victims got some answers to government failures leading up to the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history. Unfortunately, neither they nor the family members of the Oklahoma City bombing victims will get the full answers they deserve until the government answers the questions about foreign terrorist involvement on April 19, 1995.

Fox News Report
Just as I finished writing this post, Fox News broadcast a program Sunday night titled The Oklahoma City Bombing: Unanswered Questions. Fox interviewed two FBI agents as the primary basis of its story. Clearly the FBI agents supported their own findings. Still, Danny Coulson, one of the interviewed agents, stated explicitly that he believes there were more people involved that were not prosecuted. However, Fox never interviewed Jayna Davis for its program and instead speculated that the “others unknown” may have been anti-government white supremacists. Overall it was a very disappointing special by Fox News (and conflicted with Bill O’Reilly’s interview of Jayna Davis in 2002).

History Channel Special: "Conspiracy?"
The History Channel is running a special
this week on potential conspiracy theories related to the bombing (it originally aired in December 2004). This is a much better special than the Fox program last week. It covers some of the evidence included in Davis' book pointing towards foreign involvement, although it barely scratches the surface in the one-hour special. Importantly, one of the FBI agents who insisted on the government theory of "McVeigh and Nichols alone" did not disprove a single piece of evidence that indicated foreign terrorist involvement. Instead, he focused simply on showing that Nichols and McVeigh were involved. James Woolsey was also interviewed and he had a very important point, stating that prosecutors like clean cases rather than complicated ones and reiterated his belief that we missed the foreign connection. For instance, in the aftermath of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the mastermind was not found until much later.

Contact Rep. Rohrabacher to register your opinion of support for a review of previously ignored evidence in this case.