Missed Opportunities Investigating Oklahoma City Bombing

BY Gary Feuerberg
Epoch Times Staff
Created: April 30, 2012 Last Updated: May 1, 2012
Related articles: United States » National News
Print E-mail to a friend Give feedback

Andrew Gumbel, co-author, Oklahoma City: What the Investigation Missed – and Why it Still Matters, is a Los Angeles-based journalist and writer and a longtime foreign correspondent for British newspapers. Mr. Gumbel spoke April 25 at the New America Foundation on the missed opportunities in the investigation of the Oklahoma City bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, April 19, 1995. (Gary Feuerberg/ The Epoch Times)

Andrew Gumbel, co-author, Oklahoma City: What the Investigation Missed – and Why it Still Matters, is a Los Angeles-based journalist and writer and a longtime foreign correspondent for British newspapers. Mr. Gumbel spoke April 25 at the New America Foundation on the missed opportunities in the investigation of the Oklahoma City bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, April 19, 1995. (Gary Feuerberg/ The Epoch Times)

WASHINGTON—The Oklahoma City bombing on April 15, 1995, was the largest domestic act of terrorism on American soil. The nation was shocked when a rented Ryder truck loaded with explosives parked outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building killed 168 people, including 19 children, and injured hundreds more. It was a prelude to 9/11, a much greater attack 6 years later that came from abroad.

According to the FBI, “The surrounding area looked like a war zone. A third of the building had been reduced to rubble, with many floors flattened like pancakes. Dozens of cars were incinerated and more than 300 nearby buildings were damaged or destroyed.”

It was generally believed that the case was solved successfully. The culprits involved were caught and punished. Timothy McVeigh, the driver of the truck, was arrested within 90 minutes of the deed for driving a vehicle without a license plate, but just before he was to be released, the police realized they likely had the perpetrator. He was tried and convicted, and executed on June 11, 2011. McVeigh’s accomplices, Terry Nichols and Michael Fortier, were soon apprehended and duly punished.

The FBI states that the Bureau conducted more than 28,000 interviews, collected over three tons of evidence, and reviewed nearly a billion pieces of information. The FBI touted, “No stone was left unturned to make sure every clue was found and all the culprits identified.”

Investigative reporter Andrew Gumbel strongly disagrees with the FBI self-assessment. He asserts the investigation prematurely closed down, and missed following up on numerous leads that would have widened the network of people involved in the terrorism. Gumbel also says that lessons could have been taken away to better respond to the attacks of 9/11.

Gumbel was speaking April 25 at the New America Foundation on his new book, “Oklahoma City: What the Investigation Missed—and Why It Still Matters,” which he co-authored with Roger G. Charles. Andrew Gumbel is a Los Angeles-based journalist and writer and a longtime foreign correspondent for British newspapers.

Lessons could have been taken away to better respond to the attacks of 9/11.

Gumbel says their investigative work is not about any “conspiracy” theory, which was never their intent. Rather, their investigation’s aim is to inform the public on what was overlooked in the investigation, and the mistakes made by the FBI, ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives), and the prosecution. They had access to the records of evidence through freedom of information, and spoke to key people in the case. New information was obtained from the answers that McVeigh’s co-conspirator, Terry Nichols, provided to their questionnaire.

Gumbel notes many unanswered questions, such as where McVeigh learned to make bombs, his source of income, and the identity of the alleged second driver who could not be found. All eyewitnesses, who said they saw McVeigh an hour before the attack, saw him with someone else (not Terry Nichols) and in some cases, with other vehicles.

Gumbel faults the prosecution, which had only a circumstantial case against McVeigh. Their case was “very much based on emotion”—the prosecution relied heavily on images of the destruction, and parents who lost their children, said Gumbel. They needed to get a conviction at all costs and a maximum sentence, so persons who were initially suspects were given deals for their testimony.

Gumbel said that the prosecution’s witnesses were coached in their testimony so as to preclude mention of other persons involved. While he acknowledged that the prosecution’s rehearsing the testimony of witnesses was legal, in this trial it amounted to coercion, he said.

‘Patriot’ Movement

More than anything else, though, Gumbel faults federal law enforcement in failing to probe more deeply into the source of McVeigh’s and Nichol’s ideas from the radical right militia movement.

Gumbel said the investigators had their blinders on for failing to investigate the connection between McVeigh and Elohim City, located in a remote area of eastern Oklahoma, which was home to a very successful neo-Nazi bank robbery gang.

“Several senior law enforcement officials told me they either had knowledge of McVeigh visiting the community or thought it very likely, yet none of that knowledge was disclosed at the trial,” he writes.

Gumbel explained that the reason the feds were reluctant to pursue the white supremacist religious compound in Elohim City was that they were leery that something adverse would happen like the fiascos at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, and Waco, Texas, when ATF badly mismanaged the situation, “leading to dozens of needless deaths and an outpouring of anti-government hostility,” Gumbel writes.

ATF had an informant at Elohim City, who found “very disturbing information,” Gumbel said. But she was pulled out a few weeks before the bombing, because were ATF to keep her there, they would have had to do something, Gumbel said. ATF wanted to avoid another Waco.

“John Magaw, the director of the ATF at the time, told me with remarkable candor that if [the informant] had stayed put, the [Oklahoma City] bomb plot might well have been discovered and thwarted.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which tracks the “hate” groups in the United States and works closely with law enforcement, writes on its website that although Timothy McVeigh and accomplices Terry Nichols and Michael Fortier were not actual members of militias, “they were deeply influenced by the ideas of these paramilitary groups and the larger antigovernment ‘Patriot’ movement.”

When McVeigh was arrested, police found excerpts from “The Turner Diaries” in his car, a book written by a self-avowed racist William L. Pierce. McVeigh’s bombing appears to be inspired after a similar bombing depicted in the book, says the SPLC.

SPLC says the Oklahoma bombing was the culmination of the Patriot movement’s war against the federal government that they viewed as taking Americans’ freedom away (such as gun control). “They also believed they were exacting vengeance on the government for its role in the deaths exactly 2 years earlier of nearly 80 Branch Davidian religious cultists.”

Gumbel said that McVeigh made a scouting trip to the Murrah federal building in December 1994, and people who worked at the day-care center remember speaking to him. On the day of the bombing from where he parked the Ryder truck in the handicapped parking spot, he could see the children’s artwork above and the children too at the day-care center on the second floor, Gumbel said.

While McVeigh said he regretted the children’s deaths, “I don’t believe him,” Gumbel said. He thinks it was “absolutely intentional” and that McVeigh wanted to take revenge for the children who died at Waco on April 19, 1993.

All 19 children killed by McVeigh’s bomb were under 6 years old; 17 of the children were 3 or under.


  • dvldoc

    Really The largest act of domestic terrorism in the history of the country? Wow I geuss the weather underground and their actions in the 1970′s do not count:
    “With revolutionary positions characterized by Black separatist rhetoric, the group conducted a campaign of bombings through the mid-1970s, including aiding the jailbreak and escape of Timothy Leary. The Days of Rage, their first public demonstration on October 8, 1969, was a riot in Chicago timed to coincide with the trial of the Chicago Seven. In 1970 the group issued a Declaration of a State of War against the United States government, under the name Weather Underground Organization (WUO).”
    “called for a white fighting force to be allied with the Black Liberation Movement and other radical movements to achieve the destruction of US imperialism and achieve a classless world: world communism.”
    Now that does not sound all that radical does it, oh yeah by the way the militias have never declared war against the US Government (Not trusting them is not even the same as Declaring War). Now lets take look at the list of bombings, yep that is right multiple bombings, the this left wing organization was responbil for:
    1969 (2)

    October 5, 1969 – The Haymarket Police Statue in Chicago is bombed
    December 6, 1969 – Bombing of several Chicago police cars parked in a precinct parking lot at 3600 North Halsted Street, Chicago.
    1970 (15)

    January, 1970 - Silas and Judith Bissell placed a home-made bomb under the steps of the R.O.T.C. building. The bomb was made from an electric blasting cap, an alarm clock, a battery and a plastic bag filled with gasoline and explosives.
    February 16, 1970: A bomb is detonated at the Golden Gate Park branch of the San Francisco Police Department, killing one officer and injuring a number of other policemen (one seriously)
    On February 21, 1970, the house of Judge Murtagh, who presides over the Panther 21 trial, is fire-bombed by a WUO cell in New York City.The same night, molotov cocktails were thrown at a police car in Manhattan and two military recruiting stations in Brooklyn.
    May 10, 1970 – The National Guard Association building in Washington, D.C. is bombed.
    June 9, 1970 - The New York City Police headquarters is bombed by Jane Alper and accomplices.
     July 25, 1970 - The United States Army base at The Presidio in San Francisco is bombed on the 11th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution
    July 28, 1970 - Bank of America HQ in NYC is bombed around 3:50 AM. October 8, 1970 - Bombing of Marin County courthouse. October 10, 1970 - A Queens traffic-court building is bombed.October 11, 1970 - A Courthouse in Long Island City, NY is bombed. An estimated 8 to 10 sticks of dynamite are used.

    October 12, 1970 - Around October 12 eight bomb explosions occur, Five in Rochester New York, Two in NYC, and One in Orlando FL. October 14, 1970 - The Harvard Center for International Affairs is bombed by The Proud Eagle Tribe of Weather. December 11th, 1970 - Vivian Bogart and Patricia Mclean from the WUO are arrested after throwing an incendiary bomb at the Royal National Bank in NYC around 1:30 AM.

    1971 (5)
    March 1 – The United States Capitol is bombed. August 30 – Bombings of the Office of California Prisons in Sacramento and San Francisco.September 17 – The New York Department of Corrections in Albany, New York is bombed.October 15 – The bombing of William Bundy’s office in the MIT research center. May 19 – Bombing of The Pentagon, “in retaliation for the U.S. bombing raid in Hanoi.” The date was chosen for it being Ho Chi Minh’s birthday.
    1973 (2)

    May 18 – The bombing of the 103rd Police Precinct in New York.

    September 28 – ITT headquarters buildings in New York and Rome, Italy are bombed.
    1974 (7)

    March 6 – Bombing of the Dept. of Health, Education and Welfare offices in San Francisco. May 31 – The Office of the California Attorney General’s is bombed. June 17 – Gulf Oil’s Pittsburgh headquarters is bombed.September 11 – Bombing of Anaconda Corporation (part of the Rockefeller Corporation).

    1975 (3)

    January 29 – Bombing of the State Department.January 23 – Offices of Dept. of Defense in Oakland are bombed. June 16 – Weathermen bomb a Banco de Ponce (a Puerto Rican bank) in New York,

    That is a total of 34 Bombings.

    Now take that into consideration where it is stated that “..the AFT mishandled the Ruby Ridge and Waco…” oh yes if you consider “Mishandling” killing many inocent people for no reason at all. Yeah so who is more dangerous.



Selected Topics from The Epoch Times

Alla Lavrynenko