Monday, 19 April 2010

15 Years After Oklahoma City Bombing — Lessons Learned

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Hundreds of people attended a commemorative ceremony at the Oklahoma City National Memorial on April 19, to remember those killed on this day in 1995. On that tragic day, 168 people lost their lives and more than 600 others were injured in the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.

Speaking at the ceremony, Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett said those gathered recalled the day of the bombing with reverence, "not because we can't forget but because we choose to remember.”

"We have chosen strength, we have chosen optimism, we have chosen freedom, we have chosen to move forward together with a level of unity that is unmatched in any American city," said Cornett.

A young man named Timothy McVeigh was convicted on federal murder charges in connection with the bombing and was executed by lethal injection on June 11, 2001. McVeigh said that he set off the bomb in front of the Murrah building at 9:01 a.m. on the fateful day in part to seek revenge against the U.S. government for its raid on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, on April 19, 1993. McVeigh's co-conspirator, Terry Nichols, who had assisted in the bomb preparation, was sentenced to life in prison.

A married couple named Michael and Lori Fortier were also named as accomplices in the bombing and, in a plea bargain, testified against McVeigh and Nichols at their federal trials and against Nichols at his state trial. Michael was sentenced to 12 years in prison and fined $200,000 on May 27, 1998 for failing to warn authorities about the attack, and Lori — who was charged with forging a driver's license for McVeigh — was granted immunity from prosecution. Michael was given a new identity by federal agents and was released from prison on January 20, 2006, after which he entered into the government’s witness protection program. The federal government never openly investigated anyone else in conjunction with the bombing.

The official version of this horrendous crime is that this small group of individuals plotted and executed this action alone, that Timothy McVeigh drove the now infamous Ryder rental truck loaded with 13 drums of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, nitromethane, and diesel fuel mixture to the front of the Murrah federal building, where he parked the Ryder truck in a drop-off zone in front of the building. (Tragically, the spot was situated close to the building's day-care center.)

McVeigh set a five-minute fuse and ran off, and at 9:02 a.m. CST, the Ryder truck detonated in front of the north side of the building, one third of which was destroyed by the explosion.

This writer recalls being particularly moved by the Field of Empty Chairs — located on the footprint of the Murrah Building— during a visit to the memorial several years ago. The 168 chairs represent the lives taken during that fateful day standing in nine rows to represent each floor of the building, and each chair bears the name of someone killed on that floor. Nineteen smaller chairs stand for the children. It is impossible to witness this exhibit and remain dry-eyed. But the sadness and outrage created by thoughts of this tragedy demand more than an emotional reaction — justice also demands a full account of the events leading up to and following this crime, as well as the exposure and punishment of everyone responsible.

Almost since the immediate aftermath of this event, one of the most persistent and effective investigative reporters uncovering the hidden truth behind the OKC bombing has been William F. Jasper, Senior Editor for The New American magazine. During that period Mr. Jasper has been a leading force in advancing the thesis that Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols did not act alone, and that the Clinton administration had engaged in a massive coverup of overwhelming evidence pointing to additional co-conspirators, both foreign and domestic, in the deadly bombing.

During his extensive series of investigative reports, Jasper frequently cited Brigadier General Benton K. Partin (USAF, ret.) who had spent much of his military career developing ordnance that could be used to destroy buildings and other structures. When Partin conducted a research analysis of the blast site and destruction of the Murrah building he concluded:

An ANFO [ammonium nitrate fertilzer and fuel oil] bomb could not have destroyed the structural columns in the Murrah building. And, even if military grade explosives were used, a blast in the street could not destroy interior columns while leaving closer more exterior columns intact.

In Partin’s expert opinion, the Murrah building had most likely been brought down with the use of demolition charges planted among the concrete columns supporting the structure.

An interesting comparison between the Oklahoma City bombing and another, more powerful explosion in Islamabad, Pakistan was made by investigative reporter Jim Capo in a blog entitled “Oklahoma City OKC Bombing: Demolition Charges Used Inside Building?

Mr. Capo observed that prior to 2008, there was not another building explosion similar enough to the one in Oklahoma City to serve as a yardstick for comparison.  General Partin’s analysis was credible enough in theory, but how would it play out in real life? As Capo noted:

That changed last year with the truck bombing of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad, Pakistan in September of 2008.

Check the footage of the bomb site in Islamabad and note the following:

  • The bomb crater left in the street is at least as large if not larger than anything you can find for OKC.
  • The explosives used were far more powerful than fertilizer and fuel oil.
  • And the clincher: The massive explosion in Islamabad, as Partin predicted, did not even have enough force to blow out a single thin concrete column holding up the ornamental roof along the sidewalk of the Marriott Hotel.

William Jasper presented compelling evidence indicating that the official version of the OKC blast presented to the public was not the true version in his article "Multiple Blasts in the OKC Bombing: More Evidence.” Since space permits only brief excerpts from it here we recommend the complete article to the reader:

In this report, Jasper cites the results of a report based on testing data and photographs supplied by the Armament Directorate, Wright Laboratory at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. He refers to this report as the Eglin Blast Effects Study, or EBES — a 56-page report that included photographs and data from the Eglin blast tests, as well as extensive technical analysis of those tests, conducted by construction and demolition expert John Culbertson.

After wading though extensive and compelling technical descriptions culled from the study, we get to the bottom line:

The results of the Blast Effect Test One on the Eglin Test Structure present strong evidence that a single Ammonium Nitrate and Fuel Oil device of approximately 4800 lbs. placed inside a truck could not have caused the damage to the Murrah federal Building experienced on April 19, 1995. Even assuming that the building had structural deficiencies and that the ANFO device was constructed with racing fuel, the air-coupled blast produced from this 4800 lb. device would not have damaged the columns and beams of the Murrah Building enough to produce a catastrophic failure (Emphasis added.)

At this point we must ask the question? What purpose do continual investigations looking for scientific explanations for the horrendous destruction and mayhem of April 19, 1995 serve? Will they undo the damage or bring those who lost their lives back to us?

No, they will not. But if the official explanations given to us by governmental authorities are not plausible, then the political agenda behind the suppressed information needs to be uncovered. If culprits other than those charged and convicted were involved, it suggests that federal authorities had reason to cover up this evidence. Those reasons need to be known, if for no other reason than that terrorist attacks, whether Okalhoma City on April 19, 1995 or the subsequent greater attacks of September 11, have been used to create entire new bureaucracies for the stated purpose of seeking out and apprehending terrorists. Case in point: The most high-profile official to speak at the ceremonies in Oklahoma City on the 15th anniversary of the bombing there was U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, the head of an agency that did not even exist prior to 9-11.

Since our federal government’s ongoing “war on terrorism” has often led to a curtailment of our civil liberties and a weakening of our Bill of Rights, it behooves us to know — if terrorism is offered as the excuse for this attack on our liberty — exactly who is responsible for these terrorist acts.

If government officials have lied to us about who is behind terrorism, it is also likely that they will lie to us about their agenda to suppress our freedom in the name of fighting terrorism.

Photo: U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano speaks at the Oklahoma City National Memorial Center for Education & Outreach, April 19, 2010: AP Images

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