What really happened in the Oklahoma City bombing and why the investigation “failed”

This is a straight news piece, the fascinating story of what a really thorough investigation of the Oklahoma City bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in 1995 actually turned up.

Unfortunately, that investigation was performed by the authors of a new book on the subject, not by the feds.

Bottom line — what we think we know, we don’t. The operation was far bigger than anyone realizes, even today, and the investigation “failed” (in the words of the writer).

Here’s Michael Isikoff on the book:

In the hours after a powerful fertilizer bomb blew up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Office Building on April 19, 1995, killing 168 people, the U.S. government mounted a massive manhunt—for Islamic terrorists. Three Arabs were supposedly seen fleeing the scene. Cable news shows, fed by tips from a former CIA official, reported that the bombing may have been the work of Saddam Hussein.

The FBI would no doubt have been looking for suspicious Arabs for some time—and likely would have locked up a few—had it not been for a sharp-eyed Oklahoma state trooper named Charlie Hanger. That same day, Hanger pulled over a beat-up Mercury Marquis with no license plates cruising down a highway headed to Kansas. When the driver, a fresh-faced Army vet with a Glock pistol, inexplicably got out of the car, Hanger ordered him to lift his hands and pointed his gun.

“My weapon is loaded,” the driver, Timothy McVeigh, told Hanger. “So is mine,” shot back the trooper.

The story of the Murrah building bombing receives its most comprehensive accounting yet in Oklahoma City: What the Investigation Missed-and Why it Still Matters—a new book by journalists Andrew Gumbel and Roger G. Charles. It is a cautionary and at times startling tale, filled with bizarre characters from the outer fringes of American political life, with continuing relevance today.

For an excellent entré to this material, listen to the interview below. Andrew Gumbel, one of the authors, talks with Jay Ackroyd at Virtually Speaking about the bomb plot and its investigation. Yes, plot; what we think we know, we don’t.

Gumbel is interviewed for the first half of this show only. The second half is an interview with Allison Kilkenny regarding Occupy, May Day, and the BofA stockholder’s meeting. Listen on if you like; it’s good.

(Hint: Holding down the right and left arrow keys performs an excellent fast-forward and fast-rewind. Use them for navigation.)


Listen to internet radio with Jay Ackroyd on Blog Talk Radio

A brief run-down:

■ The opening gives a good intro to the event itself and to the times — of Branch Davidians and Ruby Ridge, of Clinton fever and Gingrich “revolution.” (Seems like forever since then, doesn’t it?)

■ [6:15] Note the plot was an attempt to attack federal judges.

■ [8:30] It really was a conspiracy, and not just of three people.

■ Starting [12:40] the author answers a question that lays out the various law enforcement and prosecution players — a who’s who in the battle for control of the semi-investigation and shrink-wrapped prosecution that followed.

Note the role of then-FBI director Louis Freeh. He’s now this guy, an MF Global corporate retainer. Like many, he moves from one arm of the corporate State to another.

■ [15:30] Much more detail about the claim that “there was more” to the conspiracy than is currently known or understood.

■ At [19:12] Gumbel answers the question: “Why no follow-on investigations?” Great analysis here.

■ The ATF is an interesting player. At one point they shut down an ongoing investigation that could have prevented the bombing. At [20:55] the author discusses that investigation and why it was shut down.

■ [28:55] The inter-agency clusterbomb — agencies behaving badly, with details.

The Allison Kilkenny interview starts at 31:40. (In case you’ve forgotten, Allison Kilkenny is the person famous for her “blogging knife.”)

I’m not sure it’s a net plus or minus that the National Security State doesn’t always talk to itself. I’ll leave those thoughts to you. But I found this fascinating as a data exercise. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did, and learned a little something as well.


To follow or send links: @Gaius_Publius

Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States.

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