Editor’s note: WND is serializing this week the Oklahoma City bombing reports of one of the world’s foremost investigative journalists, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard of the London Telegraph. Excerpted from his book, “The Secret Life of Bill Clinton, seven chapters analyze the Oklahoma tragedy and devastate the official government version of what occurred on April 19, 1995.
Monday, in Part 1, “The resurrection of President Clinton” revealed that “the Justice Department’s inspector general lists the Oklahoma bombing case as one of the worst examples of de facto evidence tampering by the crime labs.”
Yesterday, in Part 2, Glenn and Kathy Wilburn, the author helped readers relive the Oklahoma City tragedy from the point of view of a family that lost two children in the Murrah Building’s daycare center, and their subsequent horror to discover rampant official lying in the tragedy’s aftermath.
Today’s report establishes clearly that a bomb squad truck was in Oklahoma City shortly before the blast.
An alert can mean all kinds of things, but this appeared to go beyond the typical pro forma advisories put out on sensitive dates. U. S. Federal Judge Wayne Alley had spilled the beans in a spontaneous interview with The Oregonian newspaper a few hours after the blast. Yes, he said, his chambers were just across the street from the Murrah Building. But no, he was not hurt. He had decided not to come into work that day. There had been talk.
“Let me just say that within the past two or three weeks, information has been disseminated … that indicated concerns on the part of people who ought to know, that we ought to be a little more careful. … My subjective impression was there was a reason for a dissemination of these concerns.”
No doubt his guard was down. The reporter was calling from Portland, where the judge grew up, and Portland was far away. But in the age of the Internet, it does not take long for a revelation in The Oregonian to reach the families of the dead in Oklahoma City. When a copy fell into Glenn Wilburn’s hands, he was apoplectic.
“We took babies to that building to be protected and cared for,” he said. “If anyone knew there was danger in that area and it was not disseminated, then I am mad. I’m awfully damned mad.”
The rumors of a bomb squad started becoming real as witnesses came out of the shadows to tell their story. The Wilburns collected testimony on microcassettes, which were piled up in a box in their kitchen. They amassed more than three hundred hours of interviews, much of it with people who had never spoken to the press.
“People don’t want to talk, you know. They’re afraid of retribution from the federal government, they’re scared for their jobs,” said Glenn.
But he and Kathy knew how to draw them out. Glenn would introduce himself and talk about Chase and Colton, and his quest for the truth. Kathy followed, with her forbidding silences, and, when necessary, would seize the throat of a recalcitrant witness and question his manhood – or so she told me. In my company she has always been the model of decorum.
There was no question that there had been a bomb squad truck in downtown Oklahoma before the blast.
“I was coming down for a charity board meeting that I had at 7:30 in the Oklahoma Tower,” said Daniel J. Adomitis, an Oklahoma lawyer. “There was this fairly large truck with a trailer behind it. It had a shield on the side of the door that said ‘bomb disposal’ or ‘bomb squad’ below it. And I really found that interesting. You know, I’d never seen anything like that in person.”
Something was still going on fifteen minutes later when Norma Jolson arrived for work at the county courthouse. “As I walked through my building’s parking lot, I remembered seeing a bomb squad,” she said. “There was some talk in our office. We did wonder what it was doing in our parking lot. Jokingly, I said, ‘Well, I guess we’ll find out soon enough.'”
At 8:05, Renee Cooper dropped her son Antonio at the day care center. As she was driving away she saw a bomb squad in front of the courthouse. There were six or seven men. It made her a little uneasy, but she was late for work already.
“I quizzed her at length,” said Glenn. “I said, ‘How do you know this was a bomb squad?'”
“Well, they had ‘bomb squad’ written across their jackets in huge letters.”
Renee Cooper’s FBI 302 statement makes it sound as if she had confused the 18th of April with the 19th, as if she would forget the moment that killed her baby boy. It was insulting. She had told this story two weeks after the bombing during a meal at the Wilburn house for all the families who lost children in the day care center.
In any case, the transparent absurdity of the FBI’s ruse was exposed when the Sheriff’s Department finally admitted, after months of adamant denials by Sheriff J. D. Sharp, that the bomb disposal vehicle had indeed been in downtown Oklahoma City that morning.
The driver was Deputy Bill Grimsley. He said that he set out from the county jail at 7:00 a.m., stopped at the courthouse for a few minutes to take care of an errand, then went to McDonald’s for an Egg McMuffin and a coffee, and finally made his way to the bomb training squad ten miles outside Oklahoma City. So, the vehicle was there. The only questions were: What it was doing? Why had the Sheriff’s Department refused to acknowledge a plain fact? And why had the FBI tried to obfuscate it?
* * *
In the first months after the Oklahoma bombing, I was wary of tackling the subject. There were intriguing stories coming out in the alternative press, as well as the usual mix of planted disinformation and off-the-wall conspiracy theories. I preferred to wait and see, assuming that the Justice Department was essentially still honorable, and that the full story would be forced to the surface in the trial of Timothy McVeigh.
The Oklahoma bombing, after all, was one of the epochal events of U.S. history. The great metropolitan newspapers would ensure accountability. The rest of the world was watching to see how the U.S. system would handle domestic terrorist insurgency. This crime was so big that it had to be prosecuted with total transparency. Or so I thought. It makes me want to blush now, to think I could have been so na?ve.
But then I met Glenn Wilburn, and I realized at once that this man knew what he was talking about. He was a certified public account. He dealt in details. He argued along a chain of logic, inductively, from the facts to the theory, not the other way round. He was empirical. And when he walked me through the evidence, he shattered my last illusions. As a journalist, this was the man I wanted as my source, my guide, my mentor, and he was generous enough to respond – squeezing out every last drop of energy until cancer finally consumed him.
The kidney-shaped table in the kitchen of Glenn and Kathy had become the nerve center of the Oklahoma dissident movement. Their closest friend and ally was J. D. Cash from the McCurtain Daily Gazette. At Glenn’s insistence, Cash had more or less moved in with them as a houseguest, commuting back and forth from his home in Idabel, in southeastern Oklahoma.
“When I first met John, I thought he was awful crusty looking, like a member of the militia or something,” said Kathy, laughing. “But that’s just John. … He fit right into the family soon enough.”
A tall, thin man with a scraggly beard, dressed in jeans and cowboy boots, J. D. Cash had once been married to a Cherokee Indian. Now he was a bachelor again, a sort of Knight Templar in the crusade for truth. Cash took pride in his defiant stand against the health fetishism of yuppy culture. His day began with a cigarette. Breakfast was a T-bone steak. By late afternoon he was already opening his first can of beer, to be followed by vodka. This was the sort of conduct I expected from a reporter, a soothing respite from the twitchy, uptight, prissy, desiccated ghastliness of the Washington press corps.
Cash was a retired mortgage banker, aged 43, writing a novel about Nazi gold when the bomb went off. Soon afterward, he heard about seismograph data from the University of Oklahoma indicating that there could have been a secondary blast, and it set him thinking about a time in the late 1980s when the IRS had tried to lease one of his buildings in Tulsa. The deal had fallen through because the IRS Criminal Investigations Division had wanted to store “raid equipment,” including C-4 explosives, in the building. “I knew these guys kept some bad stuff around, so I started trying to find out if the Feds were storing C-4 in the Murrah Building.”
He soon confirmed his suspicions. “I can assure you, Mr. Cash, there were explosives stored in the building. I saw them carry them out,” he was told by a fire marshal. “They threw them in the bomb squad truck, hauled them out to the gun range, and blew them up.”
He learned that C-4 can detonate spontaneously, without a fuse, if subjected to intense pressure. It was the genesis of his first article. He went to the local newspaper in Idabel, The McCurtain Daily Gazette, circulation 6,500, and offered his copy. They checked the facts and ran the piece. It won him an award for investigative reporting from the Society of Professional Journalists. “Beginner’s luck, I think they call it,” he quipped.
Cash never looked back. Within two years he would prove himself to be a reporter of extraordinary skill – a loose cannon, perhaps, a wild man, a transgressor of every rule in the Columbia School codex – but still one of the best investigative journalists of modern times.
“I have the instincts of a banker,” he explained. “I’ve done thousands of loan interviews, and I’ve the best truth detector in the world. That’s the one thing I’ve got going for me.”
Among his friends was Richard Reyna, the court-appointed investigator for Timothy McVeigh. It was a relationship that would lead to an unholy alliance between the Wilburns and the defense lawyers of the man who murdered their grandchildren.
Documents have a habit of leaking when friendships are formed across a broad front, and it was not long before the Wilburns acquired the raw material of the OKBOMB investigation – FBI 302 witness statements, Tim McVeigh’s phone logs, surveillance reports, the unfiltered facts. They were no longer competing at a total disadvantage against the U. S. Justice Department.
The alliance made sense. The Wilburns and the McVeigh defense team had parallel interests. Both wanted to know whether the U.S. government was telling the truth. “This is warfare,” explained Glenn. “And we’ll do anything it takes to get to the truth.”
It caused consternation in Oklahoma City. Glenn and Kathy were denounced by the state media as “conspiracy theorists” and tools of the far-right. For a year they endured bitter recriminations from many of the families.
“There was one meeting that got out of control. There were some nuts there, handing out crazy literature. They had such weird, extreme views that it scared everybody, and we sort of got mixed up in the pot with them,” said Kathy. “The families started yelling at us. They hated us for a long time after that.”
But that would change.
When the Wilburns filed a federal tort claim against the U.S. government in April 1997, just in time for the two-year statutory deadline, they were joined by 170 of the Oklahoma family members. It was an avalanche, one of such irresistible force that it may ultimately sweep away much of the political landscape of fin de siecle America.
The claim alleges that the U.S. federal government “knew or should have known” that the Murrah Building was a likely target of attack. Their chief counsel, Connecticut lawyer Richard Bieder, brought in three other law firms with specialist expertise in a legal alliance that had very deep pockets and a track record of confronting the government.
Another group of five families signed up shortly afterward with the Los Angeles firm Baum, Hedland, Aristie, Guilford, and Downey. Finally, more than 300 family members joined a third suit with John Merritt in Oklahoma State jurisdiction against the FBI, the ATF, and other agencies of the U.S. government. The Merritt lawsuit alleged outright that the disaster was a failed “sting operation.”
The claim stated that the U.S. authorities had “detailed prior knowledge of the planned bombing of the Murrah building yet failed to prevent the bombing from taking place.” It alleged that ATF agents were “alerted not to go to work on April 19, 1995.”
Civil lawsuits are the great purgative instrument of the American system. They are the safeguard against abuse. The rules of civil litigation are very different from criminal trials. The power to subpoena documents and witnesses under legal discovery is much broader, while the power of tame judges to exclude evidence is much narrower. The truth has a way of forcing itself to the surface.
TOMORROW: All about John Doe number 2.
Read Part 1: ‘The resurrection of President Clinton’
Read Part 2: ‘Glenn and Kathy Wilburn’
Ambrose Evans-Pritchard’s landmark book, “The Secret Life of Bill Clinton” is available from WorldNetDaily’s online store.
Ambrose Evans-Pritchard has built a stellar career as a journalist, covering Central America for The Economist and The Daily Telegraph, and reporting from the United States for both The Spectator and The Sunday Telegraph, for which he was Washington bureau chief. Cambridge-educated and internationally renowned, Evans-Pritchard has recently returned to England, where he serves as The Daily Telegraph’s roving European correspondent.