“God I hope there’s no Middle Eastern connection to this.”
So confided an anxious President Bill Clinton to Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating in the immediate aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing in April 1995.
That presidential sentiment – as cited in the December 2006 report by the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House Internationals Relations Committee – would go a long way toward shaping the investigation that followed.
On Feb. 17, convicted bomber Terry Lynn Nichols served up his most detailed public statement since the Oklahoma City attack, a useful complement to the report by the House subcommittee and its chairman, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif.
True to form, the major media largely ignored Nichols’ declaration as it did the report, but it did so at the risk of its own credibility. There is a major story brewing here.
Salt Lake City attorney Jesse Trentadue secured Nichols’ signed and sealed declaration as part of his ongoing legal battle to wrangle the truth out of the FBI in regard to the Oklahoma City bombing in general and his own brother’s death in particular. Trentadue is convinced his brother was tortured and murdered in an Oklahoma prison in August 1995 in the mistaken belief he was Timothy McVeigh’s accomplice in the bombing.
To be sure, Nichols’ testimony is incomplete and self-serving. Much of what he says cannot be taken at face value. Nevertheless, on many key points his testimony squares much better with the evidence and with common sense than does the account McVeigh provided for the book ”American Terrorist,” an account more or less echoed by the government at his trial.
In his declaration, Nichols admits his culpability in the OKC bombing. That goes without saying. What is newsworthy is his willingness to “identify others who played a role in the bombing.” His ostensible motive is to bring closure to himself and to the families.
To set the record straight, Nichols claims to have sent a letter to Attorney General John Ashcroft in September 2004. He received no response and contends he has been thwarted ever since by the FBI, Department of Justice and the Bureau of Prisons.
This claim is very likely true. In his own investigation into the bombing, which concluded in December 2006, Rohrabacher complained of comparable obstruction from the FBI and the Department of Justice.
“Congressional investigators should not face such resistance in doing their job,” he laments.
Despite the lack of cooperation, Rohrabacher came to the conclusion Nichols and McVeigh did not act alone. Affirms Nichols, “Congressman Rohrabacher was correct about the others unknown.”
Nichols contends that there are multiple others, some unknown to him. Two of them, however, he chooses to name, both of whom “are now being protected by the federal government in a cover-up to escape its responsibility for the loss of life in Oklahoma.”
One of those Nichols names is gun dealer and “government provocateur” Roger Moore. Nichols makes a detailed and compelling case that Moore provided some of the explosives used in the construction of the bomb.
Nichols contends that Moore, in cahoots with McVeigh, set up the robbery of his own house in part to distance himself from the eventual use of those explosives. Nichols, who had never met Moore, did the actual job so Moore would have added deniability.
During the robbery, Nichols took boxes of nitromethane and afterwards he stashed them under his own house in Herington, Kan. It was in order to implicate Moore in the OKC bombing that Nichols leaked information about this explosives cache in March 2005. Thanks to a tip from the late Stephen Dresch and his colleague Angela Clemente, this story was first reported in full in WND.
According to Rohrabacher, the FBI did not follow up on Nichols’ leak “until members of Congress were alerted.” As reported here, the FBI delayed four weeks – until late in the day on which Terri Schiavo died – before retrieving the explosives.
The following day, a Friday, the Department of Justice announced its absurdly lenient punishment of Sandy Berger, a classic “media dump.” With Pope John Paul II dying a day later, the media had all the excuse it needed to ignore both stories.
Curiously, this same DOJ has proved zealous in its pursuit of White House aide Scooter Libby and others known and unknown in the Valerie Plame affair, an affair of little consequence that the media have reported with gusto. As I have previously documented, Justice is heavily peopled by careerists with long institutional memories and strong Democratic sympathies.
As to the second-named conspirator, Nichols offers some highly provocative hearsay. “McVeigh was extremely upset and angry,” Nichols attests. “There, in what I believe was an accidental slip of the tongue, McVeigh revealed the identity of a high-ranking FBI official who was apparently directing McVeigh in the bomb plot.”
That official was none other than Larry Potts, the one time deputy director of the FBI and the bete noire of the populist right. As Nichols recounts his conversation with McVeigh, “Potts had something to do with the change in targets.”
Nichols is likely telling the truth here. He has no reason to lie. It is McVeigh who was almost assuredly prevaricating. McVeigh’s evidence squares with no known evidence and no recognizable logic.
It is altogether possible, if not likely, that the FBI and the ATF had informants in the squirrelly radical community of Elohim City, Okla., with which McVeigh was in undeniable contact.
There is, however, a major difference between an informant and an agent, and an agent and a deputy director like Potts. Officials like Potts don’t orchestrate murderous conspiracies. They cover their own backsides when something, like say a sting, goes awry.
Potts had in the past proved fully capable of obstruction. Just three months after the OKC bombing, FBI Director Louis Freeh was forced to remove him from his position after the truth surfaced about his inglorious role in the cover-up of the 1992 shooting death of the wife and son of radical separatist Randy Weaver in Ruby Ridge, Idaho.
Much more useful is the light Nichols sheds on the construction of the bomb. As I have reported previously and illustrated in the video ”Mega Fix,” the McVeigh that one meets in ”American Terrorist” is a powerful and creative superman. He somehow taught himself how to build a massive truck bomb and was even prepared to assemble the 7,000-pound monster himself – in one morning.
This would have meant loading onto his rented truck 108 50-pound bags of ammonium nitrate, three 400-pound drums of liquid nitromethane, several crates of highly explosive Tovex sausage, spools of shock tube and cannon fuse and the 55-gallon drums to measure and mix these materials in.
As McVeigh told it, Terry Nichols showed up at his Kansas storage facility when he was halfway through the loading process and then only because he was afraid of what McVeigh would do to his family if he did not.
The pair then drove to a nearby lake and spent the next three hours mixing the thirteen 500-pound barrels of explosives. When finished, they added 17 bags of ANFO. Although McVeigh claimed to have been a self-taught bomb maker, he had no particular mechanical gifts. Still, he managed not only to mix and load all these elements precisely but also to design and perfectly execute a dual-fuse ignition system.
A Washington Post article from a week after the blast (when the truth was still being shared and reported) suggests the improbability of this story.
“Law enforcement sources,” reads The Post, “said the 4,800-pound bomb that caused the explosion probably required at least two to three people to construct and considerable patience and planning. Building such a device ‘would be extremely labor-intensive.’” The bomb that McVeigh described proved to be half again bigger than that and built by two inexperienced guys in one morning.
Nichols throws a ton of cold water on the McVeigh saga. “The bomb that I helped McVeigh build,” he says, probably truthfully, “did not resemble in any fashion the bomb McVeigh described in the book ‘American Terrorist.’”
Yes, they loaded the materials on the truck and put the fertilizer and the nitromethane in the plastic barrels, but neither he nor McVeigh “mixed or attempted to mix the fertilizer and the nitromethane.”
The reason was simple enough. This would have taken “a level of expertise and sophistication neither McVeigh nor I had in building a bomb.”
McVeigh’s post-conviction story of his labors largely tracked with the prosecution’s. After constructing the bomb, he allegedly drove alone towards Oklahoma in the loaded truck. After crossing the Oklahoma border, he stopped for the night at a small gravel lot near a conveniently unnamed “roadside motel.”
By his own timeline, however, McVeigh would have reached this motel about 2 p.m. That makes for a really long and pointless night. Here, Nichols’ more truthful account opens a critical new line of inquiry.
McVeigh left Kansas with an incomplete bomb, one in a ”V” shape, not in the more potent ”J” shape McVeigh described in ”American Terrorist.” According to Nichols, McVeigh’s bomb “required more bomb making materials than what was in the Herington storage shed.”
Still, presuming McVeigh’s timeline is accurate and Nichols does not correct it, McVeigh would have had plenty of time to add materials, reshape the bomb and mix the components once he got to Oklahoma, provided, of course, he had highly skilled help.
Nichols did not accompany McVeigh across the border, and he plays fully ignorant as to “the identities of the individuals seen with McVeigh,” either when he rented the truck or when he drove it to the Murrah Building. As part of his posture as a coerced patsy, Nichols offers not a word of insight into any Islamic connection in Oklahoma or in the Philippines.
Indeed, despite his eagerness to tell his story without the FBI present, Nichols refused a second and, this time, private meeting with Rohrabacher because Rohrabacher wanted to talk about his five trips to the Philippines, the last just months before the bombing.
“Since I know of no Philippines connection [to the bombing],” says Nichols disingenuously, “I declined to meet with him a second time.”
Rohrabacher might have asked Nichols who paid for those trips, how master bomber Ramzi Yousef and he just happened to show up in Cebu City at the exact same time in November 1994, why Nichols left the county in haste immediately after Yousef was busted by the Manila police, and why Nichols was traveling with the book ”The Chemistry of Powder and Explosives.”
Tomorrow, what Nichols chose not to tell, but what the Rohrabacher report did.
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