Timothy McVeighIf you hate getting tied down in just one version of reality, you should love the case of Timothy McVeigh.
The convicted Oklahoma City bomber was either the patsy of white extremists, the patsy of Islamic fundamentalists, the patsy of a vast government conspiracy, a psychotic remorseless mass murderer, or some of the above, or all of the above.
McVeigh grew up in upstate New York, the child of poor... But who really gives a damn about that? For all intents and purposes, Timothy McVeigh sprang into existence fully formed around the age of 18 as a college dropout with an unhealthy love for big guns.
McVeigh was young man faced with a tough economy, a series of dead end jobs, an inability to score with girls and a closet full of firearms. Lacking the imagination to start a dot-com and the charisma to peddle Drugs, he obviously had no choice but to pursue Racism as a vocation. He got himself a copy of The Turner Diaries. He joined the Army, because no one teaches you how to kill people better than the U.S. government, and served in the Gulf War. While in the Army, he hooked up with Terry Nichols, who would later become his partner in terrorism.
On his release from the Army, McVeigh opted to avoid such unproductive activities as marriage, career and family in favor of getting really fucking pissed off at the U.S. government. His favorite rage-inducers included the ATF, the Ruby Ridge Incident and the "persecution" of David Koresh and his harem of teenage wives in Waco, Texas.
McVeigh beat around the country for a while, stuffing his face with Taco Bell burritos, selling guns to his fellow maniacs, and getting more and more pissed. He stayed in Florida briefly, where he lived with his sister for a month or two. Just a few miles down the road, future al Qaeda agent Jose Padilla was "coincidentally" serving up those tasty burritos McVeigh loved so much (he subsisted on them during his trial for the OKC bombing).
McVeigh was so incensed by the Waco incident that he actually drove to the compound during Janet Reno's siege to show his support for an American's sacred Constitutional right to impregnate teenage girls, play guitar and collect Weapons of Mass Destruction. After being inexplicably turned away at the gate by federal agents, he trekked north to Michigan, where he met up with brothers Terry and James Nichols.
Sometime around this time, depending on who you want to believe, McVeigh either recruited Terry Nichols as a willing partner, bullied Nichols into going along with his crazy schemes, recruited Nichols into al Qaeda, or was recruited by Nichols into al Qaeda. Whatever the case, McVeigh and Nichols ended up with a plan to bomb the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.
It was the biggest act of mass murder in U.S. history. McVeigh's homemade truck bomb killed 168 people, almost all civilians, including 19 children and infants who were advancing the evil cause of the New World Order from the building's daycare center. He was executed June 11, 2001, by Lethal Injection.
There exist a great number of conspiracy theories about the OKC bombing. Some of these are advanced by paranoids, others by media whores, others by people with specific political agendas, still others by right-wing racists and\or Clinton bashers who desperately want to blame someone, anyone other than themselves. Unfortunately, it's a lot easier to dismiss the proponents of the theories than the theories themselves.
The most popular theory, is that Iraq sponsored the bombing. According to this theory, McVeigh and/or Nichols met up with a whole platoon of Iraqi intelligence operatives in the U.S. and/or the Philippines where they cheerfully joined forces to wreak mayhem against the Great Satan.
More recently, speculation has arisen that al Qaeda was actually behind the attack. A great deal of circumstantial evidence exists to support this premise, but no one has yet managed to move it beyond that pesky reasonable doubt yet.
Recent news reports also point to the possible involvement of white supremacists operating out of an Oklahoma compound called Elohim City. Theorists may gleefully mix and match this possible connection with various combinations of the first two.
The FBI didn't help the cause of quelling such speculation by destroying some evidence and withholding thousands of documents from McVeigh's defense team until about five minutes before his scheduled execution. More on these in a moment.
One scarcely knows how to begin cataloging the most bizarre aspects of McVeigh's life, but here's a short list of talking points, suitable for white supremacist cocktail parties or drowning out the drone of "Live With Regis and Kelly" on the common room TV in the psych ward:
Others UnknownThe initial indictment of McVeigh and Nichols included "others unknown," a reference that has become something of a catchphrase in recent years for the gigantic mess that is the Oklahoma City bombing investigation.
After the bombing, rampant speculation pointed at Middle Eastern terrorists as potential culprits, and not without reason. The M.O. was a close fit, putting hysterical reports of olive-skinned devils fleeing the scene aside for the moment. When the culprits turned out (apparently) to be a couple of good ole boys, the media was shamed and dropped the investigation due to a combination of embarrassment, political correctness, chickenshittedness, and an inability to condense the complicated story into 800 words or less for MTV-stunted readers.
With more than 10 years come and gone since the bombing, we can now say one thing for certain—the American people have never been told the real story. The holes in the Oklahoma City bombing investigation are so gapingly huge that you could drive a Ryder truck through them. And still more waits to be revealed.
The FBI has already conceded two major gaffes—the forensic investigation of the actual bomb was desperately flawed, and millions of documents related to the case were "accidentally" withheld from McVeigh's defense lawyers until five minutes before he was scheduled to be executed. These revelations were the tip of a very, very slowly emerging iceberg.
A lawsuit against the FBI under the Freedom of Information Act has revealed that there are still more documents and records and investigative leads which the Bureau has deemed unfit for public consumption. This batch of records, related primarily to a gang of racist bank robbers, is still trickling out as the FBI fights tooth and nail to bury them forever.
The FBI has already been caught in blatant lies in open court. First, it attempted to deny the existence of the records. When confronted with leaked copies of the requested records, they claimed they couldn't possibly afford the cost of having someone go look for them and make copies. When this argument was found to be specious, they attempted to declare them classified. When they were ordered to produce the documents so the judge could evaluate this request, they stipulated that any documents produced as part of the court case couldn't be used for some insanely inappropriate purpose such as law enforcement, or a Congressional investigation. When THAT request was granted, the FBI stonewalled and stalled and continues to do so as of this writing (January 2005).
And all that just covers the possibility of unknown Americans who may have been part of the plot. The investigation of possible al Qaeda or foreign terrorist involvement is equally plagued by FBI obstructionism, intelligence secrecy, shady informant deals and, most of all, by a group of crackpots who co-opted the facade of "investigative reporting" in order to promote a painfully flawed version of the story with the intention of pinning the attack on Saddam Hussein.
A small group of "independent investigators"—including some of the same people who brought you Iraqi WMDs and Gulf War II—so effectively promoted the "Iraq did it" theory that any effort to look at foreign terrorist involvement now gets shuffled off to the circular file by mainstream journalists who are understandably weary of being dragged around the block by sloppy reporting, wacko paranoia and outright lies, and somewhat less forgiveably wary of looking stupid while in search of the truth.
But there are signs that here, too, the real story remains untold. As recently as 2004, former counterterrorism director Richard A. Clarke conceded that the government had never been able to disprove reports that Ramzi Yousef and Terry Nichols had met in the Philippines. The deportation of Osama bin Laden's brother-in-law Mohammed Jamal Khalifa—hastily approved one week after the OKC bombing—is still shrouded in official secrecy. The tale of McVeigh's fellow U.S. Army veteran Ali Mohammed, a known al Qaeda operative and Special Forces trainer, remains locked away from the public eye after a guilty plea and his subsequent disappearance. al Qaeda's documented efforts to recruit U.S. veterans as terrorists remains buried in a haze of secrecy surrounding the U.S. involvement with al Qaeda-linked terrorists in Bosnia. The CIA and the FBI have both refused to release even the smallest details of a joint report about McVeigh's adoptive home state with the intriguing title "Arizona: Long-Term Nexus For Islamic Extremists."
There's plenty of room to speculate about the details—exactly who may have helped McVeigh, and why, and whether they lived here or abroad, and who paid for it, and what else might have been involved. There may be a big conspiracy, there may be a small one. There may be a tiny handful of suspects who have not been brought to justice, or there may be dozens of them. It might have been a focused, tightly spun conspiracy covered up by a government gone bad, or there may have been simply a loose collaboration by parties with mutual interests, kept under wraps for the oldest reason in the book—C.Y.A.
There are only things we know beyond the shadow of a doubt:
Terry Nichols is still alive, of course, despite the government's best efforts to arrange things otherwise. McVeigh's pal has recently taken to hinting at the prospect of issuing a fuller confession from his prison cell in Florence, Colo. Does Nichols—a man of somewhat debatable sanity—have a credible story to tell? Stay tuned.