On April 19, 1995 the Alfred P. Murrah building in downtown Oklahoma City, was rocked by a powerful car bomb, collapsing walls and floors. The blast shattered glass windows in storefronts blocks away.
It took a while for investigators to realize it, but the day marked the second anniversary of the FBI assault on the Branch Davidian Compound, near Waco Texas.
168 people were killed, including 19 children in the deadliest terrorist attack made on US soil at the time. Many in the media jumped quickly to the conclusion that the bombing contained the hallmarks of middle-eastern terror.
Connie Chung, on the CBS Evening News, said “This is the deadliest terror attack on U.S. soil ever. A U.S. government source has told CBS News that it has Middle East terrorism written all over it.”
They were completely wrong.
Days later, it emerged that decorated Gulf War Vet Timothy McVeigh, was a lead suspect in the case. Most Americans, me included, could not understand how a military vet could commit such an attack. In addition to McVeigh, Terry Nichols was also a top suspect.
What had caused this madness?
The FBI sieges at Ruby Ridge and Waco, TX had triggered an anger amongst many Americans that leaders in the government simply did not understand. Because they did’nt understand it, they couldn’t prevent this anger from following its terrible course.
Rage was directed at the U.S. Marshals Service, the ATF and FBI. It spurred the formation of militia groups, whose thinking was influenced by “The Turner Diaries” – a progun, anti-government and racist work of fiction. Gun shows were a place where second amendment advocates could share ideas about the federal government, and link current events, such as the talk about gun control, to events described in the Turner Diaries.
For those who aren’t aware, the Turner Diaries was a book written in 1978 by Andrew Macdonald, a Pen name for William Luther Pierce. Pierce founded the National Alliance, an atheist organization with the goal of building a whites only society in America.
To understand what drove Tim McVeigh to go to war against his own government, its important to understand what the National Alliance is, as well as the themes featured in the Turner Diaries.
The National Alliance counts amongst its beliefs that the white “race” is superior to blacks, due to natural selection. They assert that a hierarchy of races exists. And that white Europeans are superior to blacks. This happened because whites had to adapt to harsher environmental circumstances in Europe, like cold winters. This led to the development of higher intelligence among whites. No scientific proof is offered to back up these assertions, as far as I could tell on the National Alliance web page entitled, “What is the National Alliance”. As discussed in my episode, “Belief”, the brain often makes links where none may exist. Thus, without scientific proof, we must discard the theories of the National Alliance. Their ideas are hurtful and will increase human suffering and misery, therefore the National Alliance is a dangerous and harmful organization.
The National Alliance promotes the concept of “white Living Space”, and calls for neighborhoods, towns and cities to be places where whites only can live. This sounds very similar to Hitler’s “Lebensraum”. In alignment with their intolerance for blacks and jew, there is also no room for gays or bisexuals in this aryan land.
So, we have established that the author of The Turner Diaries was a very dangerous man. Pierce died in 2002.
Now lets move on to the themes in the book, “The Turner Diaries”. I have only read a few passages, and that was enough.
The Turner Diaries opens by talking about gun control. That the government, called the System, takes steps to remove guns from the population to eliminate resistance towards its aims. “The Cohen Act”, is a law that makes the private ownership of firearms and ammunition in America illegal. Teams of black people are empowered by the Government to raid and rob the homes of white families, while raping the women. The initial pages of the book immediately speak to the themes of racists – that Jews are going to take your guns away, and then empower the blacks to steal, beat and sexually assault your families. The book also describes the bombing of the F.B.I. headquarters with a homemade truck bomb.
These themes apparently captured the attention of Timothy McVeigh, who had become disillusioned with the US Government during his service in the Gulf War. His thinking was further influenced by gun rights advocates he had met at gun shows.
He had traveled to Waco Texas, to view the siege from a hill about three miles away from the compound. He sold pro-gun and anti-government bumper stickers while there. After the Waco siege, Tim worked the gun show circuit, and traveled to 40 of the 50 states during that time. He became familiar with various conspiracy theories, and became further convinced that action must be taken against the government.
Gun control laws, such as the 1994 federal assault weapons ban, signed by President Bill Clinton, which made certain semi-automatic “assault weapons” illegal. This was the final straw for Timothy McVeigh. His mindset shifted to ‘taking the offensive.’
In late September, 1994, Tim McVeigh and Army buddy, Terry Nichols, began stockpiling materials to make powerful explosives.
They purchased at least 86 bags of fertilizer, totalling more than 4,000 lbs spreading out their buys across multiple locations to avoid any red flags.
In October, 1994, Tim bough three drums of nitro-methane, race car fuel,, paying $950 per drum. Terry Nichols had sold gold to raise money for the purchase.
Terry and Tim robbed a firearms dealer in Arkansas on November 5, 1994, to acquire firearms that would be sold to raise money for their plot.
Terry and Tim stole dynamite, blasting gel, det cord and blasting caps from a quarry in Kansas, acquiring over 350 lbs of explosives and 600 blasting caps.
The duo then buy large plastic barrels to make the bombs. They test the bombs in miniture by mixing jet fuel with fertilizer in a gatorade bottle, and topping it with a blasting cap. According to witnesses, the test was successful.
With the bomb making recipe complete, selection for the site became McVeigh’s priority. According to witness testimony, McVeigh chose the Murrah building in Oklahoma City, because that was where the orders for Waco Texas came from.
On April 18, 1995 Terry Nichols and Tim McVeigh mixed their bombs by combining seven 50 pound bags of fertilizer with seven 20lb buckets of nitro-methane per 55 gallon drum. These were loaded into a rented Ryder Truck. Tim had rented the Truck from a body repair shop in Kansas under the alias of Robert Kling.
Tim then drove from Geary Lake, where the fertilizer and fuel were mixed, to Oklahoma City, and slept in the rented Ryder Truck overnight.
The next morning, Tim parked the rented truck next to the Murrah building and lit the two-minute fuse. The bombs detonated at 9:02 am, killng 168 people, including 19 children who were in the second floor day care center at the time of the blast.
Tim McVeigh was arrested at approximately 10:20 am by a state trooper on I-35, when driving a vehicle with no plates. Upon making the stop, the trooper noticed the outline of a concealed weapon on Tim’s person. The weapon turned out to be a .45 caliber Glock, and McVeigh was arrested and taken into custody.
Tim sat in jail, until investigators gradually became aware that McVeigh was their lead suspect.
An identifying number on the axle of the Ryder Truck was found, enabling investigators to track down the repair shop where McVeigh made the rental. McVeigh was positively ID’d by the shop’s owner. McVeigh was caught on a McDonald’s security tape while buying a pie, further confirming that he had rented the Ryder truck used in the bombing.
Federal investigators suspected a wider criminal conspiracy. Through investigation, they turned up Michael Fortier, who was friends with Nichols and McVeigh. Fortier provided testimony, in exchange for a deal. The investigators must have been surprised that three men were able to pull off such a devastating act.
Terry Nichols was hundreds of mile away from Oklahoma City at the time of the blast. When he heard that he was a suspect, he turned himself in to local police for questioning. Nichols agreed to a search of his home, where all kinds of evidence was found – blasting caps, detination cord, ammonium nitrate (fertilizer), and plastic barrels similar to fragments found at Oklahoma city. He was held as a material witness, until formally charged on May 10th.
Tim McVeigh and Terry Nichols were tried separately, and found guilty. McVeigh was convicted of his crimes on June 2, 1997, by a jury of seven men and five women in Denver, CO. He was sentenced to receive the death penalty 11 days later. McViegh waived his right to appeal, and his execution was scheduled for May 16, 2001. However, on May 11, five days before his scheduled execution, the Justice Department disclosed that the FBI withheld some 4,000 pages of evidence from the defense. A judge found that the FBI’s behavior was “shocking” but that the evidence would not change McVeigh’s guilt or sentence.
Nichols was found guilty, and sentenced to 161 consecutive life prison terms.
McVeigh was executed for his crimes on June 11, 2001. He was killed at a federal prison in Terre Haute, IN. by lethal injection. He had no final words to say, but left the poem, “Invictus” to speak for him. The poem was handed out to the 232 witnesses that viewed the execution.
The poem, “Invictus” speaks to overcoming adversity, being unconquerable by circumstances and to being the master of one’s own fate. This is how McVeigh viewed himself in relation to his war on the Government. In contrast to McVeigh, who brought this war on himself, the poem’s author wrote Invictus from a hospital bed where he was recovering from a leg amputation and surgery on his remaining foot, due to disease.
McVeigh’s execution was the first non-military execution by the federal government since Victor Feguer in 1963.
For those who are curious,
Victor Feyguer was executed by hanging for the crime of murder. You might ask why a murder was tried in Federal Court? The reason is that Victor kidnapped a physician in Iowa, and then transported the victim to Illinois where the poor doctor was killed and dumped him in a cornfield.
On a further Paul Kristoffer Show Side note, You might also ask, why was there a 38 year hiatus in federal executions between 1963 and 2001? You might already know the answer, but for those (like me) who need a refresher, there was a moratorium on executions due to a decision in the case of Furman vs. Georgia. The supreme court ruled that states were inconsistent in the application of the death penalty. Thus it was cruel and unusual punishment – something prohibited by the Eighth Amendment of the US Constitution.
The death penalty moratorium was ended in 1976 by the case of Gregg v. Georgia. The case upheld the death penalty punishment of Troy Leon Gregg. Troy Gregg was convicted of murdering two men that had given Gregg, and another man, a ride.
Georgia, in common with other states including Florida and Texas, had established a bifurcated trial process that the supreme court accepted.
First, guilt of a capital offense is established. Then a separate trial follows to review aggravating, and mitigating, circumstances in order to establish a death penalty conviction. This meant that racial bias could be accounted for, before the defendant could receive the sentence of death.
Troy Gregg, however, was not executed by the state of Georgia. He escaped death row along with three other inmates. They escaped by sawing through the bars of their cells, and made their way into a car left by the aunt of one of the inmates. Later that night, Gregg was beaten to death, either by an angry biker at a bar where Gregg was drinking, or by one of his companions. Gregg’s body was found dumped in a river.
Utah was the first state to execute a person following the Gregg decision. In 1977 Gary Gilmore was executed by firing squad at the Utah State prison in Draper, UT. For those, like me, who want to know how a firing squad in UT works, I’ll explain it here.
The person sentenced to execution is seated in a chair and restrained. He is then hooded. Five volunteer law enforcement officers are selected to be the shooters. They stand behind a curtain with five holes, made for the purpose of aiming at the convict. The distance between the firing squad and the convict is twenty feet.
The rifles are .30 30 bore – meaning that the caliber is larger than the .357 magnum, or .44 magnum bullet. The bullets handed out for Gilmore’s execution were Winchester 150 grain silver tips. Let’s just say that from a distance of twenty feet, the bullets will do their job. Four of the riflemen are given live ammo, and one a blank.
Allegedly, Gary’s brother Mikal, found five holes in Gary’s shirt after the execution, indicating that the state of Utah was taking no chances.
Getting back to McVeigh, in conclusion:
Timothy McVeigh was driven by anger at the institution of the U.S. Government. Through his belief that the events in the Turner Diary were coming to pass, McVeigh was driven to take action against those he held responsible for Ruby Ridge and Waco. In this respect, McVeigh was similar to David Koresh. David Koresh believed that he could open the seven seals, as described in the book of Revelation.
McVeigh simplified the act of killing innocent civilians and reduced their deaths to “collateral damage”. He rationalized that innocent deaths were part of a criminal Government.
McVeigh was wrong to break the law and use violence to kill innocent people. He committed an evil act that was as worse than the ones committed by federal agents who were at the center of McVeigh’s anger.
As discussed in my episode entitled, “David Koresh and The Seven Seals”, Federal agents did not break any laws during the final assault at Waco. They were irresponsible and negligent in their acts which directly led to the burning of the compound by the Branch Davidians, but there are no reports that show that laws were broken.
At Ruby Ridge, yes, the FBI Rules of Engagement were unconstitutional and resulted in the death of Vickie Weaver. Samuel Weaver was killed in a shootout with U.S. Mahshals – but no one knows who fired the first shot.
Timothy McVeigh will be remembered not as a freedom fighter, who was justified in attacks on the U.S. Government, but as a home grown terrorist driven by a racist piece of trash fiction. He and Terry Nichols callously killed and wounded innocent men, women and children out of a misplaced anger toward the government and belief in a book. He was a mass murderer, driven by rage at a faceless State.
The New York Times
60 Minutes, March 12, 2000: Timothy McVeigh speaks
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