Startling new evidence has blown a hole in the FBI’s official theory about the blast that destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City and killed at least 168 people.
By Mark Johnson
HUSTLER has obtained previously unseen video footage showing convicted and executed bomber Timothy McVeigh undergoing military training in 1993—at a time when the FBI claims he had no military affiliations.
In Utah a judge issued a ruling in 2006 stating that the FBI had documented foreknowledge of McVeigh’s movements and of the April 19, 1995 attack. The ruling has prompted two U.S. Congressmen—Republicans Henry Hyde of Illinois and Dana Rohrabacher of California—to call for new hearings and for the release of suppressed FBI documents.
The new evidence raises chilling questions: What would McVeigh have been doing at a military training center less than two years prior to the bombing? How could the FBI not have known about his presence there if it had been tracking McVeigh and his fellow extremists?
The FBI’s investigation of the bombing has been controversial from day one. After initially considering several suspects, the agency abruptly dropped important leads. It ignored evidence and witness statements regarding the “others unknown” referred to in the original indictment of McVeigh. Government investigators and prosecutors opted to construct a case against McVeigh as a lone bomber. They then actively covered up or disregarded anything that might have contradicted their case. For the FBI and the mainstream media, the story of the Oklahoma City bombing ended with the execution of McVeigh by lethal injection on June 11, 2001.
But independent researchers seeking the whole truth have since uncovered a mountain of evidence excluded from the official story.
The most comprehensive independent investigation to date remains the review undertaken by the Oklahoma City Bombing Investigation Committee (OKCBombing.org), which published its final report in 2001. The committee was composed of four highly respected Oklahomans, including former state Representative Charles Key (who was, at press time, well on track toward regaining his seat in the midterm elections).
The OKBIC’s exhaustive research led it to conclude that McVeigh’s activities prior to the bombing had not been adequately investigated or explained. Noting the “others unknown,” the group also determined that McVeigh and his convicted accomplice, Terry Nichols, were not the only persons knowingly involved in the crime. McVeigh’s defense lawyer, Stephen Jones, had previously reached the same conclusion and has told HUSTLER he still maintains that view.
According to Key, “There is overwhelming evidence that many of those guilty of involvement in the Oklahoma bombing have gone unpunished.”
On August 3, 1993—about 18 months before the Oklahoma City bombing—Chicago-based screenwriter William Bean was scouting locations at Camp Grafton, North Dakota, for a movie project he was pitching to Hollywood executives. While videotaping various areas of the remote Army National Guard training base, he happened to capture on tape—for about 15 seconds—a young soldier re-parking and servicing a military transport vehicle. Bean’s voice can be heard asking him what he does. The soldier, who clearly tries to avoid being filmed, answers, “I’m just a parts clerk.”
Bean says that he didn’t know what he had until years after the bombing, when he was showing the footage to a friend, who noticed that the “parts clerk” looked eerily familiar.
Professional face and voice analyses of Bean’s tape have since lent overwhelming credence to the view that the young soldier depicted is none other than Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. The militant would have been 25 years old at the time.
The authenticity of Bean’s tape has been verified by independent examinations. In addition to confirmation that Bean was shooting at Camp Grafton on the day in question, analyses of McVeigh’s face and voice characteristics have further bolstered the new evidence.
Dr. Michael Blomgren, a voice-analysis specialist at the University of Utah’s Department of Communication Services and Disorders, has run the tape’s audio through a series of tests. According to Blomgren, comparisons with known recordings of McVeigh’s voice show a near-perfect match, with the same distinctive voice characteristics occurring in both samples. Blomgren’s tests resulted in “positive identification,” making it almost certain that the man in the footage is McVeigh.
Visual analysis of the tape, which was slightly hampered because it was a duplicate, has also resulted in authentication. (Bean alleges that the original cassette was stolen from his car.) The tape is time-stamped “3 Aug 93,” with no evidence of tampering. There is also clear consistency of picture detail from shot to shot.
McVeigh’s defense lawyer, Stephen Jones, told HUSTLER that he considers the resemblance between the “parts clerk” and McVeigh “close,” but remains “skeptical.”
Having viewed a copy of Bean’s tape, Charles Key and other OKBIC members are convinced it shows McVeigh at Camp Grafton in 1993. “This is an important piece of evidence,” Key announced, “and opens a new avenue of further investigation.”
The entire sequence of stills from Bean’s footage can be seen here.
In response to questions from HUSTLER, North Dakota National Guard Press Officer Rob Keller confirmed that demolitions is part of reservists’ Engineer Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) regimen at Camp Grafton, which is classified as a Regional Training Institute. Keller said that a search of records at Camp Grafton was conducted upon our request.
Keller replied via e-mail: “We have no record of McVeigh, or any of his aliases, being at the RTI or NDMA [North Dakota Military Academy], especially during the time frame you indicated.” Note the strange use of the qualifier especially. How could McVeigh be especially not there during a particular time period? Keller declined to divulge if the FBI or another agency had investigated the possibility of McVeigh’s presence at Camp Grafton. The press officer also declined to further respond to the photographic proof obtained by HUSTLER.
In reply to our inquiries about explosives that may have been absconded in the summer of ’93, Keller stated that inventories showed no anomalies. “The NDMA and RTI have no record of any munitions coming up missing or stolen,” he wrote.
The timeline of McVeigh’s movements as compiled by his defense team was largely the result of their client’s own often-contradictory statements. It is well documented that McVeigh lied or changed his story to fit the government’s version of events. In light of new photographic evidence, it is likely that McVeigh invented stories to cloud his actual whereabouts and who was aiding his movements.
In one of his strangest claims, McVeigh wrote to his sister in 1993 that military intelligence agents had approached him about joining an elite squad of “government-paid assassins.” This seemingly delusional contention has never been explained.
But even if McVeigh had been telling the truth about his movements, the Bean footage is still relevant: The date fits neatly into a previously unexplained gap in 1993, during which the FBI maintains it has no idea where McVeigh was.
The FBI declined to respond to any of HUSTLER’s questions concerning the case, saying the agency “would not be able to provide an FBI spokesperson.”
Another major breakthrough in the independent investigation of the Oklahoma City bombing came shortly after Bean brought his footage to HUSTLER.
On March 29, 2006, Utah Federal Court Judge Dale A. Kimball issued a ruling stating that more individuals were involved in the bombing than the FBI has admitted and that the FBI had an informant planted with McVeigh. Additional documents obtained by HUSTLER after Kimball’s ruling indicate that at least four others were connected to the plot.
Judge Kimball’s ruling resulted from the case of Kenneth Trentadue, a suspect who supposedly killed himself in prison despite being held in a suicide-proof cell. Trentadue’s older brother Jesse, a civil attorney, alleges that the FBI tortured his brother to death while trying to link him to the bombing.
After obtaining heavily redacted (blacked-out) files showing the FBI had at least one informant close to McVeigh, Jesse Trentadue took the FBI to court, seeking full disclosure.
The judge’s revelations are based on unredacted files subpoenaed from the FBI. According to his ruling, the “document indicates there was an undercover operative in with Timothy McVeigh and members of the various militia groups who aided and supported McVeigh.”
Further documents show that as early as January 1995, the Southern Poverty Law Center—a civil-rights law firm that tracks right-wing extremists—had an informant or informants inside the Oklahoma white-supremacist compound known as Elohim City. These moles were passing information along to the FBI, including details about the Oklahoma City bombing plot.
A heavily redacted FBI teletype from the day of the blast indicates that the FBI was previously aware of explosives training being conducted at Elohim City. The document also shows that an associate of McVeigh’s—ostensibly an FBI “cooperating witness”—had been in phone contact with McVeigh on April 5, 1995, two weeks before the bombing. According to the document, this was around the time the associate “backed out of the plans to bomb the federal building.”
In other words, the FBI knew about the plot up until at least April 5. If the FBI knew this much, they likely also had a good idea of who was conspiring with McVeigh. Could these associates be the “others unknown” referred to in the original indictment?
The government alleged that McVeigh carried out the actual bombing alone, but witness statements suggest otherwise. According to an Associated Press dispatch that emerged during the Terry Nichols trial, the U.S. Secret Service reported six days after the attack that “security video tapes from the area show the truck detonation three minutes and six seconds after the suspects exited the truck.” Notice that suspects is pluralized. Despite this statement from an official government source, the FBI has stuck to its implausible denial of the existence of surveillance tapes.
Bombing victim Daina Bradley testified at McVeigh’s trial that she also saw two men leave the truck, and several other witnesses have gone on record saying they saw men fitting the descriptions of John Does #1 and #2 at or around the Murrah Building just before its destruction. Some witnesses remembered seeing fully outfitted bomb-squad agents near the building in the early morning hours prior to the bombing.
And then there’s what may be the most bizarre detail of this case—the extra leg. As McVeigh’s attorney details in his book Others Unknown, forensic pathologists identifying victims ended up with an extra left leg that didn’t belong to any of the known dead. Bomb-victim experts have said it most likely belonged to the real bomber. Whose leg it was has never been determined.
Some experts suggest that the suppressed evidence—surveillance tapes, fingerprints, chemical tests, witness reports and the new information presented here—shows that the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol,Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) may have been running a sting operation that went awry.
But even that theory doesn’t explain everything. A more venturesome explanation is that McVeigh was set up or used by government-affiliated individuals from the U.S. or abroad—individuals who engineered the attack for reasons unknown.
So what was McVeigh doing at Camp Grafton? Being trained? Stealing military-grade explosives and detonators? His presence could certainly help explain how he gained the expertise to pull off a high-tech bombing.
According to qualified experts in demolitions and structural-damage assessment (whose statements have been collected by the OKBIC), the ANFO (ammonium nitrate and fuel oil) bomb that the FBI says was used does not match the amount, pattern or type of damage that was seen at the Murrah Building. This was also established by McVeigh’s defense team.
A report submitted to several congressmen by retired Air Force General and bomb analysis expert Benton K. Partin stated that the FBI’s theory is “beyond credulity.”
“The damage pattern on the reinforced concrete superstructure could not possibly have been attained from the single truck bomb,” Partin wrote. He and others point out that ANFO explosives are not strong enough to shatter concrete and break steel reinforcing rods. Partin and some of his colleagues have theorized that there would have to have been as many as four bombs, possibly military-grade, attached to the support columns to cause the type of collapse seen in Oklahoma City.
Survivors, including one who spoke to local TV news on the day of the bombing, have said that the building began to crumble—presumably from bombs inside—seconds before the outside device detonated. He said people even had time to crawl under desks before the building’s glass façade was blown inward by the truck bomb.
OKBIC member V.Z. Lawton, who worked at the HUD offices on the 8th floor of the Murrah Building, was at his desk at 9:02 when the bombs went off. “I felt the building begin to shake like it was an earthquake,” he told HUSTLER. “The lights went out, debris began falling on my desk, and something hit me in the back of the head and rendered me unconscious. Later I had trouble understanding why I never heard the truck bomb go off, then realized I was knocked out before it exploded.”
Lawton says the FBI has refused to release the surveillance tapes “because it would identify the others that were involved in the bombing, and it would show that the building was already coming down before the truck bomb went off.”
According to statements by local police officers and firemen, rescue efforts were halted at least twice by bomb scares. These accounts also allege that bomb-squad specialists removed unexploded devices from the rubble.
Local news stations and CNN reported on the day of the bombing that two other bombs were found, defused and removed. These reports were confirmed by Justice Department authorities and by Governor Frank Keating. These reports can be viewed online at YouTube.com. The news sources also repeated government statements and bomb-expert assessments that the bombing was a very “sophisticated” operation and had to be the work of highly trained professionals.
What better place to learn than Camp Grafton?
Allegations have also emerged regarding the reliability of FBI forensic evidence, including questions about the ammonium-nitrate residue that suggests an ANFO bomb. During the McVeigh trial, the FBI’s theory was shown to be riddled with reasonable doubt. It turns out their findings could easily have been the result of lab contamination or planted evidence. The U.S. government has never actually proven through physical evidence that the truck explosive was an ANFO bomb.
The alternate explanations are not conclusive either. It is clear that the FBI prevented qualified personnel, even those preparing the FEMA report, from examining the site. Clean-up operations were severely rushed in an apparent attempt to destroy evidence.
In light of the strong possibility that military explosives were used in the bombing, McVeigh’s presence at the demolitions-training center at Camp Grafton raises serious questions that demand answers.
The U.S. government’s recent history is a chronicle of lies, coverups and deceptions. From Vietnam to Watergate, from 9/11 to the Iraq war, the American people have been told what they took to be the truth, only to find out they had been lied to.
There is now reason to suspect that the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing is yet another chapter in this shameful saga.
Contributing reporter Bryan Sacks is an investigative journalist and adjunct instructor of philosophy at Pennsylvania’s Immaculata University.