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This review is from: The Third Terrorist: The Middle East Connection to the Oklahoma City Bombing (Hardcover)
Investigative journalism attempts to answer questions: who, what, when, how, and, most importantly, why. When a book that is a record of such investigation fails to answer the most important question, it fails to be a truly great book. That is the case here.
In The Third Terorist, Jayna Davis tells the story of her long investigation of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. She gives a large amount of evidence that seems to tie the known bombers, Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, to a group of Middle-Eastern characters, especially one Hussain Al-Hussaini. Davis claims that Al-Hussaini is a former member of Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard or special forces, and identifies him as the "John Doe 2" that was sought by law enforcement officials immediately after the bombing.
Davis then relates that law enforcement gave up on the notion that there was a John Doe 2 or any Middle-Eastern involvement in the bombing. She nonetheless continued her investigation in the face of both government and media opposition, all the while attempting to get the FBI, or any other official group, to listen to her theory, without success. Officially, McVeigh and Nichols have been convicted of the crime, and the case is considered pretty much closed. Davis insists that it should not be closed, because many of those involved -- those Middle-Eastern characters she writes about -- have not been brought to justice, or even seriously investigated by the government.
Is the author's case convincing? Some seem to think that it is no more sound than a supermarket tabloid article on Bigfoot or space aliens. That is not the case; Davis backs up her position with many eyewitness reports, and says she has sworn affadavits from these witnesses. While eyewitnesses can always be in error, there are so many who saw McVeigh or Nichols with Middle-Eastern types before the bombing, and so many others that reported seeing people who looked Middle-Eastern fleeing the scene, that it is much more likely that, indeed, foreign terrorists were involved in the 1995 attack. Even if eventually it could be proven that Ms. Davis' theory is wrong, it is absurd that any law-enforcement agency would reject reams of sworn statements by supposed witnesses to such an attack without so much as checking the claims out. There has to be a reason the claims were not investigated, whether in fact Davis is right or wrong. The great question is: why not?
Davis gives no real answer to this critical question, which is why this book rates only three stars. It could be argued that Davis was in no position to find out the answer to that question; but as investigative journalism, the book falls short precisely because she could not. The most important question must be answered.
Since the question remains unanswered, the reader is drawn toward the obvious theory that investigation of the Middle-Eastern connection to the bombing was deliberately suppressed due to a political calculation by the Clinton administration. (The only other obvious explanation is that the FBI and Department of Justice are composed of completely incompetent fools.) It is the obvious theory that divides the reviewers of the book: Clinton's supporters give the book one star, while his opponents give the book five stars. While I admit to being a staunch opponent of that administration, I believe that at this point we cannot know with certainty whether there was a Middle Eastern connection to the OKC bombing, because the FBI would not investigate the evidence that pointed in that direction, or, if they did, will not tell us what they found. Just why they dropped seeking such a connection shortly after the bombing, and why they would not further investigate it after Davis supplied them with so much evidence, is the great question left unanswered by this book. That lack of an answer is the one reason that this book falls short of being a record of truly great investigative journalism.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 18, 2007 6:56:04 AM PDT
D Mikels asked this same question in his review, but you're both missing what Jayna has repeatedly said in public, if not clearly in the book. Here's a repost of the part of my reply that applies:
''Why would the feds turn a blind eye on Davis' investigative dossier and affidavits that clearly revealed a Middle Eastern connection to the bombing?'"
"Jayna Davis has clearly addressed this question many times. The most compelling reason would be because it actually hurt the federal case against the 'domestic' terrorists. If seriously considered, the information would have made McVeigh and Nichols merely accomplices to a more complex foreign terrorist aided or conceived plot, rather than being unassisted perpetrators. The Government filed for the death penalty very quickly after the indictment of McVeigh in 1995. If McVeigh and Nichols were unassisted, they were more easily convictable and the sentencing would be more severe. If Jayna Davis' information had been taken seriously and was investigated by the FBI, at that point in the court case, who would they have to really blame and convict as the architect of the attack? It would have undermined all of the Government prosecutors' hard work."
In reply to an earlier post on Nov 25, 2009 9:11:01 AM PST
The Clinton administration was quick to conclude that McVeigh & Nichols were the sole perpetrators of the bombing, but I think their motive for doing so was simply a political calculation, nothing more. Think back to March 1995: the Republicans had won back Congress under the leadership of Newt Gingrich, Hillarycare had failed to find any traction, the economy was OK but nothing much to get excited about, and the Clinton presidency was going nowhere. All of a sudden, a national tragedy occurs in Oklahoma City and the bad guys turn out to be right-wing nutjobs. Clinton milked it for all it was worth, and still continues to do so. Remember how they blamed it all on "talk-radio"? Remember how Clinton's approval ratings went through the roof during the weeks after the bombing? He knew how to exploit a tragedy.
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