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Oklahoma City: What the Investigation Missed--and Why It Still Matters Hardcover – April 24, 2012
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover," illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Learn more
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“Extraordinarily well-researched… The book brilliantly deconstructs the investigation.” (Wall Street Journal)
“The story of the Murrah building bombing receives its most comprehensive accounting yet… It is a cautionary and at times startling tale, filled with bizarre characters from the outer fringes of American political life, with continuing relevance today.” (Michael Isikoff, The Daily Beast)
“Impressive... There are enough freak-show touches to keep an FX drama stocked for three seasons… As Gumbel and Rogers tell it, the bombing investigation fell short of discovering the truth because of sloppiness, self-serving intra-office politics, and obstructive turf wars among law enforcement agencies.” (Salon)
“A well-reported, sober assessment... They make a strong case that some individuals involved in the bombing remain at liberty...the message is important for the future security of the U.S. citizenry.” (Kansas City Star)
“Credible and relevant... Offers a perspective other than what was proved at the trials of Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols...and explores the unsettling question of whether such an event could happen again by homegrown perpetrators.” (Tulsa World)
“This crisply written, fully documented book will anger you.” (The Tucson Citizen)
“The most comprehensive account yet...will dash the smug assertions at the time that the feds had caught all the perpetrators.” (The Commercial Dispatch (Mississippi))
From the Back Cover
In the early morning of April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh drove into downtown Oklahoma City in a rented Ryder truck containing a deadly fertilizer bomb that he and his army buddy Terry Nichols had made the previous day. He parked in a handicapped-parking zone, hopped out of the truck, and walked away into a series of alleys and streets. Shortly after 9:00 A.M., the bomb obliterated one-third of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, killing 168 people, including 19 infants and toddlers. McVeigh claimed he'd worked only with Nichols, and at least officially, the government believed him. But McVeigh's was just one version of events. And much of it was wrong.
In Oklahoma City, veteran investigative journalists Andrew Gumbel and Roger G. Charles puncture the myth about what happened on that day—one that has persisted in the minds of the American public for nearly two decades. Working with unprecedented access to government documents, a voluminous correspondence with Terry Nichols, and more than 150 interviews with those immediately involved, Gumbel and Charles demonstrate how much was missed beyond the guilt of the two principal defendants: in particular, the dysfunction within the country's law enforcement agencies, which squandered opportunities to penetrate the radical right and prevent the bombing, and the unanswered question of who inspired the plot and who else might have been involved.
To this day, the FBI heralds the Oklahoma City investigation as one of its great triumphs. In reality, though, its handling of the bombing foreshadowed many of the problems that made the country vulnerable to attack again on 9/11. Law enforcement agencies could not see past their own rivalries and underestimated the seriousness of the deadly rhetoric coming from the radical far right. In Oklahoma City, Gumbel and Charles give the fullest, most honest account to date of both the plot and the investigation, drawing a vivid portrait of the unfailingly compelling—driven, eccentric, fractious, funny, and wildly paranoid—characters involved.
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Having read several books regarding the Oklahoma City bombing, Gumbel and Charles had a different take on some of the possible actors involved and implied McVeigh had a connection to the Aryan Republican Army (ARA) and Elohim City. While there is some proof to suggest some causal contact with these two entities, the proof is, at best, speculative. For example, an ID belonging to a gun dealer with a close connection to McVeigh was located by the FBI during a raid of an ARA safe house in Columbus, Ohio. This seems to suggest Terry Nichols had procured the ID during a robbery and the ID somehow changed hands. On the other hand, an argument could be made that the ARA also did business with the same gun dealer, who hucked his wares at gun shows patronized by shadowy figures.
It is, however, unfortunate that this book, like the others before it, failed to answer three questions. First, McVeigh's whereabouts from April 11 - 13, 1995. There was a call to Andy the German in Elohim City on April 5 and McVeigh's probable visit to Lady Godiva's on April 8 (the men accompanying McVeigh that evening fit the descriptions of Andy the German and John Doe #2). Yet workers at the Imperial Motel in Kingman, Arizona, where McVeigh supposedly stayed from April 11 - 13, claim he never slept in the bed or used any towels. As such, it appears his hotel stay was a cover. The second question, of course, involves the identifies of probable co-conspirators, besides Nichols and Fortier, on the dates either McVeigh or a similar looking co-conspirator and John Doe #2 rented the Ryder truck and, then, on the day of the blast. Finally, there is the million dollar questions: Who instructed and trained these simpletons to build the rather sophisticated bomb?
For those interested on OKBOMB, I strongly recommend this book. The descriptions of federal government bureaucratic infighting suggests administrators of federal law enforcement agencies spend as much of their time covering their political backsides as they do supervising nvestigations. It appeared that some dedicated ATF and FBI personnel became fall guys and getting "credit" became more of an issue than catching the nefarious people involved in the conspiracy.
Extraordinarily well researched it presents a compelling case that there was a wider conspiracy behind the bombing.
I was disappointed some competing theories were so easily dismissed, the writing style is plodding at points but the subject matter required it to be so especially so many years after the event.