Eight years later, truth is the last casualty
The dead are buried, but the wounded can't be healed.
As in all the world's atrocities, both cry out for justice, yet no one hears their pleas.
This April 19th is the eighth anniversary of that awful day when 168 unsuspecting people suddenly lost their lives in a massive explosion that obliterated the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.
Literally minutes after the blast, an ATF agent was heard to say the crime was revenge for the massacre of members of a religious cult in Waco, Texas two years earlier. Thus, like the lone assassin theory used in so many public crimes, the official story line was planted, and now it is cast in stone.
The so-called perpetrator has been tried, convicted, and executed, but those long-suffering survivors who walk around the glittering new Oklahoma City Bombing Museum are haunted by the ghostly apparition of guilt for never finding out what really happened on that innocent Wednesday morning.
Mostly when you ask the question of those on the streets of Oklahoma's state capital, there comes an uncomfortable silence amid memories of suspicious suicides, changed stories and ignored evidence. Though polite respect is the rule, no fact of the case remains certain except the corpses, the blood, and the pain.
Sensational theories of foreign terrorists and government conspiracies have come and gone, and now mostly gather dust on forgotten pages in used bookstores. Witnesses ignored by the official trial still recount their stories to the few who remain to listen.
But the world moved on to new traumas, suspiciously couched in similarly suspect explanations.
In the public's mind, Oklahoma's great wound was overshadowed, six years later, by an even ghastlier scenario that involved even more catastrophic tragedy in New York and Washington in 2001. And what is transpiring now, as the official hearings into the 9/11 tragedy get underway amid charges of coverup and deception, seems to be an instant replay of what happened in Oklahoma, where all those important questions were asked but never answered.
Shortly after the Oklahoma City blast, Retired Air Force Gen. Benton K. Partin wrote that he had conclusive proof that the Murrah Federal Building was not destroyed by Timothy McVeigh's truck bomb, but by four demolition charges placed at critical structural points on the third floor.
A recognized expert in bomb damage analysis, Partin said the damage pattern on the reinforced concrete superstructure could not possibly have been caused by a single truck bomb.
In a letter to 72 members of Congress, Partin also urged lawmakers "to defer action ... on so-called anti-terrorism legislation that has serious civil liberties implications, and which would not be passed except for the Oklahoma City bombing ... "
The retired general also noted "the effort required to bomb the Murrah Federal Building pales in comparison to the effort to cover up evidence in Oklahoma ... "
But Partin's evidence was shoved aside and he was not allowed to testify before any judge.
Just as the demolished World Trade Center site was blocked from independent forensic investigators, so was Gen. Partin's recommendation ignored and the Murrah building demolished before explosives experts could properly examine the building.
Except for a few of the less popular books that have inadvertently slipped onto the new OKC memorial's library shelves, the museum's message is essentially the same as the government's: white Patriot maniac avenging government atrocity at Waco now executed; sad case closed.
But still lingering, important questions asked and never answered, the ghosts of Oklahoma City:
The strange "suicide" of OKC police officer Terence Yeakey, who had helped rescue victims moments after the blast, who compiled extensive files on his observations which were never found, who was discovered with his wrists and throat slashed and after that, 3,300 feet from his car, with a bullet through his head at an impossible angle ...
The early TV reports about more bombs found in the wreckage of the Murrah building, reports that suddenly ceased after a few days and were forgotten ...
The encyclopedic "Final Report" on the bombing compiled by The Oklahoma Bombing Investigation Committee includes testimony from nine recognized experts in the field of explosives dynamics who unanimously conclude that no truck bomb of any strength could have sheared off the concrete columns in the middle of the Murrah building ...
Grand jury refusing to see witnesses who saw an unnamed second person with McVeigh ... evidence of a sting operation gone bad much as the first World Trade Center bombing ... consistent official opposition to an independent grand jury ...
Rescue of victims halted so federal agents could remove boxes from where the offices of the DEA and ATF had been located, including crates marked "explosives" presumably stored in a building full of civilians ...
FBI refuses to release satellite surveillance tapes, numerous witnesses altered their stories from previous depositions, government quashes testimony about existence of John Doe #2, a presumed accomplice of McVeigh ...
FBI fails to follow up on leads provided by paid government informants to German provocateur Andres Strassmeier, KKK kingpin Dennis Mahon, and possible John Doe suspect Michael Brescia, all of whom were fingered as participants in discussions about targeting federal buildings for terrorist acts ...
Numerous other witnesses were threatened to "keep their mouths shut" (Debbie Burdick, Nancy Kindle, John Jeffrey Davis, Randall A. Yount, Jim Linehan, Morris Kuper) ...
ATF agents told not to come to work that day, lab tests falsified, FBI decides on type of bomb without evidence, judge makes ruling without reading evidence ...
All nine members of the bombing memorial museum's board of trustees have been 'hand-picked' by our president, eliminating impartiality of opinion here that might reveal the true facts of the case.
The official report of the bombing committee runs 548 pages of unanswered questions.
But the motive for the crime was established by fiat moments after the blast, convenient criminal suspects were ID'd shortly afterwards, and over the many months that followed, every other lead was pushed aside because the powers that be had what they wanted, and that was that.
Now the 9/11 probe is proceeding along the same lines of planted stories, premature conclusions and stonewalled evasions.
The lives of those Oklahomans, not to mention Vicki Weaver, the Waco faithful and 3,000 unsuspecting New Yorkers, remain unavenged and unexplained, all the while with a government clucking contentedly that wheels of justice are turning smoothly.
Despite an uninterested public, a small cadre of frustrated men and women who know all these facts like the back of their hands bravely continues to strive to keep these questions in the public mind. I asked one what he thought was the real deal about Oklahoma City that the government had worked so hard all these years to conceal.
"I think it was the Iraqi connection," he confided.
In a letter from the executive director of the new museum, this source reportedly wrote back: "Thank you for providing us with the additional information, but in fact, the veracity of these materials still would not impact the story told in the memorial museum."
And the ghosts of Oklahoma City continue to float on the dusty air.
Source: Final Report on the Bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Building, April 19, 1995, by the Oklahoma Bombing Investigation Committee, available online at www.okcbombing.org.