The Final Report, a book styled as an "investigative report" rather than an evolving story, was published by the Oklahoma Bombing Investigation Committee (OKBIC), a group of three businessmen and one state legislator. The Report presented a mixture of urban legend, myth, rumor, and legitimate concern. While competent investigations can indeed be conducted by non-professional investigators, in this particular instance, there were a number of glaring inconsistencies and misconceptions about evidence and the judicial process that did nothing more than provide fertile ground on which grow any number of absurd conspiracy theories.
As just four examples: In the Preface, the OKBIC stated that, "Curiously, the APBs (All Points Bulletins) were withdrawn once Timothy McVeigh was apprehended slightly over an hour after the bombing," implying that the government, for some nefarious reason, discontinued searching for additional suspects when in fact, other suspects were still at large. That is simply untrue. APBs were issued throughout the entire day of April 19, 1995, and beyond, including one in which possible persons of interest had been spotted driving a vehicle into Texas, an issue alluded to in the Report. Through this and other statements, however, the OKBIC repeatedly implied that the government deliberately decided not to pursue other suspects, other than McVeigh and Terry Nichols, although at no time does the OKBIC indicate why the government would have done that leaving one to speculate that something else must have been behind the government's recalcitrance.
The OKBIC does, however, support reporter Jayna Davis' claim "that Iraqi (sic) terrorist Osama Bin (sic) Laden had financed the Oklahoma City bombing" as presented in her book, The Third Terrorist. The OKBIC does not offer any definitive evidence demonstrating a Muslim connection, other than rumors and innuendos, which begs the question: Why would the government not pursue a Muslim connection if indeed one really existed? In fact, immediately after the bombing, the FBI hunted down a possible Muslim suspect as he traveled overseas and had him searched and returned to the United States. And that was only one of the leads initially pursued exploring the possibility of Muslim involvement. Yet, the OKBIC repeatedly implied, without foundation, that the government did not pursue the possibility of Islamic terrorists.
The OKBIC also claimed that a number of unexploded bombs had been found at the site after the initial large explosion. In support, the OKBIC presented information developed from several witnesses who conversed with government agents or observed circumstances, such as the removal of bombs, in which they were not directly involved. The validity of the claim should be immediately obvious anyone. Half of a nine story building had just been blown up. Had any secondary device/s actually been found, just the radio traffic alone would have been overwhelming. There would have been no question as to where the device/s had been found, how the device/s were disposed, and who was responsible for disposing them. Instead, the OKBIC presented witness testimony without any supporting evidence, something that is extraordinary being that such evidence, especially stemming from a high stress incident, would be notoriously unreliable.
And lastly, the OKBIC claimed that the United States government, or more specifically the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF), knew about the attack in advance and allowed it to happen anyway. In support, the OKBIC presented a number of witnesses who stated that they heard BATF agents talking about having received some sort of mysterious page instructing them not to come into the office on the date of the attack. The witness testimony was circumstantially substantiated, according to the OKBIC, considering the fact that no BATF agents were in the building when the bomb exploded, a finding that the BATF disputed.
Such a claim, aside from being inexcusably irresponsible, is on the face of it absurd. Assuming that the OKBIC was correct about the absence of BATF agents, the BATF element in Oklahoma City was relatively small. It would not have been unusual for all of the agents to have been out in the field on any given day. Further, had such pages actually been sent, tracing the electronic signatures would have been fairly easy. Yet, the OKBIC provided no substantive evidence. Nor did the OKBIC explain why the BATF simply allowed the bomb to go off when supposedly the agency had precise information and could have prevented the attack from occurring. And much more significantly, the OKBIC was completely silent as to what would have been the government's rationale for allowing 168 people to be murdered, including eight federal law enforcement officers. To the OKBIC, the answer, it seems, can only be found somewhere on the grassy knoll.
As to the judicial process, the OKBIC made a number of assertions that were patently false. After reading the Report, I found myself in the uncomfortable position of having to support the American judicial system, probably the most inept and corrupt judicial system anywhere in the Western world. But it was inescapable. Reality is, after all, reality. As just two examples, although there were plenty more:
As implied by the OKBIC, in Oklahoma, apparently, state court judges make rulings in grand jury proceedings. Aside from the federal proceedings, the state convened a grand jury to investigate the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, a facility designed as concurrent jurisdiction, meaning that both the state and federal government had joint jurisdiction. According to the OKBIC, state Judge William Burkett violated his "fiduciary" responsibilities when he commented that the grand jury had been "'assisted' . . . (by the prosecution) in sifting through the `mountain of evidence'" in determining its findings. The OKBIC concluded that, "This would certainly lead one to conclude that the Grand Jury was presented solely with information provided at the discretion of the prosecution."
What the OKBIC did not acknowledge was that that is true in any grand jury proceeding, whether state or federal. Grand juries are strictly prosecutorial free-for-alls. There is generally no obligation to introduce exculpatory evidence or evidence that would tend to point to other suspects. There is nothing nefarious about this; it is simply the way the system works. Yes, it is unfair. Yes, it does result in completely innocent people being indicted for crimes that they did not commit. Yes, it inevitably results in wrongful convictions. And yes, it does allow the prosecutors to take the grand jury anywhere they want them to go. But that is the way the system works as a matter of statutory procedure. Most people who work in the system are well acquainted with the old axiom, "You can indict a ham sandwich," an unarguable truism. To the prosecutors, in this instance, however, assuming that they were honorable people, it may very well have been that they restricted the evidence to McVeigh and Nichols in order to keep the issues from becoming obscured.
The OKBIC also criticized federal District Court Judge Richard Matsch, finding that, "As with any murder trial, prosecutors tried to prove motive or intent. However, in (Matsch's) instructions to the jurors, (he) told them that, in this case, `proof of motive is not essential.'" Motive and intent are two different things. Most crimes, probably with the exception of conspiracy, require that intent be proven. Motive, however, is never required. That is why, again assuming that Matsch was an honorable person, he instructed the jury the way he did because motive is not an element of proof required to sustain a conviction. Like the prosecutors in the state grand jury proceedings, Matsch could have restricted the evidence to just McVeigh and Nichols because they were the only two on trial. Yet, repeatedly, the OKBIC implied that this was all due to some sort of governmental cover up. In fact, such a jury instruction would have been given as a matter of law.
So, is the Final Report all nonsense? No. Not at all, to wit: Dr. Fredrick Whitehurst, the supervisory special agent of the FBIs crime laboratory. The OKBIC portrays Dr. Whitehurst as being a national hero and indeed, he absolutely is. Dr. Whitehurst observed the FBIs crime laboratory engaged in serious misconduct including falsifying scientific findings and blew the whistle. As a result, he was fired and his integrity and honor was viciously attacked. Rather than admitting and correcting the misconduct, the FBI tried to discredit him. While the OKBIC described Dr. Whitehurst as being a fearless champion of what is right, it failed to acknowledge that in firing and trying to discredit him, the agency was acting normally. It is not evidence of a conspiracy; it is simply standard operating procedure. Anyone who works in government knows that irrespective of any laws to the contrary, in reality, whistle blowers have no protection whatsoever. The only exception, to one extent or another, would be whistle blowers who are protected by a union. That is what makes Dr. Whitehurst's actions so remarkable. The FBI is not unionized and the agency's employees are exempted service, meaning that they have limited civil service protections. Dr. Whitehurst, upon seeing a horrible injustice, tried to correct to correct it by placing himself and the welfare of his family on the line. The information in the Final Report about Dr. Whitehurst's heroism, in and of itself, is well worth reading.
Similarly, the OKBIC discussed the government not turning over thousands of documents to McVeigh's defense team as required by law. As a result, the attorney general granted McVeigh a short reprieve from his scheduled execution and then the courts ruled that these thousands upon thousands of documents were irrelevant and would not have materially changed McVeigh's ultimate conviction. How the judges reached that finding, being that it would not have been possible for them to have actually read the documents in one month's time, was not explained. But that is how they ruled. And when they made that decision it reminded me of a conversation that I had with several people back in 1995, when I was working at the crime scene of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.
On this one particular occasion, we discussed the judicial process and someone mentioned that it could take decades to execute McVeigh and I replied that that would not happen this time. The federal judiciary would want to use this occasion to demonstrate the federal system's "efficiency, efficacy, and majesty." From conviction to execution, I surmised, would be very quick and nothing would be allowed to interfere with the end result. And of course, I was right - which is a problem. McVeigh was not, and should never have been, the issue. By throwing the rules out just to nail McVeigh, as much as he deserved what he got, it allows the judiciary to do that to anyone, and indeed, they do. As a result, the courts function with the same impartiality and exactitude of a Las Vegas crap shoot. That is reality and it should not be.
At the conclusion of the Final Report, in one of its recommendations, the OKBIC quoted Bill Moushey, a reporter for the Pittsburg Post Gazette, who after a two year investigation found that countless people are caught up in "Government misconduct in the name of expedient justice" . . . the government has "lied, hid evidence, distorted facts, engaged in cover-ups, paid for perjury and set up innocent people in a relentless effort to win indictments" and convictions. With respect to the Oklahoma City bombing, government prosecutors allegedly knew that documents had been illegally withheld from McVeigh's defense team, yet they did not suffer any consequences. By not criminally convicting and disbarring those lawyers, it was not McVeigh who lost, it was all of us. And in that, the OKBIC had a legitimate concern and one that hopefully someday will be addressed for the sake of us all.