Archive for the ‘Oklahoma City’ Category

Conversation over Oklahoma City Bombing

While skyping the other day Jaron mentioned to me that he had been watching our blog, and had noticed that there had been a post regarding the Oklahoma City bombing.  Coming from out of the country, I was very surprised to hear that he recognized the events.  I quickly learned that this was a ridiculous assumption for me to make.  Even though he was younger and want clash of clans hacks, and didn’t remember as much, he had still heard a lot about the incident and recognized the names, and events that occurred.  His response:

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An hour with Aaron Brown

Aaron Brown’s visit to the Terrorism and the Press “think-tank” on Thursday, April 22, was nothing short of captivating. Although I was not aware of the extra credit assignment regarding guest speakers in the course, I was compelled to start writing down what Brown was saying.

Former CNN anchor Aaron Brown sat down with the class to discuss his views on terrorism and the press

As if it was a press conference or a one-on-one interview, I knew he was going to say things I would regret missing if I didn’t have them down on paper. Throughout the course of the conversation, the class developed a relationship with Brown, and as the class became more comfortable asking questions, he began to answer is a frank, candid manner.

Brown’s opinions on terrorism and the “War on Terror” are what dominated the conversation from the beginning. Being that it is a course dedicated to the topic of terrorism, almost ever question he faced was related to terrorism in some way.

The sound bites he provided were, in some cases, remarkable. At one point, when asked about how he fell about Timothy McVey’s execution and subsequent request to have it nationally televised, Brown said, “I would have shown McVey’s execution at the IMAX theatre complete with the 3-D goggles.”

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Oklahoma City Bombing

Team 3: Wilford Eiteman-Pang, Jacqueline Ekama, Janessa Hilliard, Thao Trieu, Alex Wallace
Oklahoma City Bombing – Thao, Alex & Janessa

Introduction Questions:

  • Who: Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols
  • What: The Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was destroyed through bombing
  • Where: Oklahoma
  • When: April 17, 1995
  • Why: To inspire a revolt a against a tyrannical federal government (raising taxes, incompetent leadership, restrictive gun control) and to avenge those killed in the Waco Siege and the Ruby Ridge incident.

Historical Background

What happened?
At 9:02 a.m. on April 19, 1995,  the truck exploded in the street in front of the Alfred P. Murrah federal building. About 90 minutes later, McVeigh was stopped by an Oklahoma state trooper for driving a vehicle without a license plate, who then arrested him on a firearms charge. Two days later he was charged in the bombing. His friend Terry Nichols was arrested in Kansas, and formally charged with the bombing on May 10.

Oklahoma City Bombing.

The blast killed 168 people – 19 of them were children – and injured hundreds. The blast also damaged 324 buildings within a sixteen–block radius, destroyed or burned 86 cars, and shattered glass in 258 nearby buildings. The bomb was estimated to have caused at least $652 million worth of damage.

By the end of 1998, the federal government had spent $82.5 million investigating and prosecuting the case.

Detailed timeline of the Oklahoma City bombing:

SEPT. 13: Timothy McVeigh begins his plot to blow up the Oklahoma City federal building.

SEPT. 30: The first ton of ammonium nitrate is bought for the bomb from a farm co-op in McPherson, Kan.

OCT. 18: The second ton of fertilizer is purchased.

OCT. 21: McVeigh, disguised as a biker, buys $2,775 worth of nitromethane racing fuel for the bomb at a Texas track.

DEC. 16: McVeigh drives by the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building and points it out as his target to his friend, Michael Fortier.
1995APRIL 14: McVeigh buys his getaway car, a 1977 Mercury Marquis, at a Firestone store in Junction City, Kan. He checks into the Dreamland Motel.

APRIL 16: McVeigh leaves the car in Oklahoma City. His friend, Terry Nichols, drives him back to Kansas.

APRIL 17: McVeigh shows up at Elliott’s Body Shop in Junction City to pick up the 20-foot Ryder truck that will hold the bomb. He uses the name Robert D. Kling and claims his destination is Omaha, Neb.

APRIL 19: A bomb rips through Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building at 9:02 a.m., killing 168 people, including 19 children, and injuring hundreds of others. McVeigh is arrested 90 minutes later on firearms charge after a traffic stop near Billings, Okla.

APRIL 20: Authorities release sketches of suspects John Doe No. 1 and John Doe No. 2.

APRIL 21: Shortly before he was to be released, McVeigh is recognized as a bombing suspect and charged in the bombing; after an initial court appearance, McVeigh is taken to federal prison in El Reno, Okla.; Terry Nichols surrenders in Herington, Kan., and he and his brother, James, are held as material witnesses; FBI agents conduct searches in Kingman, Ariz.; President Clinton declares a national day of mourning for April 23.

Key Players Then

  • Timorthy McVeigh
    • Divorced family, rather quiet and drawn in after childhood
    • Small government believer. Intense supporter of gun rights.
    • Ex-military after not being accepted into Special Forces for not reaching physical requirements.  Served in Gulf War and was awarded a Bronze Medal.
    • Worked as a security guard but left to meet up with his ex-Army friends.
    • Visited the Waco Siege during and after the siege.
    • Wrote many heated letters to newspapers and government officials about the tyrannical acts of the government, restrictions on gun rights and stealing civil liberties.
    • Met up with Terry Nichols, who McVeigh served with, and stayed there for a couple months before the attack.
    • Practiced making the bombs from the materials and detonation in the desert.
    • Set and detonated the explosives
    • Arrested for carrying a concealed weapon after driving without a license plate in his getaway vehicle
    • letter to the Buffalo News daily in New York state – “For those diehard conspiracy theorists who will refuse to believe this, I turn the tables and say: show me where I needed anyone else,” McVeigh wrote. “Financing? Logistics? Specialised tech skills? Brainpower? Strategy? _ Show me where I needed a dark, mysterious ‘Mr X’!”
    • letter to the Buffalo News daily in New York state – “I am sorry these people had to lose their lives,” he wrote. “But that’s the nature of the beast. It’s understood going in what the human toll will be.”
    • Executed by lethal injection June 11, 2001
  • Terry Nichols
    • Co-conspirator of McVeigh
    • Assisted McVeigh in designing and building the bomb
    • Served with McVeigh in the military
    • Turned himself in after McVeigh was arrested
    • Sentenced to life in prison by a federal jury in Colorado for consipracy to use a weapon of mass destruction and 8 counts of involuntary manslaughter
    • Returned to Oklahoma to face state charges of 161 counts of first-degree murder
    • Jury was deadlocked on the death penalty but settled for 161 consecutive life terms in jail without possibility of parole
  • Michael and Lori Fortier
    • Both played a minor role in the bombing
    • Michael helped McVeigh survey the area before the attack
    • Both testified against McVeigh
      • Michael made a bargain to 10 years in prison and his wife, Lori, to have no jail time.
  • John Doe No. 2?
    • Nichols claims there were other accomplices but McVeigh adamantly denied it.  Nichols states that a high-ranking FBI director, Larry Potts, directed McVeigh in the plot and might have changed the original target.

Key Players Now

  • Terry Nichols
    • Hunger strike in prison to get access to better food for religious and health reasons (Feb 2010)
  • John Doe No. 2?  McVeigh denied this other but Nichols says that he was recruited for undercover missions in the military and served with McVeigh (potentially Jose padilla according to consiparacy theorists because of a resemblance to a police sketch of a OK City bombing suspect and resemblance to the name Lana Padilla, former wife of Terry Nichols).  Nichols sticks to his story that there were other accomplices.

Key Events

  • Waco Siege
    • 51 day siege on a cult leader David Koresh that was abusing children and women and amassing illegal weapons
    • Bureau of alchohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) raided the compound with a warrant but a firefight ensued
    • Gas was used but the compound caught fire and killed 75 of the 84 people in the buildings.
  • Ruby Ridge
    • Confrontation between Randy Weaver, his family, Kevin Harris and agents of the FBI and US Marshals
    • In the end, a US Marshall, a young boy and a woman were killed along with the family dog in a convoluted series of events
  • McVeigh Execution – June 11, 2001, signed off by President Bush as McVeigh was a federal prisoner.

    Charles Porter's Pulitzer Prize winning photograph.

Media Coverage (timeline)

Because the 1993 World Trade Center bombing was still fresh in the mind of many Americans, American media outlets initially attributed the attack to Islamic terrorists. Once blame quickly turned to McVeigh and Nichols, the media focused extensively on the trial and subsequent execution of McVeigh. The bombing also gave way to many acts of legislation, including the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 and the Victim Allocution Clarification Act of 1997.

  • 1996 – Utility company employee Charles Porter wins the Pulitzer Prize for Spot News Photography for his photograph of firefighter Chris Fields holding dying infant Baylee Almon.
  • April 26, 2001 – McVeigh writes letter to FOX News (by way of correspondent Rita Cosby) “Why I Bombed the Murrah building.”
  • May 11, 2001 – One month prior to his execution, McVeigh grants CBS’ “60 Minutes” a rare televised interview. In the interview, McVeigh expresses his frustration and anger after the Gulf War – something that he appears to try to attribute as one of the reasons for the Oklahoma City Bombing.
  • June 11, 2001 – McVeigh is executed by lethal injection in front of members of the victims families. His request for a nationally televised execution was denied.
  • April 19, 2005 – Former President Bill Clinton, Former Vice President Dick Cheney and former Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating attend a memorial in honor of the 10 year anniversary of the bombing. The media pays special attention as then-President George W. Bush is noticeably absent, asking Cheney to attend in his stead. President Bush was in Springfield, Illinois to dedicate the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.
  • September 27 & 28, 2009 – A Utah attorney who’s brother (Kenneth Michael Trentadue) died while being questioned in connection with the bombing, claims the FBI edited tapes of security footage from the day of the bombing.
  • February 19, 2010 – Nichols declares a fast in opposition to prison food, which he says is “against his religion” and defiles his body.

Latest Developments

  • Due to the attack, legislation was passed to improve the defense of federal buildings via a ranking system (security levels) and improvements to building construction (glass glazing to reduce shattering, prevention of progressive collapse) as well as building location (increasing standoff distances where unscreened traffic is kept at a farther distance)
  • Nichols’ hunger strike (Feb 2010)

Possible Mid-Term Questions
1. Who was charged in the OK bombing in 1995?

a. Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols (Correct Answer)
b. The same group that bombed the Twin Towels in 1993
c. Al-Qaeda group
d. British terrorists

2. Which of the following was not used as the explosive materials in the OK attack in 1995?
a. Hydrazine rocket fuel (Correct Answer)
b. Ammonium nitrate
c. Nitromethane
d. Tovex

3. Which event(s) helped to drive McVeigh to the bombing?
a. Ruby Ridge and the Waco Siege (Correct Answer)
b. Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building bombing
c. ’93 World Trade Center bombing
d. The Gulf War and his dishonorable discharge from service

4. Why did McVeigh choose to bomb the federal building?
a. There were many non-government targets surrounding the building
b. It would target mostly government employees and span several departments (Correct Answer)
c. Many children would be killed because it contained a day-care center
d. It would be an easier target than a populated mall

5. What is the name of the major newspaper in Oklahoma City that covered the story on the largest scale?
a. Oklahoma Gazette
b. The News Press
c. The Oklahoman
d. News Capital & Democrat

Sources: imgurl=,2933,26810,00.html


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Terrorism and the Press

This blog is an integral part of a special section of Honors 394 Spring 2010, Arizona State University. Rather than a routine history course this dynamic, interactive seminar explores the interplay between terrorism and television, and other media sources on-line and in print. 26 students and their global pen pals comprise the bloggers. We welcome all to share their opinions, pertinent observations, insights, comments, feedback. Please post in a responsible manner.