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Others Unknown

Timothy Mcveigh and the Oklahoma Bombing Conspiracy

(PublicAffairs Books)

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Ignorance Is Not Bliss

FBI Director Louis Freeh has finally acknowledged in public what Timothy McVeigh’s chief defense counsel Stephen Jones has said the bureau did continually throughout his attempt to get McVeigh a fair trial, withheld documents from the defense. This truth comes out after Jones’ book has hit mainstream America and he has stated, publicly and emphatically, “Tim, I resolutely maintain, did not receive a fair trial. More importantly, there remains significant reasonable doubt, in my mind, whether he himself committed murder.”

Jones, an Enid, Oklahoma attorney media-tagged as “a competent country lawyer,” states that his job was “to defend a man who claims he is guilty . . . when a considerable body of evidence suggests that he is not guilty.” This would be his greatest challenge of all. It is only after McVeigh himself removed Jones from the restrictions of lawyer-client privilege that Jones can finally tell all in a book that will open eyes, even among those who keep their heads buried under government ground.

Jones’ case was overwhelming and McVeigh “already stood convicted,” yet Jones stated that the “truth — the whole truth — stayed tantalizingly beyond” his grasp: “But the most galling part of all was that the Federal Bureau of Investigation, not to mention the intelligence gathering agencies of our national government — just weren’t interested,” or rather they had something to hide. Jones filed numerous court documents that laid out “in great detail how the government had stonewalled.” Under a motion to obtain exculpatory evidence — which either “shows the accused didn’t do it or mitigates punishment under Brady vs. Maryland the government is obliged to share it…” — Jones finally discovered the prosecution had a weak case. Among the new evidence is Daina Bradley’s statement that she saw a man, who did not match McVeigh’s description, stepping out of the Ryder truck on the passenger side just seconds before the bomb detonated. Three witnesses said there were two men who rented the Ryder truck, not one. This dark-haired, stocky man could fairly safely be assumed to be the owner of the “extra leg” found in the rubble who basically “scored his own goal.” Since there is no such thing as an “unclaimed victim,” there is no other explanation other than that he is one of several at-large conspirators, the “others unknown.”

In a nutshell Jones notes that “Terrorism requires infrastructure, supplies, financing, safehouses, a getaway plan, lookouts, engineers, and leadership,” even a fall guy. This conspiracy runs the gamut of Elohim City; the ATF’s paid informant Carol Howe; Andreas Strassmeier, a known neo-Nazi; Dennis Mahon; Terry Nichols; the Philippines; a Daryl Bridges debit card; a Saudi Intelligence source who identified the federal building in Oklahoma City as a (possibly Iraqi) terrorist squad’s first target in the U.S.; to McVeigh being the fall guy who would go out as a mastermind instead of a bit player if he remained silent.

There’s just one problem: McVeigh was never identified by witnesses as the man at Elliott’s Body shop, by the witness at a racetrack south of Dallas, or by Daina Bradley. Her timing was unfortunately so close that she not only saw a man step out of the Ryder truck but seconds later found herself a victim of the blast, her leg amputated on the spot. She described the man as “short, stocky, olive-complected, wearing a puffy jacket, with black hair,” a description which does not fit McVeigh. Elsewhere Jones points out that if McVeigh had built the bomb, residue on “his fingernails, his nostrils, his hair, his clothing, his car, his shoes, his socks, would have it all over them. They don’t.”

One of McVeigh’s co-conspirators, Terry Nichols, took life without parole for his involvement in the bombing rather than name the “others unknown” for Judge Matsch. McVeigh was willing to take the electric chair.

While keeping his professional integrity in tact, Jones has done the American people a service by giving a gutsy account of the case for history, whether Americans are willing to swallow the bitter truth or not. Ignorance is not bliss, and those who open their minds to what they may not want to hear will find the details complex and reprehensible, but at the same time they will be riveted by the reality we have so far been unable to see or discern. It is a frightening truth we need to be aware of and hear for ourselves. After all, what’s to stop the “others unknown” from targeting the INS office in Los Angeles and then the FBI office in Houston, Texas, according to one proposed plan?

Incredible, astounding, far-reaching, jaw-dropping, world-shattering . . . the truths unveiled in Others Unknown will stay with us long after the dust has settled.

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