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As far as preparedness for the events that happened on April 19, 1995, the federal government could in fact be cited as negligent. However, it was, as Representative Key points out, not the desire of the government, or even the governor of Oklahoma at the time, to pursue an investigation as to the lack of preparedness for the events that took the lives of 169 people that day.
It leaves unanswered, too, the question of the man referred to as John Doe who was seen with McVeigh that day, and who was described as "Middle Eastern" by witnesses (Allen, 2008). The federal government has said that there was no such man, and that witnesses are confused in their recollections; witnesses adamantly stand by their recollections (Allen, 2008). Why, then, the question arises, would the government take the position that no such man exists? The only answer could be that the government is still looking for the man and continuing to investigate its leads on this reported McVeigh accomplice, who, in fact, given the events of September 11, 2001, was the focus of renewed public interest and speculation. Could this man lead to additional information and evidence surrounding the events of September 11, 2001?
This is a question that remains unanswered until such a time as the investigation is resolved - if there is an ongoing investigation.
If not since 1995, certainly since 2001, the events of domestic terrorism has caused the United States government to be more concerned with security in not just federal buildings, but also airports and other sites of public access and transportation that might once have been vulnerable.
Emergency Response on April 19, 1995
What stands as apparent is that the federal government did not share its knowledge of a threat against the Murrah Building with local Oklahoma City emergency response officials; that is, local police, fire and medical emergency response officials. What is apparent, as seen in news footage from that day, is that the response of the local emergency and disaster relief entities was timely and responsive to the events. Police and fire personnel are recorded on news footage as being on the scene in short order, and working desperately, devotedly, to rescuing victims and saving lives. There can be nothing short of praise for the men and women who fulfilled their public obligation to the people of Oklahoma City in responding to the events of the bombing. To those civilian individuals who responded to the disaster, nurses and others, their efforts were the natural response of the human condition that compels one to take action in the face of disaster and human distress.
What is not in synch with the nature of humanity and the desire to rescue and save, are the witness reports of the federal agencies, the FBI and the ATF, taking over the crime scene and, it has been alleged, and the actions of these agencies appear consistent with the allegations; in an effort to minimize the public response to the fact that there were explosives and weapons stored in a federal office building that also housed a children's daycare, the FBI and the ATF exerted their authorities over the crime scene (Allen, 2008).
The FBI and the ATF did not impede the care or rescue of victims. They did evacuate the rescue scene when there were reportedly as many three subsequent alarms of a potential explosion (Allen, 2008). This is not inconsistent with prudent cautionary measures; but allegations exist suggesting that the agencies evacuated the rescue sites in order to covertly remove debris of explosive devices and other weaponry that were improperly stored in the offices of the ATF (Allen, 2008). It is the lack of government response to what may have been illegal storage of weapons and explosives by a government agency that has, again, put the government in a bad public light; and that they don't own up to it by way of investigation and prosecution of those responsible for the improper, even illegal, storage of weapons in the building's offices.
It raises other questions too: Did Timothy McVeigh know that there were those kinds of devices stored in the building that would then be set off in a series of explosions once he initiated his own explosion? There is no answer to that question, and it is, in hindsight probably irrelevant. Whether or not the government has taken away any lessons learned from the incident as it regards storage of explosive devices in office buildings remains to be seen since they have never investigated that issue, although they have, since that time, admitted to the fact that there were devices stored there, but the government adamantly denies that the devices posed a threat or contributed to the loss of life on that date.
Seismologist Dr. Raymond Brown, Sarkeys Energy Center, University of Oklahoma, says that seismographic activity was recorded by two seismograms believed to be from the Murrah Federal Building; near the University of Oklahoma campus, a site run by the Oklahoma Geological Survey, a little more than 16 miles to the southeast of Oklahoma City; and Omiplex Oklahoma, which was located much closer to the site (Allen, 2008). Brown says there was confusion in the data, but the data supports that the dominant ground wave is an approximate measure of the time the Murrah Building was vibrating (Allen, 2008). The air blast is the measurement of the length of time the truck blast was occurring, and the additional vibration is not explained by the truck bomb. The measurement of the vibrating from the building supports the allegations that explosives were stored in the building. As does the nature of the damage of the building, according to explosives expert retired General Benton Partin, who prepared and explained floor by floor charts detailing the damage to the building and what, in his expert opinion, was the source area of the damage (Allen, 2008).
During media interviews, John McGall, the head of the ATF maintained that emergency preparedness on the part of the ATF was high on that day, since it was the anniversary of Waco, Texas Branch Davidian disaster. Of the eleven ATF agents assigned to the Murrah Building that day, only one agent was killed and the other ten agents were unaccounted for according to the documentary Oklahoma City: What Really Happened? (Allen, 2008).
Mike Moroz, tire shop owner and eyewitness to the John Doe riding with McVeigh, contends regardless of what the government says about his confused memory, he remains himself certain that a Middle Eastern man accompanied McVeigh that day (Allen, 2008). Another witness, a government employee injured in the bombing, reports having seen of apparent Middle Eastern descent standing across the street from the Murrah Building as the chaos of the aftermath unfolded, and that that man appeared pleased, smiling, and in "rapture" over what he was witnessing in the destruction and loss of life (Allen, 2008).
The government's lack of response to questions about the missing John Doe, and their position that the eye witnesses are confused about the existence of that individual, only serves to spark conspiracy theories and give rise to distrust of governmental public authority. It does not, however, require the extremist response such as that taken by Timothy McVeigh. The hope is that the public has a better understanding of what they are entitled to as regards their Constitutional rights, and that they act to preserve and exercise those rights through due process and voting. The American political system is designed to give Americans control over the individuals who lead the system; and if they fail their constituency, the constituency should fail to reelect those individuals to public office.
The 2000 presidential elections showed Americans that their votes count more than ever in today's political processes. However, conspiracies, though sometimes outrageous in nature, usually have an ingredient of truth to them. It is this ingredient that, while the overall recipe goes wrong, nonetheless yields an edible result - regardless of the taste.
In Oklahoma City, people are still sensitive to the government's seemingly covert attempt to remove evidence of the ATF's cache of weaponry and explosives.
Profile of a Domestic Terrorist
Timothy McVeigh is cited as having revealed his disconnect with the rules of society prior to the 1995 OKC bombing. In his book, David J. Whittaker (2004), Whittaker says this about McVeigh's breaking point:
As a security guard at a defence contractor's plant in 1991, McVeigh was able to hone his capacities for surveillance and method taking. More than ever it was the tyranny of governmental intrusion that threatened his way of life, indeed, his very survival. He wrote to a local paper in heated, anguished terms: 'America is in serious decline and I am too. Do we have to shed blood to reform the present system? I hope not - but it might…[continue]
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