The Konformist

K2K1
May 2001

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Jim Redden

pdxs@pop.ptld.qwest.net

 

INSIDE THE NEW OKLAHOMA CITY FBI DOCUMENTS

What could possibly be in the thousands of pages of FBI records that the government withheld from the lawyers representing Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols? How about proof or a larger conspiracy, or evidence that the government knoew about the bomb plot in advance?

Here's a look at where some of that information might come from, excerpted from Jim Redden's book Snitch Culture (Feral House, 2000):

 

WHAT DID THEY KNOW ... AND WHEN DID THEY KNOW IT

According to the U.S. Justice Department, the government's mishandling of the Waco stand-off led directly to the largest single act of domestic terrorism in United States history, the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred E. Murrah federal official building in Oklahoma City. Federal prosecutors claim that former U.S. Army buddies Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols blew up the building to avenge the death of the Davidians. But at least one informant had tipped the government off to the plot in advance, raising the question of why it was allowed to proceed.

At the very least, news reports and court records suggest the government and private advocacy groups were tracking McVeigh years before the bombing. He visited Waco during the 51-day siege, talking with other government critics and openly selling anti-New World Order literature and bumper stickers on the hood of a car. As it turns out, the government was watching those who came to show their support for the Davidians. "The FBI kept tabs on 'right-wing' sympathizers who flocked to Waco during the siege and monitored Internet traffic," the Associated Press reported on October 9, 1999.

Shortly after McVeigh was arrested for the bombing, the Cable News Network reported that he had come to attention of undercover government operatives at an Arizona gun show. At that time, McVeigh was reportedly making a living buying and selling weapons and anti-government literature at gun shows around the country. The report did not say whether the operatives were BATF agents or paid informants.

Another sign that the government was or should have been aware of McVeigh surfaced on April 21, two days after the Oklahoma City bombing, when the Anti-Defamation League issued a press release tying McVeigh to The Spotlight, a populist weekly newspaper with anti-Semitic overtones published by a small, far-right, conspiracy-minded organization based in Washington DC called the Liberty Lobby. The ADL release, which was picked up by the Washington Post, said that McVeigh had purchased a classified advertisement in the August 9, 1993 issue of The Spotlight to sell "rocket launchers." According to the ADL, McVeigh purchased the ad under the name T. Tuttle.

The ADL press release was mostly accurate. McVeigh had bought an ad for a flare gun he called a "Law Launcher replica" using the name T. Tuttle. But how did the ADL know about the ad? The ADL either had someone close to McVeigh, or the government was tracking him and sharing the information with the organization.

In the months following the bombing, the government alleged that McVeigh and Nichols were assisted in the bomb plot by one or more "John Does." A drawing of John Doe # 2 was released and widely circulated. As time went on, however, the government backed down from this claim, eventually saying that McVeigh and Nichols acted alone. Many independent reporters and researchers still believe that other people were involved in the plot, however.

A freelance journalist named J.D. Cash was the first to report that McVeigh and at least a half-dozen other men planned the bombing at Elohim City, a Christian Identity community called in rural Oklahoma. McVeigh had been tied to Elohim City shortly after he was arrested. The phone card mentioned in the ADL press release had been used to call the community two weeks before the bombing.

On February 11, 1997, Cash published a story in the small McCurtain Daily Gazette which revealed that a BATF informant named Carol Howe had infiltrated Elohim City before the bombing. Howe had seen McVeigh (whom she knew as Tuttle) and a number of other residents and visitors plotting to blow up the Oklahoma City federal office building in late 1994. Although these allegations were largely ignored by the corporate press, they were later confirmed by internal BATF documents which proved Howe was an informant, that she saw McVeigh and other plotting to blow up the Alfred E. Murrah building, and she notified her superiors of the plot before the actual bombing.

The key to Howe's story is Elohim City, a primitive community founded Robert Millar, a right-wing preacher. It was a common meeting place for militant white supremacists over the years, including members of The Order, a racist gang that murdered Jewish radio talk show host Alan Berg and staged a series of high-profile bank robberies in the early 1980s. As Time magazine confirmed on February 24, 1997, "The city's guest list over the years has been a veritable Who's Who of the radical right."

There are a number of obvious links between Elohim City and the bombing. One of Millar's followers was Richard Snell, a former leader of a racist group called The Covenant, the Sword and the Arm of the Lord (CSA). In the early 1980s, Snell and a number of other white supremacists had plotted to blow up the Alfred E. Murrah building in retaliation for the death of Posse Comitatus leader Gordon Kahl. On the morning of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, Snell was executed for killing a black Arkansas State trooper and a pawnshop owner he thought was Jewish. According to the June 16, 1996 issue of the Village Voice, Snell knew something big was going to happen: "In the days before his execution on April 19, 1995, Snell, according to one prison official, reportedly said, 'There was going to be a bomb, there was going to be an explosion' the day of his execution."

Elohim City was also a hideout for a gang of racist bank robbers who called themselves the Aryan Republican Army (ARA). Between 1994 and early 1996, the ARA robbed over 20 banks throughout the midwest, stealing approximately $250,000. According to federal documents, at least three meetings to organize the robberies took place at Elohim City.

Federal law enforcement officials seemed to link the ARA to the Oklahoma City bombing almost immediately after it happened, saying that McVeigh and Nichols financed the bomb plot with money robbed from banks in the midwest. A little more than a month after the attack, Newsweek reported, "the FBI expects to arrest 'a group of major players' within the next several weeks, saying, 'investigators are looking closely at a white-supremacist group headed by Robert Millar in Elohim City, Okla.'" Although the government backed off from this accusation as McVeigh's trial approached, one of the robbers, Michael Brescia, strongly resembles John Doe #2.

As it turned out, Howe was not the only informant at the Christian Identity community. Founder Millar repeatedly shared information with law enforcement officials. During a June 31, 1997 court proceeding, FBI Senior Agent Peter Rickel testified Millar was in regular contact with the agency in the years before the bombing. Millar confirmed that he frequently talked to government officials the next day, telling the Tulsa World newspaper that he had answered questions from such agencies as the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Writing about the revelation in the July 1, 1997 issue of the McCurtain Daily Gazette, Cash said, "Millar's position as a mole for the FBI could explain why the compound has never been raided. Despite its use as a hideout for gunrunners, drug dealers, bank robbers and suspected members of the conspiracy that bombed the Alfred E. Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City, Elohim City has enjoyed a reputation as a place where fugitives can live without fear of arrest."

Another informant who lived at Elohim City was James Ellison, a former CSA member who helped devise the original Murrah building bombing plan in the early 1980s. A few year later, Ellison testified in court against several members of The Order. Because of this, he was considered a traitor and snitch by all racist leaders - except Millar. On May 19, 1995, Ellison even married Millar's daughter, Angela.

The leader of the Aryan Republican Army was also an informant. Peter Langan, the son of a retired U.S. Marine intelligence officer, and Richard Guthrie, another racist, robbed a Pizza Hut in Georgia in October 1992. A short time later, Langan was arrested by Georgia authorities. Remarkably, the U.S. Secret Service intervened, arranging for Langan to be released on a signature bond. At the time, the Secret Service said that Langan had agreed to find Guthrie, who was suspected of threatening the President. Langan did not turn Guthrie in, however. Instead, the two men formed the ARA, recruited several other members, and launched one of the most successful bank robbery sprees in U.S. history.

The Secret Service link has prompted several researchers to wonder whether the ARA was, in fact, a covert government operation. They note that the ARA never encountered any bank guards or other law enforcement officials during any of their robberies. They also note that Langan, Guthrie and the other ARA members were not arrested until after the press began reporting on Elohim City. Guthrie was found dead in his prison cell a few days after telling relatives that he was writing a book on the ARA that would embarrass the government. Although the death has been ruled a suicide, the coroner's report has never been released.

Yet another likely informant was Elohim City's security director, Andreas Strassmeier. The son of a high-ranking German official, Strassmeier spent several years in the German army, including a stint as an intelligence officer. He came to the United States in 1989, when the U.S. and German governments were running an operation to stop the flow of neo-Nazi literature from America to Germany, where it is illegal. Strassmeier immediately moved to Elohim City, where Millar put him in charge of security. He is the person McVeigh phoned two weeks before the Oklahoma City bombing with his Spotlight calling card. Strassmeier fled the country after his name surfaced in the press.

In the months before the bombing, Howe sent over 70 reports to Karen Finley, her BATF control officer. In her reports, Howe reported that Strassmeier, the ARA members, and a number of other people at Elohim City were planning to bomb federal office buildings, including the one in Oklahoma City. Alarmed, Finley requested that the BATF raid the racist encampment. Her request was turned down after being reviewed by top FBI and Department of Justice officials in February 1995.

Judge Richard Matsch prohibited Howe from testifying about her work at Elohim City at McVeigh's trial, saying her testimony might "confuse" the jurors.

After Howe went public with her story, the federal government indicted her on explosives charges. She went to trial in August 1997, with her attorney, Clark Brewster, arguing she bought the explosives at the direction of the government. Brewster entered Howe's BATF reports into evidence at the trial. In them, Howe says she saw McVeigh meeting with ARA members to plot the bombing. The jury believed Howe and acquitted her of all charges.

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