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Armies of the Right

Tim McVeigh’s revolutionary Footsteps

Moments after the cop ordered the Chevrolet Suburban to the side of the road that Saturday afternoon in Wilmington, Ohio, the man in the passenger seat jumped out, pulled a pistol, and opened fire on the officer. Staggering backward, the cop fumbled for his own gun and managed to get off a fusillade of shots. Unscathed, the car’s passenger ran into the woods. The driver, who had been standing beside his door, knocked aside another cop, got behind me wheel, and took off down the road.

Later that day the same men tangled with the cops in another shootout. Again they got away. The police all points bulletin for the men pictures a sweet-looking young man, with twin­kling eyes, his face protected by the floppy brim of a western hat straight out of Lonesome Dove.

His name is Chevie O’Brien Kehoe, 24. And it looks like he made a clean getaway across the Midwest in a Dodge Executive mobile home, along with his brother Cheyne, 20, and their wives and kids. Two weeks ago the motor home was found abandoned at an underpass on an in­terstate outside Casper, Wyoming.

The Kehoes are wanted for questioning in the robbery and grisly mur­der of an Arkansas gun dealer. But they are not just another gang of desperadoes. They are known to have ties with the neo-Nazi Aryan Nations in northern Idaho. And after the February 15 shootout in Ohio, police found in their vehicle what have by now become tell-tale tools of the far-right guerrilla war: bullet-resistant vests, two FBI logo baseball caps, two U.S. Marshal badges, handcuffs, a portable scanner radio, a gas grenade, pepper spray, a portable stretcher and body bag, latex gloves, duct tape, camouflage clothing, and three gas masks.

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The Kehoes, then, are foot sol­diers in a political army. Like others in that army, they see themselves as revolutionaries in a far-right movement who are determined to overthrow ZOG (the Zionist Occupation Government) and re­store society to its rightful protectors: white Christian men.

Some outriders in this movement look with favor toward Timothy McVeigh, whose trial begins March 31 in Denver, as another sol­dier in the fight for a white America. “I think he’s a courageous man,” says Dennis Mahon, the Tulsa leader of White Aryan Resistance. “Tremendous drive … If we had a hundred men like him in this country we’d probably change things around.” Referring to the Okla­homa City bombing that McVeigh is charged with, Mahon says, “I don’t agree with what he did particularly. My personal opinion is that that building should have been bombed early in the morning.” Mahon has offered to testify on behalf of McVeigh.

What makes this a movement and not just a collection of disparate violent acts is the web of associations that tie together the participants. The most powerful is the religious tenet of Christian Identity, which preaches that the true inheritors of the earth are White Aryans, and all others are subhuman “mud people.”

There are other ties that bind these like-minded people together. Some are pulled together because they practice polygamy. Many younger members are groupies on the skinhead circuit, follow­ing bands around the country, and picking up work at movement enclaves (like the sawmill at Elohim City) when the need arises. Others hang out together at summer camps, evening Bible studies, paramilitary training sessions, gun shows, and meetings of sympathetic militias. The reli­gious gatherings are where the hardcore, far-right operatives out of the old Ku Klux Klan or Posse Comitatus mix with less political, naive Christian religious people. The result is a potent combination of politics infused with religious zeal. It’s one thing to believe that it’s your mission under the constitution to set up, say, a citizens’ grand jury outside the corrupt court system, and quite something else to think of yourself as a Christian soldier in the opening phases of the battle of Armageddon.

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Beginning in the ’80s, groups of apocalyptic Christian fundamentalists withdrew from society, forming their own closed communities so as to more closely practice their religious beliefs and wait for the return of Christ. One group, called The Covenant, The Sword & The Arm of the Lord (CSA), aligned itself in the mid 1980s with the Order, a far-right under­ground gang. That explosive combination led to a tense showdown between 300 lawmen and some 75 heavily armed reli­gious zealots prepared to do God’s will in a shootout. The shooting was averted by last-minute negotiations.

In today’s revolutionary terrain the secluded enclaves remain, although they are of less importance now than in the last decade. Large gang-type formations like the Order have given way to a complex network of leaderless resistance cells, each made up of anywhere from six to eight in­dividuals. The cells strike at various targets, every one selected for the purpose of ad­vancing their revolution: bombing an abortion clinic, robbing a bank or ar­mored car, murdering an interracial cou­ple or someone thought to be Jewish, blacking out a big city by blowing up pow­er lines and thereby sparking a race riot (disrupting Tulsa in this manner has been much discussed at far-right gatherings), or blowing up federal buildings.

Indeed, the actual plan to blow up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City was first hatched within the CSA during the early ’80s. The attack was aborted when the rocket that was to be used blew up in the hands of the man who was build­ing it. By adopting the leaderless resistance cell strategy, the far right made large actions like Oklahoma City possible.

These violent acts are carried out with both the aim of screwing up an oppressive govern­ment (for example, by dumping cyanide into a community’s water supply — another plan that was hatched with the help of the CSA. This time with Robert Miles, the grand dragon of the Michigan Ku Klux Klan), or the need to raise money (by, say, robbing a bank or selling dope). The money is then used to purchase land to create a white bastion, buy equipment such as radios or trucks and vans (which are sometimes stolen as well), and amass weapons and ammu­nition (which are also often ripped off through home invasions of gun dealers).

Far-right gunmen have pulled off the greatest chain of bank robberies since Jesse James­ — one a month starting in 1994, with 19 in eight states by 1996. But the bomb is their m.o. Oklahoma City was the biggest, but it was just the first of a rash of such actions: in the south, three members of the Georgia Republic Militia were convicted of stockpiling bombs. Militia members from West Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania stand accused of planning to blow up the FBI’s national fingerprint center in Clarksburg. And in Vacaville, California, a federal mine inspector and his wife were critically injured in a far-right car bombing; before the car blew up, a caller had warned, “Timothy McVeigh lives on.” Other bombing attacks in­clude last-year’s Oklahoma-based conspiracy to blow up Anti-Defamation League offices in Houston, and the recent siege on abortion clin­ics and gay bars in the south.

In all, 25 states have recently experienced violent incidents linked to the far right. Amazingly the feds still see these violent acts as indi­vidual crimes.

The Oklahoma City bombing, how­ever, was clearly not a random act or terror. It was quite simply, a major operation in a growing revolution  — one that had been discussed for over a decade. And its timing suggests several intended messages: as possible retribution for the execution on April 19, 1995, of Richard Wayne Snell, a leader of the CSA who was sentenced to die for murdering an Arkansas state trooper and a pawn broker he mistakenly thought was Jewish. It may have been retaliation for the 1992 Idaho shootout be­tween the feds and Randv Weaver. And most likely, the Oklahoma City bombing could have been a response to the government’s siege at Waco.

Timothy McVeigh had been in and out of the far-right scene since he left the army in 1992, and was reportedly highly agitated by Waco. One of the main ques­tions to be answered at McVeigh’s trial, then, is to what extent did he fit into this revolutionary landscape — just how did his “cell” operate in relationship to the others now functioning across the Amer­ican hinterland?

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The Kehoe saga begins in western Arkansas with the disappearance in January 1996 of William Mueller, 53, a gun dealer; his wife Nancy, 28; and her daughter, Sarah Elizabeth Powell, age 8. They were last seen on their way to a gun show in the town of Springdale. Several weeks after the Muellers disappeared, a witness reported seeing them in a car along with several other men, fueling speculation that they had been abducted. In February, one of Mueller’s guns turned up at a pawn shop in Seattle, and it was traced to Kirby Kehoe and his son Chevie, who had sold it at a Washington gun show. The investigation dragged, and then on June 29, the badly decomposed bodies of the Mueller family surfaced in the Illinois Bayou, just north of Rus­sellville, Arkansas. Their heads were cov­ered with plastic bags and wrapped with duct tape, and the adults’ hands were cuffed.

By last summer the search for the Kehoes had widened into an interstate task force of law-enforcement officers. The witness who saw the car carrying the Muellers had identified the other occupants as Tim­othy Thomas Coombs (a white suprema­cist wanted for shooting a Missouri state trooper), and Kirby Kehoe’s two sons, Chevie and Cheyne. The cops started to close in. The Kehoes lived in a remote part of the Kaniksu National Forest in the mountains along the Washington-Idaho border — a place where most of the houses are without electricity, telephones, or even addresses. But somehow they were tipped off and witnesses reported seeing the Ke­hoes in a truck loaded with belongings, hightailing it out of the forest. The family headed for Montana where they lived until the Ohio shootout.

In December, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, police found another Mueller gun in a truck registered to the wife of Chevie Kehoe. The firearm and vehicle were in the possession of Sean Michael Haines, a 19-year-old Washington man with ties to white supremacist groups. He claimed he obtained the stolen rifle in a swap with Chevie. Haines later said he met Chevie at an Aryan Nations compound in northern Idaho, and that the two attended gun shows together. Kehoe married his first wife in a ceremony at that compound. Haines de­scribed him as less of a supremacist than a “white separatist” as well as a “constitutional­ist” and a survivalist. In their search of Haines’s truck, police found another stolen gun (traced back to Washington state), blood stains, flexible handcuffs, and duct tape.

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Eastern Washington, where the Kehoes far-right movement that has long sought to establish a “white bastion” in the mountains stretching into northern Idaho and western Montana. Its headquarters is the Aryan Na­tions compound at Hayden Lake, a suburb of the resort and retirement community Coeur d’Alene in western Idaho. But its followers are sprawled out into the Idaho panhandle around Sandpoint, where Louis Beam, the de facto leader of the movement, has bought land. Sandpoint is also the home base of America’s Promise, a Christian Identity ministry.

Three members of America’s Promise have been tied to a string of bombings and a bank robbery in Spokane last year, three men — Charles Barbee, 44; Robert S. Berry, 42; and Verne Jay Merrell, 51 — have been charged with the April 1 bombings of the Spokane Spokesman ­Review‘s Valley office and a nearby U.S. Bank branch office. They are also charged with rob­bing the same bank and bombing a Planned Parenthood clinic on July 12, just two weeks be­fore the Olympic Park bombings. The robbers left behind notes signed Phineas Priesthood, a symbol of the far-right racialist underground. Phineas is a Bible figure who is a mythic hero on the right because he supposedly slew an inter­racial couple having sex.

The suspects were arrested October 8 in Yakima after a botched attempt to rob yet another bank. The men told a federal judge in Jan­uary that they are “ambassadors for the kingdom of Yahweh,” and hence beyond authority of the government. If convicted they face life without parole. A fourth suspect, Brian Ratigan, 38, was arrested last weekend in Spokane. He is charged with conspiring to bomb buildings and rob banks in the area last year.

The government believes Merrell is the leader of the gang. The son of an upper-middle­-class Philadelphia family, he went into the Navy following high school. After serving in the Atlantic fleet for 12 years, Merrell got jobs — and security clearances — in domestic nu­clear power plants. Along with Louis Beam, he writes for Jubilee, the Christian Identity news­paper, whose owner, Paul Hall, also lives in Sandpoint.

In late January, the Spokesman-Review re­vealed that the same witness who originally led the FBI to the accused America’s Promise bombers claimed he sold them a military back­pack and talked to them about a time-delayed detonator. The Olympic Park bomb — which killed a woman and injured 111 people — came in a military backpack and was set off by a time-­delayed detonator. A witness places at least one of the Spokane suspects, Robert Berry, in Atlanta during the Olympics. And telephone records show calls to Charles Barbee’s home were made from Atlanta at about the time of the July 27 attack. Barbee had worked at AT&T in Georgia, Florida, and Idaho before quitting his job. “Half the people I worked with were women,” Barbee complained. “They were working instead of being helpmates to their hus­bands, as God requires.”

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If Hayden Lake and the western slope of the Rockies are at one end of the outlaw trail, the Ozarks and the Elohim City compound at the other. Elohim City is another stronghold of Christian Identity and a common rest stop for members of the far right’s western  faction when they travel east. The Kehoes, for example, stopped off at this safe haven, where some resi­dents practice polygamy. Elohim City is the headquarters for another spoke of the move­ment, the Aryan Republican Army bank robbers, a gang of four men who had robbed one bank each month, beginning in 1994, before getting caught by the feds early last year.

Led by Richard Guthrie Jr., who was found hanged in jail last summer at the age of 38, and Pete Lan­gan, 38, a former in­formant for the U.S. Secret Service, the ARA was partly masterminded by Mark Thomas, 46, the Aryan Nations leader of northeastern Pennsylvania.Thomas put Guthrie and Langan together with young skinheads who squatted at his farm outside Allentown. According to the federal indictment, Thomas took some of the $250,000 stolen between 1994 and ’96, and used it to aid other white-power groups. Thomas has reportedly agreed to a plea bargain, while Lan­gan has been convicted of one robbery and has yet to be sentenced.

These are the type of people and this is the world that surrounded Timothy McVeigh, He is known to have made the gun-show rounds while selling copies of The Turner Diaries and staying overnight with gun collectors. His phone records show that he made one call to Elohim City shortly before the Oklahoma City bomb detonated, and be also received a traffic ticket not far from that far-right compound in an earlier incident.

Additionally, his defense team claims, he joined an Arkansas branch of the Ku Klux Klan, and his phone records reveal several different calls to a representative of the National Alliance in Arizona. William Pierce, who heads the Na­tional Alliance, is the author of The Turner Diaries. The McCurtain Daily Gazette, a local paper in Idabel, Oklahoma, has reported that an undercover informant for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, says McVeigh was a figure on the Aryan scene in Elohim City and knew the ARA bank robbers. A stripper in Oklahoma also claims to have seen McVeigh along with one of the accused ARA robbers. Although tantalizing, these stories remain largely unconfirmed. It is always possible, however, that the defense will try to insinuate them, one way or another, into the trial.

If anything, the struggle between the Aryan resistance movement and the government has intensified since the Oklahoma City bombing, with one cell after another coming to the surface. With the feds refusing to recognize their existence, the attacks by these pockets will only increase in size and strength. ❖

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The War on Murtha

Being called a coward could turn out to be the least of Pennsylvania congressman John Murtha’s problems. As the GOP fires up a counterattack against the ranking Democrat on the House defense appropriations subcommittee, Murtha’s ties to his brother’s lobbying firm are once again coming under scrutiny. Some 10 companies with ties to KSA Consulting, a lobbying firm where Murtha’s brother Robert is a senior partner, got $20.8 million in defense contracts. The Los Angeles Times in June reported that the funding was passed as part of the Pentagon’s overall $417 billion spending bill.

Roll Call recently reported Murtha leaning on Navy officials to transfer the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard to San Francisco on land whose rights were at one time held by a company whose top execs included
Laurence Pelosi, a relative of Nancy Pelosi’s. Murtha is widely credited with being a prime figure in getting Pelosi the Democratic minority leader job in the House. Pelosi’s office said the suggestion Pelosi was involved in any impropriety was “absolutely ludicrous.”

Some Republicans want an ethics investigation. “I have read the articles about these appropriations projects that benefited his brother’s lobbying firm,” South Carolina Republican congressman Joe Wilson told Roll Call. “If there is a potential pattern where Congressman Murtha has helped other Democrats secure appropriations that also benefited relatives of those members, I believe this would be something that merits further review by the ethics committee.” Investor’s Business Daily recently suggested that Murtha might have jumped on the anti-war bandwagon to head off an ethics investigation into contract improprieties.

Murtha denied to the Associated Press that family ties had anything to do with the contracts, saying, “We treat every lobbying firm with the same consideration. We listen to their proposal and base our decision on the actual merits of the project proposal.”

Robert Murtha said, “Let’s be honest: The name certainly creates some kind of impression, but I can’t help that. We’re not doing anything improper or underhanded. I’m entitled to make a living, like the next guy.”

One of the companies benefiting from the contracts got $1.7 million, three times its 2004 sales. Other firms got contracts totaling more than half of their sales in 2004. Murtha received $68,000 in campaign contributions during the 2003 cycle from defense contractors.

The congressman has showered his district with good works, and as a result his name adorns many buildings, including an airport in Cambria County, research center at Saint Francis University, cancer center in Johnstown, an amphitheater along the Allegheny River in Kittanning, and the Institute for Homeland Security at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. And in honor of his wife, there is the Joyce Murtha Breast Care Center at the Windber Medical Center.



Echoes from the ’95 Oklahoma City bombing

Within hours after the April 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, federal agents focused their investigations on far-right-wing extremists within the U.S. The feds said publicly that the crime was the work of Tim McVeigh and Terry Nichols, along with a man described as John Doe 2, a swarthy person depicted in a roughly drawn poster splashed around the country. As time went on, the government dropped all reference to John Doe 2.

McVeigh’s defense investigators, along with some journalists, soon concluded that the crime involved more people than McVeigh and Nichols, and they began to focus on a racist religious community in the Ozarks called Elohim City, which even by then was a legendary hangout for people on the lam. McVeigh had made a telephone call to Elohim City shortly before the bombing, and a separate investigation had uncovered possible connection to a wild gang of bank robbers who were part of the Aryan Republican Army, which had stopped by Elohim City. However, much of the talk about Elohim City was conjecture and was kept out of both trials.

Now, with McVeigh already executed and Nichols in jail for life, newly revealed information adds to the suspicions that they did not act alone, and that there may well have been an extremist underground behind the bombing.

The new information comes in the form of internal FBI messages and in an unsealed portion of a 1997 trial transcript involving Carol Howe, a former Tulsa debutante ostensibly turned neo-Nazi. In reality, she was an undercover contract informant for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) sent to infiltrate Elohim City.

In this testimony, taken with no media present, Angela Finley-Graham, Howe’s BATF handler, answered questions put to her by Howe’s attorney Clark Brewster, who asked whether, in 1994 and 1995, Howe had warned BATF that Andreas Strassmeir and others at Elohim City were plotting to blow up the Oklahoma City federal building. Strassmeir is a German national who resided for a time at Elohim City and was rumored to be part of the plot. He left the U.S. after the bombing.

Brewster: “And Ms. Howe told you about Mr. Strassmeir’s threats to blow up federal buildings, didn’t she?”

Graham: “In general, yes.”

Brewster: “And that was before the Oklahoma City bombing?”

Graham: “Yes.”

The BATF handler acknowledged in testimony that she knew that Howe and others from Elohim City went to Oklahoma City before the bombing. When Howe returned, she was debriefed by BATF and then actually taken to Oklahoma City to show Finley-Graham where she had been.

When Finley-Graham finished that part of her testimony, U.S. District Judge Michael Burrage engaged in the following colloquy with Brewster:

Burrage: “With that McVeigh trial going on, I don’t want anything getting out of here that would compromise that trial in any way.”

Brewster: “What do you mean by ‘compromise’? Do you mean shared with McVeigh’s lawyers?”

Burrage: “Yes, or something that would come up—you know, we have got evidence that the BATF took a trip with somebody that said buildings were going to be blown up in Oklahoma City before it was blown up or something of that nature, and try to connect it to McVeigh in some way or something.”

Brewster: “That would be up to their representation of the client in some regard, Your Honor. If you are asking me not to share any documentation from these files with those lawyers, then I won’t.”

Howe never got to testify in the McVeigh trial and only in a limited manner in the Nichols trial and wasn’t allowed to tell the jury she was a federal contract informant.

This new information all comes thanks to the work of Salt Lake City lawyer Jesse Trentadue, who is suing the FBI, after charging that its agents killed his brother Kenneth in an Oklahoma prison after the bombing. Because Kenneth Trentadue bore some resemblance to the John Doe poster, his brother believes he was murdered by FBI agents during an interrogation in which they sought to get him to confess to having been part of the bomb plot.

All in all, this information would appear to suggest that the federal government did indeed know about the far-right extremist plan to blow up something in Oklahoma City before it happened. It successfully kept discussion of the subject out of the trials, and it denied McVeigh’s lawyers important information in preparing their defense. This adds credence to the work of J.D. Cash, a reporter for the McCurtain (Oklahoma) Daily Gazette, who has unearthed bit by bit the details of a government cover-up and possible malfeasance.


Additional reporting: Michael Roston

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Alleged Dirty Bomber Dead Ringer for Oklahoma City’s John Doe 2

The strange saga of Abdullah al Muhajir, a/k/a Jose Padilla, took yet another turn this morning, when Internet gumshoes Fuckedworld and Junkyardblog spotted his look-a-like . . . guess where?


In the police drawing of a still-missing Oklahoma City bombing suspect, that’s where. Al Muhajir, held since May 8 on accusations that he intended to build and detonate a dirty bomb, is the spitting image of the mysterious John Doe 2, featured in police sketches and long touted by cops as a principal along with Tim McVeigh. Some law enforcement officials have insisted no such suspect ever existed, though witnesses described the second figure getting out of the rental truck with McVeigh seconds before the explosion.

However speculative, this clicks in more ways than one, since McVeigh’s lawyer tried to argue in Federal District Court in Denver that the 1995 plot may have had roots in the Philippines among men known to have been Al Qaeda operatives with direct ties to Osama bin laden. Though the judge rebuffed his argument, attorney Stephen Jones said he found people in the Philippines who claimed accomplice Terry Nichols met with terrorists there in the years before the 1995 attack.

 



Related Story:

Terry Nichols’s Filipino Connection: Manila Enveloped in Oklahoma Bombing Case” by James Ridgeway

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‘Let Us Not Be Suckers for Anybody’

Only a sick few might have imagined invoking the name of Timothy McVeigh before September 11. Yet since that apocalyptic day, people the executed white rightist might have spat on have uttered his name in desperation. “After Oklahoma, the FBI didn’t go out and round up all the sociopathic white men fitting the McVeigh profile,” said one frustrated racial justice activist last week. But following the latest round of terrorism on U.S. soil—initiated, according to the fortuitous videotape, by Osama bin Laden—racial profiling in law enforcement has gained momentum and lost much of its popular stigma. Ironically, though, the events of September 11 have only heightened the dangers of racial profiling—even for those safe from being profiled—and made rolling it back more important.

The question today isn’t whether law enforcement is engaging in racial profiling, it’s how much. By all indications, a lot. The FBI and INS have targeted over a thousand people based on their national origin and locked them up for immigration technicalities or sometimes for nothing at all. The Justice Department has tagged 5000 young men, also based on nationality, for voluntary interviews that are not entirely free of coercion or consequences and therefore not entirely voluntary. Muslim names prompt airport security checks—getting “wanded” is a part of the customer service experience for certain travelers. No space where police or federal agents patrol is free for those who appear Middle Eastern.

As for the rhetoric of righteousness dispensed from on high, a December 17 San Jose Mercury News editorial had this observation: “Americans want a thorough, professional and intelligent investigation. . . . Instead, the Justice Department has substituted breadth for depth. . . . President Bush . . . encourages Americans not to vilify people by race or religion. Yet his administration’s deeds speak differently.”

What is officially sanctioned becomes the broader norm. Government-sponsored racial profiling has coincided with unprecedented levels of popular violence toward and harassment of those who appear Muslim or Middle Eastern. Between early September and late November, the Council on American-Islamic Relations recorded 1452 hate incidents—compared to 630 in all of 2000. That’s not counting incidents reported to other organizations and those not reported to anyone. Emira Habiby Browne, executive director of Brooklyn’s Arab-American Family Support Center, says slurs on the street, workplace discrimination, and harassment of schoolchildren are commonplace but rarely reported, since victims have little reason to expect support from the authorities.

The post-September 11 anti-immigrant trend in law enforcement has meant those who have the least recourse are the most profiled. Noncitizens are easier to lock up and have a tougher time defending themselves, because the nation’s laws grant them lesser rights. Xenophobia, a phenomenon as American as apple pie, makes official persecution easy. Civil liberties lawyer Norman Siegel has noticed a remarkable surge in anti-immigrant attitudes in his chats with community groups across the city. “It’s telling when people use the word ‘alien’ to describe undocumented immigrants, people who live in their neighborhoods,” he says. What it tells is that some people are considered human, and some might as well be from Mars.

The justification for all of this is, of course, terrorism—extraordinary times. “If I tried to come up with the strongest hypothetical in favor of racial profiling, what better incident could I have come up with,” says David Harris, professor of law and values at the University of Toledo College of Law. But, he and other profiling opponents warn, there is always a “good” reason.

“Once the majority of people sign off on racial profiling of people of Middle Eastern descent, all arguments against the racial profiling of blacks and Latinos will be bowled over,” says Van Jones, a longtime anti-police-brutality activist and director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights in San Francisco. “Just like with Middle Easterners,” he says, law enforcement could make the argument that “we have to profile these angry, inner-city black folks” because they are a danger to society.

Issuing the most basic appeal to communities of color, Jones says, “Every African American and Latino either does look like somebody from the Middle East or has a cousin that does. So on the level of self-interest, you don’t want to be signing off on these tactics. You’re signing off on your own family being profiled. Let us not be suckers for anybody.”

!= The sucker part goes for everyone. For those who couldn’t care less about racial justice, profiling’s opponents have another, more objective, point: Policing based on race or national origin is not just wrong, it’s unsafe.

“This isn’t just a matter of political correctness or hurt feelings,” says law professor Harris, who has written a book about the inefficacy of racial profiling. Law enforcement initiatives like the Justice Department’s effort to interview 5000 Middle Eastern men work against the goal of increased public safety, he says, because “at the same time as it gets no results, you alienate everyone in the community.” By burning bridges, investigators hamper “good intelligence and information,” says Harris, which are one of the “pillars” of good police work.

Indeed, says Arab American advocate Habiby Browne, “Some are reacting [to law enforcement’s focus] with fear, some are totally withdrawing, and certainly some are very angry. Even for a traffic ticket, something benign, people don’t want to deal with the authorities in any way.”

What’s more, the dragnet approach of racial profiling drains limited law enforcement resources, says Harris, with little payoff. For his book, he analyzed police data from over half a dozen areas around the nation, including New York City, and found that “in every one of those cases, profiling was less effective” than police work based on suspicious behavior and probable cause. The “hit rate” for finding criminals when race was not used as the leading factor turned out to be higher than when it was.

Even in a case where all the terrorists appear to share racial qualities, says Harris, profiling in order to prevent further attacks isn’t likely to work, because terrorists aren’t dumb. “We don’t know what the next terrorists are going to look like,” he says. But if they know the type the government is looking for, they’re liable to find ways to look different. Meanwhile the real bad guys—for instance “alienated former military types or right-wing nut jobs,” says Harris—could slip right through the cracks. As with the war on drugs, where statistics show the focus on blacks and Latinos has not slowed overall use or trading, profiling in the war on terrorism will likely be counterproductive.

The inefficacy argument is based on cold, hard facts, which makes it the most useful one for anti-profiling activists. But those facts require a certain government willingness to collect and share policing data. The drawbacks and, indeed, existence of racial profiling “did not really start to hit home until we got some serious data-gathering. When I first started this, there was total denial,” says Harris. He predicts such figures on post-September 11 investigations will be harder to come by, since the Justice Department can plead national security in keeping mum and will be less eager to share, as “it’s really not going to have anything to show for [profiling],” says Harris.

Besides the lack of access to information, racial profiling opponents are facing perhaps the most politically repressive climate in decades. Nancy Chang, a senior attorney with New York’s Center for Constitutional Rights, says there is good reason the streets haven’t been flooded with protesters. Her analysis of the USA PATRIOT Act—which she’s put in a pamphlet called “The Silencing of Political Dissent” (at www.ccr-ny.org)—shows that the new, extremely broad definition of “domestic terrorism” could criminalize even the most common forms of protest. “We’re now talking about a federal crime and a possible federal investigation of people who are suspected of these activities, and prosecution under federal law,” she says.

But a subtler resistance does not mean a weaker one. In fact, Arab American advocate Habiby Browne manages to find a positive in the recent surge of anti-Muslim profiling. “It’s so obvious now, it gives us an opportunity to speak out and get organized,” she says, citing a new goal of building coalitions with other profiled communities to educate the public and stand up to authorities. Says anti-profiling activist Jones, “The system is not replacing one group of people of color for another, it’s just expanding the group.” And greater numbers make for a stronger front.

Yet success in rolling back increased profiling won’t happen without addressing one major legacy of September 11—fear. Before then, national polls showed overwhelming public opposition to racial profiling of the Driving While Black variety, according to Michelle Alexander, director of the Racial Justice Project at the Northern California ACLU. “Tremendous ground had been gained,” she says, “so much so that John Ashcroft and George Bush felt compelled to condemn it.” What’s different now is that “fear creates an incentive for people to support anything they believe will make them safer,” Alexander says, even if the facts show it will not. And even if the people have otherwise enlightened politics.

“We have to pay attention to whether our commitment to civil rights and civil liberties is weakening in this period,” she says of her anti-profiling compatriots. For safety or for justice, now is the time to think with cool heads—not act from the gut.

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Osama’s New Recruits

WASHINGTON, D.C.—As U.S. intelligence agents strained to pick up conversations among Al Qaeda members gloating over their September 11 success, soldiers in America’s racist underground gnashed their teeth over not having carried out the attack on “Jew York” themselves.

“It’s a DISGRACE that in a population of at least 150 MILLION White/Aryan Americans, we provide so FEW that are willing to do the same,” bemoaned Rocky Suhayda, Nazi Party chairman from Eastpointe, Michigan. “[A] bunch of towel head/sand niggers put our great White Movement to SHAME.”

Suhayda’s chilling online comments, collected with other racist postings by the Southern Poverty Law Center, merely hint at the virulent hatred shared by thousands of extremists within U.S. borders. Though the feds may have considered the white-power gang too dumb (not to mention lazy) to launch a major assault, the recent anthrax attacks look increasingly like their doing. Some of these people have yearned to acquire the means of biochemical warfare, and today they’re openly calling for an assault.

“The current events . . . have caused me to activate my unit,” wrote Paul R. Mullet, the Aryan Nations chief in Minnesota. “Please be advised that the time for Aryans to attack is now, not later.”

Scarier still, there’s always the chance the white-power guys in the U.S. wouldn’t have to do this all by themselves. Fueled by a shared anti-Semitism, the white supremacists of America’s hinterland have forged links with extremists in Europe—and perhaps even the Middle East.

Last week, U.S. News & World Report revealed that officials at the Defense Department were speculating that the late Timothy McVeigh, a Gulf War veteran, acted as an Iraqi agent when he bombed the federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995. That might seem a far-fetched idea, but federal agents initially put out a global dragnet, thinking the terrorists might have been Middle Eastern. Later, in preparation for McVeigh’s trial, defense attorney Stephen Jones traveled around the world, stopping off in London, Tel Aviv, Belfast, and Manila.

In the Philippines, Jones found people who told him Terry Nichols had met there with Middle Eastern terrorists, including Ramzi Yousef (the kingpin of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing) and, possibly, Osama bin Laden himself. Al Qaeda was using the Philippines partly as an auxiliary base and partly as a pool of new recruits. McVeigh ridiculed the idea of Nichols’s involvement in the Philippines, but Jones reports that his client later admitted it was possible.

What makes these theories even more bizarre is that the leaders seem to have crossed paths and exchanged notes. At one moment, they all came together in one wing of a federal prison in Colorado. There, McVeigh, Yousef, and the Unabomber met and became buds.

A few far-right groups have in the past sought to embrace the Arabs as a way of getting at Jews. In 1990, Gene Schroeder, a leader of the underground Posse Comitatus, accompanied a group of farmers to Washington for a powwow in the Iraqi embassy. During the 1991 Persian Gulf War, Dennis Mahon, then a Tulsa Klan leader, organized a small demonstration in that city to support Saddam Hussein, for which he says he got a couple of hundred dollars in an unmarked envelope from the Iraqi government.

White-power interest in bioterrorism goes back to the early 1980s, when movement leader Bob Miles gave one group called the Covenant Sword and Arm of the Lord a barrel of cyanide to poison a major city’s water supply. The Aryan Republican Army, a cadre of bank robbers who claimed they were robbing banks to finance the revolution, produced a video with one of its people dressed in a hazmat suit.

In 1993, Thomas Lavy, a member of the Aryan Nations, mixed up a batch of ricin, a deadly poison made from castor beans. The FBI arrested Lavy in Arkansas, and he hung himself in jail before anyone could figure out what he was up to. That same year, a Minnesota woman went to the cops complaining her husband had leveled a shotgun at her. She told of a stash of poison, which on investigation also turned out to be ricin, meant for U.S. marshals who seized a friend’s property for tax violations.

In 1995, a onetime Aryan Nations member was convicted of wire fraud after buying three vials of inert bubonic bacteria from a Maryland laboratory. Interviewed in 1997 by CNN, Larry Wayne Harris explained, “I said, ‘OK, is there any regulation governing this stuff?’ And they said, ‘No, there’s none whatsoever. There is no regulations.’ ” Harris stored the plague in the glove compartment of his car. “I just threw it in, locked it up.” Harris was later arrested for suspected possession of anthrax, but charges were dropped when the specimens turned out to be vaccines.


Law-enforcement insiders say whoever is behind the recent anthrax attacks will likely fit one of two prototypes. The first is that of the Unabomber, a lone anarchist nut operating with no outside support. The second is that of Eric Rudolph, a follower of racist right groups and suspected bomber of abortion clinics. Rudolph has spent the past few years on the lam, after disappearing in the North Carolina mountains.

Their cases may provide a clue as to what’s going to happen next, says Mike Reynolds, a former Southern Poverty Law Center investigator. Both men slowly perfected their weaponry, with Kaczynski trying one bomb after another, starting in 1978, until a 1985 explosion killed a man in Sacramento. He would make his bombs in Montana and then transport them to sites as far away as Berkeley, California.

Cops say Rudolph also perfected his bombs. He stands accused of beginning with the clumsy backpack explosion at Centennial Park in Atlanta during the Olympics, then of setting one off in a local gay bar. No one was killed. By the time he allegedly got to the Birmingham, Alabama, abortion clinic, he was using timers and setting off the explosions by radio from a car. The message from both these cases is pretty simple: Hone the technique and use it with astounding success again and again.

That abortion clinics have received hundreds of new anthrax threats—on top of the ones they’ve gotten in years past—serves to shore up the theory that current attacks are domestic. Nor is raw anthrax a particularly hard weapon to get, since it requires only a specimen, an incubator, and hate.

As the bioattacks unfolded, William Pierce, a former physics teacher and current leader of the neo-Nazi National Alliance, suggested Americans shouldn’t be surprised. “What the people mailing out anthrax-infected letters are giving us is just a reminder that we can have no real security—in fact, no real future for our children and our grandchildren—until we regain control of our own government,” Pierce wrote online. “You must not believe the generals and the politicians who tell you confidently from your television screens that if we just use enough cruise missiles and smart bombs and kill enough of the Jews’ enemies in the Middle East we’ll be safe again. Americans will never again have real security or real peace of mind until they have regained control of their government and their media.”


Additional reporting: Arison-Lisabeth Anderson, Meritxell Mir, and Sarah Park

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NEWS & POLITICS ARCHIVES THE FRONT ARCHIVES Washington, D.C.

Enemy Could Lie Without—or Within

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 11—Whether or not the U.S. pins the blame for today’s terror attacks in New York and Washington on the mysterious Osama bin Laden, these events almost surely will provide President Bush with a broad new mandate to widen the U.S. role in the Middle East. They might even give him a chance to become the hero of a second Persian Gulf War.


The assaults should also force Bush to become more active in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. All through the campaign and his first months in office, Bush has insisted the U.S. cannot force peace on the region. Now it appears he cannot keep peace in his own backyard.


Our commitment to the Middle East has always been tied to oil and its effect on national security interests. Militarily, this country is all over the Middle East. A 10-ship carrier battle group is kept in the Persian Gulf, and another flotilla sits in the Indian Ocean. U.S. planes patrol two “no-fly zones” over Iraq from bases in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey. Camp Doha in Kuwait is a hub where armored vehicles and choppers are stored, and a second big army base is located in Qatar. Overall, the U.S. has 20,000 troops in the region, at an annual cost of $1.5 billion.


The most likely target for a U.S. counterattack is Afghanistan, which has permitted Osama bin Laden to set up shop and train his forces. As part of its effort to curry favor with the West, the Taliban leaders have claimed they will help the U.S. kill Bin Laden by giving the Americans the positions of his camps, thereby enabling the U.S. sufficient time to line up a cruise missile on him. And Taliban leaders also have claimed they have offered Bin Laden’s computers and electronic equipment seized from his entourage. But Washington turned them away, or so the Taliban claims.


Finally, the Taliban tried to win favor in the West with its harsh campaign against growing of opium poppies. Afghanistan is the world’s major producer of opium, and the Taliban has taken stern steps to abolish the practice. Obviously hoping for some aid, the right-wing Muslim group’s leaders can’t get over the U.S. slight.


For proof that Palestinian sympathizers really are involved, many point out this is the anniversary of the Camp David accords, signed during the Carter presidency, between Israel and Egypt.


Yet others cite a shakier source, the final act of William Pierce’s novel The Turner Diaries. The final act of the book has the hero fly a plane loaded with explosives into the Pentagon. Pierce’s tome has become a bible on the far right. It was found on the seat of Tim McVeigh’s car when he was captured after bombing the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, and McVeigh later admitted to selling it at gun shows. Pierce is head of the most active of the far-right-wing groups called the National Alliance, based in West Virginia.


While most far-right groups have slipped out of sight with McVeigh’s execution, the National Alliance remains active and is attracting youthful recruits. Pierce’s book is a veritable instruction manual on how to take a small number of adherents and create a revolution through a campaign of political terror.


Conspiracy theorists note that the first plane hit the first World Trade tower within minutes of 9 a.m. That is the same time McVeigh’s bomb-laden truck exploded in the parking area in front of the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people.


But it must be emphasized that far-right groups are hardly thought capable of carrying out such complex conspiracies.

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Nation

Capital Watchers Say Powell May Bail on White House

Colin-ectomy?

The biggest guessing game in Washington during these dog days of August is how long Secretary of State Colin Powell can stand to play Stepin Fetchit to George Bush’s stumblebum foreign policy team. Despite Powell’s lofty title and global reputation, he has largely operated at the fringe, leaving the spotlight — and the power — to an inner circle of real players like VP Dick Cheney, Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld, and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice.

“I’ve heard rumors he’s unhappy over there,” says one Senate Foreign Relations Committee source. “He’s not the kind of person you would expect to hang around if he’s simply the messenger boy. He has too much international stature in his own right than simply to carry out odd jobs for Karl Rove or Dick Cheney.”

In an article on Sunday, The New York Times took note of Powell’s low profile, noting that Rice has been the one making diplomatic trips to places like Russia and justifying White House strategy in public speeches, while the secretary of state “has yet to give a major address laying out his vision for America’s role in the world.”

A former chairman of the military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, Powell has been made to look like a fool on several occasions since Bush took over. After Powell announced that the dialogue between the U.S. and North Korea begun by Clinton would continue, he was swiftly overruled by the White House. That was a dreadful embarrassment, since the decision was made while South Korean president Kim Dae Jung — who wants to keep talks open — was in D.C.

Powell is the only member of the Bush team to support the nuclear-test-ban treaty, which has been nixed by Bush. Rice has said it’s time to disengage from the Balkans. Powell told NATO the U.S. would tough it out in Bosnia and Kosovo. Powell thinks Israel has gone too far in its policies toward the Palestinians, while Cheney has openly sympathized with Israel. This spring, Powell supported having international observers help stabilize the conflict, but the White House summarily reversed his position.

Time and again Powell says there are no real differences between himself and the rest of the administration. “Do we have differences? Sure,” Powell told the AP. “Do we argue about things? Sure. Do we have to debate issues from time to time? Yes.”

But everybody else in the capital is wondering just how long Powell can be the fall guy for the Bush clique. Christie Whitman appears to have survived a similar hazing, in her role as head of the Environmental Protection Agency. Whitman, a rising star in the GOP, found herself hung out to dry by Bush on issues ranging from global warming to arsenic in drinking water.

Now the resignation watch once focused on Whitman has shifted to Powell, who has more to risk. A potential contender for the White House himself, Powell can ill afford to have people in his own State Department or on Capitol Hill — not to mention the American public — questioning his authority. A shift may be inevitable, but seasoned observers say it won’t come suddenly. “There appears to be a bit of a divide developing,” says Richard Lowry, editor of the conservative National Review, who adds that no one expected the general to back Bush’s agenda 100 percent. “It would be difficult to get Powell out, but there is an uneasy relationship behind the tenure.”

U.S. War Sickens Iraqi Kids

America the Vicious

Doubts that the U.S. sanctions against Iraq were intended to wreck the civilian infrastructure have been dispelled by declassified government documents reaching back to 1991.

In the September Progressive, Thomas Nagy cites a January 22, 1991, Defense Intelligence Agency report entitled “Iraq Water Treatment Vulnerabilities.” It states, “Iraq will suffer increasing shortages of purified water because of the lack of required chemicals and desalination membranes. Incidences of disease, including possible epidemics, will become probable unless the population were careful to boil water.” The document calculates that “it probably will take at least six months [to June 1991] before the system is fully degraded.”

And then, matter-of-factly, the Defense Intelligence people list off the maladies that may come from ruining the water supply: cholera, diarrhea, diphtheria, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, kwashiorkor, measles, meningitis, pertussis, and typhoid.

As we know, a brutal war was launched against Iraq anyway. Bare statistics suggest the attack on the civilian population enjoyed considerable success. Richard Walton, in the May/June issue of Dollars and Sense, points out, “In 1989, just before the Gulf War began, there were 7110 deaths of children under five from respiratory infection, diarrhea, gastroenteritis, and malnutrition. Within a year of the war and the imposition of sanctions, the number of deaths had risen to 27,473. By 1994, the figure stood at 52,905, and in the first 11 months of 1999, it soared to 73,572. That’s a ten-fold increase over ten years.”

As everyone knows, international law exists only to be broken, and the victors get to determine the spoils of war. But is this not a bit much? Is this not verifiable evidence of war crimes, crimes against humanity? Here’s what the 1979 protocol to the Geneva Convention says: “It is prohibited to attack, destroy, remove, or render useless objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population, such as foodstuffs, crops, livestock, drinking water installations and supplies, and irrigation works.” So who’s going to arrest George Bush Sr., who oversaw this war? Not his son, that’s for sure.

Condit Stitches Career Back Together

On the Mend

Fueled by more comments from Vince Flammini, the babbling former bodyguard who last week recalled Gary Condit once telling him a woman Flammini believed was Chandra Levy had “breasts like melons,” the case of the congressman’s missing girlfriend totters along. Condit, who has been lying low in California, reportedly now thinks the coast is clear enough for him to run again. He’s got the backing of House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, who on Sunday came to Condit’s defense with a couple of weirdo comments on Meet the Press.

First, moderator Tim Russert quoted the missing intern’s mother, Susan Levy, as having said she sees Condit “going on with his smiles and videotaped on the media going from his congressional meetings with his big political smile. And just the physical action does not match a person who says that they really want to help you out.”

Gephardt: “Well, I know he’s on TV a lot, and he may be smiling, but I can tell you that he is as worried and concerned as her parents are about where she is. He is very disturbed about this whole thing.”

Russert: “Has he told you that he had no role in her disappearance?”

Gephardt: “He has not told me that. But he’s told me he’s very disturbed about the whole matter, and he hopes that the police can find the young woman.”

Meanwhile, Billy Martin, the Levy family attorney, is hinting Chandra may have been pregnant. “Could she have been pregnant and could something have been done to her in an attempt to abort the pregnancy?” he said on Face the Nation. “Could that have been an issue between the congressman and Chandra? Because the answer to that may in some way affect the outcome of the investigation, I don’t think I should answer that question.”

Vidal Dissects a Broader McVeigh Plot

Now He Tells Us

Having skipped Tim McVeigh’s showbiz execution at the Terre Haute prison, Vanity Fair‘s smart-set correspondent Gore Vidal used a speech at the Edinburgh Book Festival this month to say once more what a super fellow McVeigh was and how he reminds Vidal of Paul Revere.

Vidal thinks that by killing 168 people at the Murrah Federal Building, patriot McVeigh was warning us how “the secret police (i.e., the FBI) were out of control.” According to the scribe, McVeigh was saying, “The Feds are coming, the Feds are coming! Vidal went on to call McVeigh a “Kipling hero,” with an “overdeveloped sense of justice.”

Now Vidal says he’s ready to tell all, like how McVeigh came to be part of a bombing plot masterminded by the federal government. “I am just about to drop another shoe in it,” he said, claiming to have worked with a researcher who “knows at least five people involved in the making of the bomb and detonation of it. It may well be that McVeigh didn’t do it. In fact, I am sure he didn’t do it. But when he found out he was going to be the patsy, he did something psychologically very strange. He decided to grab all credit for it himself, because he had no fear of death.”

Vidal revealed that this “John Brown of Kansas” ate a bowl of mint-chocolate chip ice cream in his last hours as he watched the Coen brothers’ Fargo on a black-and-white TV. Said Vidal, “It’s a great film but bloody — a body is shredded and suchlike — and not quite what he wanted to see, poor fellow.”

Additional reporting: Sandra Bisin and Ariston-Lizabeth Anderson

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Beyond McVeigh

The FBI’s admission last week that it has known since at least March about more than 3000 pages withheld in the Oklahoma City bombing case may force the reopening of the case. Attorneys for Terry Nichols have asked for a new trial. Lawyers for Timothy McVeigh, whose May 16 execution has been delayed for a month, are contemplating their next move.

The FBI says it made a bureaucratic mistake, but its actions look to some like a cover-up, especially since the papers are said to contain various documents relating to the mysterious John Doe No. 2, who many suspect was involved in the attack that destroyed the Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995.

As it stands, the case just doesn’t make sense. McVeigh’s recent claim that he mixed the fertilizer bomb by himself is unbelievable. Various witnesses in Kansas and Oklahoma City saw other people around the legendary Ryder truck used in the blast. Several suspicious individuals met McVeigh in the weeks before the explosion. McVeigh suggests these were onetime, casual encounters, but clues suggest otherwise.

As wacky as their claims may at first seem, conspiracy theorists say the question of whether the government knew about the plot beforehand—or even played some role in it—cannot be ignored.

This is a list of certain—but by no means all—of the events that hint at a broader plot.

JOHN DOE NO. 2: The government theory was that McVeigh, using the name Robert Kling, rented a Ryder truck from Elliott’s Body Shop in Junction City, Kansas, on Saturday April 15, 1995, at about 8:45 a.m. He paid $281 and told Eldon Elliott he’d pick up the truck at 4 p.m. Monday.

When McVeigh returned, he was accompanied by a man Elliott described as white, between 5-7 and 5-8, wearing a white cap with blue stripes. He said Kling himself was a white male, 5-11 and 180 to 185 pounds.

Another employee, Tom Kessenger, told the FBI that Kling was accompanied by a second individual wearing a black T-shirt, jeans, and a baseball cap colored royal blue in the front and white in the back. The man also had a tattoo on his upper left arm. Portrayed in a police sketch, this person became known around the world as John Doe No. 2. Kessenger later changed his story and identified Kling as 5-10, 175 to 185 pounds, with green or brown eyes and a rough complexion or acne.

Stephen Jones, McVeigh’s attorney, pointed out that when McVeigh was booked into the Noble County jail, he was listed at 6-2 and 160 pounds, with blue eyes and a clear complexion.

JUNCTION CITY WITNESS: The government claims McVeigh placed a call for Chinese food at a restaurant in Junction City on April 15. Jeff Davis, who delivered the order to room 25 at the Dreamland Motel, said the man who took the food had “unkempt” hair and a regional accent. He told the FBI the person who accepted the delivery was not Timothy McVeigh.

The McVeigh defense pointed out that McVeigh wore his hair short, in a military style, and had no regional accent. There were no McVeigh fingerprints in room 25.

A SECOND TRUCK: Four witnesses said they saw a Ryder truck at the Dreamland, but on Sunday, April 16—a day before the government claimed McVeigh picked up a vehicle at Elliott’s. This testimony gave rise to another theory that two trucks were involved in the plot.

OKLAHOMA CITY WITNESS: A young woman, subsequently trapped in the wreckage, said that moments before the blast she saw a Ryder truck park in front of the Murrah building and a slim, olive-skinned white man—with black, clean-cut hair and wearing a baseball cap, jeans, and a jacket—get out of the passenger side of the truck and walk away very fast, heading in a westward direction. Then came the explosion.

THE LEG: The lower part of a left leg was hauled out of the wreckage—the only body part never matched with a victim. One theory said it belonged to John Doe No. 2. The foot was in a combat boot, and there was some sort of military blousing strap attached to the shoe. At the trial, an expert witness for the defense suggested the leg belonged to the bomber.

THE BOMB: The government argued the explosive was built at Geary Lake near Herington, Kansas, overnight on April 18th. Speculation has always been that McVeigh and Nichols made the bomb. But experts have long pointed out it would be almost impossible for even two men to mix up a bomb of this magnitude in one night. Yet in a recent book called The American Terrorist, by Lou Michel and Dan Herbeck, McVeigh told the authors that he basically mixed the bomb himself.

CHARLES FARLEY: The Fort Riley civilian employee testified that when he drove down to Geary Lake to check out the fishing possibilities on April 18 he saw three other vehicles—including a truck piled with bags of what looked like fertilizer—and a group of men. According to the government’s case this was the date and place of the bomb’s construction.

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ELOHIM CITY: McVeigh says he once considered using this far-right racist religious community in eastern Oklahoma as a hideout after the bombing. Records show he made one phone call there, on April 5, when he asked to speak to Andy Strassmeier, whom he’d met at knife and gun shows.

McVeigh insists the call was his only contact there, but in the new edition of Others Unknown, attorney Jones writes otherwise. In an interview just prior to a lie detector test, McVeigh said he sent a letter to Pastor Robert Millar “in mid March, talking about a small operation that he was thinking about putting together, which the two of them had discussed in the past and [he] wanted to know if there would be some type of underground railroad that Bob Millar could inform him of so that he might be able to carry out such operations.”

At least one known resident of Elohim City had been a leader of a 1980s group called the Covenant, Sword, and Arm of the Lord, whose members planned to blow up the Murrah building with a missile. Those plans were aborted when the missile detonated in the hands of the man making it.

Richard Snell, a former CSA member who participated in the first plot, was executed in Arkansas on April 19, 1995. Pastor Millar, Snell’s spiritual advisor, witnessed the execution and took his body back to Elohim City for burial.

ARYAN REPUBLICAN ARMY: Rumors have been flying about the possibility of McVeigh’s involvement with the Midwest bank robbers calling themselves the Aryan Republican Army. Some army members had ties to the Aryan Nations and the Posse Comitatus. And it is known that they frequented Elohim City. Richard Guthrie, the leader of the Aryan Republican Army, hung himself in jail in 1996, shortly after he told the Los Angeles Times he was writing a book about his gang that would blow the lid off a wider conspiracy. In a sealed plea bargain, he promised to provide the government with information about groups “whose goal is the overthrow of the U.S. government or [to] engage in domestic terrorism.”

Currently, other jailed members of the gang are said to have claimed that a certain “Tim” was in contact with their group.

CAROL HOWE: The former Tulsa socialite who became a neo-Nazi was recruited and taken to Elohim City by Dennis Mahon, a former Tulsa Klan leader. In fact, Howe was working undercover for the federal ATF. She claims to know about trips to Oklahoma City by Mahon and Strassmeier (a German national), and has said she traveled with both men to case the “Morrow” building there as a possible target.

LADY GODIVA: Dancers at this Tulsa strip joint said they saw a man on April 8, 1995, who looked like McVeigh and was joined by three other men. Their story gained credibility when the bar’s owner found a surveillance tape of the women’s dressing room that night. On the tape, the door bangs open and a stripper enters.

Stripper One: [Leaning into the mirror, adjusting her costume] “You know those three guys I’m sitting out there with? Well, one of them says he’s looking for a girl to fool around with tonight. Are you interested?”

Stripper Two: “Well, OK, I’ll figure out a way to scam them.”

[The tape becomes unintelligible for a few seconds.]

Stripper One: ” . . . one of them said, ‘I’m a very smart man.’ ‘You are?’ ‘Yes, I am. And on April 19, 1995, you’ll remember me for the rest of your life!’ ‘Oh really?’ ‘Yes, you will.’ ”

McVeigh claims he was a thousand miles away that night, staying at the Imperial Motel in Kingman, Arizona.

JENNIFER McVEIGH: According to one FBI affidavit unsealed by a Buffalo federal district court, two witnesses say that at a party on December 23, 1994, Jennifer talked of war and revolution. According to one person, Jennifer McVeigh said: “There’s going to be a revolution, and you’re either going to be with us or against us. I know I’m going to be ready. You’ll see, in either April or May something big is going to happen with my brother. I don’t know what it is, but it’s going to be big.”

DENNIS MAHON: He’s just one of the people McVeigh might have met who has consistently been mentioned by journalists as a possible conspirator. One witness drew a sketch of John Doe No. 2 that looked like Mahon, minus dark glasses and mustache. “It drives you crazy,” Mahon told The Guardian of London. “Thousands think I was involved. I’ve started to believe it myself. Maybe I was there. Maybe they brainwashed me and I forgot about it. Maybe I can get hypnotized and remember it. Everybody said I was there. Everybody said I drove the truck. They saw me.

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“Maybe there’s somebody out there who looks like me,” he said. “I’m just about ready to turn myself in and tell them, ‘OK, motherfuckers, I did it.’ But I didn’t.”

Mahon claims he never met Tim McVeigh but did meet a man called Tim Tuttle, one of McVeigh’s pseudonyms, at gun shows. Mahon went back and forth to Elohim City and parked a trailer there. He claims Tuttle slept in the trailer. In March 1997, Mahon told the Voice, “If we had a hundred men like him in this country we’d probably change things around.” He added, “I don’t agree with what he did particularly. My personal opinion is that that building should have been bombed early in the morning.”

ANDREW STRASSMEIER: This former member of the German army, who had intelligence training, says he served for a time as security consultant at Elohim City to make money while in the U.S. He told reporters he met McVeigh once at a Tulsa gun show and denies any involvement. But a reporter for the Tennessean quoted Larry and Cathy Wild, residents of northern Kansas, as remembering seeing and talking to a man they think was Strassmeier at a lake north of Herington one week before the bombing. Larry Wild, a retired high school coach, remembers saying to the man, “Your dialect is really different. Are you a soldier?”

“No,” said the man.

Wild asked if he worked for the government, and said the man “kinda laughed.”


Additional reporting: Rouven Gueissaz and Adam Gray

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Nation

McVeigh Execution Gives Feds Reason to Fear May 16

Unhappy Anniversaries

In preparation for the May 16 killing of bomber Timothy McVeigh, the FBI is transforming Terre Haute, Indiana — scene of the first federal execution since 1963 — into a virtual police state. Federal marshals and FBI agents have been dispatched to reinforce staffers at the federal prison where McVeigh is to die. Most protesters and gawkers, expected to number in the thousands, won’t be allowed within a mile of the facility.

The rest of Terre Haute will be on holiday, with schools, courts, and government offices closed. Sporting events slated for May 16 have been rescheduled. Police will operate checkpoints along the city’s main drag, Route 63, which goes past the prison. To prevent any attempted breakout by plane or chopper, the Federal Aviation Administration has set up a no-fly zone lasting from 4 p.m. on May 15 to 6 a.m. on May 16.

What, exactly, do the feds fear? The Turner Diaries, the thinly disguised story of a racist revolution in the U.S., has presaged two key events in recent far-right history. The book, published in 1978 by William Pierce, the leader of the neo-Nazi National Alliance, includes a shadowy network called the Order and an attack on a federal installation. In fact, an underground terror gang called the Order operated in the 1980s, and the far right had plotted to blow up the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City back in 1983, a dozen years before McVeigh carried out his devastation.

Poring over the book for a hint of what might happen next, one comes to the description of how the narrator, Earl Turner, is freed from Fort Belvoir, an army base in Virginia, where he is taken after capture, held in solitary confinement, and tortured by Jewish interrogators. Around midnight during a heavy rainstorm, two olive-drab buses pull up carrying military police officers for the guard change. Only they aren’t real MPs, but racist revolutionaries. Rushing forward, they capture a tank sitting outside the prison and turn its barrel on the watchtowers. “Finally, the wooden door of my cell burst inward under the blow of a sledgehammer, and I was free,” Turner says.

Is Tim McVeigh waiting for a similar last-minute rescue? Hardly likely, although it would spice up Gore Vidal’s impending Vanity Fair story.

Others look to a more mystical source, numerology, for clues about what the fringe might be up to, before the execution and in days to come. The movement has a tradition of marking anniversaries with violence. April 19, the date of the 1995 Oklahoma City explosion, was critical for several reasons.

  • April 19, 1775: The American Revolution begins.
  • April 19, 1943: The Nazis burn the Warsaw ghetto.
  • April 19, 1985: The FBI raids the Arkansas hideout of the Covenant Sword and Arm of the Lord, a white-power group.
  • April 19, 1992: The FBI aborts its first raid on Randy Weaver’s cabin in Ruby Ridge, Idaho.
  • April 19, 1993: Federal troops attack David Koresh’s compound in Waco, Texas.
  • April 19, 1995: Arkansas executes racial activist Richard Wayne Snell.

The following date, April 20, is always celebrated among racialists because it’s Hitler’s birthday. The Columbine shooters suggested they timed their 1998 massacre of classmates in honor of the führer.

By contrast, May 16 appears to have been little noted — at least until now. Napoleon was formally declared the leader of France on that date in 1804. Charles Elmer Hires invented root beer in 1866. Germany made its last major air attack on Britain in 1941. Two years later, the Nazis finally crushed Jewish resistance in the Warsaw ghetto. In 1944, some 180,000 Hungarian Jews were sent to Auschwitz.

Now, with the killing of McVeigh, law enforcement may get another date on which to be wary.

Oklahoma City Alums Pick Way Through Broken World

Shattered and Scattered

Here’s a roll call of the leading players and supporting cast in the Oklahoma City tragedy.

Timothy McVeigh: The lead bomber awaits death in the Terre Haute, Indiana, federal prison.

Terry Nichols: Sentenced to life by a federal court, he awaits his fate in Oklahoma state proceedings, held a few blocks from where tourists troop through the blast museum. Oklahoma prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

Michael Fortier: The man who ratted out McVeigh and Nichols to spare his wife and get a lighter sentence of 12 years reportedly thinks he’s been in jail long enough and wants out. Now the government’s meek lover, he writes Kathy Wilburn, who lost two grandchildren in the blast, “I have faith that the feds have uncovered everything and I do not believe they would cover anything up.”

Lori Fortier: Michael’s wife does manicures in the back room of a Kingman, Arizona, hair salon.

Glenn Wilburn: The Oklahoma City accountant, married to Kathy Wilburn, died in July 1997 of pancreatic cancer. Suspecting a broader conspiracy, he was the first person to question the government’s case.

Richard Butler: The white supremacist is stepping down as Aryan Nations leader. In July 1999, he told Kathy Wilburn she’d meet her grandchildren in heaven. She remembers him saying: “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. Tim McVeigh is a great martyr to the cause.”

Michael Vanderboegh: This former Alabama aluminum warehouse manager and militiaman became the editor and publisher of John Doe Times, the hot e-zine covering plots and counterplots in the case. He has restarted the Times and has it going full bore.

Stephen Jones: McVeigh’s conspiracy-minded trial attorney is polishing up a revision of his book, Others Unknown, practicing real estate law in Enid, Oklahoma, and looking forward to making money by defending small businessmen in the looming recession. Jones thinks the nation will never get the full story of what happened in Oklahoma City, but suspects a minimum of six to eight people were involved. “Some known,” he says, “some unknown.”

J.D. Cash: The small-town Oklahoma reporter, whose close ties to the Jones defense team helped him break conspiracy stories, now spends his days mowing the lawn and fishing at his log cabin in the mountains. He still files an occasional article for the McCurtain Daily Gazette, posted at www.mccurtain.com.

Dennis Mahon: The former Tulsa Klansman who praised McVeigh was last heard from with his brother, Dan, somewhere in Arizona.

Carol Howe: The blond debutante, a one-time Nazi who became a government informant, has a nonworking phone number in California.

Robert Millar: The patriarch and pastor of the notorious outlaw hangout Elohim City is reportedly ailing. Millar predicted an invasion by Asians at the turn of the millennium. He now waits for natural disasters to purge the planet.

Richard Matsch: The judge for the trials of McVeigh and Nichols remains on the federal bench in Denver.

Lana Padilla: Terry Nichols’s first wife still sells real estate in Las Vegas.

Marife Nichols: Terry’s Filipina second wife reportedly lives in Oklahoma City.

Jennifer McVeigh: Tim’s sister changed her name and teaches school in the Carolinas.

Bill McVeigh: Tim’s dad, from upstate New York, had his feelings hurt because his son refused to hug him goodbye at their last contact visit.

Michael Tigar: Nichols’s trial attorney teaches at American University in Washington. He played a key role in bringing the Chilean dictator Pinochet to justice.

Beth Wilkinson: The sweet and sour federal prosecutor who devastated the McVeigh defense married David Gregory, an NBC reporter who covered the trial.

Joe Hartzler: The wheelchair-bound lead government prosecutor against McVeigh serves as an assistant U.S. attorney in Springfield, Illinois.

Charles Farley: One of Tigar’s more jolting witnesses, he has dropped off the radar. The Fort Riley civilian employee may have saved Nichols from the death penalty when he testified that he saw three other vehicles — including a truck piled with bags of what looked like fertilizer — and a group of men on the day McVeigh claims he and Nichols put together the bomb by themselves.

Charles Key: The Oklahoma state legislator and former insurance salesman thinks the government case is a cover-up for a wider conspiracy. This week he publishes a private 500-page analysis, the Final Report on the Bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Building, which tracks the perpetrators through the Philippines to meetings with Middle Eastern terrorists, and thence to a Nazi network with ties to the American white-power crowd. He’s taking over as executive director of the Fully Informed Jury Association, a group that argues juries should have more weight in the court system.

Additional reporting: Rouven Gueissaz and Adam Gray

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McVeigh Papers: What Did the Government Know?

WASHINGTON, D.C., MAY 11—The FBI’s announcement yesterday that it withheld files from Tim McVeigh’s defense lawyers raises once again not only the prospect of a wider conspiracy, but questions about whether the government itself was trying to cover up events leading to the the Oklahoma City bombing.

Even as Department of Justice officials moved Friday to delay for 30 days McVeigh’s execution, which had been scheduled for May 16, some are asking if the feds stashed the documents in hopes of concealing what they knew beforehand about plans to blow up the Murrah Federal Building in 1995.

The feds say this is nonsense, the result of conspiracy-mongering by people in places like the John Birch Society, which played a major role in developing theories of a wider plot. The idea of a conspiracy may seem silly, especially to members of the mainstream press, but as with whispers about the grassy knoll in the Kennedy assassination, rumors of intrique have persisted in this case. They now fuel the early stages of a massive damage suit by families of the victims against the federal government.

Last night’s release of the FBI documents was accompanied by reports that McVeigh actually was part of a bank robbery gang called the Aryan Republican Army, a white supremacist outfit that allegedly pulled more jobs across the Midwest than Jesse James ever dreamed of. And according to the lore surrounding this gang, they used the loot to help finance a far right revolution. The gang was modeled along the lines of the Order, a 1980s underground terror group that robbed stores and armored cars in the West to get the money to boost the same revolution. Participants in both gangs had ties to the Aryan Nations.

For years now, defense attorneys and independent investigators have claimed that the government had prior knowledge of the conspiracy. Carol Howe, a onetime ATF informant, testified that she had personally infiltrated a group of racists living in Elohim City, an eastern Oklahoma religious community, and had accompanied several men as they cased the federal building.

At the same time, a closing witness in the Terry Nichols trial claimed he had unexpectedly come upon a group of men and trucks—including the famous Ryder truck used in the blast—and fertilizer bags when he drove his handicapped son down to Geary Lake Kansas. It was here, according to the prosecution, that McVeigh and Nichols made the bomb. The government successfully argued there were three main defendants: McVeigh, Nichols, and Michael Fortier.

With the McVeigh execution approaching—he is scheduled to be killed May 16—there has been an upsurge in speculation and rumors about who else may have been involved. Some of this talk apparently originates with inmates who grew to know McVeigh in different jails and who claim he told them what went down.

Speculation has also been fueled by other events. Chief among them was the arrest of members of the Aryan Republican Army. Some army members had ties to the Aryan Nations and the Posse Comitatus. And they frequented Elohim City. All during the bomb investigation, Elohim City turned up as a sort of hideout in one story after another. Pastor Robert Millar, who heads the community, long has insisted this is rubbish and that he has nothing whatever to do with the bombing. Indeed, just to show how willing he has been to cooperate with the government, Millar reportedly invited the region’s chief FBI agent to sing in the choir.

Richard Guthrie, the leader of the Aryan Republican Army, hung himself in jail in 1996, shortly after he told the Los Angeles Times that he was writing a book about his gang that would blow the lid off a wider conspiracy. In a sealed plea bargain agreement, he promised to provide the government with information about groups “whose goal is the overthrow of the U.S. government or (to) engage in domestic terrorism.” This supposedly was an allusion to the Oklahoma City bombing. Currently, other members of the gang—all in jail—are rumored to be claiming that a certain “Tim” was in contact with their group.

The FBI’s belated disclosure comes at a time when Louis Freeh is stepping down as head of the FBI, and after both Clinton and Reno have left office. While the FBI says the papers are insignificant, press reports claim they involved the government’s questioning of witnesses about a John Doe No. 2, an unknown person the government originally thought was involved in the plot. These documents may not help McVeigh, but they almost surely will affect Terry Nichols’s case, perhaps even leading to a new trial. Nichols is in jail for life on federal offenses and is awaiting prosecution in Oklahoma that could end with a death sentence.