that attack executed by timothy mcveigh and terry nichols killed 168 people. mr. campbell's research with the assistance of his co-author includes the use of government documents, correspondence with terry nichols and 150 interviews with individuals ranging from the prosecution and defense teams to members of the radical right and law enforcement officials. [background noises] >> they do, ladies and gentlemen, for coming this evening. we appreciate. we are the oldest and largest independent bookstore in oklahoma city. it means a great deal for us to be able to have author andrew gumbel. >> thank you so much. [applause]
>> thank you all for coming. this is a very somber subject. normally when you do but towards you go to a different cities and talk about connections that the place has with whatever you have written about. this is a special place in this context, and i am certainly not here to tell you your own story of what happened in this city 70 years ago, because i'm sure you know it much better than i ever well. one of the things that always amused me when i come here is first of all how warmly i welcomed by everybody, but also how profoundly the bombing touched everybody here. a relatively small place. i've never met anybody from obama city who was not touched in a personal way by the tragedy the first time i came i spoke to a number of their relatives of the victims, especially the children who died in the day care center. i thought, a british foreign correspondent. i have been to a lot of not
terribly pleasant places. this is just another assignment. then having spoken to them by went down to the memorial and saw that, the pictures of the dead children and teddy bears and everything else. it just got to me in a way that is still with me now. i went to the memorial this afternoon ended at the same effect. years later in the course of researching this book that talks to people who are hardened veterans of vietnam and other conflicts. they set themselves, major brown here who is with the sheriff's department. he had never seen anything like this. something unique about the spectacular violence that took place and the colossally unexpected and undeserved aspect of the fact that it happened here in oklahoma city. that is -- i want to state right said from the outset that i come to the subject with a certain humility. i'm not here to tell you anything that you don't already know.
but i do think that there is an aspect to what happened in the way it has been told and retold over the years that has gotten lost. that is fundamentally the reason why this book that written in the first place, and it is what i want to talk to you about tonight. i feel that the city was let down fundamentally in a number of ways, both before the bombing and afterwards as well. this stark contrast with september 11 when you had an extremely active and well listens to victims community who managed to press for congressional hearings. obviously there was a huge amount of political activity around the calamity that happened then. you had the september 11th report. you had endless press given to the subject. the oklahoma city bombing was rather different. people agree been silence. i don't think that congress necessarily was paying the kind of attention it should have. there were one or two attempts to start hearings that did not occur.
what you had was the trial. a trial is always of flawed exercise in finding that the truth. about the guilt or innocence of the defendant or defendants, not really about getting to the bottom of everything. i am very fortunate as a researcher that some of the trial material did not come out publicly at the time but is now available. getting access to the full archive of all the material that the government handed over to the defense teams in all three trials. so what -- the possibility that arose was instead of having guesses and questions and the sense that something was not quite right, there was a unique opportunity to look precisely what was the government knew, what it did with that information, what leads it followed, will lead to did not, and what questions one can ask from the results of that. the other aspect of the project
which was a blessing for me as a researcher and writer was having done a hold of all this information, i thought this is an opportunity to go around, talk to everybody and i possibly can, people who were in the circle, that radical anti-government movement, the investigators to booked at the crime right from the very beginning, local, state, and federal. street agents, managers, their bosses in washington, the prosecutors, the defense lawyers and surmise to my surprise and amazement almost everyone was willing to talk on the record in a lot of them were very frustrated and in some cases pretty angry about the things that left out, the roads that were not taken and the missed opportunities starting before the bombing and going all the way through the execution. what i mean when i say that obama's city was let down? starting before the bombing there were a number of things
that occurred that in retrospect seem very troubling. some of them were basic in concrete. the way the building was constructed, built in the 70's , there was a decision made to skimp on the way that the concrete pillars were reinforced. they were simple pieces of reebok. a number of things you can do to make buildings much stronger like having coils of three bar, the things you can do. there was a study done after the bombing that showed that if the people who had built the building had spent 18 the 1 percent extra on the budget they could have raised the building to a level that would have meant california earthquake standards and probably when the bomb went off you would not have had the pancake effect of having all those cars collapse in on each other and about three-quarters of the people who died might have had their lives spirit. that is one fact that did come to light at the time. another failure is in the course of my research i found out that
the man in charge of protecting the building and at least one of the federal judges were very concerned about a lack of security. they were specifically concerned after waco when the anti-government movement declared war essentially on the acf, the fbi. they made it very clear that that anyone who worked for the federal government was a target. in response to that contact and howard set down and talked about how they needed to have 24 hour security guard coverage which did not exist. they needed to worry about the accessibility of the outset of the building to vehicles. they also were very concerned that the video cameras that were erected on the north side of the building were not functioning and had not been for years. but they went to the general services administration.
they ask for the money to make these changes and the answer was no. the gst was trying to save money . oklahoma city was not considered a place that was going to have anything happen, and that was that. another letdown, think. and then the bigger one which i think affected the country as a whole and really gets to the core of what i'm writing about in the book is the after waco, after ruby ridge there was an awareness among federal agencies the fall of these things for a living that there was a very serious threat of some kind of major attack. this is not a mystery to the people who track the order. committed assassinations, bombings, they're robbing armored truck, a lot of very alarming things. there were very concerned about the radical anti-government movement. there were very concerned fit in particular about a community in a, which will talk about more a little bit, in part because some
of the people who had been active in the 1980's were gravitating back to that place. information was starting to come out that other dangerous criminals to will later prosecuted for other crimes or other living there are passing through. much has happened in the run-up to september 11th. people who were shot in the loudest and issuing warnings say you have to do something about this or ignored. not only were the ignored, but the different federal agencies in particular in this case the fbi and atf have pieces of information or not pulling that information, sharing a when they get evidence of something alarming. instead they went to each other and the u.s. attorney's office and said we really think something needs to be done here. they took the opposite. why did they do that? the fbi had been afraid for many years of being too proactive in terms of going after things that were not necessarily directly related to crimes they knew about but or more intelligence gathering operations to see if
there was the possibility of future crimes. the fbi at the time was under attorney-general guideline not to do that. they get into trouble and number of times, especially in the 1980's before going after groups and against and they did not have concrete evidence of criminal activity. congress had raked them over the coals. also in the wake of a lot of the activity from the radical far right, they put together a trial the first time in the country's history that anyone was put on trial. they rounded up 14 members of the neo-nazi white supremacist movement, put them on trial in arkansas. things went very wrong. the judge decided he would dispense with the usual jury selection procedures. he picked the jury himself. all white, all that of the uneducated. he made sure none of them do anything and had heard and read nothing in the newspapers about the crime. and the jury, two of the members of the jury fell in love with two of the defendants. one of them actually get
married. the star witness for the prosecution was a criminal from the 1980's who had no credibility whatsoever. a suspected that he was in it to save his own hide and reduce his jail sentence. everybody was acquitted. the fbi promised itself after that that if anything ever happened again from the radical far-right there were going to prosecute the crime at hand and there were not going to look for any links to the broader radical movement, and that is exactly what happened when the bomb went off in oklahoma city. etf meanwhile did not operate under the same structure. it did not have to -- it had no attorney-general guidelines. it had problems of its own. there was a sense that the atf was primarily responsible for the disaster at ruby ridge in idaho in 1992 when there was one boss sees where people died of the sleek and primarily responsible for an siege in waco which ended in terrible tragedy in the deaths of dozens of people. so they were running scared over
another screw up. there was a new republican majority in congress led by newt gingrich that was unabashedly of for the atf, basically waiting for something to happen to give them an excuse to say we are abolishing the agency. they were very scared of doing something wrong. as this happened there were looking at the man from tulsa by the name of dennis made on who was actually in the complex plan , had gone to germany, participated in cross burning, nazi connections and there were very concerned about them. they suspected that he had been involved in criminal activity. they put an undercover informant on an, an attractive young woman who had gone of thrales spectacularly. a swastika tattooed on her left shoulder. took him to the city. she spent a long time there in the fall of '94 and started hearing people talking openly about plotting to blow up federal buildings he.
and he was the etf response? what they should have done arguably is to get to the fbi and say we don't have the operational capacity to deal with this, but you should know of this. you have been concerned as long as we have. up in the proper investigation and see what we can find out. probably if that had occurred, and this i was told by the man who was the head at the time on the record, if we had kept an informal operation of there we probably would have found that about the bombing and been able to prevented. a really startling thing to be told. instead what did they do? they started hearing alarming things from the informant his name is carol. they decided if we keep hearing these things we will have to take action because this is more than we can possibly ignore. so what we're going to do is close down the informal operation and effectively block are years and close our eyes and hope for the best, and that is what the dehere. she was taken out of action in march of '95. and then after the bomb went off
there was a collective sense of whoops. the person -- the first thing they did was reactivate carol and center right back into the city. go fidelity can. by then it was too late. a lot of the people who were most suspicious that left a few days before the bombing. she herself was widely suspected of having been an informant at that stage because to disappear so suddenly. she is told her life would be in danger. what is really shocking is from the point of view of the fbi and the atf talking to the agency cut deeply concerned about this problem, they fully expected the fbi would send somebody else to my agent sent the most intriguing people. they never did. in the meantime all kinds of other things were going on here in oklahoma city which again i think did the city a great disservice.
one thing bill was going on was that there was a huge bureaucratic war going on within the fbi. the director at the time was attempting to remove every single division chief of the country and replacing them with his people. one of the people who he had most keenly was the special agent in charge right here in a, a city. a candid it's become the director of the fbi. got the job. my sense is that there was an abiding insecurity about him. instead of putting him in charge of the bombing investigation you put somebody in over his head. the immediate effect of this was that it split the investigation right away. all the agents here in obama's city, some of them were extremely compass -- accomplished felt.
meanwhile, kennedy was the liaison back to headquarters. headquarters their work all over the place, scrambled to assemble and operations center that will be open 24 hours a day to keep an aisle was going on. tremendous confusion. and i think that led to a lot of misguided decisions. essentially until this at great length. this very roundabout. a successful attempt. they found him within 48 hours. he was in custody as i'm sure you know in the county jail. he had been pulled over by a highway patrolman. missing a license plate. they get to and just in time before he was about to be released on bond frays traffic offenses and carrying a concealed weapon. they also, through mcveigh, rapidly realize that they were interested in a pair of brothers, terry and james nichols.
what was unfortunate and of the scramble is that everything that the task force here in obama's city new was being transmitted around the country. he suddenly had hundreds of potential people in the media. sure enough the news got on to the radio the same day there taken into a federal custody. this season and possibly killed by the fed. also from an investigation pointed you it meant that any possibility of putting them under surveillance, tapping their phone, senior there were talking to and what else might be out there came to an immediate and crashing halt. really that was the beginning of an unraveling of the potential of really getting to the bottom of what had happened in the bombing. over the next month or so there was a tremendous attempt to look for other co-conspirators.
there were two people that had been seen. this sketch was put out. john doe one and john doe two. rather hastily as soon to be mcveigh. number two was a total mystery. for a month the fed looked everywhere, even suspected terry nichols' 12 year-old son josh, a big kid. rather preposterous to think he could have been there without his father. very protective toward him, but a for a few days that was their conviction. ultimately they could not figure out who this character was. after a month it decided he could not exist. the shop with the truck had been rented, what happened on monday and tuesday. and it was a very convenient way of putting that issue to rest. meanwhile, there were a number of other people who had come to
light as potential suspects. one by one the fbi and the justice department did a number of very senior lawyers came about. it is headed to tell these people, tell us everything you know we will overlook everything else. that happened with five or six different people. the potential for pursuing them as suspects closed down. the interest in looking further afield through narrow and narrow as time went on. the prosecution in particular was very worried that any kind of extra investigation might not lead to useful leads but would only give ammunition to the defense team and child could then use it to argue, you know what, you are saying that mcveigh is the mastermind. maybe he was just the driver. maybe the real people are still out there. there was a conscious closing down of the investigation, and it was not something that was decided. you know, just to give one example, a major dispute about
this, if you ask most rank-and-file investigators from the fbi or the atf they will tell you there would have worked 24 hours a day as long as it took to get to the bottom of this. how that was impossible, a roadblock was set up by the fbi outside kansas to ask people passing by if you saw something in the days before the bombing. the fed had a pretty good idea that was where the bomb went next. in what they found out was that a lot of people had seen a ryder truck not only in the 18th, the day that it was there and win terry nichols and tim mcveigh least those two were building the bomb, but they had seen a ryder truck for several days in a row the week before. it could not have been the same because that was only rented on monday the 17th. at the same time there were also reports of the second truck at a motel in junction city where mcveigh stayed for a few days before the bombing. and amongst others to my he felt
this is a terrific lead. we need to find out what the second truck is about. the prosecutors and one are two other people felt that this is a crazy thing to do. a fishing expedition. only giving ammunition to the defense. sure enough all mention of the second trucks fell 08 to the point where it wasn't even mentioned by the time i got to try. there is a whole book of instances like this where i not only try and denounce the things that were missed but also try and account for it because it is a very complicated mechanism. you have, you know, investigators, their bosses, competing interests of the different agencies. you have breathing down people's necks. of people in handcuffs. want to be able to say this is a victory for the fbi. the atf struggling. prosecutors who disagreed vehemently among themselves. this is not something that was known at the time, but when i spoke to then they told me quite
frankly this is not unmarried child. we are under instructions to give mcveigh, make sure he's convicted timid given the death penalty, and it did not matter what it took to get there. what often happens is that when you have a major public traumatic event like this what you end up getting his and out contra investigation. the sense that we want to get to the end. say that we have done our part. mcvay, terry nichols was the one they had secondarily. and so they focused everything and then. i think another opportunity in another way in which obama's will let down was that mcveigh's trial if you compare and contrast the two trials, whatever you think of the outcome, an unsettling not here to say mcveigh should not have had the death penalty or conversely to say i applaud the fact that nichols did not, that's of something that i feel is my place to tell you how to feel.
what i do feel is a feeling that somebody is interested in getting to the bottom of things. the defense in both chiles had an opportunity to let the government evidence in the way that i had an opportunity to. really ask hard questions. did they really know what they say no? with these witness statements reported accurately? the fbi. witnesses picked selectively? other people that should have been spoken to emendations elsewhere that a number of people in the radical far-right had knowledge of the bombing? white and the fbi go talk to those people? the nichols team to take it in reverse did an unbelievably thorough job of looking at the evidence against the defendants and asking those are questions. they managed to embarrass the government repeatedly. to illustrate the things were not quite as the government had shown, and that was a big part of the reason why nichols was
not convicted on the main murder charge which is to trial. he was eventually convicted of involuntary manslaughter and conspiracy and get life instead of the death penalty. more significantly from the perspective of 2012, their investigative work and everything that it generated has given a tremendous amount of material to researchers and historians. stephen jones in particular did not drill down on the evidence. there were places where he could show the government up. looking through the trial transcript to give two examples, of the things that the government never really proved, how mcveigh and nichols planned have to build a bomb. there are vast gaps of how that happened. and there are messing around not to successfully with pipe bombs, nothing to do with ammonium nitrate aren't nitromethane. in the fall of '94 they
experimented with small versions of what turned into the oklahoma city bomb. according to mcveigh this experiment was a success. according to nichols who corresponded extensively without it was sexually a failure. we just don't know how they went from al tries from devastating success, the government is to know. the defense team could have really put them on the spot. another thing bin never proved was that mcveigh was the one who rented the truck. i don't personally know if he did or didn't, but i can tell you his fingerprints were not found. they could not match the signature on the rental form. there was the problem of john doe two and also the problem of john doe one because there were fairly detailed descriptions attacked the somebody a good three or 4 inches shorter with
pockmarks. mcveigh's skin was smooth. one or two other physical dissimilarities which raised the question it could have been someone else. there were problems of the government had in showing how he got from the mcdonald's where he was caught on the surveillance camera just before 4:00 to the body shop and had the rental agreement printed out. it was quite a distance away, rating that state. the person he showed up to rent the truck was dry according to all the witnesses, and on and on . there were a number of things that raised questions about the strength of the government's case. there were also knows -- more spectacularly the fact that on the morning of the bombing about two dozen people had seen mcveigh. every single one of them had seen them with somebody else, other vehicles. not a single person said what mcvay said which was that he was on his own. he passed the truck and walked away by himself, but in your plugs and heard the explosion from a few blocks away.
not a single one of them corroborated his version. yet it was the one that prevailed a trial here. for all these reasons i think many tricks were missed by the defense team, and i think there were opportunities to do that kind of really intense investigative work that the team did do that was lost. i think this city could have been looked at much more thoroughly. some of these other reasons the radical far-right cabinet that much more thoroughly. looking for into the future, it obviously matters to oklahoma city. what is a matter? today's preoccupation with keeping the country safe, and insecurity, the threat from abroad, it matters for us because as i mentioned, a lot of the mistakes that were made around the time of the bombing were repeated around the time of 9/11 in terms of law enforcement not appreciating the threat adequately, not sharing information and also looking now
i think there are legitimate reasons to be concerned that the threat from that anti-government radical right has not gone away. we have a situation now where many a man had had combat experience, military training. many of them were traumatized by what they went through. they come back in the hundreds of thousands to a depressed economy and inevitably i think the vast majority of very honorable people but inevitably there will be a small minority who will be attracted by extreme ideologists come interested in using what they learned in the military in order to turn it against the government. certainly there has been a huge uptick in the number of radical groups, white supremacist groups, neo-nazi groups, a philips it -- affiliated with extremists, religion, much as was the case in the early to mid-1990s. having an african-american president has been a tremendous
recruiting tool for many of these groups. here you have a preoccupying situation. you also have a situation where despite the common security, despite the fact that terrorism was now front and center in the country's preoccupation, you still have the spirit at the -- bureaucratic imperative to look at the last of the camelot, not anticipate the next one. so most of the money, the manpower, the resources are engaged in the fight to prevent a repeat of 9/11 here and no doubt rightly so he. that was in washington last week and had the privilege of talking to members of the highest, and security committee and there very concerned about this. they feel that other islamist threats are being disregarded or at least not given enough attention. and they feel that the domestic threat is also not been pursued adequately. you have a situation now, a lot of the institutional knowledge of how to handle potential the eruptions of crises have gone
away. the people who understood that waco was a disaster and a few years later, the seized by federal law-enforcement, the fact that they understood how to bring that to an end peacefully, all the people involved in that are no longer in a federal law enforcement. a lot of people during the late nineties continued to follow the radical far-right, went undercover, understood the culture, the people. many of those people transfer its international work. many of them have gone into retirement. i'm not here to sell you the fbi doesn't know what they're doing because i don't know what the fbi is doing. not an agency that is forthcoming with operational decision making. i do think there are very legitimate questions. have the lessons of what went wrong been articulated, learn to , have -- has 9/11 been fully appreciated? are we now ready to face future threats? i can certainly tell you that
restriction on intelligence gathering has been lifted. there are potential abuses involved in lifting it which is why there were imposed the fees bus. the fbi can no longer say we are not pointing investigate sellas so because we are not allowed to that is gone. there are other things that are still negative. the fbi and atf still hate each other. they're both in the justice department. the atf used to be of the treasury. when the atf was involved in the scandal of walking guns over the border into mexico, fast and furious, of the fbi guys i talked to were feeling caught literally smoke coming out of their ears sang these people are irresponsible, borderline criminal. nothing has changed in that respect. outside talking, that independently and are the section amendment, and i don't
want to get into that particularly, it has to be a problem that anyone who has a criminal intention has tremendous access, far more than other countries to deadly firepower. a tremendous amount that you can access legally. also a tremendous amount that you can access with relative ease that is illegal in terms of explosive material. you cannot buy ammonium nitrate anymore without sounding alarm bells, but plenty of other materials that can be used to devastating effect which should be of concern. so i have gone on for quite a long time this. i would love to know your experiences, the things that may have concern do, whether the very fact somebody comes from outside of pocahontas of oklahoma and starts talking about this is something that upsets you, something the welcome. i would love to have a conversation. i am an authority. some of you may be authorities
in your own right, and i would love to hear what you have to say. i will do the moderating as i am the only one appeared. i will try and call on everybody. serve over here. >> of all the places you have been what cut your attention to back upon a city. >> you have been all over the world. what made you focus on this incident? >> it really stemmed from the first time i came here which was in 2001. i was working for a british newspaper. they wanted me to read a piece about the bombing. in anticipation of the execution. i really knew very little about it. this vague idea as everyone else did that to guess have pulled this together. they had been caught. that was really the end of the
story until i read american terrorist which is the book length interview with mcveigh that he gave to journalists from his downtown. at that to myself, i don't know much about this case. this did their parts of the story that is missing. aggrandizing his role. there has to be more to it. the government's version of events was really not all that different. in fact, many of the fbi managers who want everybody to believe that they did get to the bottom of the story will say over and over, we know that we were right because they confirmed it. but to meet that set of all kinds of alarm bells. i came to oklahoma city. i started asking questions. i heard a million theories about of the things that were being missed, why they were best, what it might add up to. i did a lot of digging at the time, but really a lot of questions remained unanswered. it was only when there was the possibility of getting ahold of
the full government case file and talking to everyone involved on the inside in the investigation that there was a fabulous opportunity to look at a major historical event from the inside in a way that had never been done before. and that's coming to me, was the gift of the project. you know, it was -- the experience i had is less important than the outcome. i did my very best to hear everybody, to try and account for everything. there are many things i still don't know. one of the rules that i teach when i teach, and it is important to tell the difference between what you know and would you don't know. make that very clear to the reader. that is what i try to do with this project. there are puzzles that menaces of another's that did not. as the questions i hope more sharply. yes. >> i would like to thank you for coming. i read your book. thank you. >> thank you.
>> the audience, some luster to children. i would like to recognize there. and colonel george wallace, the investigation committee. my question is that like as said, this close to a literary orgasm. looking into it for years. just released a documentary. actually i would like to present you with a copy. my question is, the subtitle is what the investigation is and why is still matters. i would like a viewpoint on lifers' some -- fail to see an indictment of current officeholders who may have been involved with the cover-up, including eric holder who is our attorney-general of the united states who was directly responsible of the cover-up of the murder of kenneth michael,
murdered in federal custody. but he was john doe number two. and janet napolitano who is our federal prosecutor in arizona at the time where mcveigh was going around trying to recruit people read before the plot. so why is still matters, i was wondering why we chose not to go after them, the people who know all of this is a power do i think, in my opinion, were directly responsible end task with a role in that cover-up and now jen and the public, is director of homeland security. eric holder is attorney-general. >> first of all, a pleasure to see you. i mentioned at the beginning of my presentation that when i went to the memorial for the first time in 2001 how it really hit home and at home because i talked to people who had directly lost loved ones. with tears in their eyes and was told of what happened, losing her two grandchildren.
when i saw their picture on the fence just outside the memorial, that was the moment when something in my stomach just flipped. i thought this is just the most ghastly thing that could have possibly happened. so, you know, that emotional reaction to the bombing is what in many ways sustained me and get me interested in this story for a long time. she has been somebody i have spoken too often on for years. i admire the courage of everybody lost people in the bombing and their ability to speak out and to have, you know, thoughtful ideas about what happens to the . so absolutely, i sure what you're saying. in terms of the other issues you brought up with -- let me talk about napolitano. napolitano was the u.s. attorney in phoenix. there was a tremendous amount of law enforcement interest in arizona because mcveigh had
lived there. his army buddy who ended up cutting a plea deal with the government live there with his wife. there was a whole community of anti-government activists mix together with people who were involved in the crystal meth trade. quite an assembly of people. there was a man who ran a group called the arizona patriots fund who mcveigh almost certainly knew. i started out this project very interested in the arizona ankle. you know, all the way through. the short version of what i found was this. there were one or two people who should, i believe, have been scrutinized much more closely. one man in particular by the name of steve cockburn who was a chemist. he had worked at cedar sinai hospital in beverly hills in california. very bright, very unstable. he knew how to build explosives.
and the government was after him for a number of things, including suspension -- suspicion that he possessed an m-60 machine gun which she was caught with on video in california and there was an arrest warrant put out for him in the summer of '94. he ended up disappearing into the desert in arizona. it appears he knew mcveigh. the fbi in the course of their investigation established that the two had exchanged letters. a decision was made in may of 1995 that there were going to overlook everything about him except what he could tell them about mcveigh to corroborate the fact that they had been in touch with mcveigh, try to recruit him because it helped establish mcveigh's motivation for the bombing. they overlooked a number of things. his bomb making ability. the fact that his own uncle had said how he had always been afraid that steve would turn into a mad bomber. he felt the steve was fully capable of carrying out the
bombing. they ignored testimony from the people who shared a part of the does it within his said that on the day of the bombing he lifted the tv and seemed to claim some kind of ownership. he claimed -- he talked about nitromethane and bombing a federal building in the days before the bombing. the fbi and justice department overlook this completely. coming back, not sure that was a decision. from the documentation. a woman by the name -- the number two in charge of all the u.s. attorney's came out to arizona and sat in on that meeting on the 20th of may may 1995. and she was the one who signed off on that decision. i don't know what the mechanics were. no one spoke to me about it. most likely the decision came from very high happen washington they made a decision to get the stuff on mcveigh. i also know that people within the fbi had the sense -- excuse
me, this was just too crazy to be effective in any kind of serious plot. i don't know if that assessment was correct. my suspicion is that he should have been looked at a lot more closely. i'm not aware of janet napolitano directly closing down the investigation herself, which is not to apologize for it unnecessarily. is just this is what you know and this is what you don't know. eric holder, he was -- i'm not sure exactly what he was doing in 95. in 97 the attorney-general. in 97 the attorney-general was jamie direct his part furiously. and not going to go into the murky details of what that was all about. it's in the book. essentially there was a tremendous peer credit battle between the justice department's who wanted both the justice
department and the fbi who had resisted wanted blame somebody for the fiasco. congress is getting very hot and heavy. and since with the justice department had a certain amount of information against people. the fbi entered an affirmation on janet reno and how she behaved. and this giant game of chicken. sure to be focused on investigating. this debt in the wake spectacularly. the deputy director of the fbi at the time, first in charge of the investigation. he became the subject of the ruby ridge related scandal connected debt altogether. it was tremendously destructive. from going to address. the summer of '95. he died very tolerably.
it appeared he was bludgeoned to death. initial ruling was that it was a suicide. that was then subjects a review based on the lawsuit brought by his brother who is a lawyer. i looked into this fairly closely. again, it comes under the rubric of i don't know. trying to convince his brother was mistaken for john doe two. i never found any evidence in terms of paperwork, people talking about a death confirmed that which doesn't mean is of the case. it just means i don't know. [inaudible] >> i'm sure you go into it in great detail. as far as i know, the information on that, somebody
who was on death row with mcveigh. it was not somebody was a federal agent. right. was not the first one. anyway. i feel because he is so convinced that his brother was somehow make step in the bombing investigation, as a consequence he filed many different suits for freedom of affirmation, release of documents. let me talk. thank you. i want to get everybody else a chance to talk. very briefly. he performed a valuable public service by bringing documents to light. a very hopeful part of the project. it was a big i don't know. the focus of this book was really how the investigation unfolded and the things that were directly related to the investigation that we know of for sure that we can document
and talk about. for that reason we made a decision that we were not going to talk about it. somebody else. yes. >> just a curiosity. the access that you all had to terry nichols, super max prison. alou curious how you were able to get that access. >> a great question. at the time we started he was still prevented from having access to the media and the patriot act and it was a real problem. i can't tell you how we did it, but roger charles, my co-author, was possible for finding a way to get access said terry nichols, and it was invaluable. you know, i will tell you also that he has been -- he has been completely silent from the time he was arrested and brought into federal custody until about 2004 when he was finally not going to be put to death in a recent is
to life in state court here in oklahoma. he started writing a tremendous amount about what the new. those ridings increased over time, and once we get access to and we ashton hundreds of questions to which he gave extended detailed answers. not that we believe everything you tell this, but it gave tremendous texture and depth to the story and put a lot of things -- of up to a lot of issues. so i am extremely grateful to terry nichols for his contribution as a researcher. i also think he has been very forthright in admitting is responsibility for a number of criminal activities directly related to the bombing. whether he admitted everything, where everything was exactly the truth, that is something that we pause very carefully. but we could not have had the book in the form that is. yes. >> the gentleman behind you.
>> this series of lawsuits filed >> rights. >> he had one which she was trying to get the cameras on the building on the north side of the building. central intelligence agency. they got involved. objecting to the activity. it was not released on the grounds of national security. >> that's not quite right. that's of quite right. >> about the explosive a lot of people took to the developments, and others, the computer class of there. at the time this happened, the building shook.
the instructor said its net earthquake, everyone jumps on the desk. everyone got under the desk. a couple people. about five seconds later another explosion. a lot of people, experts suggested that there were explosive devices. in the area, can you -- >> sure. i can tell you unequivocally there were not working. tom hunt, the head of the federal protective service drop the physical survey call the security arrangements, two
months before the bombing. there in black and white is at the video cameras are now working. as i told you earlier he and a judge were very concerned about this and wanted to do something about this. the answer came back no. i don't want to draw too much on him, but he has sued the government believing that these cameras might exist, there might have benefited from those cameras. and in one of these comedy of errors the people and the records department of the fbi clearly don't know, have not seen the document i have seen. i don't think anyone at the fbi ever saw it because i was given by tom hunt directly. they are operating on the basis, we are not sure if this exists are not. we will fight this on legal grounds, cover our bases either way. and this has been going on for years. i can tell you definitively that the cameras were not working. the cia thing is actually a different part of what they're
suing over. i'll leave that to one side. a lot of people, not just in the office, but many people felt that there was an initial shaking and then a much bigger blast that came somewhere between seven and 11 seconds later. this was something that the geologists who first talked, but there might have been two explosions. his boss and the u.s. geological survey then explained why they felt that was mistaken. i have spoken to a tremendous number of explosive experts, and the explanation that was given to me is that what happens when you have a base closing like that is it creates a vacuum. a few seconds after the initial blast to get something called a negative light "to the blast wave whittier suspect in. that was what impact to the building hardest, much harder than the initial a explosion, and that is what should the columns and cost the pancaking
defect that caused some many people to die. >> the explosive device. you know, mixing fuel with ammonium nitrate. after 24 minutes. that's all you have to set it off. >> all i can tell you on that subject, very briefly both terry nichols and timothy mcveigh gave detailed descriptions of the composition of the bomb. i showed it to end this experts and government, out of government. they all said both devices would essentially work. what is interesting, they're very different from each other. different from each other in terms of how they describe the bomb being built on the 18th.
>> then raises the question, you know, mcveigh claims to be the mastermind but as lusty stealth and his design is much less logical the nichols. the question asked in the book, was nichols' the mastermind was someone else it was showing them what to do? again, another one of the big open questions. i heard from no credible explosive expert that it was not possible to transport bomb's away that mcveigh described it being transported. that is not something that anybody i came across with real credentials said was a problem. let's somebody else of ago. >> ask the question. i worked about a block south of the square of the building. so it was quite a different experience in as much as all the
facts that have come out since then. it was more of an emotional thing. everybody downtown experienced not only the people personally at the building, but the whole downtown area experienced quite an emotional shock. they're work on lock down for two hours around the downtown area. i don't know how quickly that happens, but i know you could not get out. to you know anything about that? >> well, actually, it was a big problem in terms of investigating the bombing in the way in which the perimeter was set up around the crime scene. it actually wasn't done properly it was a big part of the reason why the fbi failed to gather the forensic evidence to be able to make any meaningful conclusions about the device that exploded, and they were absolutely taken to the cleaners a court over that. a couple of reasons.
the defense had a terrific for as a lawyer from texas who tore them apart piece by piece. secondly, because the justice department inspector general came out with a report about the fbi crime lab in the military selection blasting the fbi crime lab over oklahoma city in a number of other high-profile crimes showing how they had done their work backwards, taken evidence from elsewhere to make conclusions about the composition of the bomb and effectively blew the chance to put together a compelling for is a case for what had happened. there were a number of failures, and some of them were understandable because the first impulse right after the explosion was save as many lives as possible. people were travelling in and out, and it was a crime scene and rescue scene. there was -- there was an initial follow-up bomb alert at about 10:30 a.m. an hour-and-a-half after the initial blast which gave the
federal authorities a chance to set up a provisional perimeter. a very small one, not big enough according to the experts. what you need is the entire debris field plus 25%. that did not happen for quite some time. and even once that perimeter was set up there were all kinds of security problems, red cross people coming in and handing out water and food which again from a human point of view is entirely understandable will was not done in a way that respected the integrity of the crime scene and could have been done better. no one thought to cover the cratered the night of the bombing. there was a tremendous rain storm. ammonium nitrate was destroyed on contact with moisture. huge missed opportunity to gather evidence that could have been used effectively to work out how the bomb was built, who might have built it, how sophisticated it was in these kinds of things. [inaudible] >> certainly from the point of view of the search and rescue
operation there was no experience with this. fema came in on the evening of the bombing and in particular had never had a disaster. fema did not endear itself as an extended to anyone in the way that they behaved. it a try to boss everybody around. they claimed credit for everything the oklahoma city fire department had done in terms of rescuing people, getting them out. they really behave appallingly. that is also in the book. one of the waste was they did not respect the specs for the fbi in terms of getting onto the crime scene once became clear that there were no more people left alive. the fbi should have had control of the place. it did not get a love of -- the did not get control for 11 days. it did not do any favors to the crime investigators. [inaudible] >> the day of the bombing i was
working in the county office, about two and a half blocks from where the federal building was. i heard two explosions. >> right. i mean -- >> i heard two explosions. >> everybody did. >> no, they didn't. people have argued with me for 17 years that i didn't hear two explosions. i know what i heard. >> right. >> number two, there has been a rumor that the bomb was not made at the lake. it was made in oklahoma city. i finally got to get to the warehouse where the bomb was supposed to have been made. it was not made by timothy mcveigh. timothy mcveigh was in the army sure. he and my second son rescission
together at fort riley kansas. they did not make bombs. they also went to the persian gulf together. terry nichols wrote me and told me that bond that he told me to not blow up the federal building be as they to know how to make bombs. it was real lumpy. there are a lot of things that seemed like nobody wants to talk about. >> okay. let me address one are two of those things. you know, i think a lot of rumors have been circulated. i think a lot of troubling and some of information are out there, and that think it is very important to try to distinguish fact from fiction. it is absolutely true that terry nichols has written. he wrote this to us as well. he wants to believe the bomb that the bill with mcveigh was not the one that blew up the