The Oklahoma City Bombing:
A Past and Future Historyby John Loeffler World Affairs Editor
In May the United States braced itself for the inevitable carnival that would surround the execution of Timothy McVeigh for his role in the 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Then suddenly the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) revealed that - oops! - it had failed to turn over 3,000 pages of evidence to McVeigh's attorneys during the discovery process at McVeigh's trial.
Shortly thereafter, Timothy McVeigh's attorneys announced they were seeking a stay of execution, making accusations of "a fraud upon the court" by the federal government, which had already admitted it withheld documents during both the trial and sentencing phases of the process against McVeigh. 1 The attorneys also alleged there were "...still critical documents about this investigation being withheld by the FBI...." 2
This revelation was the latest "oops" in a pattern of irregularities leading all the way back to the FBI's involvement in the Ruby Ridge standoff in 1992, where either the ATF or FBI tampered with evidence and withheld it in the Randy Weaver trial and later engaged in a cover-up of FBI misconduct in the whole affair.
The FBI's role at Waco will remain one of the dark days of its history. The Cato Institute's No Confidence: An Unofficial Account of the Waco Incident documents felonies committed by government agents, including a videotaped criminal assault on a TV reporter by federal agents (which have never been prosecuted). In 1997, the FBI paid $1.16 million to a former crime laboratory agent, who was fired after he blew the whistle on serious irregularities in the evidence testing in hundreds of cases, including the World Trade Centre and Oklahoma City bombings. Just recently, FBI counterintelligence officer Robert Hansen was accused of spying for the Russians for 15 years and has subsequently been indicted following failed plea bargain attempts. After holding accused Chinese spy Wen Ho Lee for almost a year without trial - oops! - all charges but one were dropped, an obvious save-face for the FBI.
Clinton's Justice Department
Timothy McVeigh was originally resigned to being executed in May, but he reversed himself following the FBI's latest announcement about its retention of evidence. McVeigh attempted to utilize his case to demonstrate his rationale for the bombing in the first place, that the federal government is running outside of accountability and control, but his appeal was denied. Although no one would agree with McVeigh's criminal action, he was not alone in his conviction that things are radically wrong. Author David Limbaugh (brother of talk show host Rush Limbaugh) makes the argument in his new book, Absolute Power, that the Clinton administration thoroughly corrupted the Justice Department.
On the day President Clinton had his hair cut while Air Force One sat on the tarmac of Los Angeles International Airport, delaying air traffic for hours, the president's administration under Janet Reno fired all 93 of the country's United States attorneys!3 The mainline media covered the haircut and ignored this unprecedented firing, which should have been the first indicator that the Justice Department was being politicized.
This was followed by the Waco debacle, the Justice Department's war against the tobacco industry, and an endless series of Clinton administration scandals with follow-up investigations that were clearly whitewashes and cover-ups. The administration used the IRS to persecute conservative groups and illegally used FBI files to blackmail political opponents. Other events, such as the violent raid to retrieve Cuban child refugee Elin Gonzlez, only served to deepen this image of government. Millions were enraged at the photograph of Elin being removed at gunpoint by a federal agent. A civil rights complaint in the matter was filed at the end of May, naming (among others) former Attorney General Janet Reno, who was served papers while lunching at a restaurant in Miami. The mainline media probably didn't tell you that either. All of these events - and more - served to erode credibility in government. But how had the country arrived at this point?
The Country's Great March Left
After a postwar decade of prosperity in the 1950s, the fabric of the U.S. common belief system underwent radical changes in the 1960s and succeeding decades. The civil rights movement flowered in the '60s and ended segregation. While it was intended to be the equalization of long-standing injustices against African-Americans, it was soon joined by Vietnam War protests and other causes on college campuses, generally driven by radical leftist and pro-Marxist ideology. Eventually the civil rights movement was hijacked by the new left to create a whole new victim class of people who merited special treatment, wherein all sorts of groups demanding all sorts of imagined "rights" climbed onto the civil rights bandwagon. Martin Luther King would not recognize his dream today.
By the middle 1980s, traditional American values were largely disenfranchised and ridiculed in the public arena. People knew something was wrong; this wasn't the America they had known and they knew they weren't being heard but didn't know why. There was no such thing as "bipartisanship" in Congress in those days. Conservatives were given crumbs from the table, as long as they didn't interfere with the liberal political agenda.
Enter Talk Radio
In the mid-'80s, conservatives found a forum in the phenomenon of talk radio and the airwaves crackled with the voice of a new anti-establishment protest, this time from the right instead of the left. (Note that the young, leftist anti-government protestors of the '60s, President Clinton among them, had become the establishment leftists of the '80s and '90s.) By the 1990s, conservative talk radio was in full swing, transmitting a daily avalanche of heretofore unheard information and viewpoints. At the same time, cheap FAX technology and email enabled conservative political groups, foundations and think tanks to rapidly disseminate information which had previously been stifled by the leftist media, whose decades-long choke hold on the public mind had finally been broken. The religious right was also beginning to see fruit in its decades-long push to gain influence inside the Republican party, especially the pro-life movement.
At this time, right-wing discontent with government reached new peaks. Education had derailed itself, after billions of dollars of investment and failed promises of "reform" from the education establishment. Property rights had taken a brutal beating from the war on drugs and the environmental movement. Millions of Americans were facing debt issues with the IRS as government taxes soared. In hundreds of stories, people could recount some unfortunate tangle with the establishment, having found themselves hopelessly entangled in a web of government regulations, laws, fines and penalties.
In the early 1990s, certain events catalyzed the conservative movement. Not only was it gaining a huge head of stream, but Ruby Ridge and Waco occurred, adding to the anxieties of many that parts of their government might just be running out of control. As scandals in the Clinton administration unfolded one by one, the new talk radio kept promulgating facts that the mainliners had tried to "spike."
Where Did That Come From?
The mainline media was generally oblivious to the rising influence of the new kids on the block, but a wake-up shock hit them during the November 1994 elections, which produced a landslide turn toward conservatism. The TV network news organizations covering election returns that night were visibly shaken by the results. Dan Rather referred to it as a "national temper tantrum." The national temper tantrum continued to build in crescendo and the left-wing socialist agenda of 30 years seemed in dire straights. That was until the morning of April 19, 1995, when a tragic bomb blast in Oklahoma City killed 168 innocent men, women and children.
A Presidential Call for Disunity
Oklahoma City did not occur in a vacuum. There had been a rising tide of discontent with government, much of it justified but with all political movements or trends, there are extremes.
After the bombing, the appropriate action would have been for President Clinton to unite the country as one in grieving over a disastrous tragedy. But he chose to do exactly the opposite. Within 48 hours, the president began a campaign to blame everyone on the right for the "atmosphere of hate" that had caused the tragedy. The left-wing media joined in the feeding frenzy. No one was exempt: pro-lifers, pro-family organizations, home schoolers, the religious right (portrayed as whackos) and especially "hate radio."
Although a few brave souls in Congress and elsewhere attempted to stand on principle during the onslaught and challenged the president's wild allegations, the country's emotional trauma acted like a volcanic explosion that blew away any reasoned effort to stand in the storm of hysteria.
The Fallout from the Oklahoma City Bombing
People on the right scrambled to look "moderate." The left called the tune and the right danced to it. Talk show hosts were fired or told to tone it down. Elected representatives refused to stand on principle. Overnight, the entire conservative movement went underground by looking "moderate."
Just nine days after the bombing, in his daily report on April 28, 1995, Gary Bauer of the Family Research Council wrote: "The liberal media and politicians may have accomplished their goal in the last few days by linking the thugs who blew up the federal building in Oklahoma City with legitimate conservative political views. A number of congressmen have told me that their fellow conservatives in Congress are 'scared' and on the defensive. How long this paranoia will last is anyone's guess."4 That paranoia has lasted until now. It effectively scuttled the conservative comeback. As a result of the Oklahoma City fire storm, new political categories have emerged in the press. "Mainstream" people are liberals. "Moderates" are conservatives who don't oppose what the liberals want to do. "Extremists" are those who oppose the socialist agenda.
Following Oklahoma City, the Republican Party leadership hustled quickly to move its image towards center, leaving true conservatives, religious righters, pro-lifers and Constitutionalists alone by themselves on the genuine right. As such, the Republican party surrendered its ability to counter the constant leftward drone towards socialism. Those who are called "far right" today are really conservatives who had not moved while the country and Republican party went radically left.
Religious conservatives are now discovering they are orphans within the party they once worked so hard to promote: still hopeful, but not quite understanding what went wrong. The most recent indicator of this was the passage last week of HR1, the Elementary and Secondary Education Reauthorization Act, with most of the provisions for national control of education intact. There is little difference now between Democrats and Republicans. They are both marching leftward.
But once again, there is a growing disillusioned discontent similar to the political buildup that began in the early 1990s as people begin to realize that there is something wrong. The alternative media are growing and going mainstream. Once again, dissenting voices are beginning to be heard. Where it will lead this time remains to be seen.
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A Strategic Review: Waco: Up From the Ashes - John Loeffler