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The OKC Bombing thread: Surveillance Camera Footage
The OKC Bombing: Surveillance Camera Footage
by Richard Booth
November 1st, 2019

(abridged excerpt from 'John Doe #2 and the Oklahoma City Bombing' by R. Booth)

A 1999 Freedom of Information Act lawsuit revealed that the FBI had twenty two video surveillance recordings of the Murrah building and surrounding area that were stored at its Oklahoma City field office where OKBOMB records are kept. Curiously, a single surveillance tape was listed as housed under lock and key in Washington, D.C. at FBI headquarters. In that lawsuit, Judge Wayne Alley wrote that the FBI had put forward insufficient "justifications for withholding all materials in its investigative files concerning the Oklahoma City Bombing" and further stated that the FBI had exhibited "shoddy conduct" during the litigation. Judge Alley wrote that "the court would be inclined" to compel the FBI the release the surveillance footage, however, ultimately, the Judge ruled that he was unable to do so. A previous order issued by Judge Richard P. Matsch, presiding judge in the McVeigh and Nichols Federal trials, deemed that the surveillance camera footage from the bombing investigation was 'under seal' while the McVeigh and Nichols trial convictions were subject to appeal(s). As a result, Judge Alley ruled that "the Court is presently powerless to grand plaintiff relief under FOIA" in view of Judge Matsch's ruling.

A subsequent FOIA lawsuit issued by Salt Lake City attorney Jesse Trentadue has't been much more successful. In that case, Judge Clark Waddoups ruled that the FBI must produce the surveillance camera recordings. Unfortunately, the footage that the FBI did release shows absolutely nothing prior to the 9:02 AM bombing. Thus, the surveillance tapes appear to be incomplete, edited, or redacted and this can be reasonably demonstrated.

That the released footage is edited or has been redacted can be reasonably deduced based on what appears in FBI inventory logs, a Secret Service timeline, and news media accounts that detail what law enforcement said was on the tapes. For example, an FBI inventory log of seized surveillance camera footage that was reviewed by an FBI agent for footage deemed 'positive' or 'negative' in terms of evidentiary value denotes two recordings as being 'positive' -- that is to say, they show the bombing, the suspects, and/or the suspects' vehicles. Those two recordings are (1) the Journal Records Building footage and (2) footage from the Southwestern Bell building. That footage, along with the footage from the camera mounted on the 2nd floor of the Regency Towers apartment complex, very likely shows the bombers both delivering the bomb truck and making their escape.

Both of the security cameras denoted in the FBI evidence log as 'positive' happened to be positioned on areas where key eyewitnesses described seeing Timothy McVeigh and other suspects in the moments before and after the blast. For example, witness Gary Lewis told the FBI that he observed Timothy McVeigh and another man in a Mercury Marquis speeding by the Journal Records building, and what he saw would presumably be on the Journal Records building tape deemed 'positive.' Similarly, witness Germaine Johnston told the FBI that she spotted McVeigh and another man near the Mercury Marquis in an area that may have been covered by the Southwestern Bell building's cameras.

At an April 29th, 1995 preliminary hearing featuring testimony from FBI SA Jon Hersley, Hersley repeats no less than three times during the hearing that "our primary focus right now is to try to determine the identity and location of the other subjects." Was SA Hersley so certain about the existence of other suspects because that is what was depicted on the surveillance recordings? This seems to be the case, and during this hearing SA Hersley describes surveillance camera footage from the Regency Towers apartment complex, and also testifies concerning elements of what witness Gary Lewis saw near the Journal Records building. Hersley's repeated mention of 'other subjects' and referencing both surveillance footage and witnesses whose accounts were likely recorded by nearby surveillance cameras reinforces the notion that this footage was in the possession of the FBI.

More specific accounts that support the notion of surveillance footage depicting the bombing, or the suspects, comes from the statements of other law enforcement officials. For example, FBI Special Agent in Charge of the Dallas Office and founder of the Hostage Rescue Team, Danny Coulson, was one of the commanders of the OKC bombing investigation. In 1999, on a BookTV (C-SPAN) broadcast where agent Coulson is promoting his book 'No Heroes,' Coulson says point blank "We had the videotape of the truck being pulled up a couple minutes before nine." Supporting this is a Secret Service timeline which states "security video shows the Ryder truck pulling up to the Federal Building then pausing (7-10 seconds) before resuming into a slot in front of the building." Yet another entry in the Secret Service timeline says that 'security video tapes from the area show the truck detonation 3 minutes and 6 seconds after the suspects exited the truck'. This is a startling degree of specificity -- "3 minutes and 6 seconds after the suspects exited the truck" strongly implies that the footage was such that it had a time-code on it, or could otherwise be used to measure the passage of time in relation to what appears on the footage.

In addition to the FBI evidence log and Secret Service documents, there are contemporary news media accounts published after the bombing where law enforcement sources familiar with the recordings describe what is on them. A federal law enforcement source quoted by the Associated Press in October of 1995 stated that he had seen footage taken by one of the cameras on the nearby Regency Towers apartment complex (referenced by SA Hersley in the preliminary hearing). On this footage, the law enforcement source said the viewer can see a passenger in the Ryder truck with McVeigh.

Yet another law enforcement official saw surveillance footage taken from cameras positioned near 5th and Harvey and 5th and Robinson. This source told a Los Angeles Times reporter and Oklahoma News Channel KFOR-4 TV reporter what he saw on the recording. KFOR reporters Kevin Ogle and Brad Edwards relayed what their source told them in a broadcast that aired on KFOR television news in the fall of 1995:

"A Ryder truck with two men inside of it parked at the bomb site in front of the Murrah building. The driver's side door opens and McVeigh steps out, and walks away towards 5th street and the Journal Records building. The passenger stays inside the cabin for a period of time, then exits on foot in the same direction as McVeigh."

This footage has been officially accounted for: documented, watched by law enforcement, testified about in court, and described in news media accounts. The only reason for the FBI to have fought release of this footage, sought to keep it suppressed, and ultimately, released in redacted form is quite obvious: the surveillance footage of the bombing seized by the FBI establishes beyond any doubt that Timothy McVeigh was not alone on the morning of the bombing. That fact--that McVeigh was not alone--stands in stark contrast to the FBI's official narrative that McVeigh was alone. So, to release the footage would be to immediately impeach the FBI's official narrative and thus impugn the agencies' credibility. And that simply won't do: The Bureau is never wrong. The Bureau never makes mistakes. The Bureau always gets it's man. These mantras are establishment truths that always remain unchallenged by the conventional wisdom. It is for this reason that the truth of the surveillance recordings has remained obscured, hidden in the shadows, and subsequently along with it has gone the notion of justice in this case.

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Short video (3-4 minutes) on OKC bombing surveillance camera footage from KFOR-TV, October 1995:

* David Hoffman v. United States Department of Justice, No. 98-cv-01733-WEA, filing 12/15/1999
existence of 23 tapes confirmed

* David Hoffman v. United States Department of Justice, No. 98-cv-01733-WEA, filing 07/10/2001
quotes Judge Alley, final ruling

* "Surveillance Tape Shows Shadowy Passenger in Bomb Truck." The Tuscaloosa News, 28 Oct 1995. Print. 3A.
Law enforcement officer views tape, says passenger in Ryder truck

* Cash, J.D. and Jeff Holladay. "Videotape Won't Help Theory." McCurtain Daily Gazette, 12 Sep 1996.
Content of Journal Records Building footage

* Patterson, James. "Time to unseal videotapes of Murrah Federal Building." Indianapolis Star, 16 Nov 2002. Print.
Summary of Hoffman FOIA case

* John Solomon. "Document Cites Videotape in McVeigh Bombing." The Journal News, 20 Apr. 2004.
Mentions several tapes, Secret Service timeline

* "Attorney: Oklahoma City Bombing tapes appear edited," Associated Press. 28 September 2009.
Trentadue FOIA suit, videotape releases incomplete

* "Witness: More Oklahoma City bombing videos may exist." Associated Press, 30 Jul 2014.
Summary of 2008 Trentadue FOIA case, Judge Waddoups ruling, 30 videos released that show nothing

* FBI evidence log: case 174A-OC-56120 Lead Control #12649A by SA Pamela A Matson
Summary of seized video, JRB and SWB footage deemed 'positive', of evidentiary value

* FBI 302 174A-OC-56120 SUB D-4553 4/19/95 seizure Journal Records building surveillance footage

* FBI 302 174A-OC-56120 SUB D-140 4/19/95 seizure SWB video footage

* Secret Service OKBOMB timeline 5/1/95 pp 73
"due to the fact that the security video shows the Ryder truck pulling up to the Federal Building and then pausing (7-10 seconds) before resuming into a slot in front of the building"

* Secret Service OKBOMB timeline 5/1/95 pp 79
"Security video tapes from the area show the truck detonation 3 minutes and 6 seconds after the suspects exited the truck"

* U.S. v Timothy McVEIGH, No. M-95-98-H, Preliminary Hearing April 27th, 1995
Hersley testimony re: other suspects, footage, witnesses

* FBI 302 Interview w/ Gary Lewis, 30 Apr 1995, File #174A-OC-56120 D-1705 LCN #5654
* FBI 302 Interview w/ Gary Lewis, 22 Apr 1995, File #174A-OC-56120 D-245, interviewing agent SA Leslie E. Harris

* C-SPAN2 'BookTV' Danny Coulson 'Inside the FBI's Secret Counter-Terror Force' (1999)
1hr 1m 30 seconds "We had a videotape of the truck being pulled up at a couple minutes toward nine"

* October 1995 KFOR-4 TV broadcast re: footage from 5th and Harvey. TV broadcast footage here:

[size=12]“The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.”
—Winston Churchil
The OKC Bombing: Week Before The Bombing, 3 Suspects Visited Club
by Richard Booth
November 1st, 2019
(abridged excerpt from 'John Doe #2 and the Oklahoma City Bombing' by R. Booth)

April 8th, 1995 (Saturday)
Tulsa, Oklahoma
Lady Godiva's Gentleman's Club
Approximately 9:00 PM to Midnight

Saturday, April 8th, 1995, Timothy McVeigh and two other men paid a visit to a Tulsa strip club called Lady Godiva's. The club's owners were Floyd Radcliffe and his wife, Julie. They had an audio/video security system in the dancer's prep room and the surveillance system captured a cocktail waitress, Tara, talking to a dancer about her encounter with Timothy McVeigh that very night. On video, Tara can be overheard telling the dancer all about it:

"One of them said, 'I'm a very smart man.' I said' You are?' and he goes 'Yes, I am. And on April 19, 1995, you'll remember me for the rest of your life!' I said 'Oh really?' and he says 'Yes, you will.' (see this footage here:

Owner Floyd Radcliffe, upon discovering the footage, phoned the FBI who showed up a week or two later and confiscated the film. Investigative reporter J.D. Cash had begun his investigation of the event before the FBI arrived. Cash made a copy of the security tape before the FBI got it, knowing that once the FBI got their hands on it, it would probably disappear. Cash provided the tape to Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's news program 'The Fifth Estate' and together they carried out an investigation, interviewing the staff at at the club.

The dancers identified Timothy McVeigh from a photo spread as the tallest of the three men, the one who boasted to the cocktail waitress about April 19th. One of the other men with McVeigh was identified from a photo spread of over a dozen men as Andreas Strassmeir. Strassmeir was described as quiet, but easily identifiable due to his buck teeth and German accent. Owner Julie Radcliffe told journalist Jon Ronson that all "the girls identified Strassmeir. They all did identify that gentleman."

Likewise, the other man was also identified. He was described as the man paying for the drinks that night, flashing a wad of $100 bills and talking a lot to the girls. That man, described as 5'8 - 5'9, 170-180 pounds, muscular, dark hair, brown eyes, tan complexion, fitted the description of the FBI's 'John Doe #2' suspect. One dancer, Cassie, told Washington Post reporter Peter Carlson that the man looked just like the John Doe #2 sketch. Upon seeing the sketch she said "I recognize him; he's the one who was sitting in a back booth, talking with other girls." He too was identified out of a dozen men in a photo spread, described by the dancers as "very good looking, but full of himself." The dancers all picked a photograph of Michael Brescia, identifying him as the third man, the one who did the most talking. At the time, Brescia was Andreas Strassmeir's roommate and a member of a domestic terrorist organization called 'The Aryan Republican Army' which had enriched themselves through a spree of 22 midwestern bank robberies, perhaps explaining the unemployed Brescia's wad of $100 bills.

What's more, Dale Culpepper, the club's bouncer, remembers spotting a faded older model Ryder truck in the parking lot with its logo painted over. This was before McVeigh had rented the 'bomb truck' on April 17th, but it aligns with other witness sightings who spotted an older, faded yellow truck at Geary Lake between the 10th and the 13th--later that week--and again at the Dreamland motel on the 14th, 15th, and Easter Sunday the 16th -- all before McVeigh rented the larger 20-foot Ryder truck from Elliott's body shop on Monday the 17th.

J.D. Cash published a piece about this story on September 15th, 1996, and the CBC aired the results of their investigation on the CBC news program 'The Fifth Estate' in the fall of 1996. By that time, one of the dancers who had identified McVeigh had been found dead in her apartment. Dancer Shawntelle Farrens was found dead in Tulsa the week Cash had begun his investigation, her death ruled a suicide by accidental or intentional drug overdose. However, former Tulsa police officer Craig Roberts, who examined the police report, noted that there was a bloody palm print found at the crime scene, leaving unresolved questions: was Shawntelle Farrens murdered? The other dancers and cocktail waitresses, however, had already gone on record: the men seen with Timothy McVeigh that night were Andreas Strassmeir, and his roommate, Michael Brescia. Both would later become central figures in investigative reporters' efforts to track down just who McVeigh's accomplices might have been. This encounter, just over a week before the bombing, fits into that puzzle and may shed light on who at least two of those accomplices were.


* Cash, J.D. "Is A Videotape From A Tulsa Topless Bar The "Smoking Gun" In Oklahoma Bombing?" McCurtain Daily Gazette [Idabel, OK], 15 September 1996. Print.
* Cash, J.D. "Canadians Air Club Film" McCurtain Daily Gazette [Idabel, OK], 23 Oct 1996. Print.
* Ronson, John. "Conspirators." The Guardian, 4 May 2001. Web. 13 Feb 2013.
* "The Company They Keep." The Fifth Estate. The Canadian Broadcasting Company. 22 October 1996. Television.
* Carlson, Peter. "The Shadow - Did He Ever Really Exist?" Washington Post Magazine. 23 March 1997. Print.
* Jason Van Vleet. "Terror From Within." MGA Films, 28 August 2002. Television documentary, VHS.
* Evans-Pritchard, Ambrose. The Secret Life of Bill Clinton: The Unreported Stories. Washington, D.C.: Regnery Publishing, 1997. pp 87-88
Re: Strassmeir and Brescia w/ McVeigh:
"they also picked out Michael Brescia and Andreas Strassmeir from a montage of photos" … "Brescia, they recalled, was very good looking, but full of himself. He was the one paying for the drinks and flashing hundred dollar bills."
* Ridgeway, James. "Beyond McVeigh: What the Feds Won't Tell You About Oklahoma City." The Village Voice, 15 May 2001. Print

Video: Footage from Lady Godiva's April 8th, 1995 where cocktail waitress 'Tara' talks about McVeigh's bragging to her:

Was 'John Doe #2' in the OKC bombing Michael Brescia?

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[size=12]“The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.”
—Winston Churchil
Good stuff, keep it coming! OKC was practice run for WTC take-1 and 911 take-2. IMHO.
"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn
"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will" - Frederick Douglass
Peter Lemkin Wrote:Good stuff, keep it coming! OKC was practice run for WTC take-1 and 911 take-2. IMHO.

Thanks! I have enough material and sources to produce dozens of articles on specific topics. My archive has over 1,000 newspaper and magazine reports on the case, McVeigh and Nichols federal trial transcripts, affidavits, FBI 302 and FD-192 reports, misc. reports and documents, and grand jury testimony (Which I should not have, but I do, and i'm sticking to my constitution 1st amendment press association mantra of not revealing sources and not directly quoting what people in the grand juries said. I can paraphrase it, but I can't repeat it word for word...)

I've got another couple articles I'm working on, and in the bigger picture, a book that's about 3/4 finished.

[size=12]“The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.”
—Winston Churchil
Richard, are there print sources that describe the DOJ/FBI investigation of OKC from top down, as in how the investigation was handled from DC, and who at Justice and FBI was put on it, and how they interacted with FBI field offices and local law enforcement?

I'm interested in the involvement of John O'Neill, FBI, deceased. Even the barest or most incomplete (or falsified) procedural accounts would be of help. Gee, somehow none of this has made it into the standard literature on OKC, even those works with a CT slant. THANKS
David Andrews Wrote:Richard, are there print sources that describe the DOJ/FBI investigation of OKC from top down, as in how the investigation was handled from DC, and who at Justice and FBI was put on it, and how they interacted with FBI field offices and local law enforcement?

I'm interested in the involvement of John O'Neill, FBI, deceased. Even the barest or most incomplete (or falsified) procedural accounts would be of help. Gee, somehow none of this has made it into the standard literature on OKC, even those works with a CT slant. THANKS

Good question. The investigation was handled by a number of high level FBI agents who were micro-managed by Louis Freeh. Agents involved include BOB RICKS, WELDON KENNEDY, DANNY COULSON.

There are not any books that I am aware of that talk about the investigation from the viewpoint of the FBI.

What I know about the FBI investigation comes from a large amalgamation of sources. For example, there is some talk of the investigation in Roger Charles' book 'Oklahoma City: What the Investigation Missed and Why It Still Matters'. So, you'd want to read that. Additional bits of information can be gleaned from news reports--very little of value though.

Then, you pick up some things just by reading FBI 302 reports. For example, it became clear to me that JON HERSLEY and LARRY TONGATE were mid level agents who would be brought in to browbeat witnesses. HERSLEY was a hatchet man his name would come up from time to time in 302s from witnesses who we know from news reports and books were interviewed dozens of times. For example, JEFFREY DAVIS delivered chinese food to McVeigh's motel room and he said the man was absolutely NOT Timothy McVeigh, said he had longer hair "tousled about" and a "regional accent." Davis has said in interviews he was interviewed by the FBI over 20 times and that they were essentially angry with him and just wanted him to say "darn it, it was McVeigh." So you'll pick up bits and pieces here and there from different sources where you'll learn that Davis was pressured. Then you go look at the list of 302 reports and find the name of the agents who interviewed him, and sure enough HERSLEY is there. Then there is another witness at a motel in Oklahoma who had a story that the FBI did not care for. That guy, RANDALL COLLINS, was also interviewed by HERSLEY who, according to Collins, put stuff in the 302 that was incorrect and NOT what he said. There is handful of at least six witnesses who had things done to them like they were forced to take a polygraph, they were told "you did not see that", some people were really offended by the way the FBI treated them. Davis is a good example of that. The head of the Ryder rental office, ELDON ELLIOTT also said he was pressured. CONNIE SMITH was forced to take a poly and told "you did not see that" and she was very upset about that. So you look at the 302s and see who interviewed these people and you get an idea which agents were assigned to certain witnesses.

Then there are a few quotes in the newspaper from DANNY COULSON about the investigation. Circa 2004 or so, you have COULSON saying that "some improper" things happened during the investigation and he believes that an independent prosecutor should investigate.

Then you see quotes from the FBI's defenders. That would be DANNY DEFENBAUGH who was put in charge of the investigation largely because he was viewed as someone who could be controlled by people like BEAR BRYANT or TOM PICKARD. He would be a yes-man and do whatever he was told. Info about that is in Roger Charles book.

As for John O'Neill, I know who he is and I have never once seen his name come up in the Oklahoma City bombing. He was not an agent who was involved, I don't think, because the investigation was handled by 'FOL' or 'Friends of Louis' [Freeh]. People who could be controlled by Louis Freeh and who were loyal to him.

I think that DANNY COULSON knows a lot and likely is aware of specifics when it comes to improper conduct but he has not gone on record saying what that is, specifically, only that there was improper conduct.

Coulson also goes on record regarding 'John Doe #2' in a mid 2000s BBC broadcast where he talks about how the guy exists, how 24 witnesses all saw him. That documentary then puts on-screen JON HERSLEY and his job is to poo-poo any witnesses the FBI didn't care for so he says things like "some people wanted to be on TV" and "they tried to help but they didn't see anything" -- just totally offensive things that I'm sure many of these witnesses would strongly disagree with. I don't think it's fair to characterize all witnesses who saw McVeigh with others as people who "want to be on TV" -- that was a slam and intentional insult from agent HERSLEY and it's what I've come to expect from him after having read how he muddled with COLLINS' 302, and how he re-interviewed lots of people, you get the impression he's a hatchet man for the investigation whose job is to suppress witnesses the FBI doesn't find convenient.

So your question is difficult to answer as there are not any good books to read that will answer those questions.

Another agent who has spoken about the investigation is RICARDO OJEDA. He investigated a number of leads relating to a white supremacist compound in Oklahoma called ELOHIM CITY. OJEDA has gone on record saying that his reports were buried, they were never passed on to certain investigators or the defense team.

For doing that, agent OJEDA is defamed, in one documentary you have DANNY DEFENBAUGH saying "shame on you, there's a hidden agenda" if you have anyone saying anything negative about the bureau. OJEDA also filed an affidavit in the 2004 Nichols state trial which discussed how the FBI would hide certain witness reports in what is called the 'zero file' -- a process by which reports the bureau found inconvenient would be buried in an administrative filing system. Agent OJEDA also has an interview with the defense team where he told them that the FBI assigned a pair of agents to a few different witnesses that the FBI did not want the media finding out about, people that were considered "hot" so the FBI assigned specific agents to "handle" them and ensure that the media and defense team don't find out about them.

So you can learn a few things from listening to agent OJEDA's comments on History Channel program, reading his affidavit, and reading the defense team memo that talks about FBI dispatching agents to ensure certain witnesses remain out of touch to the media.

Sorry I don't have a better answer for you or a specific place you can look for what you are looking for. In this case, you learn a few things about the FBI investigators but usually it's from little small things mentioned here and there and over time it accumulates and you get an idea how the bureau worked -- intimidating witnesses, shaming any agents who speak up, dispatching Hersley or Defenbaugh to tout the official line, etc.

The FBI's 'dissidents' in this case would be Danny Coulson and Ricardo Ojeda. Coulson isn't defamed for his comments because he has too much prestige---founded the FBI hostage rescue team and was involved in many high profile cases so he never does get defamed by other agents like they did to Ricardo Ojeda. Ojeda was trashed for speaking up. The most the FBI has said about Coulson's statements is "I didn't know Danny had said that."

[size=12]“The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.”
—Winston Churchil
David Andrews Wrote:Richard, are there print sources that describe the DOJ/FBI investigation of OKC from top down, as in how the investigation was handled from DC, and who at Justice and FBI was put on it, and how they interacted with FBI field offices and local law enforcement?

I'm interested in the involvement of John O'Neill, FBI, deceased. Even the barest or most incomplete (or falsified) procedural accounts would be of help. Gee, somehow none of this has made it into the standard literature on OKC, even those works with a CT slant. THANKS

There is a 300 megabyte file that is a list of FBI 302 reports that's on the UT Austin website. You can't actually read the 302s online, but I have cross referenced that list before to find out which agents interviewed which witnesses. That might be of some help.

All you'll really learn is "okay so JOHN ELVIG" interviewed him... "okay so HERSLEY" interviewed him". I don't think I saw Agent O'Neill's name on any of those reports.

I've never seen Agent O'Neill mentioned in relation to the OKC bombing.
[size=12]“The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.”
—Winston Churchil
David Andrews Wrote:Richard, are there print sources that describe the DOJ/FBI investigation of OKC from top down, as in how the investigation was handled from DC, and who at Justice and FBI was put on it, and how they interacted with FBI field offices and local law enforcement?

I'm interested in the involvement of John O'Neill, FBI, deceased. Even the barest or most incomplete (or falsified) procedural accounts would be of help. Gee, somehow none of this has made it into the standard literature on OKC, even those works with a CT slant. THANKS

One thing worth noting: the investigation's on-scene commander, Danny Coulson, is real similar to John O'Neil insofar as he did things his own way and didn't give a damn what others thought.

He went where his nose told him to go. He was a cowboy, a former operative/sniper on the HRT (Hostage Rescue Team). He negotiated the peaceful surrender of the Covenant, Sword, and Arm of the Lord in 1983. He was there the year before when THE ORDER was taken down in the pacific northwest. Coulson was also on the undercover operations committee that had to sign off on programs like PATCON and other Major Case UC/O. So he would have been in a position to answer a great deal of questions about who the players in that investigation were.

The difference between Coulson and O'Neill in terms of being a maverick: Coulson had developed enough prestige by the time of the OKC bombing that he could not be defamed or alienated like O'Neill was. No one dared try to defame Danny Coulson. He was Special Agent in Charge of the Dallas Office and the street agents loved Danny Coulson. They respected him, not feared him. So he was a maverick on the inside. Had Coulson ran the investigation I believe all of the accomplices would have been captured.

As far as I know the investigation was controlled top-down by Louis Freeh, he put Danny Defenbaugh in charge because Defenbaugh would do whatever Freeh told him and was ineffective, he had no power to get anything done on his own. The investigation should have been put in the hands of Danny Coulson but when Freeh saw he couldn't control him it was given to someone else who was largely thought of as ineffective. I believe that if Coulson had been in charge he would not have said "John Doe #2" doesn't exist and he would have pressed for the guy's arrest even if he was an informant. The working theory among most OKC researchers is that John Doe #2 was an asset, an informant, or a cooperating witness and as a result the FBI made him disappear. So the bureau couldn't be embarrassed. Defenbaugh would do that. Coulson would not do that, he would go wherever the leads went even if it meant embarrassing the bureau. What happens if, for example, John Doe #2 was a provocateur, part of an FBI major case undercover operation that fell under Bear Bryant? (PATCON for example) Coulson would not have cared and would have probably exposed it. Defenbaugh would have covered it up.

Another agent who would have been at the top, on Freeh's phone or in Freeh's office every day was BOB RICKS. He would have been Freeh's go-to man in Oklahoma (even though Coulson was on-scene commander in OKC, Freeh would have gone to RICKS.) RICKS would have interfaced with local law enforcement in Oklahoma and Kansas. There would be some crossover there with RICKS doing that and COULSON doing that, but Freeh I am sure trusted Ricks but did not trust Coulson.

I wish there were a good org chart for this investigation, I think it would be revealing.

I would want to know if, anywhere on that chart, you would find LARRY POTTS. I suspect you would find him there.

Others I am curious about would be TOM PICKARD and BEAR BRYANT. I suspect Bear Bryant was involved as some mention is made about how Danny Defenbaugh was loyal to him, that Defenbaugh was a proxy for Bear Bryant. That was in Roger's book. As you probably know, Bryant and Pickard had it in for John O'Neill and they were bad actors, they were cutthroat, office politics types.

I think you present a very good angle for research. Someone needs to produce a top-down list of the people who ran this investigation and who their contacts at justice were. That person isn't me, I don't know enough about the structure at the FBI in 1995 to be able to produce that, nor would I know "who to talk to" to get sources on this.

I know the first person anyone wanting to find out more about the investigation would want to talk to is DANNY COULSON. He was _NOT_ a "Friend of Louis" and was very much totally a straight shooter and independent. He won't lie for anyone and he won't shut up about John Doe #2, or, for example, he said in 1999 "we had videotape of the truck pulling up a few minutes to nine." --- Danny might not realize it but he should NOT have said that. The FBI's official position is "those tapes do not exist" because, well, the tapes all show McVeigh with another person. But Danny doesn't care about Louis Freeh's talking points, or what the "official story" mandates. He would be inclined to speak the truth.

So anyone wanting to find out the stuff you're asking about would need to talk to Danny Coulson, and they'd probably also do well to identify local agents who were treated like shit who have stories to tell. Anyone who came in conflict with the Friends of Louis would probably have a story to tell. Through those stories from people inside, a framework of who the players were could emerge.

I think I'm going to ask Roger Charles if he knows whether or not JOHN O'NEILL had any involvement in the case. If anyone of my contacts would know that, it's him. But I suspect that O'NEILL would have been sidelined because this case was tightly controlled by Louis Freeh and his surrogates and proxies were the people running things at Headquarters and at the regional level he had his people installed there.

[size=12]“The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.”
—Winston Churchil
Sorry to be so long winded with so many replies. I just thought of a couple sources that might be worth looking at.

1. Simple Truths' written by Jon Hersley and Larry Tongate

This is a book that essentially tells the FBI's sanitized version of the investigation: McVeigh and Nichols built the bomb on 4/18, McVeigh drove to OKC the next day by himself and delivered it.

Of course, this is not the truth. Dozens upon dozens of people saw Timothy McVeigh in OKC on April 19th and every single one of them saw him with another person. So I have not bothered to read Simple Truths because I know it will be an exercise in omissions. The story presented in it will be in spite of the evidence not because of it.

I plan to buy a copy, eventually, so I can produce a write-up on the book--like was done w/ Gerald Posner's book 'Case Closed' and as was done by Jim DiEugenio on Bugliosi's book.

It is notable that one of the agents who wrote the book, Jon Hersley, was an agent who was always dispatched to browbeat witnesses. If a witness was a problem to the FBI, had an account that didn't 'fit' their narrative, they'd send Hersley in to conduct a hostile interview. Hersley is also the guy who always gets quoted by news media when discussing the case--Hersley is the P.R. man for the bureau regarding the Oklahoma City Bombing, he can be relied upon to provide quotes supportive of the Bureau and dismissive of anything that doesn't fit with their narrative. He was interviewed extensively in a 2007 BBC production on the bombing (which was very good.)

The last thing I have to say about Simple Truths:

"The truth is rarely pure and never simple."
--Oscar Wilde

2. No Heroes by Danny Coulson:

This book is a memoir by Coulson and does not focus exclusively on the OKC bombing, but it is possible worth parsing to see what Coulson has to say about the investigation.

I have not read this book, except for a small section. There is a section in the book where Coulson says that he refused to be interviewed by FBI agents, producing 302 reports, relating to an investigation (Ruby Ridge) because he knew that FBI agents will omit details or otherwise produce false information in 302 reports. Coulson stated that he would submit notarized affidavits outlining his answers to questions or any statements rather than submit to an interview that produces a slanted 302 report by one of Louis Freeh's sycophants.

So, I have read that section of the book as it relates to a practice I have found is really endemic in the FBI and that is how they refuse to record interviews and instead take notes and then the FBI agent, sometimes days or weeks later, will produce his written version of the interview in an FD-302. The weakness in this, of course, is that the agent producing the 302 can omit whatever details he wants, and can make things up if he wants to. It relies on the 'honor' system and in the FBI the prevailing notion is "agents never lie" and "agents never make mistakes" so they think this honor system is appropriate. Of course, it is not appropriate, and the FBI should instead record all interviews on tape and have those recordings transcribed and have that put into a 302 report.

So, these are two sources that are both written by FBI agents and probably do speak to elements of the investigation.

Some comments on my area of expertise:

My primary focus on OKC is witnesses--what the witnesses all saw. So in that respect I have gathered a large amount of FBI 302 reports and other things (transcripts of testimony at trial, transcripts of grand jury proceedings) that relate directly to the eyewitnesses. The chapter in my book detailing in chronological order what the witnesses saw is 80 pages long, so you can see that this is my primary area of focus.

Here is quote about the investigation by Danny Coulson from 2004:

"There are some unanswered questions here. A lot of things happened that were inappropriate." Coulson said. "I think it needs to be reopened, but I don't think it should be reopened by the FBI. It needs to be a special investigator, a lawyer, totally independent. He needs to have subpoena power and the ability to use a grand jury"

[Image: attachment.php?attachmentid=9798&stc=1]

Here is another quote from Coulson from a few years later, 2007:

"We have victims here and we have victims' families and we don't even know the answers. And the answer is frankly for a federal grand jury."

"It wasn't until after I had left the investigation, some months later, that I know FBI headquarters told them to close down the investigation in Elohim City which has some very significant connections to Mr McVeigh and previous bombing attempts. Never in my career did I have FBI headquarters tell me not to investigate something"

Then the report has agent Jon Hersley quoted (surprise surprise), towing the FBI company line:

"There was none of that whatsoever. In fact, in this investigation I feel like we uncovered more rocks than have ever been uncovered in the history of the FBI and at times we over-investigated parts of the case."


Some documents relative to things I have talked about here:

SA Ricardo Ojeda's affidavit
re: obstruction at FBI, putting investigations into the 'zero file' to bury them

April 15th, 1997 memo from Roger Charles to Stephen Jones & defense team
re: SA Ojeda's information that the FBI dispatched pairs of agents to prevent certain witnesses from being interviewed

Has Coulson and Hersley's comments on the case

Coulson again comments on the case

Coulson and Defenbaugh comment on the case

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[size=12]“The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.”
—Winston Churchil
Here are some news reports from my archive that relate to the FBI's bombing investigation.

I have many, many news clippings on this case, and there are not many that deal specifically with FBI personnel.

Having said that, there are a few that relate to Larry Potts.

  • LOUIS FREEH was at the very top of the OKBOMB investigation, micro-managing the case.
  • FREEH appointed LARRY POTTS to oversee the bombing investigation from headquarters
  • POTTS had previously overseen the FBI's operations at both the WACO and RUBY RIDGE standoffs

Here are the clippings I have that relate to Potts:


Blast Probe Head Named to No. 2 FBI Post
The Los Angeles Times | 3 May 1995, Wed | Page 4

"The veteran official who has directed the Oklahoma City bombing investigation--but who was censured recently for his role in a controversial shootout with separatists in Idaho--was named the FBI's second-ranking official Tuesday."

"It is because Larry Potts has such great skills that I placed him in personal charge of the FBI's priority investigation into the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City," Freeh said Tuesday.

"He has been in the command center at FBI headquarters in Washington every day since the bombing, directing all aspects of our investigation."

Deputy FBI Director Demoted Over Idaho Controversy
Austin-American Statesman | 15 July 1995 | Page A11

"Under pressure from Congress, FBI Director Louis J. Freeh removed his friend Larry Potts as the bureau's No. 2 official Friday because of growing controversy over Potts' role in a deadly 1992 FBI siege at Ruby Ridge, Idaho.

"Both the Idaho and Waco incidents were managed from FBI headquarters by Potts while he was an assistant director of the FBI."

"The demotion of Potts came only two days after it was disclosed that a ranking FBI official had admitted destroying a document describing the Idaho action against armed white separatist Randy Weaver, a siege that left Weaver's wife dead. She was shot by an FBI sniper."

"The destroyed document dealt in part with whether Potts, before the unarmed woman was killed, had approved changes to the "rules of engagement" allowing agents more freedom to fire their weapons.

The official who admitted destroying the document, Michael Kahoe, was placed on leave Tuesday from his post as special agent in charge of the FBI's Jacksonville, Fla., office.

Potts has denied approving the change in the rules of engagement, but two other FBI officials, who received heavier punishment, have sworn that he did, sources close to the investigation said. One of the two officials, Eugene Glenn -- whose role in the Idaho siege led to his removal as special agent in charge of the FBI's Salt Lake City office -- complained that the investigation was a cover-up. His complaint has prompted the Justice Department's office of professional responsibility to reopen it's investigation"

Nichols claims FBI official directed bombing
Daily Oklahoman | 22 Feb 2007

Terry Nichols, 51, claims an angry McVeigh identified Larry Potts as the high-ranking FBI official "who was apparently directing McVeigh in the bomb plot."

Nichols claims McVeigh was upset because the official had changed the target.

"It's just nonsense and ridiculous," said Potts, a former deputy director, the No. 2 position at the FBI.


I do not believe that Timothy McVeigh ever, at any time, identified Larry Potts as someone who was directing him.

This is Terry Nichols just saying something to try to hurt the FBI, I think.

Terry Nichols knows that Larry Potts was a chief official in charge at both Waco and Ruby Ridge, and he's got this axe to grind there, so he's naming this guy claiming the OKC bombing was some kind of FBI plot with Larry Potts at the top. That, to me, is not credible. It's ridiculous.

I do believe it to be possible that informants within the FBI's PATCON ('Patriot Conspiracy') operation might have had contact with McVeigh at a white separatist community called Elohim City. But CWs or CIs making contact with McVeigh is a far cry from "he's taking orders from Larry Potts."

I don't know if Potts was in a position to be involved in the FBI's PATCON program but I do know that Danny Coulson would have been aware of PATCON. Coulson was on a committee at the FBI that oversaw approval for various major case undercover operations and PATCON would have been one of the operations he would review and make determinations as to whether to extend funding and so forth.

So, to me, the question I would ask with Larry Potts would be: did he know about or have any hand in PATCON?
And a follow-up question would be: did any PATCON informants or undercover operatives have contact with McVeigh?
[size=12]“The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.”
—Winston Churchil

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