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    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:

    Last edited by Magda Hassan; 11-09-2019 at 08:56 AM.
    “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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