TRAIL OF TERROR
• February 16, 2003
* Washington Times
It was the ghastly prelude to our new time of terror. In a searing second on
April 19, 1995, a truck bomb parked by Timothy McVeigh exploded in front of
the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168
innocents. It now appears that two federal agencies had advanced warning of
that attack, specific enough to suggest Oklahoma City as a likely target and
April 19 as a probable date.
According to an Associated Press report last
week, agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms had an
informant from the Oklahoma-based white supremacist group Elohim City, who
told them before the bombing that individuals were "preparing for war
against the U.S. government." One of Elohim City's heroes, Wayne Snell,
was scheduled for execution April 19, and as that date approached, he began
making threats to FBI agents and prison officials about a bombing to avenge
his death. FBI agents were so concerned about the possibility that a month
before the blast, they questioned an associate of Snell, who had, with him,
made a bomb plot against the same building.
Tragically, the information was apparently not
given to other federal authorities, in a failure of intelligence and
communications reminiscent of those before the September 11 attacks.
However, as far as we can tell, not a single Republican accused
then-President Clinton of advanced knowledge of the Oklahoma City bombing.
They probably didn't have time to do so, since
practically before the dust from the explosion had settled, they were
defending themselves from the loathsome charges that they had had something
to do with it. Scarcely a week passed before Mr. Clinton was blaming talk
radio — denouncing the "loud and angry voices" rising from the
airwaves. Within that same time frame, then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich was
asked by a Newsweek reporter whether he thought the "anti-government
climate" he and his cohorts had created had contributed to the bombing.
Other attacks followed.
So, perhaps it shouldn't have come as such a
surprise that similarly shocking, outrageous charges were raised by
Democratic partisans after September 11. Numerous Democratic leaders called
for an investigation into what President Bush knew before the attacks,
including House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt and Sen. Hillary Clinton. Sen.
Tom Daschle went even further, telling reporters he was "gravely
concerned that the president received a warning in August about the threat
of hijackers by Osama bin Laden and his organization." Rep. Cynthia
McKinney went further, claiming that the administration failed to act for
the crassest of financial motives.
Most of those members of Congress have since
retracted their remarks, and the point is not to question the FBI's judgment
before the Oklahoma City bombing. Regrettably, those things happen. However,
the pattern of hypocrisy is breathtaking.
Given what we know now about the Oklahoma
bombing, it will be interesting to see if those partisans who accused Mr.
Bush of having advanced notice about the September 11 attacks demand that
Mr. Clinton reveal how much he knew beforehand about the Oklahoma City