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The mystery of John Doe No. 2 (Video Camera Recorded John Doe No. 2)
Salon.Com ^ | June 9, 2001 | David Neiwert

Posted on 06/17/2002 8:29:54 AM PDT by PJ-Comix

The main thing Joann Van Buren says she remembers about Timothy McVeigh is the $50 bill he wanted her to break. That, and the two men who accompanied him.

One day before he tore a hole in the nation's psyche with the bomb that destroyed Oklahoma City's Murrah Federal Building, McVeigh, Van Buren says, pulled up to the little Subway sandwich shop where she worked in Junction City, Kansas, driving the yellow Ryder truck that would contain the bomb.

Van Buren didn't pay any particular attention to them at first. Another clerk waited on the men, but when they tried to pay for their meal with a large bill, she took notice.

"As soon as the $50 bill came up, I had to go to the safe to get the change," says Van Buren today. "And when I gave them the change and they got their sandwiches, I remember them going back over to the corner, sitting down. And when they left, I remember three people getting into the truck. There were three people at the table."

The clerks she worked with later told FBI agents that two of the men matched the descriptions of McVeigh and his cohort, Terry Nichols. The third was a shorter, dark-haired and muscular man with an olive complexion: a perfect fit for the figure destined to be known as John Doe 2.

Luckily, the Subway shop actually had a video camera recording that day's events. When Van Buren contacted the FBI, agents interviewed everyone working in the shop on April 18. And when they were done, they confiscated the video recorded that day.

But if that tape showed a third co-conspirator with McVeigh and Nichols, no one outside the FBI can say. No one beyond the agency ever saw it. In the waning days of Nichols' trial, his defense attorneys discovered the details of Van Buren's story -- which had only been described in generic terms in the FBI's report, omitting her contention that two men accompanied McVeigh -- along with information contained in some 43,000 other "lead sheets" that the FBI until then had failed to turn over to them.

Michael Tigar, who led the Nichols defense, tried in 1999 to use the FBI's failures to produce all relevant documents to gain a new trial for his client. But U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch refused, saying the withheld material would not have altered the trial's outcome.

He likely was right. In fact, Nichols' jury had already refused to give him the death penalty largely because of some jurors' belief that more people were involved in the bombing than merely McVeigh, Nichols and Michael and Lori Fortier, the Arizona couple who were acquaintances with the two men and who were the prosecution's chief witnesses. That belief is also shared by thousands of conspiracy theorists who remain convinced the whole truth about the Oklahoma City bombing has not been told. Nichols' verdict stands as nearly the sole validation that the bombing may not have been the product of two lone bombers.

And when the FBI admitted it had failed to turn over another 3,100 documents to defense attorneys, fresh fuel was thrown onto those fires. McVeigh's execution was delayed a month as lawyers for both men started combing through the withheld information to see if it might give them an opportunity to overturn at least their sentences, if not their convictions. His execution is now scheduled for Monday.

But just as he hovered in the background of numerous eyewitness accounts like Joann Van Buren's, the figure of John Doe No. 2 almost certainly lurks within those withheld documents -- and he will continue to haunt the Oklahoma City case after McVeigh is executed. And, in an era that has seen more FBI foul-ups than any other time in history, the bureau's inability to explain away the repeated accounts of additional participants in the bombings has raised legitimate questions about the quality of its own investigation -- as well as fueled thoughts of larger conspiracies that will live beyond McVeigh.....

Even the simplest investigations of seemingly straightforward crimes -- let alone a massively complex one like the Oklahoma City case, in which some 35,000 witnesses were interviewed -- can be complicated by the randomness and unrelated coincidences of real life. An unattached stranger who wanders onto a scene at some point can become a suspected accomplice for no reason other than bad timing.

The FBI has maintained that coincidence is the best way to explain John Doe No. 2, whose character sketch was drawn mainly from the account of an eyewitness at the Junction City shop where the Ryder truck was rented. That witness, the FBI says, mixed up his recollections and mistakenly identified a man who came in the next day to rent a truck -- a 23-year-old soldier named Todd Bunting -- as an accomplice of McVeigh's. Bunting, who was cleared of any connection to the crime, vaguely resembled the composite drawing and wore clothes similar to those in the drawing, including a Carolina Panthers ball cap.

There is a kind of logic to the FBI's conclusion. The Oklahoma City case was anything but straightforward, and the agency was hit with a near-apocalyptic flood of tips about the possible perpetrators of the bombing. The vast majority of them turned into time-wasting dead ends and wild goose chases, and the investigators were forced to turn to Occam's Razor -- the maxim that the simplest explanation for a mystery is most often the correct one -- to shave down the possibilities.

McVeigh, a dead ringer for the John Doe No. 1 sketch, had been captured, and Terry Nichols (who looked nothing like John Doe No. 2) had turned himself in to authorities. The Fortiers were quickly tracked down and confessed to their relatively minor roles in the bombing as sympathizers who gave McVeigh a temporary base of operations and listened avidly as he planned the attack. And though there was no shortage of theories about the identity of Doe No. 2, no one who resembled him emerged as a possible co-conspirator.

Ultimately, investigators were forced to conclude that John Doe No. 2 was a phantom who never really existed. And that was the case they chose to take to the courts in their prosecutions of McVeigh and Nichols.

"There's nothing there," says FBI spokesman Steven Berry. "It's a case where every avenue we went down, there's nothing there. And we're certainly not going to get behind it and say there's something there or put it out that there is something when there's nothing there. It's chasing ghosts."

Indeed, McVeigh himself steadfastly denies there was any John Doe No. 2. He told the authors of "American Terrorist" that he and Nichols alone had built and detonated the bomb and vehemently denied that anyone else had been involved. He also denied the existence of Doe No. 2 in a May 2 letter to the Houston Chronicle.

But even McVeigh's own trial attorney, Stephen Jones, never believed him on this count. Jones believes McVeigh had substantial motive to lie about the involvement of others: For one, it covers the tracks of his cohorts, and it heightens his own role in the drama. Certainly "American Terrorist" captures McVeigh's desire for martyrdom -- he manipulated his appeals to expedite his execution -- and admitting anyone else into the scenario would certainly diminish his starring role.

Jones also told reporters that McVeigh failed a lie-detector test when asked about John Doe No. 2. And McVeigh, he says, frequently covered up any traces of potential co-conspirators. Once he insisted he had not accompanied Nichols to a farm co-op to buy ammonium nitrate, but after learning that a clerk at the store identified Nichols and said there was a second man with him, McVeigh flip-flopped, telling Jones he had been the man there after all. The clerk, on the other hand, insisted that it hadn't been McVeigh.

But when Jones' defense team attempted to track down Doe No. 2, it ran into the same dead ends as the FBI. Nonetheless, Jones himself came to believe McVeigh was associated with a gang of white supremacists operating out of an enclave in rural Missouri called Elohim City.

That theory is also a favorite of conspiracists who see the Oklahoma City investigation as a massive coverup. Many of them go well beyond Jones' relatively modest conjectures about the nature of the bombing to argue that the government itself was somehow involved in the bombing, as part of its plan to discredit the militia movement. The theory that McVeigh was set up looms large in the voluminous conspiracy theories that are the metier of the far-right Patriot movement. The Militia of Montana, for instance, continues to claim that there was a second blast -- a charge set by federal agents, they say -- recorded within seconds of the truck bomb (there was not; the seismic reports that form the basis of this claim actually recorded the impact of the mass of debris from the Murrah Building hitting the ground).

Others argue that a bomb made of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil could not have delivered enough force to cause the extraordinary damage of the Oklahoma City blast, and cite a study at a federal laboratory as proof. They are right. But then, the explosion set off by McVeigh actually was a high-octane mix of jet fuel and fertilizer, and the Murrah damage was entirely consistent with the force of that kind of bomb.

The theories that have gained the most currency among the conspiracy set are traceable to an Oklahoma journalist named J.D. Cash, who has built a minor career out of linking McVeigh's activities back to Elohim City and other violent supremacist factions. The core of Cash's theories revolve around McVeigh's connections to a handful of people at Elohim City who shared anti-government (and deeply racist) views, suggesting that McVeigh and his co-conspirators were actually dupes of a federal informant acting as an agent provocateur.

However, Cash's theories crumble in the face of a careful examination of the facts of the case. Cash makes much of the shadowy presence of a German neo-Nazi named Andreas Strassmeier and McVeigh's attempts to contact him at Elohim City in the days before the bombing. But Strassmeier had little contact with McVeigh and was nowhere near any of the activities that produced the bomb, and he steadfastly denies any connection. Cash's chief witness, an ex-debutante turned white-power pinup girl named Carol Howe who eventually worked as a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms informant, has constantly changed her story in a way seeming to indicate that she was tailoring it to suit the needs of the conspiracists who promoted her tale.

These theories reached a kind of apex in the work of a British journalist named Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, whose 1997 book, "The Secret Life of Bill Clinton," postulated that the former president covered up the government's complicity in the bombing as part of a larger career of perfidy that included drug-running and murder. Though Evans-Pritchard's work gained some favor among mainstream conservatives -- Robert Novak, for instance, wrote a column extolling his theories -- nearly every aspect of "Secret Life" has been roundly debunked.

Cash's work surfaced again recently as a source for a report by the British newspaper The Guardian that linked McVeigh's activities to those of the Aryan Republican Army, a gang of Midwestern bank robbers whose whereabouts eerily paralleled those of McVeigh at key moments in the run-up to the bombing. However, like nearly everything proceeding from Cash, the piece was built on a fabric of coincidence and speculation.

Indeed, there has been no shortage of candidates for the identity of John Doe No. 2, but nearly all of them lead to the same kind of factual dead ends. And it is precisely those failures that tend to bolster the government's contention that the man in the sketch never existed as an actual conspirator in the bombing.

But the FBI's explanation of the John Doe No. 2 theories is nearly as full of holes as the conspiracists' scenarios -- or at least, it leaves dangling a long list of unanswered questions. When it is examined, a troubling portrait emerges of an agency eager to tailor its investigation for the purposes of prosecuting a criminal case, rather than doggedly seeking out the truth.....

(This is a long article. Click HERE for the full article.)



TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Extended News
KEYWORDS: dirtybombplot; johndoe3; timothymcveigh
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Luckily, the Subway shop actually had a video camera recording that day's events. When Van Buren contacted the FBI, agents interviewed everyone working in the shop on April 18. And when they were done, they confiscated the video recorded that day.

OK, so WHERE is that videotape? Is it as "mysteriously missing" as the 7-20-93 White House parking lot videotape?

1 posted on 06/17/2002 8:29:54 AM PDT by PJ-Comix
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To: PJ-Comix
It would be interesting to see the picture of JD 2 and this Padilla guy.
2 posted on 06/17/2002 8:32:59 AM PDT by marty60
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To: OKCSubmariner;PhiKapMom;OKSooner
Just a ping...even Salon.com gets into the "Who Was John Doe #2" act.

I haven't time to read the article now...but even some of the writers at Salon
will occassionally turn out some good reporting...
3 posted on 06/17/2002 8:33:30 AM PDT by VOA
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To: PJ-Comix
I forget....HOW did McVeigh get the Truck Bomb to go off without getting himself killed? Timer?

Where exactly did he buy the jet fuel (kerosene?) from? Did he put it right into the barrels of his Ryder Truck or did he BUY barrels of the fuel?

And WHY was he kept after the State Trooper stoped him for a missing tag??

Where was Terry Nichol when the bomb went off?

Just a couple of refresher course questions.

4 posted on 06/17/2002 8:40:38 AM PDT by Ann Archy
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To: marty60
Your side-by-side is provided in another thread about McVeigh and Padilla in Ft Lauderdale at the same time.
The composite picture is an absolute dead ringer for padilla.
5 posted on 06/17/2002 8:42:35 AM PDT by MrB
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To: PJ-Comix
The article was OK except for the clunker about ANFO explosives: ANFO is a "low explosive." It sure does explode, but not with anything like the energy of a military munition of the same weight. Upgrading the chemistry will not weave a high explosive silk purse from an ANFO sow's ear. Yeah, you can improve it, but it isn't going to totally transform it for some very fundamental reasons.

I really have no truck with the people who want to complexify things by claiming there were more bombs, but I found it very odd the article would go so far as to concede that an ANFO bomb could not have brought down the building, and then tried to patch that hole with the lame "jet fuel" thing. Jet fuel is very like kerosene. Just because jet planes use it instead of diesel or fuel oil does not mean jet fuel has vastly more energy. IF McVeigh's bomb was really much more powerful than a truckload of ANFO, it was for some other reason than using jet fuel.

6 posted on 06/17/2002 8:48:07 AM PDT by eno_
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To: PJ-Comix
The article was OK except for the clunker about ANFO explosives: ANFO is a "low explosive." It sure does explode, but not with anything like the energy of a military munition of the same weight. Upgrading the chemistry will not weave a high explosive silk purse from an ANFO sow's ear. Yeah, you can improve it, but it isn't going to totally transform it for some very fundamental reasons.

I really have no truck with the people who want to complexify things by claiming there were more bombs, but I found it very odd the article would go so far as to concede that an ANFO bomb could not have brought down the building, and then tried to patch that hole with the lame "jet fuel" thing. Jet fuel is very like kerosene. Just because jet planes use it instead of diesel or fuel oil does not mean jet fuel has vastly more energy. IF McVeigh's bomb was really much more powerful than a truckload of ANFO, it was for some other reason than using jet fuel.

7 posted on 06/17/2002 8:48:16 AM PDT by eno_
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To: Ann Archy
And WHY was he kept after the State Trooper stoped him for a missing tag??

He was carrying a concealed weapon, wasn't he?

8 posted on 06/17/2002 8:48:19 AM PDT by Denver Ditdat
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To: VOA
Just a ping...even Salon.com gets into the "Who Was John Doe #2" act.

Actually this Salon.Com story was written LAST YEAR but with all the speculation about John Doe #2 now, there should be an investigation into that video tape. Will the FBI dare to claim that the video tape is "missing?" That would surely stretch their credibility way too far.

9 posted on 06/17/2002 8:49:17 AM PDT by PJ-Comix
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To: marty60

Here you go. Sketches of John Doe #2 from 1995 and Padilla's mugshot. Very interesting.

10 posted on 06/17/2002 8:51:09 AM PDT by buccaneer81
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To: buccaneer81
Even better than a sketch is a VIDEO TAPE of John Doe #2. We know that one exists so why is the government keeping it hidden?
11 posted on 06/17/2002 8:54:36 AM PDT by PJ-Comix
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To: eno_
I agree with you on the ANFO, used it for years in the mining business. ANFO is used mainly because of the large volume of gases it creates,, not for it's explosive force.
12 posted on 06/17/2002 9:00:15 AM PDT by steve50
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To: Ann Archy
refresher
13 posted on 06/17/2002 9:02:01 AM PDT by SMEDLEYBUTLER
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To: PJ-Comix
Didn't Janet Reno already conclude that JD #2 was Rush Limbaugh??? As they say in Arkansas, "dead men don't talk."

Pray for GW and the Truth

14 posted on 06/17/2002 9:03:35 AM PDT by bray
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To: PJ-Comix
Actually this Salon.Com story was written LAST YEAR

thanks for the tip...some day I'll remember to check publication dates!
15 posted on 06/17/2002 9:03:58 AM PDT by VOA
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To: lazamataz; tpaine
Hey guys...this is the Government we're supposed to blindly follow - just 'cause we are at war.

How many violations of the law by the FBI can you two count in this story?

16 posted on 06/17/2002 9:08:21 AM PDT by Abundy
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To: buccaneer81
Oh my gd, this is giving me chills. Isn't McNichols wife maiden name Padilla? This is just to much of a coincidence.
17 posted on 06/17/2002 9:09:43 AM PDT by marty60
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To: marty60
Isn't McNichols wife maiden name Padilla?

No. It was the last name of the husband that she married after she divorced Nichols. I wouldn't make too much of this. Padilla is a common Spanish name.

18 posted on 06/17/2002 9:12:19 AM PDT by PJ-Comix
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To: MrB
I heard Nichols wifes maiden name is Padilla, is that true?
19 posted on 06/17/2002 9:12:44 AM PDT by marty60
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To: PJ-Comix
Terry Nichols is still alive as we know, does anyone know if they are making afforts to extract more info out of him? Or does someone in the higher ups not want him to be forthcoming with additional information? I think McVeigh was executed pre maturely, we should have been able to get more information from him. It would have been interesting to see what McVeigh or Nichols had to say about the Mexican Muslim.
20 posted on 06/17/2002 9:13:28 AM PDT by Delbert
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To: PJ-Comix
Thanks, I'm getting really weirded out by all this coincidence.
21 posted on 06/17/2002 9:14:10 AM PDT by marty60
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To: Abundy
No, this is the government as run by perverted, perjurous traitors. Now a patriot is in the White House. Big difference to the discerning.
22 posted on 06/17/2002 9:16:40 AM PDT by justshutupandtakeit
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To: Ann Archy
Also, McVeigh had 2 vehicles to manuver (sp?). His getaway car and the Ryder truck. How did he get his car one place and then go get the Ryder truck to drive to the Murrah building all by himself?
23 posted on 06/17/2002 9:17:36 AM PDT by 3catsanadog
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To: marty60
Nichols wifes maiden name is Padilla

No idea.

24 posted on 06/17/2002 9:20:17 AM PDT by MrB
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To: 3catsanadog
Also, McVeigh had 2 vehicles to manuver (sp?). His getaway car and the Ryder truck. How did he get his car one place and then go get the Ryder truck to drive to the Murrah building all by himself?

Wasn't the getaway car pre-parked earlier?

25 posted on 06/17/2002 9:32:05 AM PDT by PJ-Comix
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To: PJ-Comix
It supposedly means Smith. Joe Smith!
26 posted on 06/17/2002 9:56:56 AM PDT by Marysecretary
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To: Delbert
I say give Terry Nichols an incentive to talk!

He is now serving life, I believe.

I would be willing to cut him a break if he can give credible info which will give us some leads of terrorists.

27 posted on 06/17/2002 10:10:45 AM PDT by altura
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To: altura
I say give Terry Nichols an incentive to talk!

They don't even have to release Nichols to give him an incentive. Just promise to replace his SOS dinners with T-Bone steaks.

28 posted on 06/17/2002 10:13:02 AM PDT by PJ-Comix
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To: Delbert
I think McVeigh was executed pre maturely

Some killers sit on death row for many years. Not McVeigh. I think that the government was afraid he might change his mind and talk about what really happened.

29 posted on 06/17/2002 10:43:04 AM PDT by janetgreen
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To: 3catsanadog
Oh WOW!!! How DID he drive two vehicles????
30 posted on 06/17/2002 11:23:41 AM PDT by Ann Archy
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To: eno_
"Just because jet planes use it instead of diesel or fuel oil does not mean jet fuel has vastly more energy."

Agreed.
Jets achieve high power outputs by the simple expedient of using vast quantities of jet fuel.

31 posted on 06/17/2002 11:32:08 AM PDT by Redbob
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To: PJ-Comix
We know he didn't take a taxi while shuttling the vehicles around, because the feebees would have trumpeted it loud.

This also means, he had to leave a truck with a bomb unsecure or with someone to watch over it.

32 posted on 06/17/2002 11:43:34 AM PDT by razorback-bert
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To: Ann Archy
I berlieve McVeigh stated that he pre-positioned his mercury there a few days previous to the cowardly attack and left it in an alley a few blocks away.
33 posted on 06/17/2002 12:06:46 PM PDT by Wm Bach
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To: steve50
The way Yossef Bodansky describes the bombs that went off outside our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, with a stronger secondary shock, they sound very much like descriptions I have read of the OKC blast.
34 posted on 06/17/2002 12:13:46 PM PDT by aristeides
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To: VOA
Thanks for the ping! Interesting read!

Boomer Sooner!

35 posted on 06/17/2002 12:31:33 PM PDT by PhiKapMom
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To: Delbert
Would say your chances of getting something out of Nichols is far greater than McVeigh ever would have been. McVeigh wanted to be the lead martyr and played it to the hilt. With Nichols facing a State Trial, he might be more willing to cooperate. Just don't like the OKC FBI/ATF offices get near him IMO!
36 posted on 06/17/2002 12:34:54 PM PDT by PhiKapMom
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To: razorback-bert;PJ-Comix;Wm Bach
IIRC, McVeigh left the Mercury in an alley across from the Murrah building, then had Nichols drive down from Kansas to pick him up.

I, too think McVeigh was executed prematurely. At first, I avoided the conspiracy theories like germs, but with passing events recently, Jeez, I dunno!

Guess my main problem with the conspiracy angles was the "multiple bombs/ANFO not powerful enough/buildings close by not damaged" BS that came from either so-called experts, or were outright fabrications.

Doubt we will ever know the whole truth!

37 posted on 06/17/2002 12:40:36 PM PDT by Don Carlos
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To: Wm Bach
You sure are the FIRST person I have heard say this!!
38 posted on 06/17/2002 12:41:16 PM PDT by Ann Archy
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To: Don Carlos
Nichols and Fournier should be questioned as to whether they knew Padilla.

PJ---Who is still waiting for the Padilla early 1995 (until April) Timeline.

39 posted on 06/17/2002 12:59:15 PM PDT by PJ-Comix
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To: Don Carlos
This still leaves the truck unguarded.

I would be worried about someone smelling something odd (diesel,nito,fertlizer) in a truck primilary use for moving household goods and checking on it.

40 posted on 06/17/2002 1:12:10 PM PDT by razorback-bert
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To: razorback-bert
Yep, the unguarded truck needs to be answered. Also the empty fertilizer bags and several fuel oil barrels were never found. 4,000 + pounds of fertilizer would be lotsa bags. Is that stuff volatile after being mixed?

Is it my imagination or what - several times I've tried to post and FR went down. Could it be (paranoia) "they" are trying to keep me silent? (/paranoia)

41 posted on 06/17/2002 1:41:41 PM PDT by Don Carlos
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To: PJ-Comix
Thumb screws, anyone? (Applied to appendage(s) just below the waist)!
42 posted on 06/17/2002 1:46:58 PM PDT by Don Carlos
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To: Don Carlos
I suspect the ANFO "problem" has a simple solution: McVeigh somehow got hold of enough Semtex or other high explosive to knock down the building. No massive conspiracy or demolition charges inside the building required. The trouble is, nobody knows where McVeigh might have gotten such stuff.

OKC does look rather a lot like the embassy bombings in Africa. TNT was, at least, a component of those bombs.

43 posted on 06/17/2002 1:51:52 PM PDT by eno_
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To: Don Carlos
It would have been fewer than 100 albeit thick and heavy paper bags. Easy to get rid of by burning. Or they would all fit in one or two trash barrels if folded up neatly. IF it was only ANFO. A few hundred pounds of high explosive would have made a big difference.
44 posted on 06/17/2002 1:56:55 PM PDT by eno_
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To: Ann Archy
The Trooper arrested and held Tim McVeigh after discovering he was carring a 9mm Glock without a CCW permit.
45 posted on 06/17/2002 2:11:11 PM PDT by mn_b_one
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To: eno_
I'm still curious why so many don't believe ANFO could have done the job. The front of the bldg was just a sidewalk away from the truck. All it would have taken was a column to collapse, then the pancake effect would account for the rest. Low bidder govt building?

Remember, whatever the explosive was, it did massive damage for hundreds of feet. I can see a limited number being involved in the actual bombing. A larger conspiracy? Could be, guess I just need more evidence.

46 posted on 06/17/2002 2:26:55 PM PDT by Don Carlos
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To: mn_b_one
Thanks. I didn't know.
47 posted on 06/17/2002 2:27:54 PM PDT by Ann Archy
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To: PJ-Comix
Two books to read on this are "The Oklahoma City bombing and the Politics of Terror" and "Oklahoma City, Day One". I suggest reading them. I read "American Terrorist" also. By reading as many books as you can on the same subject it is possible to weed through any prejudical slants that different writers take on the same subject, and you can get a clearer picture on what happened. Something other than a lone bomber took place here, the depth of the corruption is very deep, and we will probably never know the truth, but we should never stop seeking it.
48 posted on 06/17/2002 2:28:18 PM PDT by mn_b_one
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To: mn_b_one
Here is the latest on what I have found. Compare the scars on the sketch of John Doe #2 and photo of Jose Padillo. I am still trying to confirm if these are legit (a lot of web hoaxes out there) or retouched sketch and/or photo:


49 posted on 06/17/2002 2:32:29 PM PDT by PJ-Comix
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To: eno_; okcsubmariner
Remember that notebook page found in an al Qaeda house in Kabul entitled "Explosivija za Oklahomu" (Serbocroatian, i.e., Bosnian, for "Explosive Used in Oklahoma,") followed by formulas for an explosive including nitroglycerin. No coincidence that the OKC and East African bombings were similar.
50 posted on 06/17/2002 2:36:15 PM PDT by aristeides
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