Discover more from Just the Facts with Gerald Posner
OKC bombing, Gender Affirming Care, and previously classified files about the Sacklers
No. Not in the same article. An 'On this Day' and 'what's coming' in Just the Facts
On this day in 1995, Tim McVeigh bombed the Oklahoma City federal building. I subsequently investigated whether the FBI missed another suspect. My reporting is presented in “The Third Man,” a 42-page, 99-cent Kindle. It includes material from then never-disclosed FBI 302 files and interviews with dozens of witnesses leading up to the bombing.
This is the Author’s Note on the publication of the Kindle edition in 2013.
After the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, The New Yorker assigned me to investigate whether there was any substance to the many eyewitness sightings of John Doe 2, a suspect who might have eluded the FBI’s massive manhunt.
My hurdle was to first sift through a maze of conflicting and often-changing witness accounts to determine which ones were credible and which were not believable. Then — armed with reliable information — I could test the FBI’s conclusion that it had found all the conspirators. My reporting took me to Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, and Colorado. I interviewed scores of witnesses and obtained access to then classified FBI 302 files, reports that were compiled by the Bureau’s field agents in their post-bombing probe.
I filed my story in the spring of 1997, concluding that the FBI’s own documents revealed evidence it might well have missed a suspect. Some New Yorker editors were concerned that although I had reviewed many FBI documents, the Bureau could have other files that would contradict my conclusion. After a lively and at times heated debate, the story never ran.
Excerpts of this investigation have appeared over the years in TIME and The Daily Beast. Last year, Oklahoma-based This Land Press – which gave the article its name - released the entire piece digitally on their iPad app.
This Kindle edition however is the first time that this long form journalism is available in full to anyone online. It is presented as it was originally submitted to The New Yorker, with only a few parenthetical updates.
In its Editor’s Note, This Land Press asked the question that is at the core of my investigation: “A lot of eyewitnesses believe they spotted a suspect the government never found in the Oklahoma Bombing. Is he out there, or a figment of fertile imaginations?”
Approaching the eighteenth anniversary of that terrible day, the disturbing inconsistencies I discovered in the eyewitness statements have still not been resolved. The questions I pose in the article have yet to be fully addressed by the FBI.
It took almost forty years for the government to release most of its files about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. It is little wonder there are still documents about the Oklahoma bombing that are sealed. The possibility that overlooked evidence is in government files cannot be discounted out of hand. But only the survivors and families of the victims have the power to push for a final answer. This article raises doubts about the thoroughness of the official investigation into the bombing of the Murrah Building, doubts that are as strong today as they were when this was written.
Gerald Posner, March 10, 2013, Miami, Florida
Ten years after I wrote that “Author’s Note,” my doubts about the FBI investigation remain. There are still unanswered questions about whether a McVeigh accomplice got away, still sealed FBI files.
As for the other topics teased in the title to this post, they are upcoming Substacks. My reporting on the science (or lack thereof) and politics of gender affirming care is coming in the next week. In May, I will have news about classified files regarding the Sacklers; I have been fighting for five years to get those Sackler files released.
Stay tuned to this space.