Tag Archives: Nichols

FLASHBACK: Attorney Says Unedited Versions of Oklahoma City Bombing Surveillance Tapes Are ‘Somewhere’

EDITOR’S NOTE: The article below was originally published Sept. 30, 2009. I share it again today with only minor modifications. I share it again today with only minor modifications and the addition of some new graphics as I continue my six years of coverage on this earthshaking event that changed the lives of so many in Oklahoma, the state where I was born and raised.

“Someday, somewhere, somebody is going to have the guts to release that stuff,” said David P. Schippers, speaking to me by phone from his office in downtown Chicago Tuesday afternoon.

Click image above to read other OKC Bombing-related articles.

Click image above to read other OKC Bombing-related articles.

The “stuff” to which Schippers was referring is surveillance-camera footage recorded in downtown Oklahoma City on the morning of April 19, 1995, prior to the truck-bomb explosion that killed 168 people at 9:02 a.m. Central.  It’s the same footage the FBI failed to release along with post-blast footage in response to a Freedom of Information Act request submitted by Salt Lake City attorney Jesse Trentadue and highlighted in a NewsOK.com article published Sunday.

Who is David P. Schippers?

If you recognize his name, chances are it’s because of the notoriety he received while serving as chief investigative counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee during the Clinton Impeachment Hearings and as manager of the proceedings that followed in the U.S. Senate.  Likewise, it could be that you know him as the author of the book, “SELLOUT: The Inside Story of President Clinton’s Impeachment.”

Click on image to order book.

Click on image to order book.

I was introduced to the 70-something Chicago-based attorney by Jayna Davis, author of the book, The Third Terrorist, which chronicled her decade-long investigation of the Oklahoma City bombing and became a New York Times Best Seller.  Some 30 years his junior, Davis considers Schippers a close personal friend and something of a father figure.  Moreover, she trusts and respects him — so much so, in fact, that she had him write the foreword for her book.

Barely 24 hours after publishing a series of three copyrighted posts containing never-before-published information about Davis’ investigation of the bombing, I had the opportunity to interview Schipper for almost an hour.  And he did not disappoint.

Implicating Presidents

I began the interview by asking Schippers why no one had pursued Hussain Al-Hussaini, the Iraqi native Davis identified in her book as the third terrorist who, along with Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, carried out the attack?

“My honest opinion is that the original shot was made by (President Bill) Clinton in 1995,” he explained.  “Remember, it was 1995, and he had lost the congress — both houses of Congress — and people were saying he would never get reelected, and his numbers were way the hell down.

“If he had had another attack against the United States, he would have had to act, and he didn’t do a damn thing on the first Twin Towers bombing,” he continued.  “Clinton said, ‘Let’s not overreact,’ and, at that time, we had the Department of Justice with (Janet) Reno in there who was completely politicized, and I think (Clinton) just decided we’re not going to do it.”

Schippers continued, “riding” a bipartisan train of thought.

“Now, why didn’t the (President George W.) Bush people do it?” he asked rhetorically.  “That’s the one that really bothered me.  We deliberately waited until Reno and that gang got out of the administration and then Bush came in.”

Unfortunately, no one ever bit on the information Schippers said a president could have used as a legitimate reason to invade Iraq, and he blames it on a pact between the Bushes and Clintons — something akin to the mutually-assured destruction mindset that prevailed during the Cold War between Russia and the United States.

“I’m convinced that both sides know that if they blow the other up, they’re both going to get it,” he said.

He didn’t stop there.

“Now, why aren’t these people (in the Obama Administration) doing anything about it?” he asked.  “Because they’re not doing a (expletive) thing about anything!”

‘The Unedited Versions are Somewhere’

Asked whether he thinks anyone still has copies of the pre-explosion surveillance-camera videotapes, he said, “The answer is ‘yes.’”

“I maintain that those tapes were edited, and there’s no question about it,” he said, referring to the tapes the FBI released to Trentadue.  “They were edited.  That means the unedited versions are somewhere, and that’s the key.  I think the FBI still has all of those tapes, and I don’t think we’re ever going to see ‘em.”

Why?  He explained without prompting.

“I’ve lost all faith in the Department of Justice,” he said.  “I’ve lost all faith in anything in Washington.”

Proof in a Wanted Poster?

Hussain al-Hussaini (left) is shown after being arrested in Quincy, Mass., in March 2011.

Hussain al-Hussaini (left) is shown after being arrested for fighting with a fellow homeless man in Quincy, Mass., in March 2011.

Amidst a pause, Schippers turned the table on the interviewer and asked how many times I had seen sketches of suspects on wanted posters.  I told him I had seen them often.

Then he asked, “Have you ever seen a profile?”  I said I had not, and he continued.

“Do you know why the drawing of the guy was a profile?  Because they took it off the tape,” he explained.  “That’s where it came from.  You never see a profile.  It’s always a front view.”

Except in this case.

Schippers said he talked to the people in Oklahoma City who gave the FBI information and that there is no question in his mind — and in Jayna’s mind — that the side view of Hussain Al-Hussaini bears a more-than-striking resemblance to the profile sketch of John Doe 2.

It’s likely, according to Davis’ law enforcement sources who she cannot name in order to protect them, the sketch was taken from the missing surveillance tape footage.

“Why would you edit tapes unless there was something on there that’s gonna blow you sky high?” he asked, his voice animated over the phone line.  “What’s on there, on those tapes that they showed, that they gave this guy?  It was either Hussain Al-Hussaini — he was the passenger — or just a Ryder truck with unidentified people in it.

“But that picture with the side view of him was so obvious that it was taken from the passenger side and that was him sitting in the front seat.”

The One Thing He Wanted to Share

Asked what one thing he would share with the world about the matter of the missing pre-attack surveillance-camera footage from downtown OKC, Schippers pulled no punches.

“It would be that there is absolutely no question that those tapes existed and, if those tapes ever came forward, they would show conclusively that there was an Iraqi connection to the bombing and that there was an Iraqi sitting in the passenger seat of that truck as it pulled up to the Murrah building and that there was an Iraqi who jumped out with McVeigh and ran like hell.

“There’s a reason they’re not releasing it,” he continued.  “There were two cameras in one place.  They released (footage from) one that shows a hazy picture of a Ryder truck going by.  The other one would have been in such a position as to show everything about it — who’s in the front seat, the whole works.  And that’s the one that hasn’t surfaced.”

While his high-profile work on Capitol Hill was important, Schippers said he would “without question” prefer to be remembered for his work with Davis rather than his involvement with the impeachment of a president.

“I’d take Jayna anytime.”

Be sure to read Flashback: Best-Selling Author, Investigative Journalist Breaks Silence About OKC Bombing Videotapes, and other articles in my coverage of the little-publicized Oklahoma City Bombing Trial going on NOW in federal court in Salt Lake City. Also, please check out my second nonfiction book, The Clapper Memo, which Schippers endorsed asperhaps the most thorough investigative reporting I have encountered in years.

For links to other articles of interest as well as photos and commentary, join me on Facebook and Twitter.  Please show your support by buying my books and encouraging your friends and loved ones to do the same.  To learn how to order signed copies, click here. Thanks in advance!

Click on image above to order Bob's books.

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Does ‘Domestic Terrorism’ Label Apply to OKC Bombing?

The narrative President Bill Clinton and his underlings want to stand for time immemorial whenever the Oklahoma City Bombing is discussed goes something like this: “It was a domestic terrorist bomb attack on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995.  Timothy McVeigh is dead, Terry Nichols is locked up, and there’s nothing more to know. Case closed.” But is that narrative accurate?

On the FBI website, the Oklahoma City bombing is described as "the worst act of homegrown terrorism in the nation’s history."

On the FBI website, the Oklahoma City bombing is described as “the worst act of homegrown terrorism in the nation’s history.”

While Wikipedia, the FBI website and countless other online and offline sources adhere to that narrative, Salt Lake City attorney Jesse Trentadue wants to find answers he knows are 100 percent factual. Why? Because he thinks the answers will help him discover the truth about what happened to his brother, Kenneth, who died in federal custody Aug. 21, 1995, barely four months after the blast that left 168 people dead in downtown Oklahoma City.

In one of the earliest episodes in his epic Freedom of Information Act battle, Trentadue sent a FOIA request to the Central Intelligence Agency Dec. 19, 2006. In it, he requested “documents, information and/or records prepared and/or received by the Central Intelligence Agency (“CIA”) Office of the Inspector General relating or referring to the bombing of the Murrah Federal Bulding on April 19, 1995.” He specified that his request included, but was not limited to, “any and all report(s) by the CIA Office of the Inspector General, directly or indirectly, concerning the CIA’s prior knowledge of the planned attack [sic] upon the Murrah Building and/or the report(s) of any and all investigations into the CIA’s role, involvement with or connection to the Murrah Building Bombing whether through employees, informants, operatives or other means.”

Why did Trentadue think the CIA might know something about the Oklahoma City Bombing? Because he had heard from sources he considered reliable that at least one German individual had been connected to the conspiracy to bomb the federal building in downtown Oklahoma City.

In response to the FOIA request he had sent to the CIA, Trentadue received a letter dated May 28, 2009, from the Air Force Office of Special Investigations. For some reason, officials at the CIA FOIA Office had referred his request to the Air Force investigative agency.

Attached to the AFOSI letter was a copy of a once-secret, heavily-redacted message sent April 20, 1995, by officials at an AFOSI office in the United Kingdom and addressed to officials at a laundry list of government agencies, including the CIA.

The subject line of the message began with a redaction code, “B1” inside brackets, followed by the words, “INFORMATION IDENTIFYING POSSIBLE ACTIVE IRANIAN MILITANTS IN<OKLAHOMA>(U).” FYI: B1″ was explained in the cover letter as a code used to indicate “the withholding of national security information concerning the national defense or foreign policy that has been properly classified in accordance with substantive and procedural requirements of a presidential executive order (currently Executive Order 13292 dates March 25, 2003).” Other codes appeared as well and might warrant discussion in some future article(s).

Below the subject line were the words, “WARNING: THIS IS AN INFORMATION REPORT, NOT FINALLY EVALUATED INTELLIGENCE (See Screenshot 1 of 2).”

The body of the message included large white spaces, also marked with redaction codes. The body of the message also included details about two Iranians (names redacted) described as approximately 45 and 39 years old, respectively (See Screenshot 2 of 2). Though it does not list whether the individuals were men or women, the descriptions of their height, weight and manner of dress lead me to believe they were men.

Wondering why the Air Force was involved in responding to the FOIA request Trentadue made to the CIA? According to Trentadue, the Air Force ran the spy satellite program for the CIA before the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) took over the program. Now, hold that thought for a few moments while I continue down the FOIA path.

Trentadue learned his FOIA request to the CIA had been denied when he received an undated letter received from the NGA. As was the case with AFOSI, the CIA FOIA Office had referred 26 documents to the little-known NGA for review.

Though Trentadue would lose his FOIA lawsuit against the CIA, he did learn more about the CIA’s denial of his FOIA request by reading three paragraphs of a document — a declaration signed Aug. 18, 2009, by Earl J. Chidester, NGA’s Analysis and Production Executive Committee Direct Support Officer — that became part of the court record in the case. Those paragraphs appear below:

4.    (U) The purpose of this declaration is to explain the basis for NGA’s response to the CIA’s referral of documents determined to be possibly responsive to the Plaintiff’s FOIA request of December 19, 2006. In that request Plaintiff requested records and information the CIA had related or referring to the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995. During its records search in response to Plaintiff’s request, the CIA located in CIA’s files twenty-five classified documents that were originated by a predecessor organization of NGA that are responsive to Plaintiff’s FOIA request. These documents are now the responsibility of NGA. On February 23, 2009, the CIA referred these documents to NGA to determine if any of these twenty-five documents could be released to the Plaintiff.

5.    (U) As an NGA technical expert, I reviewed the referred documents to determine whether any of them are releasable. Based upon my review NGA has determined that all the referred documents have been properly classified pursuant to Exec. Orders 12951 and 12958 and, accordingly, should be withheld. None of the documents can be released, even in part, as no reasonably segregable, non-exempt portion of these documents exists.

6.    (U) The 25 referred documents are imagery intelligence products derived from imagery collected by various national technical means satellites. The materials include briefing boards, anaglyphs, and IDEX II electronic light-table prints. Release of these materials would reasonably be expected to cause serious damage to the national security as such release might reveal sources and methods used to acquire intelligence. This is because the nature of the technical output may reveal the technologies used, and the capacities of those technologies. Because these images are properly classified in their totality, it is not possible to segregate any portion of the images for release. Any portions that might possibly be segregated would convey no information as they would essentially be blank.

“My thoughts are that the CIA could only have been involved if there was some foreign connection,” Trentadue said after I asked him to explain the involvement of the intelligence agency tasked with the collection of national intelligence outside the United States.

At about the same time Trentadue filed his lawsuit against the CIA, he also filed one against the FBI. Unlike the CIA lawsuit, the FBI lawsuit continues to this day in a federal court in Salt Lake City with Trentadue appearing to have the upperhand. To learn more about it, click here.

For links to other articles of interest as well as photos and commentary, join me on Facebook and Twitter.  Please show your support by buying my books and encouraging your friends and loved ones to do the same.  To learn how to order signed copies, click here. Thanks in advance!

Click on image above to order Bob's books.

Click on image above to order Bob’s books.