In this weeks discussion board, you are asked to discuss the events of the Oklahoma City bombing (April 19,1995). At the time, this was one of the largest terrorist attacks to occur on U.S. soil prior to the September 11, 2001 (9/11) attacks.
As asked in Unit I about the 9/11 attacks, could the Oklahoma City bombing could have been prevented? If so, how? If not, why? Please be detailed in your responses to the questions above. You are to provide scholarly, peer-reviewed, and authoritative supporting evidence through research.
ANSWER THE ABOVE DISCUSSION QUESTION AND REPLY TO MY CLASSMATE’S RESPONSE TO THE ABOVE QUESTION AND EXPLAIN WHY YOU AGREE? (A MINIMUM OF 300 WORDS EACH)
In your responses should be substantive in nature, meaning you should present discourse by asking questions of your peers (how did they arrive at their conclusion or what was the premise of their argument). You can challenge one another and present an alternative analysis. All of this should be supported by the research of scholarly, peer-reviewed articles, and authoritative reporting (government). DO NOT USE NEWS OR MEDIA.
I believe as I reflected on the horrific events of 9/11, I stated it was simple to always view things in hindsight. I believe the biggest failure connected to that day was the failure amongst intelligence agencies to share information and reach a consensus on what was a credible threat. Although no one could have foreseen the level of coordination of the attacks, it would seem, in my opinion, that a tragedy of that magnitude had to be planned for months, if not years.
Before this tragic event, terrorism was really noticeable only through airplane hijackings for ransom money, routine bombings in the Middle East, and the events that unfolded on live television at the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Germany. Aside from that, there was really no focus on domestic terrorism. After all, what American citizen would think of carrying out such an attack in his own country? Some thought the bombing was a gas leak or the result of a plane experiencing a sonic boom from Tinker Air Force base. “It is not clear when the public became aware that the official cause of the destruction was a bomb. While the evidence of a bombing may have been clear to trained investigators, this confirmation was not immediately available to the public” (Sloan, 2016). The FBI quickly pieced together an investigation based on the evidence at the scene, interviews, tips from residents, and had to determine whether this was the doing of a Middle Eastern terrorist organization (since the World Trade Center bombing just occurred two years prior) or if this was a home-grown attack. The early hypothesis was that it was definitely political in nature due to the status of the building and that it was symbolic of the government. Once the FBI arrested Timothy McVeigh and his co-conspirator, Terry Nicholas, it was clear that they were right-wing extremists with very radical political views and were upset at the events in Waco, Texas two years prior at the Branch Davidian compound. “Accounts of how McVeigh had been radicalized after his military service in the First Gulf War highlight evolving processes or radicalization globally that are increasingly influenced by the Internet and social media” (Michel & Herbeck, 2001, as cited in Sloan).
McVeigh assembled a powerful bomb comprised of fertilizer, diesel fuel, and other chemicals, loading it inside a Ryder rental truck. He parked it in front of the federal building, walked off, and ignited several timed fuses until it exploded. We know why McVeigh did it but could it have been prevented? McVeigh wrote a letter to the editor of the Lockport Union Sun and Journal that was printed on February 11, 1992. In it, McVeigh spouted anti-government rhetoric, that a civil war was “imminent”, and closed the letter with the ominous, rhetorical question of “Do we have to shed blood to reform the current system. I hope it doesn’t come to that. But it might.” This menacing threat would fall upon deaf ears with federal and local law enforcement.
There was also a failure to divulge certain warning flags from friends – who knew McVeigh often took an anti-government stance and constantly threatened violence – to even his own sister who McVeigh himself said he was “planning something big”; to burn letters written to her; that he possessed a large amount of explosives; and do not contact him after April 1st. Yet, she contacted no one.
So, I suppose the short answer is yes, the Oklahoma City bombing could have been prevented if intervention was taken earlier in McVeigh’s thought process before he begun to make the bomb that would take the lives of so many innocent people. There were “red flags”. There were warning signs. Someone should have said something to somebody who was in a position to address McVeigh’s mental state. However, even though a paradigm existed, would could have been done? This is why I support the movement that conspiracy to commit, the providing of material support, and the facilitation to commit should also have its own criminal consequences.
Sloan, S. (2016). Placing Terrorism in an Academic and Personal Context: A Case Study of the Oklahoma City Bombing. Social Science Quarterly (Wiley-Blackwell), 97(1), 65–74. https://doi-org.libraryresources.columbiasouthern.edu/10.1111/ssqu.12253.
Michel, L. & Herbeck, D. (2001). American Terrorist: Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City Bombing. Harper and Collins.