Oklahoma City Bombing Term Paper

Pages: 19 (4999 words)  ·  Style: APA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 6  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Terrorism

Oklahoma City Bombing and Emergency Preparedness

On April 19, 1995, at 9:02 A.M., people in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, were going about their daily workday routines; car pools, day care, school, babysitters, jobs; the things that most people, at least most Americans, do everyday of their working weekly life. However, on this particular day the residents and surrounding communities of Oklahoma City, especially those families whose loved ones worked in the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, or whose children were cared for in the daycare housed in the building. Later that day, a stunned nation watched on television as rescue workers struggled to work their way through the debris of what had once stood as a federal government building, and, in the aftermath of Ryder truck used as the bomb delivery mechanism, stood in rubble (Dyer, 1998, p. 1). In search of survivors, the rescue workers witnessed several miracles that day: a young child badly injured but still alive, another life pulled from the rubble. At the end of the day, 169 people were murdered in the blast or from injuries suffered in the blast (Allen, 2008, film documentary).Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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TOPIC: Term Paper on Oklahoma City Bombing Assignment

In the aftermath of the tragedy, there remained unanswered questions that the federal government under the Bill Clinton administration was not quick to answer, or did not answer to the satisfaction of experts and investigators, and certainly not to the satisfaction of the victims' surviving family members. This essay looks at the Oklahoma City bombing to examine the facts, based on published information and investigations, about the pre-bombing preparedness of the federal, state and local officials on the date of the bombing. Also considered in This essay is the emergency disaster response to the bombing by the respective official agencies at the local, state and federal levels. The date of the bombing is significant, because, as most people are now aware, April 19, 1995 was the two-year anniversary date of the Waco, Texas Branch Davidian event, when federal officials stormed the David Koresh compound virtually incinerating the building and killing David Koresh and some of his followers, including young children (Thibodeau and Whiteson, 1999). If the federal government was not on an official alert that day, it probably should have been. Even two years later, Waco remained a sensitive subject, and given human nature, the government should have been on alert.

Allegations have been made that there were bomb threats made, and that the general public and especially people working in the Murrah Building should have been better prepared and forewarned. Unfortunately, when the government fails to answer questions from the public in a forthright and verifiable way, it gives rise to speculation, rumors and conspiracy theories. All of which have survived the Oklahoma City bombing, although some of the questions and allegations have in fact been answered since that time.

Before April 19, 1995

Given the facts that we now know, and since the man who stood accused and convicted of being responsible for the Oklahoma City bombing, Timothy McVeigh, was executed on June 11, 2001, for his role in the Oklahoma City bombing (Shapiro, 2001, p. 4). We can now, more than a decade later, go back to the events leading up to the Oklahoma City bombing and assess the preparedness for the events that occurred that day.

The story actually begins with the armed assault made on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas on April 19, 1993. It was an event that caused the federal government, Bill Clinton, and especially U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno look very bad. Referring to the government agencies, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), the FBI, and the other government forces present, the National Rifle Association described the events at Waco this way:.".. jack-booted government thugs, federal agents wearing Nazi bucket helmets and black storm trooper uniforms to attack law-abiding citizens (Shapiro, 2001, p. 4)." There were events that precipitated Oklahoma City, creating the atmosphere of, if not of a federal government out of control, at least paranoia feeding just about any conspiracy theory that a person might choose from many.

Representative Helen Chenoweth, who declared that America's national parks had been taken over by the United Nations; Senator Bob Smith, who temporarily dropped his GOP affiliation in favor of the paranoid, antigovernment populists of the U.S. Taxpayers Party; and anti-choice fanatics who pointed the way to Oklahoma City with their abortion clinic bombings in the early nineties. It is easier to treat Tim McVeigh as an inexplicable aberration who can be evicted from history than to recall just how widely evident were obsessions like his (Shapiro, 2001, p. 4)."

In other words, the social conditions were ripe for the fanaticism that would grip the thinking of people in a way that might cause them to lose control of their sensibilities and to especially lose sight of the fact that Americans have rights they can exercise, and when they perceive that their government officials and leaders are going rogue, the American people have the right of voting in or out of publicly elected and held offices. Americans have the power of impeachment, the power to petition to remove a public official from office for misconduct or rogue behavior; that came close to happening in the case of President William Jefferson Clinton, whose behavior brought about his impeachment, though not removal from the highest elected office in the United States.

After Waco, the U.S. Government should have been on alert for the predictable and the unpredictable. The question that was asked in the aftermath of Oklahoma City is: Which public officials knew of bomb threats to the Murrah Federal Building, what did they do about it? Also, who is responsible for the explosive devices housed in the ATF's 9th floor area, and which has actually since that time been cited as resulting in greater death and damage than the actual Ryder truck used by Timothy McVeigh to deliver the bomb.

In the Charles Allen documentary film (no year given), Oklahoma City: What Really Happened?(found online at: (http://www.moviesfoundonline.com/oklahoma_city_what_really_happened.php),the filmmaker and other witnesses allege that the Federal Government was aware of bomb threats, but failed to adequately notify employees in the Murrah Building as to the threats (Allen, 2008). The documentary, which raises questions and really furthers certain conspiracy theories, was supported in its making by Oklahoma State Representative Charles Key (Allen, 2008).

Representative Key states in the documentary that he called for a federal investigation into the preparedness of the ATF, occupying offices in the Murrah Building, and why that agency had a cache of explosives in a government office building (Allen, 2008). Allen's request was rejected by officials, and no formal inquiry into either the lack of preparedness or the ATF's cache of explosives that have since been credited with causing greater damage and taking more lives than the Ryder truck bomb (Allen, 2008).

There is also the issue of the John Doe, whom witnesses stated was with Timothy McVeigh, and who might constitute a Middle Eastern connection to the bombing; which would not have been unusual given that an attempt to bomb the World Trade Center had been carried by Islamic fundamentalists in New York City in 1993 (Jones, 1998, p. 106). Oklahoma City also had a large Islamic fundamentalist population in 1995 (Jones, 1998, p. 8). It raises the question: Did a disgruntled Timothy McVeigh turn to Islamic fundamentalist in his frustration with the American system that struck him as subverting the American people's rights?

An FBI communique that was circulated on the day of the bombing read, "We are currently inclined to suspect the Islamic Jihad as the likely group," and suggested that the attack was carried out in retaliation for the prosecution of Muslim fundamentalists in the World Trade Center case. These were not the suspicions of small town sheriffs or beat cops but of numerous government and law enforcement experts at the highest levels (Jones, 1998, p. 106)."

If the federal government had received bomb threats, and if the government was on alert because of its information surrounding Islamic fundamentalists, how is the question: Were they adequately prepared at the Murrah Building for a potential attack on that building? The answer is an overwhelming no.

While many of the witnesses in the documentary Oklahoma City: What Really Happened? Would like for it to be part and parcel of some ongoing conspiracy theory that the ATF was housing explosives on site at the Murrah Building; it is not surprising because the ATF is an agency that confiscate weapons and explosive that are being held by citizens illegally. Also, as an agency that responds to threats on American soil as ordered by the duly elected administration, as happened in Waco, Texas; the ATF would, like the FBI, CIA and Secret Service have access to weapons on site, including explosives. Was it prudent, especially in the face of potential attack on federal buildings as had been warned that day, to house those kinds of explosives and weapons in a federal… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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