For a pile of years, my pal, the award-winning Brit investigative journalist, Andrew Gumbel, has been digging deep into the plot behind the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, and all that went wrong with the FBI investigation of that ghastly day. His co-author, Roger G. Charles, has been researching the issue—and the untold story— for even longer. So the two wisely joined talents and forces to produce an exhaustively researched, wonderfully written, and genuinely riveting book on what we weren’t told about the issue and why we should care: Oklahoma City: What the Investigation Missed–and Why It Still Matters
The jiggly iPhone video above was taken at a book launch party for Andrew on Sunday late afternoon in Santa Monica. When the video begins, he was just launching into the explanation that, in the 1990′s, the extreme right fringe began forming into leaderless cells. Then he outlined for us the tale of how the FBI investigation into the bombing—before and after the bombing occurred— went so dreadfully awry.
In the video below, Actor Todd Waring reads an excerpt from the book.
(NOTE: that unfortunate ringing phone is not mine.)
Here’s a clip from what Michael Isikoff had to say about the new book in the Daily Beast.
The story of the Murrah building bombing receives its most comprehensive accounting yet in Oklahoma City: What the Investigation Missed-and Why it Still Matters—a new book by journalists Andrew Gumbel and Roger G. Charles. It is a cautionary and at times startling tale, filled with bizarre characters from the outer fringes of American political life, with continuing relevance today. The feds certainly had legitimate reason to be worried about Islamic extremists in the mid-1990′s. But there was an equally menacing threat that was being largely ignored by federal law enforcement, a resurgent movement of loosely connected extremist hate groups, Christian Identity fanatics, and gun-toting militia members, all convinced that American liberty was in grave peril.
As Gumbel and Charles amply document, U.S. law enforcement had plenty of warning signals that these groups were planning violent attacks—and even that the Murrah Building itself might well be one of the targets. One of the movement’s most charismatic leaders, a white supremacist Arkansas death-row inmate named Richard Wayne Snell, had plotted to blow up the Murrah building years earlier. Snell, a convicted double murderer fond of quoting Rudolf Hess, had warned prison guards there would be “hell to pay” on April 19, his execution date. One of Snell’s most devoted acolytes, Louis Beam, also talked about “something big” that would take place that day—which was also the anniversary of the FBI assault on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas. This law-enforcement debacle had become a rallying cry for the far right, but for reasons ranging from bureaucratic rivalries to political timidity, few in Washington were paying any attention.
Now go and it!
NOTE: JAIL COMMISSION STORY COMING TOMORROW I’ll be running it in three parts. Part 1 will be published Tuesday morning.
AND IN OTHER NEWS….MORE THAN 2000 PEOPLE HAVE BEEN WRONGLY CONVICTED SINCE 1989, ACCORDING TO NEW DATABASE
David Savage of the LA Times has the story. Here’s a clip:
More than 2,000 people have been freed from prison since 1989 after they were found to have been wrongly convicted of serious crimes, according to a new National Registry of Exonerations compiled by University of Michigan Law School and Northwestern University.
Its sponsors say it is by far the largest database of such cases, and they hope it will help reveal why the criminal justice system sometimes misfires, prosecuting and convicting the innocent.
“The more we learn about false convictions, the better we’ll be at preventing them,” said Samuel Gross, a University of Michigan law professor.
The registry covers the period since DNA came into common use and revealed, to the surprise of many prosecutors and judges, that a significant number of convicted rapists and murderers were innocent. The Innocence Project in New York says DNA alone has freed 289 prisoners since 1989.
Criminal law experts have been studying the growing number of exonerations. Some cases have involved police corruption or witnesses who recanted. Experts have also pointed to faulty eyewitness testimony and lying witnesses as common problems.