By Bob Baldwin
April 23, 2010
The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of other individuals or groups responsible for this publication.
Since the debut of her show on MSNBC, Rachel Maddow has conducted a number of highly informative and in-depth investigations, ranging from the nefarious activities of the private security firm, Blackwater (Xe) to the inner workings of the secretive political and religious cult, The Family. As a commentator, she has been a strong advocate for liberal and progressive causes. It was therefore disappointing to see her treatment of the Oklahoma City bombing in last Monday’s “The McVeigh Tapes: Confessions of an American Terrorist.”
The program, which aired on the fifteenth anniversary of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, featured audio recordings of self confessed bomber, Timothy McVeigh, never before aired publicly. The audio recordings were part of a collection of 45 hours of interviews by Buffalo Daily News reporter Lou Michel for a biography that he and fellow reporter Dan Herbeck wrote, entitled, American Terrorist: Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City Bombing. Michel, who is from McVeigh’s hometown of Buffalo, was granted the exclusive interviews because he was someone with whom McVeigh was familiar and trusted.
As Maddow revealed at the outset, one of the primary purposes for making the documentary was to compare similarities between the views expressed by Timothy McVeigh and those of adherents of today’s anti government, Patriot/Militia and Tea Party movements. In a recent interview about the making of the documentary, she wondered aloud about the potential threat of domestic terrorism today and whether or not we are “…heeding warning signs that may be out there now?”1
Unfortunately in her zeal to confront anti government foes, whom she clearly feels pose a potential threat, she may have crossed the line of journalistic integrity by ignoring many of the facts concerning the bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal Building.
The two hour program reinforced the stereotypical caricature most Americans have of Timothy McVeigh as a cold and ruthless “lone nut” terrorist, who blew up the Federal Building in Oklahoma City in retaliation for the massacre at Waco two years earlier.
If the documentary had merely stuck to the words of McVeigh and a comparison with contemporary antigovernment activists, the program might have succeeded. Unfortunately the writers and producers of the program decided to make the words of McVeigh more visually compelling by including a cheesy reenactment of the crime using an actor, digitally altered through computer wizardry to look like McVeigh.
Excluded from consideration was any possibility of a wider conspiracy or government complicity and cover-up in the crime.
“The McVeigh Tapes,” made no mention of the scores of witness accounts, claiming to have seen McVeigh in the company of other individuals, both prior to and on the day of the attack. Also ignored was the court testimony of a confidential informant, Carol Howe, revealing that ATF and FBI agents had been tipped off in advance about plans to bomb the building. And finally, there was no mention of a classified project code named “Dipole Might,” in which ATF agents practiced blowing up vehicles using the same type of explosives used by Timothy McVeigh.2
Most disturbing of all though, was the use of computer generated imagery to transform an actor into a look-a-like version of McVeigh. Shots of the digital McVeigh were interspersed in Orwellian fashion with footage of the real McVeigh. This gave the documentary a video game appearance that one reviewer likened to Grand Theft Auto.3
The way images of the real McVeigh were interspersed with those of the virtual McVeigh made distinguishing between the two difficult. While viewers of the documentary were periodically reminded that some scenes were digitally altered using an actor, the disclaimers were not included in any of the promotional ads that aired prior to the show. Viewers unfamiliar with McVeigh’s actual appearance may have been unaware that the individual they were viewing was a virtual image.
That wasn’t the only thing misleading. During the ads, McVeigh’s words were taken out of context. For example, one clip that aired repeatedly had McVeigh saying “…women were fair game, children were fair game…” To most viewers this sounded like he was referring to his own actions, targeting women and children. However, if you listened to the full clip, he wasn’t talking about bombing the Murrah Federal Building; he was talking about the FBI burning down the Branch Davidian compound at Waco, TX. In other words, he was saying the Feds considered women and children fair game.
Throughout the program, McVeigh was branded a “sociopath” by Maddow and others for his callous disregard of human life and lack of remorse. There is a segment where Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center refers to McVeigh as a sociopath for a statement he made, advising family members of the bombing victims, “to just move on.”
While not trying to defend McVeigh’s words or actions, this remark sounds awfully similar to the excuse used by Barack Obama for not prosecuting Bush officials responsible for torture. Are U.S. Presidents who bomb innocent women and children as “collateral damage” also sociopaths for not showing remorse? When McVeigh was blowing up Iraqis during the Gulf War our country didn’t consider him sociopathic. We honored him with a bronze star.
The timing of this type of presentation is highly suspicious, given the concerted efforts by the corporate media and government officials to demonize anti government protesters. Recently former President Clinton and FBI Director Mueller have warned against the threat of domestic terrorism. In testimony before a Senate appropriations committee, Mueller claimed domestic terrorism is as great a threat, today, as Al Qaeda.4
Are we psychologically being conditioned for another false flag incident to be blamed on domestic terrorists? I’m sure Rachel Maddow, who is usually dismissive of conspiracy theories, would consider such a suggestion shear lunacy. With the economy still teetering on collapse, despite all the talk about an economic recovery, and the possibility of war with Iran still looming, there is good reason to be concerned. As history shows, when governments want to divert public attention from an economic crisis or launch a war, they often create phony pretexts to justify their course of action.
9/11 didn’t end on 9/11. Since then, we have seen the rise of a totalitarian police state at home, permanent wars of aggression abroad, and a plundering of our country’s economic wealth by Wall Street bankers and global elites on a scale not seen since the Great Depression. And it’s not over yet.