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Tag: Oklahoma Bombing

15 Years Later: Brother of Oklahoma Bomber Keeps Distance From Limelight

James Nichols/cbc photo

James Nichols/cbc photo

By Allan Lengel
For AOl News

Fifteen years after the Oklahoma City bombing, James Nichols — whose younger brother Terry was convicted in the case — isn’t really talking, except to say he’s still an organic farmer in Michigan.

“I’m not commenting unless you’ve got a big checkbook,” Nichols told AOL News in a phone interview.

Normally, a 15-year milestone of any event — as opposed to 10 years or 25 years — would pass with little fanfare. But recent events have made this one a little different.

Just a few weeks ago, federal agents busted up a Michigan-based Christian militia known as the Hutaree that was accused of plotting to kill law enforcement officers. The arrests triggered chatter on the Sunday talk shows about militias, the potential dangers some might pose and, perhaps inevitably, the Oklahoma City bombing.

Nichols has no ties to the Hutaree, or to any other militia, for that matter. But 15 years ago he found himself in the thick of something like the Hutaree case — only far, far bigger.

The bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995, killed 168 people and sent a shock wave of vulnerability across the nation. Within 90 minutes of the blast, an Oklahoma state trooper stopped a man named Timothy McVeigh for driving his yellow 1977 Mercury Marquis without a license plate, and subsequently arrested him for possession of a 9 mm Glock. McVeigh was quickly linked to the bombing, as was his Army buddy Terry Nichols, who soon surrendered to authorities.

Two days later, an army of FBI and ATF agents raided James Nichols’ farm in Decker, Mich., a small farming community about two hours north of Detroit. Terry Nichols and McVeigh had spent time on the farm, and McVeigh listed it as his home address when he checked into the Dreamland Motel in Junction City, Kan., right before the bombing.

During the raid on the Decker farm, FBI agents arrested James Nichols on a material witness warrant and soon charged him with illegally possessing unregistered explosives on his farm.

James Nichols, who would contend the explosive materials were for farm use, was held in prison for about a month before he was released. The charge was eventually dropped, and authorities — certainly not for lack of trying — failed to find any evidence linking him to the Oklahoma City bombing.

Most of the world knows what became of McVeigh and Terry Nichols since that time. Both men were convicted of the crime; McVeigh was executed in 2001 by lethal injection, while Nichols is serving life in a Colorado federal penitentiary.

But these days, at least outside the town of Decker, few know what has become of James Nichols, who turned 56 this month.

His lawyer says he married a few years back. Residents say he’s gone on with life as usual: farming corn and beans, showing up at occasional farm auctions, stopping for a burger and fries at Kayla’s Kafe, a small roadside diner just down the road from his farm.

“He’s always friendly with everybody,” says Kayla Nolan, owner of Kayla’s Kafe. “Nobody ever talks about (the bombing). I don’t think anybody thought he had anything to do with it. He’s a good guy.”

“It’s sort of all blown over,” Decker resident Phil Rockwell says. But he adds, “Nobody really knows if he had a part in it or not. Everybody has got their own opinion. I don’t have any problems. A person is innocent until proven guilty.”

Even in Decker, it seems, some may still wonder about Oklahoma City, even if they don’t talk about it. But James Nichols himself has nothing to say — at least not to the public at large.

Why? Maybe because the last time he did, it turned into a messy ordeal.

In the fall of 2000, filmmaker Michael Moore asked to interview Nichols for a project he was working on, the anti-gun documentary called “Bowling for Columbine.” Nichols agreed, thinking Moore simply wanted to “learn more about the Oklahoma bombing and his brother Terry Nichols’ pending trial,” according to the lawsuit Nichols would later file.

Soon afterward, Moore showed up at the Decker farm and conducted a three-hour interview, according to Nichols’ lawsuit. And Nichols, then not shy about espousing anti-government views, spoke his mind as the camera rolled.

“Them people, law enforcement, if you want to call them that, were here and they were shaking in their shoes, they were physically shaking, scared to death,” Nichols said in the interview, discussing the raid on his farm after the bombing. “Because they thought this was going to be another Waco, because certain people, namely my ex-wife and other people, said I’m a radical, I’m a wild man, I got a gun under every arm, down every leg and every shoe, every corner of the house — ‘You say anything to me, I’ll shoot you.’

“If people find out how they’ve been ripped off and enslaved in this country by the government, by the powers to be,” Nichols went on, “they will revolt with anger, merciless anger. There’ll be blood running in the street. When the government turns too radical, it is your duty to overthrow it.”

“Bowling for Columbine” debuted on Oct. 28, 2002, in Moore’s hometown of Flint, Mich., about 65 miles west of Decker. The film would go on to earn international critical acclaim and the Academy Award for best documentary feature.

But Nichols was none too happy with the finished product. In the film, Moore said McVeigh and the Nichols brothers made practice bombs on the farm “but the feds didn’t have the goods on James, so the charges were dropped.”

After the film’s debut, Nichols’ quiet life in the country was under siege. He was deluged with “hate mail and threatening phone calls,” says his attorney, Stephani Godsey. “It was a terrible ordeal to go through.”

On Oct. 27, 2003, Nichols filed a $100-million-plus lawsuit claiming defamation as a result of comments Moore made about him both in the film and on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” In 2005, however, a U.S. district judge in Detroit dismissed the suit, saying Moore’s statements were “factual and substantially true.” Nichols appealed, but to no avail: He lost in the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati in 2007.

“Michael Moore tried to portray him as the mastermind behind the bombing,” Godsey says, adding that her client was “really upset.” She says Nichols agreed to the interview because he thought Moore wanted to hear his side of the story, “but it was far from the case.”

Since Nichols didn’t have the resources to keep battling in court, they decided to give up the lawsuit. Still, to this day, she says of the film: “It wasn’t based on the truth.”

As for James Nichols, Godsey says, “I haven’t spoken to him very recently. But he’s doing well and getting on with his life.”

Column: 15 Years After the Oklahoma Bombing, We Must Not Forget the Potential of Homegrown Terrorism

This column was reprinted from a year ago.
Allan Lengel

Allan Lengel

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — One Friday, two days after the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, I was sitting at my desk at the Detroit News in downtown Detroit when I got a tip that the FBI was raiding a farmhouse in Michigan, and it had something to do with the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma.

In short time, I hopped in a car with another reporter and rushed northward up I-75 to Decker, Mi., a rural farming community two hours outside Detroit, where a guy named Tim McVeigh had hung out with two brothers named James and Terry Nichols.

By the time I arrived, the quiet little community, flush with lush farms and pickup trucks with rifle racks, was swarming with reporters and television trucks. Everyone – including the locals — was fixated on the farmhouse nearby that had been cordoned off and was full of FBI and ATF agents gathering evidence.

I stood on the dusty farm road that day thinking that homegrown terrorism had stormed America in a way never seen before. Eight federal agents were dead. Another 160 in the federal building were too.

I spent the next week in the area of the state known as “The Thumb”, tracking down leads, staying in a motel in nearby Cass City, where you checked in at the front desk of the bowling alley across the street. (I bowled one of my highest games – 217).

Read more »

15 Years Later, Oklahoma Bomber’s Brother Keeps His Distance from Limelight

James Nichols/cbc photo

James Nichols/cbc photo

By Allan Lengel
For AOL New

Fifteen years after the Oklahoma City bombing, James Nichols — whose younger brother Terry was convicted in the case — isn’t really talking, except to say he’s still an organic farmer in Michigan.

“I’m not commenting unless you’ve got a big checkbook,” Nichols told AOL News in a phone interview.

Normally, a 15-year milestone of any event — as opposed to 10 years or 25 years — would pass with little fanfare. But recent events have made this one a little different.

Just a few weeks ago, federal agents busted up a Michigan-based Christian militia known as the Hutaree that was accused of plotting to kill law enforcement officers. The arrests triggered chatter on the Sunday talk shows about militias, the potential dangers some might pose and, perhaps inevitably, the Oklahoma City bombing.

Nichols has no ties to the Hutaree, or to any other militia, for that matter. But 15 years ago he found himself in the thick of something like the Hutaree case — only far, far bigger.

The bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995, killed 168 people and sent a shock wave of vulnerability across the nation.

To read full story click here.

Is Today’s Anti-Government Movement Similar to the Pre-Oklahoma Bombing Era?

Federal Building in Oklahoma at time of explosion/fbi photo

Federal Building in Oklahoma at time of explosion/fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON –– Is  the Tea Party and other anti-government movements mirroring  the sentiments of the nation before the Oklahoma bombing 15 years ago?

USA Today reports that some see parallels.

“It feels a lot like the run-up to Oklahoma City,” Mark Potok, Intelligence Project director at the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks U.S. hate groups, told USA Today. “Will we see another Oklahoma City? Nobody can really say.”

USA Today wrote that “in the months before the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing…militias and “patriot” groups burst into the vanguard of a seething anti-government campaign, fueled by anger over the Clinton administration’s push for landmark gun-control legislation and federal officers’ aggressive tactics in high-profile standoffs with groups such as the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas.”

Then April 19, 1995, Tim McVeigh and Terry Nichols blew up the Edward P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people and injuring hundreds.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has reported that the militia organizations has dramatically grown in the last year.

“This is a broader-based and deeper kind of movement. Today, their ideas have penetrated into the mainstream,” Potok told USA Today.

To read more click here.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

FBI Denies it Edited Oklahoma Bombing Security Videotapes

Oklahoma City Federal Building

Oklahoma City Federal Building

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON — The FBI is denying suggestions that it edited soundless videotapes of the aftermath of the Oklahoma bombing, the Associated Press reported.

The denial came in the form of an email to the Associated Press.

“The FBI made no edits or redactions in the processing of these videos,”FBI spokesman Paul  Bresson wrote to the Associated Press. “The tapes are typical security cameras – the view switches camera to camera every few seconds.”

The FBI released more than 24 security camera tapes from buildings near the Oklahoma bombing that showed the chaos after the bombing.

Salt Lake City attorney Jesse Trentadue obtained the tapes through the Freedom of Information Act and complained of them being blank at times shortly before the explosion that killed 168.

“They have been edited,” Trentadue told the Associated Press.

ONE OF THE VIDEOS

Commentary: 14 Years After the Oklahoma Bombing, We Must Not Forget the Potential of Homegrown Terrorism

 

Allan Lengel

Allan Lengel

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON — One Friday, two days after the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, I was sitting at my desk at the Detroit News  in downtown Detroit when I got a tip that the FBI was raiding a farmhouse in Michigan, and it had something to do with the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma.

In short time, I hopped in a car with another reporter and rushed northward up I-75 to Decker, Mi., a rural farming community two hours outside Detroit, where a guy named Tim McVeigh had hung out with two brothers named James and Terry Nichols.

By the time I arrived, the quiet little community,  flush with lush farms and pickup trucks with rifle racks,  was swarming with reporters and television trucks. Everyone – including the locals — was fixated on the farmhouse nearby that had been  cordoned off and was full of FBI and ATF agents gathering evidence.

I stood on the dusty farm road that day thinking that homegrown terrorism had stormed America in a way never seen before. Eight federal agents were dead. Another 160 in the federal building were too.

I spent the next week in the area of the state known as “The  Thumb”, tracking down leads, staying in a motel in nearby Cass City, where you checked in at the front desk of the bowling alley across the street. (I bowled one of my highest games – 217).

After that week, I went up every week to follow up on leads and to talk to James Nichols, the brother of convicted bomber Terry Nichols. I usually stopped by the Decker Tavern, grabbed a cheap can of beer and talked to folks. The bartender remembered serving beers to Tim McVeigh. She even recalled his brand.

The first night there, a fellow reporter John Bebow and I headed to the Decker Tavern to talk to locals. A Detroit News photographer accompanied us, Joe DeVera, who was Filipino. The bar and the town had suddenly been transformed from an all white community to a United Nations; foreign reporters from Spain and France; Asians , Black and Jews.

The cash register frantically rang all night at the tavern. But the locals seemed less than enthusiastic.  As Joe, the photographer, headed to the bathroom, an elderly local patron at the bar turned to another and noted that there was a “Gook” in the bar.

It struck me that some of the locals had spent their lives avoiding the rest of America – particularly Detroit. Now, with the snap of a finger, the rest of America had come to them. It was an eye-opener to meet the local militias, the unknown Americans that hated the federal government, the farmers who felt they’d been screwed by the government.

The next day, on a Saturday, the swarm of reporters returned to the farmhouse. There were undercover ATF agents trying to blend in, trying to meet the local militias. I knew some of them from back in Detroit. In at least one instance, one those undercover agents got an invite to dinner at one of the locals. When he saw me on a dirt road near the farm, he gave me a look like “stay away, don’t blow my cover.” I obliged.

Eventually, Tim McVeigh and Terry Nichols were convicted.

Still, to this day, I’m not sure the whole story has been told.

Whatever the case, it’s interesting to note how the homegrown terrorists quickly took a backseat to al Qaeda and the likes after Sept. 11, 2001. For the majority in America, the threat of the Tim McVeighs seemed to have faded.

But one thing we must remember: As unemployment rises, as the economy sinks and as hate groups try to use the Obama election as a recruiting tool, America and federal agencies like the FBI and ATF must not forget or take lightly these domestic hate groups or the fringe members or the “lone wolf” wannabes.  You just never know what they’re capable of.

Just ask the Oklahomans.

Oklahomans Commemorate 14th Anniversary of Bombing that Killed 8 Federal Agents and 160 Others

Bomber Tim McVeigh

Bomber Tim McVeigh

It’s been 14 years since eight federal agents and 160 other people were killed in the Oklahoma City bombing that shook the security of this nation. The landscape of terrorism has changed since then, but people in Oklahoma will never forget that day.

By JAMES S. TYREE
Tulsa World
OKLAHOMA CITY – Susan Walton suffered a facial skull fracture, nerve damage behind both eyes, a broken nose, multiple jaw fractures, six busted teeth, a ruptured spleen, and legs crushed beneath both knees.

She was lucky.

Walton, of northwest Oklahoma City, sustained the injuries at the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building that killed 168 people. Susan and her husband, Richard Walton, and others filled the Oklahoma City National Memorial lawn during the 14th annual remembrance ceremony on a cold, blustery Sunday morning.

“We come for the same reason they built the memorial – for us to remember and to have hope for the future, and to see the people we’ve made friends with over the years whose lives were affected,” said Walton, who is doing well now, following years of recovery.

Gov. Brad Henry and Jane Lute, U.S. Department of Homeland Security deputy secretary, attended the 55-minute event that was more spiritual than political in nature.