Sunday, December 17, 2006

From the Archives

For over a year before the bombing, I was part of a relatively small group of human rights activists, political researchers and investigative reporters following the militia story. In January 1995, about 40 of us held a national research meeting in Issaquah,Washington (outside of Seattle) to compare notes about what we had learned since the first research meeting in July 1994 (which was attended by a dozen people.) One of the agreed upon actions was compiling and distributing a report on militias and the near certainty there would be violent incidents. This was done in March 1995 by Ken Stern at the American Jewish Committee. The reports went out to hundreds of media and government agencies. And it was totally ignored.

At the January meeting, I was asked to collaborate with Daniel Junas and Dave Neiwert (of Orcinus blog fame) on an article about militias for Covert Action Quarterly. Dan's article appeared in CAQ in early April 1995. On the day of the [Oklahoma City] bombing, Jim Lobe, head of the Washington office of the Interpress news agency, heard about the bombing on the radio. He said something like"I'll bet Dan Junas knows something about this" to his staff before going out for coffee. Jim had known Dan previously in Seattle and Dan had a small but very deserved reputation as one of the top political researchers in the country.

Outside the coffee shop was a magazine stand. It had the issue of CAQ with our article in it. Lobe bought a copy and saw the article. He ran back to his office and burst in the door waving the magazine. His staff were flabbergasted, since they remembered his comment about Junas before going to get coffee. Jim assigned a reporter to call us for quotes. Dan sort of hedged and said the question of militia movement involvement couldn't be ruled out. I stuck my foot right in it and said I was certain that the bombing would be linked to right-wing domestic terrorists. I derided the notion that Arabs were involved (since I knew that the FBI had earlier issued a national alert about arab terrorists in February in relation to the first World Trade Center bombing trial and that the militias had been buzzing with this for two months.)

The Interpress article ran on the wires on the afternoon of April 19. It was ignored in the US, but picked up by foreign services. I first heard about it when some friends heard a news broadcast on the Canadian Broadcasting Network quoting Radio Tehran saying the bombing was done by Americans. I wasn't contacted by media until the second day after the bombing (they were all chasing Steve Emerson's phoney Arab red herring). And then my phone didn't stop ringing for two weeks.
--Paul de Armond

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