On April 28, 1995, the Washington Post reported as follows: “The magistrate, Ronald L. Howland, ordered McVeigh to be held without bail after listening to four hours of testimony from FBI special agent John Hersley in which he described eyewitness accounts of a yellow Mercury with McVeigh and another man inside speeding away from a parking lot near the federal building.”
Nine days earlier, Timothy McVeigh and “another man” blew up the Alfred P. Murrah Building in Oklahoma City. The FBI labeled this other man “John Doe No. 2.”
In addition to the “witnesses” – plural – that saw McVeigh with a second conspirator, federal prosecutors presented additional evidence to Judge Rowland of an accomplice. The truck bomb in question, they told him, “probably required at least two to three people to construct.”
As the Post reported, “hundreds of investigators” joined the search for McVeigh’s co-conspirator. They never found him.
Based on what we know about Jan. 6 as well as the dubious plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, those investigators were likely told to stop looking.
Although the exact role of federal agents on Jan. 6 remains uncertain, it is now well-established that the FBI used at least a dozen informants or agents to persuade the other half-dozen conspirators that kidnapping the Michigan governor was a good idea.
Given the FBI’s history of provocation, the question surfaces anew as to whether John Doe No. 2 was one of its agents or informants. He certainly existed. On April 19, 1995, many people saw him.
Roughly 20 minutes before the blast, employees at a tire store spotted McVeigh and a short, swarthy man in the infamous Ryder truck and even gave the pair directions to the Murrah building.
Five minutes before the blast, printing operator Jerry Nance noticed an unusual car in the downtown Oklahoma City parking lot near where he worked. It was a dilapidated yellow Mercury Marquis. Behind the wheel was a dark-skinned man in a ball cap.
Nance remembered the car well. When he walked back toward it, after getting some items from his own car, the Mercury Marquis almost ran him over. Now, however, the darker man was sitting in the passenger seat, and a tall white man was driving the car out of the parking lot.
Two minutes later, the Murrah Building blew. Nance informed the FBI of the men in the yellow Mercury Marquis before anyone knew McVeigh had been apprehended in that same car.
Nine days later, FBI agent Hersley quoted Nance and the tire store employees to support the Bureau’s request before Judge Howland that McVeigh should be held over for trial.
One of the tire store employees picked McVeigh out of a line-up of look-alikes even before he saw McVeigh on television. The Washington Post confirmed the same.
Witness Daina Bradley, badly injured in the blast, cried out to her rescuers, “It was a Ryder truck. It pulled up, a foreign looking man got out, and then before long, everything went black.”
It was a day Bradley could never forget. The rescuers had to amputate Bradley’s leg to extricate her.
The morning after the bombing, employees of the Kansas body shop where McVeigh rented the Ryder truck helped the FBI create a composite drawing of McVeigh’s accomplice. They described him much as others had – “full-faced and stocky, with dark hair and an olive complexion.”
For a month or two, every American with a television set saw the John Doe No. 2 composite. Then, inexplicably, the image disappeared. The FBI gave up the chase.
In December 1997, defense lawyers for Terry Nichols, a McVeigh accomplice who backed out of the plot, made a strong case at his federal trial that their client looked nothing like the man the Washington Post now labeled a “mysterious suspect.”
“Nichols’s lawyers have long maintained their client’s innocence in the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building,” reported the Post’s Lois Romano, “and claim the government stopped looking for other suspects after his arrest.”
Romano continued, “The government now takes the position that John Doe No. 2 was actually an innocent Army private who happened to be at Elliott’s [Body Shop] the day after McVeigh rented the truck.”
In 1997, the Post was not as blindly supportive of the national security state as it is today. Said an openly skeptical Romano of the government’s ‘Army private’ gambit, “But that was not the government’s position two years ago.”
Then as now, however, the Post and the rest of the major media liked the “right-winger as terrorist” trope too much to actually look for a man who might very well destroy so useful a narrative.
So John Doe No. 2 went unidentified and unpunished. Who knows? He may have been at the Capitol on Jan. 6 urging Trump supporters “to just go inside and take a look around.” He would have been in good company.
Jack Cashill’s latest book, “Barack Obama’s Promised Land: Deplorables Need Not Apply,” is now on sale. See www.cashill.com for more information.
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