Tag Archives: OKC bombing

Beware, domestic terrorists

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland has laid down the law to those who seek to terrorize Americans from within our borders.

The Department of Justice is coming after them.

Indeed, Garland has experience dealing with — and bringing justice to — domestic terrorists. It was 26 years ago today that a home-grown, corn-fed terrorist detonated a bomb in front of the Alfred Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. The blast killed 168 people, including 19 children in the worst act of domestic terrorism in U.S. history.

Police arrested the bomber soon afterward. Garland was a young federal prosecutor who led the charge in bringing the madman to justice. He succeeded and the killer was executed.

The New York Times reported: ‚ÄúAlthough many years have passed, the terror perpetrated by people like Timothy McVeigh is still with us,‚ÄĚ Mr. Garland said. ‚ÄúThe Department of Justice is pouring its resources into stopping domestic violent extremists before they can attack, prosecuting those who do, and battling the spread of the kind of hate that leads to tragedies like the one we mark here today.‚ÄĚ

Garland Leads Commemoration of Oklahoma City Bombing (msn.com)

Make no mistake, domestic terror is alive and festering. FBI Director Christopher Wray said in 2019 that domestic terrorism presents the single greatest threat to Americans, even more than foreign terrorists.

Indeed, we saw them storm the Capitol Building on Jan. 6 and we have heard members of Congress actually endorse the myriad phony conspiracy theories espoused by domestic terrorists. Imagine that … if you can.

It is with that backdrop that I welcome AG Garland’s renewed commitment to fighting the enemy from within.

This is how you reflect on national crisis

Twenty-five years ago a madman ignited a bomb at a federal courthouse in Oklahoma City.

The blast killed 167 men, women ‚Ķ and children. It tore at the nation’s soul. It broke our hearts. The madman would be arrested soon afterward. He was put on trial, convicted and then executed for his crime against humanity.

I want to share this video of President Bill Clinton, who went to OKC five years ago to mark the 20th year since that horrifying event. I ask you to take a few moments to listen to the former president’s remarks.

I also want to call your attention to a story he told of a former Oklahoma governor, on whose watch this tragedy occurred. The governor is a Republican; the former president is a Democrat. They are dear friends who made each other’s acquaintance in college many years ago.

They had a partisan political beef that lasted until, as President Clinton said, “Oklahoma City” occurred. Then their differences disappeared, Clinton said, amid the heartbreak, leaving all Americans to deal only with each other’s “humanity.”

There’s a profound lesson to be learned from these remarks.

POTUS faces lose-lose encounter

Donald J. Trump is set to plunge into a place where he is likely to get bloodied — politically speaking. He intends to venture to El Paso, Texas, in the next day or so.

He will presumably speak to folks who were affected by the mass slaughter of 22 people at the Wal-Mart shopping center over the weekend.

The president is being told he isn’t welcome. Why? Because many Americans — including myself — blame Trump’s fiery, divisive rhetoric for spawning the shooter to massacre Latinos gathered at the store for some last-minute, back-to-school shopping.

Should he go? I believe he should. It’s a critical part of the job he agreed to do when he got elected president of the United States. Is this president good at lending comfort? Is he adept at saying just the right thing, in just the right tone, to just the right audience in its time of intense grief? No. He isn’t.

Will he step up and acknowledge the role his rhetoric has played in the tragedy that exploded in El Paso? I doubt it seriously.

I am left to wonder: Has there ever been a recent U.S. president who has felt the scorn of stricken communities the way this one is feeling it now in the wake of the El Paso tragedy?

Did Bill Clinton feel it when he went to Oklahoma City in 1995 after the bomber blew up the Murrah Federal Building? Did George W. Bush feel it when he ventured multiple times to the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina in 2005? Did such recrimination fall on Barack Obama when he went to Charleston, S.C., after the madman opened fire in that church, or when he went to Newtown, Conn., after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre that killed all those precious children and their teachers? No, no and no!

This visit, and the trip he plans to take to Dayton, Ohio — another city stricken by gun violence during the same weekend— likely won’t go well.

All I can say is: Suck it up, Mr. President.

We have presidents … and we have Trump

I have been listening to comparisons between Donald Trump and his three immediate predecessors, namely their reaction to extreme acts of violence.

The preceding presidents knew how to rally a nation, to speak to our better angels, to show strength and resolve in the face of tragedy.

President Clinton dealt with the Oklahoma City bombing in April 1995. He urged us to ignore the angry voices that prompted Timothy McVeigh to blow up the Murrah Federal Building, killing 167 people, including many children.

President Bush stood on the rubble at Ground Zero immediately after 9/11. He took a bullhorn, threw his arm around a New York City firefighter and told the nation that the terrorists “who knocked down these buildings will hear all of us soon.”

President Obama wiped away tears as he spoke of the slaughter of 20 first- and second-graders and six teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

Now we have Donald Trump. Someone or some group is sending pipe bombs to Democratic politicians, a donor, a former AG, a cable news outlet and an legendary film actor/political activist. Does the president demonstrate any sense of fear or compassion for the recipients of these packages?

Oh, no! He blames Democrats for fomenting the anger, along with the “mainstream media,” which he says is guilty of sending out “fake news.”

Then he pokes fun at calls to be more “civil” in leading the public political discourse.

The current president simply doesn’t measure up to the three men who preceded him in performing this fundamental duty of his high office: unifying and healing a nation in distress.

It’s the ‘optics’ that keep bedeviling the president

Donald J. Trump had to know about the damage done by his long-distance feud with San Juan, P.R., Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz.

The president surely knew it would be better for him to make nice with the mayor who he had criticized for her “poor leadership” after she criticized the federal response to Puerto Rico’s suffering in the wake of Hurricane Maria’s savage beating.

I fear he didn’t act on that when he went to Puerto Rico. He engaged in at least one peculiar public-relations stunt when he was video recorded tossing rolls of paper towels at a crowd of well-wishers. Someone will have to explain to me what that was supposed to tell us about the president’s concern for those U.S. citizens who are suffering from the hurricane’s devastation.

Then he sat in a meeting with local officials — which included Mayor Cruz — and said that Puerto Rico has cost the United States “billions of dollars, but that’s all right.” I heard that and thought, “Huh?”

The president keeps fluffing this part of his job description, the one that labels him “comforter in chief.”¬† He’s not making the grade.

President Reagan donned that mantle perfectly after the shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986; President Clinton did it as well in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995; and of course, President Bush stood in the Twin Tower rubble, bullhorn in hand after 9/11, and said “the world will hear all of us soon.”

And can anyone forget the sight of President Obama leading a church congregation in a rendition of “Amazing Grace” at the memorial for the victims of the Charleston, S.C., massacre?

Trump hasn’t yet been able to demonstrate the capacity he needs to show in these times of intense national grief.

Puerto Ricans are suffering. Yet the president treats his visit there like some sort of performance on his part.

He’ll get another chance on Wednesday when he flies to Las Vegas. He’ll get an opportunity to show Americans he cares about that community’s suffering after the madman opened fire at the hotel and casino, killing 59 people and injuring 500-plus more in a hail of automatic weapon fire.

Do you have faith that the president will become comforter in chief?

Me, neither.

U.S. gives up title of ‘Beacon of Hope’

Let’s ponder this for a moment.

This United States of America used to be seen around the world as the place where everyone wanted to go. To visit. Or … to live.

It didn’t matter from where you came. You saw the U.S. of A. as the international beacon of hope. We have that statue in New York harbor that welcomes the poor and dispossessed.

That’s all changed, according to the current president of the United States. Donald J. Trump says if you come from certain countries and perhaps adhere to a certain religion, you are no longer¬†welcome. The welcome mat has been rolled up, the door has been slammed shut and we won’t answer the bell when you ring it.

How in the world does this happen?

International terrorists? They’re to blame? No. We’ve had them in our midst for decades, if not centuries. Terrorists reside here at home, too. The president and his team say they want to protect us from those who would do us harm.

Really? What about the crazed corn-fed American-born morons who open fire in movie theaters, or at night clubs, or — for God’s sake! — in elementary schools! Or, say, the anti-government sociopath who blew up that federal courthouse in Oklahoma City.

The Trump administration has pushed the panic button. It has elevated the fear factor to new levels by excluding refugees from several Muslim-majority nations. But the president insists he isn’t invoking an anti-Muslim policy.

Well, Mr. President, it doesn’t look that way to me.

What’s next? Will he now send crews into the NYC harbor to¬†remove that inscription on the statue?

OKC bombing memorial: That's how you do it

My wife and I have visited the Oklahoma City memorial to the April 19, 1995 bombing many times since its completion.

We come away each time with the same reaction: Anyone wishing to memorialize a tragic event needs to visit with the planners who executed this memorial to see how to do it correctly, in exquisite taste and decorum.

It’s on the edge of downtown OKC, where the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building stood before Timothy McVeigh detonated the truck bomb that destroyed the structure and killed 168 innocent victims.

It has two outstanding features: a pool of still water and 168 chairs positioned to the side of the pool. Of the chairs, 19 of them are smaller than the rest. They honor the lives of the children McVeigh killed when the bomb went off. The children were attending a day care center inside the Murrah Building. McVeigh drew a figurative bead on those innocent, precious babies when he committed his heinous act.

One wall from the Murrah Building is preserved at the end of the pool. On¬†another wall¬†is an inscription,¬†“9:03,” when the bomb exploded on that horrifying morning.

The good people of Oklahoma City did it right.

If you’re ever traveling through Oklahoma’s capital city, you owe it to yourself — and your children — to see this memorial.

It will move you in a way you might not expect.

OKC bombing far from a 'failure'

Now we hear that Timothy McVeigh thought the act of terror he committed 20 years as a failure because part of the building he blew up was still standing when the smoke cleared.

This disgraceful excuse for humanity has it all wrong. Every bit of it.


McVeigh’s heinous act was a rousing success.

* It terrorized a community, which he intended all along.

* It killed innocent victims, which he also intended.

* And it energized a nation that was struck numb by the horror of that terrible morning in the nation’s heartland.

McVeigh, who was executed by the federal government for his act, was as wrong as he could have been.

His act destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995. He was taking revenge against the feds for their role in the destruction of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco two years earlier.

So, he decided the best revenge was to kill innocent people — including 19 children — who had nothing to do with the Branch Davidian disaster. He decided to murder those victims. And he called the act a failure because it didn’t level the entire building?

His disgraceful lack of remorse only stiffened our national resolve to guard against other evil men and women, sociopaths who would commit a heinous crime in the name of some political cause.

McVeigh didn’t fail at all. His dastardly deed “succeeded” beyond his wildest imagination.


Tsarnaev likely to go down

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is now a convicted murderer.

A Boston jury convicted him of all counts of first-degree murder in the April 15, 2013 bombing at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

The U.S. Justice Department will seek the death penalty once the sentencing phase of the trial begins next week.

Based on what I understand occurred in the courtroom during the trial, the young killer is likely to be put down.

He didn’t show remorse. He didn’t exhibit any emotion. He didn’t even flinch, blink or look away¬†when prosecutors produced graphic autopsy¬†photographs of the three people killed in the blast; meanwhile, the jurors wept as they looked at the pictures.

What does that say about Tsarnaev? To me, it says he carried out a premeditated attack against innocent victims to prove some political point. The last person to be executed by the federal government, Timothy McVeigh, did the same thing when he detonated the truck bomb in front of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City nearly 20 years ago this month.

I’ve noted already my opposition to capital punishment. Tsarnaev’s cold response is testing that opposition to the max.

Although I oppose this punishment on principle, I won’t grieve if the jury sends this young man to his death.

Change of venue? Sure thing … not!

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev thinks he can find a more impartial jury pool in a city other than Boston.

Sure thing, accused Boston Marathon bomber. Go for it. My hunch is that the man’s trial is staying put.


Tsarnaev is accused of detonating a bomb that exploded at the finish line of the world-renowned race. Surveillance videos captured images of him and his late brother moments before the blast as they were leaving a “package” near the blast site.

Jury selection in Boston has been delayed by many factors, including the horrendous weather that has all but buried the city under several feet of snow. Those delays apparently have given Tsarnaev’s legal team reason to seek a “Hail Mary” move to get the trial moved to another site.

Where, it is fair to ask, is there a place where residents don’t know about the bombing or haven’t formed an opinion on the incident?

The same question could be applied to, say, the change of venue that the judge granted for Timothy McVeigh, who blew up the federal office building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995. The government moved his trial to Denver, where he was convicted anyway. The jury sentenced him to death and McVeigh was executed for his crime.

Tsarnaev’s trial should remain in the city where the crime occurred. The court will seat a qualified jury eventually, once the city clears the mountains of snow off the streets.