If you grew up in Oklahoma in the 1990s (as I did) you automatically have a little internal alarm bell that goes off when you see the date April 19th. It’s almost 3am and I can’t sleep, because for some reason my brain was like, hey, wake up, it’s April 19th and the world is a scary place. I’m not going to reflect on anything sad here because I already feel sad enough.
I was looking at articles online and I stumbled across this on FBI.gov. I thought, hey, that’s a reputable site, surely they will outline the historical details accurately. Then I read it. Let me be clear, I am in no way criticizing the individuals who devote their lives to service in the FBI or any branch of the government/military. I am however, really just puzzled that this article is for real…
It starts off alright,
“On the morning of April 19, 1995, an ex-Army soldier and security guard named Timothy McVeigh parked a rented Ryder truck in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City.”
Then it previews the rest of the article with this line:
“He was about to commit mass murder.”
This tone struck me as odd. It sounds like something before a commercial break on Investigation Discovery.
“Within moments, the surrounding area looked like a war zone. A third of the building had been reduced to rubble, with many floors flattened like pancakes.”
Pancakes? This is the imagery you choose to describe the effects of a terrorist attack?
“The FBI, meanwhile, quickly arrived at the scene and began supporting rescue efforts and investigating the facts. Beneath the pile of concrete and twisted steel were clues. And the FBI was determined to find them.”
This wouldn’t be so weird if it was someone else saying it, but this is literally filed under “About Us.” It’s like, isn’t that what you do? Who else would be doing that? Like if you went to my About Me page and I had written, “Despite the rest of the world doing absolutely nothing about the fact that Savannah’s diaper needed to be changed, Emily swiftly took action. She was determined not to let her child get a rash.”
I will summarize the next part: Timothy McVeigh happened to be pulled over for not having a license plate and arrested for having a concealed weapon. This was fortunate because when the FBI tied him to the attack and tracked him down he was already in custody.
Then comes this,
“Agents found traces of the chemicals used in the explosion on McVeigh’s clothes and a business card on which McVeigh had suspiciously scribbled, ‘TNT @ $5/stick, need more.'”
First, thanks for telling us that he scribbled it “suspiciously” because otherwise it seems totally legit. But was that detail really so vital, such a legally sound piece of evidence, that it could not be spared from inclusion? Is this an historical account or a Darwin Awards nomination?
Here’s the wrap up:
“In the end, the government that McVeigh hated and hoped to topple swiftly captured him and convincingly convicted both him and his co-conspirators.”
Couple things. This whole article is the kind of thing I imagine projected over the radio waves at bedtime in North Korea. I love politics, but I’m not being political here. I am truly puzzled as to whose job it was to write this and why they made those choices in tone. I’m actually grateful to this mystery author because they got me thinking about something other than tragedy.
The other great thing I discovered is that FBI.gov has a section for kids and teens that is literally titled, “Fun & Games” as in, it’s all ‘fun & games’ until you get busted in a sting operation, kids.
Also, I am pretty sure I just got flagged in a keyword search by the NSA (hi guys!) so if my blog is suspiciously down, you’ll know why. Writers can be very sensitive to critique.
That being said, to my new government readers, make sure you check out my most recent post on Mommy Midsections. I swear I normally write about my kids and vacations so please don’t shut down my site. I loved you in West Wing.