On April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh detonated a truck filled with two tons of explosives parked outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. The blast killed 168 people, including 15 children under the age of six at the site’s child care center.
It was the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil between Pearl Harbor and 9/11. Everyone old enough still remembers when they first heard the news and saw the first horrific images of firefighters gently carrying out the broken bodies of dead toddlers.
The Oklahoma City bombing bears no comparison to what happened at the Capitol building on January 6. To suggest so not only is an historical false equivalence but a heartless diminution of the suffering and loss McVeigh and his co-conspirators, Terry Nichols and Michael Fortier, inflicted that day—a painful affront to the families left behind.
But during his confirmation hearing Monday, Merrick Garland, Joe Biden’s nominee for attorney general, insisted the current political climate is worse than the divisive climate leading up to McVeigh’s mass murder nearly 26 years ago.
“We are facing a more dangerous period than we faced in Oklahoma City,” Garland told Senator Richard Durbin (D-Ill.). “From what I have seen . . . it looks like an extremely aggressive and perfectly appropriate beginning to an investigation all across the country in the same way our regional investigation was but many, many times more.”
He continued. “I can assure you this will be my first priority and my first briefing.”
The Democrats’ Consigliere
Garland, of course, is referring to the ongoing and partisan Justice Department inquisition into the so-called “insurrection” at the Capitol building on January 6. Top officials warn the probe will be one that is “unprecedented in size and scope.” More than 200 people already have been arrested, mostly for misdemeanors, and dozens remain behind bars denied bail; federal prosecutors argue defendants with no criminal record nonetheless pose a risk to the community for the thoughtcrime of doubting the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.
If confirmed, Garland will take charge of a law enforcement agency that continues to act as the Democratic Party’s consigliere rather than as a defender of justice for 330 million citizens regardless of political affiliation. Garland now admits he will place another politically motivated investigation above the legitimate public safety concerns of the American public. “This was the most heinous attack on the democratic processes that I’ve ever seen and one that I never expected to see in my lifetime,” Garland dramatically promised Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). (Wait until he hears about Crossfire Hurricane and FISA warrants.)
His comments leave little doubt the Capitol breach probe will continue apace. Michael Sherwin, the acting D.C. U.S. Attorney assigned with overseeing the entire probe (and one of the few U.S. attorneys spared by Biden), pledged to build rare sedition cases against Americans ensnared in the investigation.
“The initial charges we’re filing, these misdemeanors, these are only the beginning, these are not the end,” Sherwin said at a January 12 press conference. “We’re looking at serious felony cases tied to sedition and conspiracy.”
A grand jury last week indicted six people tied to Oath Keepers, an alleged far-Right anti-government group, for conspiring to “stop, delay, and hinder Congress’ certification of the Electoral College vote.” Three more members face similar charges.
“It Does Require a Lot of Resources”
It’s clear, however, that Garland’s agenda—which just happens to coincide with the agenda of the Biden Administration and Democratic Party even though everyone promises the attorney general will be super independent—reaches beyond the events of January 6.
“Extremist groups, particularly white supremacist groups, do pose a fundamental threat to our democracy and they have posed that threat throughout our history,” Garland told Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) He said he agreed with FBI Director Christopher Wray that white supremacist extremism is the most dangerous threat to the country.
Garland, of course, is far less concerned with threats posed by domestic terrorists not tied to the Right or undemocratic “attacks” on other government buildings. The attempted destruction of the federal courthouse in Portland, Garland explained, was bad but not as bad as what happened at the Capitol because the courthouse was attacked at night when it was closed. Never mind the 140 federal officers injured defending the courthouse.
The FBI, Garland told the committee, is right to add more agents to root out the threat of far-Right extremism. “We also have to look at what’s happening all over the country and where this could spread and where this came from,” he said. “It does require a lot of resources.”
That is highly inflammatory rhetoric from the prospective head of the most powerful law enforcement agency in the world, especially one with a recent history of abusing its authority and breaking the law to pursue political foes. (In one exchange, Garland incorrectly described January 6 as the Capitol “bombing.”)
Further, Democrats do not want the investigation into January 6 to be focused only on those involved in the mêlée. Their end goal, once again, is to capture and convict Donald Trump of criminal wrongdoing.
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) prodded Garland about whether the Justice Department would look “upstream” to pursue the alleged “ringleaders” behind the chaos—referring, of course, to President Trump and Garland knew it. “We begin with the people on the ground and work our way up to those . . . who were further involved,” the longtime prosecutor said. “We will pursue these leads wherever they take us.”
Music, no doubt, to the ears of Democratic lawmakers and the current occupant of the Oval Office.
The narrative about what happened on January 6 continues to fall apart, from phony claims about a “murdered” police officer to an “armed” insurrection. But facts won’t stop this investigatory and political freight train from running over anyone in its path, including Americans guilty at most of minor misdemeanors with no prior record now labeled traitors and terrorists. That seems just fine with Merrick Garland.