Debunking Liberal Myths About Timothy McVeigh and Profiling

An Amnesty International report stated: “When law enforcement officials focus on what people look like, what religion they follow, or what they wear, it puts us all at risk. Several incidents in history illustrate this risk: …In 1995, after bombing the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City, Timothy McVeigh, a white male assailant later convicted of delivering the bomb alone, was able to flee while officers operated on the initial theory that ‘Arab terrorists’ had committed the attacks.” (emphasis mine)

The author of the report, Niaz Kasravi of Amnesty Internationals Domestic Human Rights program, said that following the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, authorities pursued people of Arab descent while the real bomber, Timothy McVeigh, a white man, fled.

An August 4, 2005, New York Daily News column, by Albor Ruiz, also invoked the Timothy McVeigh case as an example of the lack of racial profiling of white people by law enforcement. Ruiz wrote, “ ….a Democratic Assemblyman … is calling for the NYPD to abandon its ‘no racial profiling’ policy on subway bag searches. …Dov Hikind believes that random checks are nothing but an exercise in political correctness…. They do little to prevent terrorism…. Hikind, who apparently has never heard of Timothy McVeigh or the Oklahoma City terror attack, thinks that police should concentrate on those who fit the ‘terrorist profile,’ that is, the Middle-Eastern (or Middle-Eastern-looking) population."

A Florida ACLU website stated, “Racial profiling is a dangerously ineffective policing tool. Recent data shows that, while minorities are stopped and searched far more than whites, they are as likely or less likely to have drugs or guns. As this highlights, racial profiling is actually a distraction from effective policing because police officers are focusing on the wrong suspect. When Timothy McVeigh, a white Gulf War veteran, exploded a bomb outside the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City, law enforcement immediately began to focus its investigation on Islamic suspects.” (emphasis mine)

These comments are a classic example of what Goebbels meant when he said, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it."

The “Timothy McVeigh eluded police because white people are not profiled” mantra is not true. It is a myth propagated by ideologues who want to discredit law enforcement.

The truth is within twenty-four hours after the bombing of the Murrah Building law enforcement officials did develop a profile of the Oklahoma City bomber as a white male, in his twenties, with military experience, linked to a militia. This needs repeating – LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIALS DID DEVELOP A PROFILE OF A WHITE MALE AS THE OKLAHOMA CITY PERPETRATOR!!!

Two days is all it took to capture McVeigh. He was stopped for a traffic violation and taken into custody on weapons violations. By tracing the serial number of a vehicle part and registration numbers of the vehicle used, the law enforcement officers (LEOs) were able to match a name and description of McVeigh to the person who was in custody in Oklahoma. McVeigh was arrested for the Oklahoma City incident within forty-eight hours.

Does this sound like law enforcement was engaged in a wild goose chase of Arab terrorists? Does this sound like McVeigh was able to flee while officers operated on the initial theory that Arab terrorists had committed the attack as Amnesty International would have you believe? Does this sound like McVeigh eluded law enforcement because they mistakenly profiled Arab terrorists as implied by the ACLU, or Ruiz ?

Of course not!

The facts of the Oklahoma City incident and profiling are very different from the impression given by the aforementioned statements by Amnesty International, NY Daily News columnist Ruiz, and liberal institutions like the ACLU and others opposed to profiling. They would have you believe that McVeigh was wandering around the country unconcerned about arrest for months because LEOs were looking for Muslim terrorists.

Indeed, immediately after the Murrah incident Clinton Van Zandt, an FBI profiler, began to craft a profile of who he thought committed the crime. He postulated that the perpetrator, “would be white, male, and in his twenties. Furthermore, he theorized the suspect would be a military man and possibly a member of a fringe militia group.”

Van Zandt was not alone. Terrorism expert Louis R Mizell Jr. noticed that the date coincided with that of Patriot’s Day – the anniversary of the Revolutionary War Battle of Concord, a day revered by the militia movement.

Contrary to what is claimed by the “civil libertarians” and others contemnors of racial profiling, the terrorist who committed the Oklahoma City bombing was correctly profiled by the FBI. They did so using the same criteria with which they profile Muslim terrorists.

Unfortunately, many commentators who favor racial profiling, do not refute the McVeigh fallacy when it is made. For example, the August 5, 2005, broadcast of Sean Hannity featured a conversation about subway bag searches with a civil liberties attorney who used the Timothy McVeigh case. Hannity did not refute it.

The invocation of the Timothy McVeigh case as an example of the refusal of law enforcement to racially profile whites is disingenuous. It is meant to invoke one of the three ad hominems – sexist, racist, homophobe – liberals usually invoke when they do not want to argue case by its merits. Liberals are attempting to claim law enforcement is being racist by profiling.

It is possible to argue the relative merits of profiling. It is possible to argue whether or not profiling should be implemented. The opponents of profiling need not resort to false statements to do so. The fact that they are engaging in fallacies should give all cause to wonder if these critics have any credibility.

Keep this in mind as the ACLU makes its latest objection to the practice of checking the bags of New York City subway passengers.