In the hours after the 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, cable news breathlessly reported that authorities were searching for three Middle Eastern men supposedly seen fleeing the scene. True, this was just two years after the bombing of the World Trade Center by a Islamist cell led by Ramzi Yousef, but even so, the notion that foreign terrorists would target an ordinary office building in the middle of flyover country was far-fetched. Yet not as far-fetched, it seems, as the idea that Americans would do it, and end up killing 168 of their fellow citizens, 19 of them little children.
An FBI agent from Dallas, Danny Coulson, knew better. As Andrew Gumbel and Roger Charles relate in their impressive new book, “Oklahoma City: What the Investigation Missed — and Why It Still Matters,” Coulson jumped in his car and headed to Oklahoma City as soon as he heard about the bombing, fielding a call from a CBS correspondent along the way. She told him “everybody in Washington” said the perpetrators were Middle Eastern, but he said no way. “It’s a Bubba job,” he told her. “It’s Bubbas.”