By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Kalisch also states that the owner refused to give (the FBI or agents) them information about his guests. But the owner says the FBI wanted all his room records going back to 1990. “I wanted a subpoena or some sort of receipt to prove they took them. They didn’t want to give me one,” he continues. “So I said no. I was afraid the agents would claim they never got them. I also offered to make them copies.” An Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agent later made some excuse to get them from the owner’s father. And the owner says the FBI won’t return his original records.
The FBI scheduled a polygraph test for the motel owner. He was supposed to receive it at his January 1996 interview, but it was never given. Kalisch doesn’t explain why. And the motel owner doesn’t understand it. “I wanted to take it. But they refused to test me.”
Kalisch based her criticism of Davis’ findings on an FBI review of KFOR’s material on Samir Khalil and Hussain Alhussaini. The TV station also sent over their stories on the pickup and the APB. Kalisch writes, “Channel 4 contradicts themselves in that they contend a brown pickup owned by Khalil was used.” But Davis says KFOR transcripts prove the station never reported that Khalil owned the pickup.
Khalil, who has used other names, owns Samara Properties in Oklahoma City. In 1991, this Palestinian native pleaded guilty to insurance fraud and served eight months in federal prison. The FBI also accused him of having links to the Palestine Liberation Organization. Khalil denied that in court papers. He also hired several of the Iraqi refugees investigated by Davis.
Davis zeroed in on Hussain Alhussaini, a former Iraqi soldier and POW in the Gulf War, who appeared to match the FBI’s profile sketch of John Doe No. 2. She collected 22 signed affidavits from witnesses alleging that they saw McVeigh with him and/or other Samara workers, in the weeks before the bombing, and tried twice to give this material to the FBI. Davis says only two of the eight Iraqis she investigated are still in Oklahoma City. One travels frequently, and the others have disappeared. Alhussaini was last reported in Massachusetts, working at Logan Airport outside Boston.
The FBI never interviewed Alhussaini, Kalisch states, because Todd Bunting, an Army soldier who went to Elliot’s Body Shop the day after McVeigh, was mistakenly identified as John Doe No. 2. Kalisch also claims the sketches of John Does No. 1 and No. 2 were based solely on interviews with Tom Kessinger, Elliot’s mechanic, who misidentified Bunting as John Doe No. 2.
But Kalisch ignores the FBI’s profile sketch of John Doe No. 2. FBI artist Jean Boylan drew it using descriptions from Oklahoma City witnesses and Kessinger. This third sketch was released on May 1, 1995. Boylan’s witnesses included Debbie Nakanashi, who worked at the post office across the street from the Murrah Building. Nakanashi said she saw McVeigh with another man in downtown Oklahoma City before the bombing. She gave Davis a sworn affidavit with that information.
Kalisch also disregards Eldon Elliot, the body shop’s owner, who inspected the Ryder truck with McVeigh. Elliot testified at McVeigh’s trial and Nichols’ preliminary hearing in the state case that McVeigh came to his store twice. He also insists McVeigh was with another man when he rented the truck and that he never identified Bunting as that man. Nevertheless, citing Kessinger’s misidentification, the Bureau decided it was all a mistake. John Doe No. 2, it announced, never existed.
Davis’ stories on Alhussaini aired in 1995. Although she digitized his face and never identified him by name, Alhussaini came forward and identified himself, but denied any connection to the bombing. He later sued Davis and KFOR for defamation. A federal judge dismissed his suit in 1999. Alhussaini appealed. In March 2003, the appellate court unanimously rejected his claims, noting that Davis had never identified him. The appellate judges also confirmed a lower court’s finding that KFOR’s reports were “either true or statements of opinion that did not defame the plaintiff.”
The Weekly contacted Kalisch at FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C., but she refused to be interviewed. “I understand you’re asking me about a letter I signed, but I’m not going to talk to you,” she said. An FBI spokesperson said he would try to arrange an interview with Kalisch, but none was ever scheduled.
The Weekly also called Swanton. He confirmed that Davis supplied Specter’s office with “volumes and volumes of material” before the FBI briefing. “But I’m wearing two hats, the U.S. Attorney’s and Specter’s, so I need to get interviews approved. I’ll call you back if I can talk.” Swanton never called or returned the paper’s follow-up calls. He’s since left Specter’s office.
McVeigh went to his grave denying a larger plot. And the Justice Department maintains no evidence of a conspiracy beyond McVeigh and Nichols ever surfaced. But witnesses and evidence contradicting those claims continue to come up.
The details surrounding the pickup and its recovery, the efforts taken to disguise it, the fingerprints found on this truck, and Ellis’ statements are just the latest examples. Davis’ material on an alleged Middle Eastern connection and a John Doe No. 2 suspect are others. Kalisch’s and Swanton’s refusals to comment only fuel the controversy.
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