Death and Taxes

In the murky underground of patriots, tax resisters, and cash-strapped working stiffs, Karl Granse's basement is Law Central. Now he's about to watch his most famous

"I'll guarantee you that the government and the [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms] were watching my brother Terry at the gun shows," says Nichols, "and they knew exactly what he was doing--selling ammonium nitrate. He was selling it to make money, of course. He was an entrepreneur. He bought it in 50-pound bags, and he would take it home and repackage it into smaller containers. Little honey bottles to be specific, I believe. One-, two-, three-, and five-pound containers." And, Nichols emphasizes, though Terry was selling the explosive at gun shows, he never represented it as anything other than fertilizer. "He took the actual fertilizer bag and put it on a copy machine and shrunk the label down to fit each container and taped it on there. He said he was grossing $20,000 a ton selling it like that. From $250 to $20,000--is there room for a little profit there?"

When arguments begin in Terry's trial later this month, James Nichols adds, all of this will come out. It won't be a dog-and-pony show like McVeigh's proceeding, "it'll be a real trial." And just in case, Nichols has co-authored a self-published book about the bombing that's due back from the printers about the time this article goes to press.

But back to the nuclear missile. Granse's flipping through pictures of the eviscerated Murrah Building, pointing to damage he says could never have been wrought by the fertilizer cocktail, which he calls an "anvil bomb." He hauls out federal statutes requiring that ammonium nitrate and blasting caps be separated by a 15-inch concrete wall--proof, he claims, that the homemade explosive could never have ripped through the rebar-reinforced pillars that kept the Murrah Building erect.

Color snapshots litter the floor of the makeshift office, spilling off a stack of magazines put out by the John Birch Society. If the extent of the devastation doesn't provide proof positive that Granse and Nichols are right, there are always the Internet and shortwave intelligence reports. One of the bombing investigators who probed the building, Granse has learned, was killed by a cancer that came on practically faster than you could diagnose it. Plus, Nichols chimes in, all of the search-and-rescue dogs are dead. Granse's nodding. "Radiation poisoning," he hisses.

Then he turns back toward his computer. Though it'll soon be in the headlines again, right now the bombing is old news. Granse has just two hours before his flight to finish the legal brief he's taking to Kansas City, where he expects to testify about why his client doesn't have to pay the IRS. Last week it was Idaho. Lately he's been thinking, he muses, about winding down. "It takes so much strength, so much courage, it takes so much out of me to do what I do," he says. "It's insidious." CP

Village Voice Washington correspondent James Ridgeway and City Pages interns Erin Cummings, James MacTavish, and Scott Carlson contributed to this article.

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