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Would-be OKC bomber really just a paranoid schizophrenic duped by the FBI

Mentally-ill Sayre, Okla. man Jerry Drake Varnell caught up in FBI-orchestrated bomb plot.
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NORMAN, Okla. -- There is something very familiar about the saga of Jerry Drake Varnell and his “thwarted bomb plot” by our heroes at the FBI.

On August 12th, 23-year old Varnell, of Sayre, Oklahoma, was arrested for attempting to detonate a bomb next to Bancfirst’s branch in downtown OKC. The FBI’s joint terrorism unit had been monitoring Varnell for months, and swooped in before any damage could be done or lives lost. They touted their success in thwarting what could have been another Federal building- style attack, and made clear that Varnell “espoused anti-government viewpoints” online, saw himself as a potential militia member, and even built a bunker filled with supplies to survive the coming Apocalypse.

According to authorities he wanted to carry out a McVeigh-style attack.

On the surface, it seems to be a clear-cut case of domestic terrorism that would’ve claimed lives all to service a paranoid, anti-government agenda, were it not for the heroism of the FBI, right?

Not so fast.

Varnell’s parents issued a statement soon after his arrest, accusing the FBI of goading him into violence. Far from a terrorist mastermind, our anti-government militiaman Varnell is actually a clinically-diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic who can’t function in society. From the August 15th statement:

“We as a family are extremely distraught about this situation with our son Jerry Drake Varnell, but what the public must understand is that he is a paranoid schizophrenic and is extremely susceptible to different types of ideology that normal people would deem immoral.”

In the statement, his parents claimed that the FBI knew that Varnell was schizophrenic, yet targeted him anyway, goading a gullible, mentally-incompetent person into agreeing to a violent act that he would otherwise not have been involved in.

The much-touted “underground bunker,” it turns out, is nothing more than a storage container that the Varnell family pushed dirt around so it could double as a storm shelter. It’s doors close from the outside, has no electricity, and has no supplies.

The family, clearly flabbergasted that their son would be the target of such a sting operation, wants to make clear that the FBI gave their son the means to carry out a potential bombing.

“He has no job, no money, no vehicle, and no driver’s license, due to the fact that he is schizophrenic and we, his parents, do everything we can possible to keep him safe and functional. The mental health system has consistently failed us due to the lack of establishments and health care coverage for a person like him … The FBI came and picked him up from our home, they gave him a vehicle, gave him a fake bomb, and every means to make this happen none of which he had access to on his own.”

Varnell, a highly-susceptible paranoid schizophrenic, was manipulated into a violent act so the Feds could add one more thwarted domestic terrorism incident to their resume, regardless of how it affected the lives of the Varnells.

One point that the Varnell family wants to make clear is that the FBI’s informant in the matter is a “drug-dealing criminal.”

They believe that the FBI cleared this informant of his criminal record in exchange for information on Varnell, while also paying said informant to continue sneaking onto the Varnell property to meet with their son.

Another aspect that has shocked Varnell’s parents is the “anti-government ideology”, as they have never heard a peep of such talk from their son. They want to make clear that schizophrenics are inherently gullible, and susceptible to wild conspiracy theories.

This is probably the very reason the FBI targeted Varnell to begin with.

The FBI has a habit of searching out highly-suggestible, yet normally harmless, people online, and prodding them until they agree to a violent act, only to swoop in and arrest them. And since the 9/11 attacks, it’s almost become a running gag about FBI-created bomb plots being thwarted by the FBI themselves. The bomb plots get the headlines, but the fine print usually explains that the entire attack was inspired and funded by the FBI themselves.

A Salon article from 2010 explains thusly:

“The Liberty City Seven, the Fort Dix Six, the Detroit Ummah Conspiracy, the Newburgh Four - - each has had their fear-filled day in the sun. None of these plots ever came close to happening.

How could they? All were bogus from the get-go: money to buy missiles or cell phones or shoes and fancy duds -- provided by the authorities; plans for how to use the missiles and bombs and cell phones -- provided by authorities; cars for transport and demolition -- issued by the authorities; facilities for carrying out the transactions -- leased by those same authorities. Played out on landscapes manufactured by federal imagineers, the climax of each drama was foreordained. The failure of the plots would then be touted as the success of the investigations and prosecutions.”

The Varnells have found themselves caught in the middle of War on Terror P.R. campaign, which is what these foiled bomb plots amount to. It’s a devastating situation for them, as the mentally-handicapped son they’ve cared for is now in federal custody rather getting the mental help he needs. It’s almost ironic, given how little funding mental health is allotted in this state.

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Shane Smith

Shane Smith is an accountant and freelance writer with a bachelor's degree in economics from...

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