The head of an investigative committee formed in the wake of the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Okla., has requested a meeting with Attorney General John Ashcroft to discuss “improprieties” in the case.
Charles Key, who spent 12 years as a member of the Oklahoma House, said in a June 1 letter to Ashcroft that the Oklahoma Bombing Investigation Committee he led was initially empowered by “constituents, family members of [the bombing] victims, survivors and other interested parties” to look into events surrounding the bombing, “since so many questions remained following federal investigations.”
Key, in his letter, requested a meeting with Ashcroft to discuss his committee’s concerns “about governmental improprieties regarding the federal investigation and the federal trials of [convicted OKC bombers] Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols.”
“We know that recent revelations regarding the withholding of documents by the FBI is only a small part of what is wrong with FBI and Justice Department practices,” Key said, in his letter. “We would like the opportunity to present evidence showing deliberate subterfuge and misuse of power by the agency and the Justice Department, so that appropriate steps can be taken to make the changes necessary to ensure the survival of our justice system.”
The committee is set to release a 500-page report providing details of evidence and witness statements that suggest the federal government and “at least two federal agencies had specific prior knowledge of the bombing,” according to findings listed in Key’s letter.
The letter was sent before U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch ruled in Denver yesterday that McVeigh’s current June 11 execution date would stand.
Lawyers for the convicted Army veteran had argued that they possessed evidence that coincided with the Key committee’s findings of prior government knowledge, as well as evidence that others besides McVeigh and Nichols were allegedly involved in the plot against the Murrah building.
But in his ruling, Matsch concluded that McVeigh’s execution should not be stayed since his guilt was never in question.
“As the 12 jurors believe it (the verdict) is justified under all circumstances and executed their moral judgment as a conscience of the community, whatever may in time be discovered about the possible involvement of others does not change the fact that Timothy McVeigh was the instrument of death and destruction,” Matsch wrote, according to reports.
“Whatever role others may have played, it is clear Timothy McVeigh committed murder and mayhem as charged,” he said.
Ashcroft commuted McVeigh’s sentence for 30 days last month, after the FBI admitted it had withheld nearly 4,400 pages of documents and evidence from McVeigh’s original defense team prior to his 1997 trial.
The convicted OKC bomber was initially scheduled to die by lethal injection at the federal facility in Terre Haute, Ind., where he is being kept, on May 16.
Ashcroft has repeatedly said he is not interested in granting another stay of execution for McVeigh because, as the Matsch ruling indicated, the Justice Department feels that nothing in the newly released documents exonerates him.
Nevertheless, Key, in his letter, said his committee, during its more than six-year investigation, found evidence that, while not exonerating McVeigh, casts doubt about his having the most important role in the bombing.
“McVeigh and Nichols did not act alone and had several other accomplices,” Key wrote in his letter to Ashcroft.
He also pointed out in his letter that:
Witnesses to “John Doe” sightings were not called to testify; Critical scientific evidence was not presented [in court]; Government informants were not allowed to present their testimony; FBI and Justice Department officials intentionally chose to not discover the other perpetrators.
The Justice Department did not comment on whether Ashcroft had received Key’s letter or if the attorney general was planning to meet with him. But the attorney general clearly approved of Matsch’s ruling.
“The ruling of the court in Denver today is a ruling for justice,” Ashcroft told reporters.
Rob Nigh, one of McVeigh’s attorneys, was not ready to concede defeat, however. He said Wednesday after McVeigh’s appeal was overturned that he would immediately appeal the case to the 10th U.S. Court of Appeals, also in Denver.