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Timothy McVeigh's Execution Delayed: What Went Wrong at the FBI?

Aired May 11, 2001 - 21:00   ET


CATHERINE CRIER, GUEST HOST: Tonight, the execution of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh is delayed after revelations of an FBI foul-up. We'll have a reaction from some of those who lost family members in the deadly blast on April 19, 1995.

Then, joining us from Oklahoma City, former McVeigh defense attorney Stephen Jones. In Little Rock, Republican Congressman Asa Hutchinson, a former federal prosecutor, in Atlanta Republican Congressman Bob Barr, a former U.S. attorney. In Houston, Ronald Woods, attorney for Terry Nichols who is serving a life sentence in connection with the Oklahoma City bombing. And in Miami famed defense attorney Roy Black.

We'll also talk with the authors of the controversial book "American Terrorist," Lou Michel and Dan Herbeck, and in New York, novelist Gore Vidal. He's exchanged letters with Timothy McVeigh and has been asked to witness his execution. It's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Thanks so much for joining us. I'm Catherine Crier sitting in for Larry tonight. The convicted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh was scheduled to die by lethal injection next Wednesday, May 16, but today Attorney General John Ashcroft ordered the execution delayed until June 11.

Now this follows disclosure that the FBI failed to give McVeigh's defense team more than 3,000 documents during his trial. Joining us with very personal perspectives on this stunning turn of events, from Las Vegas Peggy Broxterman. Her son Paul was killed in the bombing. She is one of the people chosen by lottery to be present at McVeigh's execution.

In Oklahoma City Paul Howell -- he lost his daughter, Karen (ph), in the blast. He too, has been picked to attend the execution. And here in Washington, Marsha Kight. Her daughter, Frankie, was killed in the bombing. She's active in the national organization for victim assistance and does not want to see McVeigh put to death. And in Oklahoma City, Aren Almon-Kok: Her baby daughter Bailey died in the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building.

Also, a bit later we are going to be joined by Tonya Stedman, she was a juror in the McVeigh case. Look forward to talking to her as well. Marsha, I want to start with you. There has to be a sense of getting ready for an event like this. What was the feeling when you heard the attorney general's announcement?

MARSHA KIGHT, DAUGHTER KILLED IN BOMBING: I felt like I was kicked in the stomach. Even though I wanted Tim McVeigh to spend the rest of his life in prison, I was still emotionally preparing myself for this execution, and I was also feeling the anguish that the people back in Oklahoma City must be feeling, anticipating that coming execution and all of a sudden this information is revealed. It was devastating.

CRIER: Peggy, you had gone as far as being selected to actually witness the execution. That must have been traumatic in and of itself, whether you want to or not, to think that you've got to sit in there and watch this man die. How did you feel when you heard the news?

PEGGY BROXTERMAN, SON KILLED IN BOMBING: I was devastated. I had been psyching myself up for a couple of months for this, and it took a lot of courage to want to do this and I was ready to go, and so I was devastated when this happened.

CRIER: Paul, what did you think?

PAUL HOWELL, DAUGHTER KILLED IN BOMBING: Well, it was pretty devastating -- yes, ma'am.

CRIER: Go ahead.

HOWELL: It was pretty devastating when I first heard about it, ma'am, and I sat back and did some thinking about it, tried to figure out what was coming off, and you know, everything goes through your mind as far as who caused it, what kind of documentation is there, the whole bit. But now that I have thought a little bit more, I'm starting to calm down a little bit, and I think I will be ready for it, when it does happen June 11.

CRIER: When you say, start to calm down, did you -- you sort of processed through the information about the FBI, about the documentation. How did you feel when you heard it was possibly a government error that was causing this delay?

HOWELL: Well, the big thing that hit me is I tried figure out who in the world would do it, you know, and why. You know, six years later and then six days before execution so, you know, that kind of bothered me a little bit. But I think they have answered most of my questions now, but there are still a lot of questions that need to be answered on this. I'm sure John Ashcroft is going to find out what it is.

CRIER: Absolutely. Aren, what did you think because the FBI is certainly having to step back and not only make a lot of apologies, but now a lot of explanations. And I know many of the family members are quite interested in hearing that explanation. AREN ALMON-KOK, DAUGHTER KILLED IN BOMBING: Most definitely surprised. Disappointed, actually, when I heard of the news. We had been preparing ourselves, my husband and I, go to the execution. That was not going to be an easy thing to watch, somebody to be put to death, so I was definitely disappointed in the judicial system itself. And, hopefully we will be able to move past this, and go on to the execution on the 11th of June.

CRIER: Let me ask Peggy a question, because, Peggy, you and Paul both having been selected to sit and watch this. Was that something you really wanted to do, and if so, why?

BROXTERMAN: Yes, I really wanted to do it. The minute he was pronounced guilty, and sentenced to death, I wanted to be there. I wanted to be there for my son and for the other 167 people that were killed that day.

CRIER: What about you, Paul, because that has got to be a traumatic thing to participate in, even if you want to see this man dead?

HOWELL: Yes, ma'am, it is. But you know, I looked at (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the situations here. I know for us to have any kind of closure, you know, we've got to go in there. We've got to execute the man because, if we don't, he is going to speak out from now on and he's going to try to create hate, everything you can think of. So best way to do it is just get rid of him.

CRIER: Marsha what do you think about all of the information that is now refocused in the news, the conspiracy theories, someone else may be involved. These FBI documents may talk more about John Doe number two. Is there any concern on your part that with the death of McVeigh would be the death of a tremendous source of information?

KIGHT: That is definitely a possibility. And I think these records need to be examined thoroughly. There are 300 documents containing 3,100 pages. Also videotapes and audio tapes, and I just don't know how this information could have been overlooked.

And that is very troubling to me, because here we are, six days out, and how do they magically appear? And these are the gatekeepers, the FBI, and this information should have been turned over a long time ago. And it does bother me. And it makes me have concern that is why American people have some distrust of the judicial process, and our government agencies.

CRIER: Do you find yourself in that position, or are you talking about the public in general? Do you personally feel distrustful about government or the FBI?

KIGHT: Well, I have concerns about their investigative process. They had all these materials available and they should have been turned over to the defense attorney or we wouldn't be looking at what we are looking at today.

CRIER: Of course interestingly they weren't turned over to prosecutors either.

KIGHT: I understand that. And what else this brings up, not only delaying McVeigh's execution, but now Michael Tigar is filing an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, on the behalf of Terry Nichols. There is a lot of things that have come about by the -- this information not being brought forward.

CRIER: Aren, are you concerned at all that this gives Timothy McVeigh a chance to back off? He certainly had up until two hours before the execution, should he wish to reinstitute those appeals, but he'd certainly taken a stand I don't think he was going to back way from. Now it may be different.

Aren? All right, we are going to have.

HOWELL: Ma'am, Aren is having some problems right now.

CRIER: All right, thanks, Paul. We are going to reconnect that immediately. In the meantime we'll take a quick break and we're back with more right after this.


JOHN ASHCROFT, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I know many Americans will question why the execution of someone who is clearly guilty of such a heinous crime should be delayed. I understand that victims and victims's family members await justice. But if any questions or doubts remain about this case, it would cast a permanent cloud over justice, diminishing its value, and questioning its integrity. For those victims and for our nation, I want justice to be carried out fairly.



CRIER: Welcome back. We continue our conversation now with Peggy Broxterman, Paul Howell and Marcia Kight.

Aren Almon-Kok who was with us doesn't feel like she can continue now, and this really shows, I think, how emotional the families can be with an announcement like this, having come so close to feeling there was some finality to the trial.

I want to put up a picture. No one who saw the photograph of little Bailey during the course of the bombing coverage will ever forget this picture. I think, in many of our hearts, it is the moment that has stayed with us so dramatically. Marcia, tell me about Frankie, tell me about your daughter.

KIGHT: Frankie was 23 years old. She worked for the Federal Employees Credit Union. She was a wife and she was a mother of a 2- year-old little girl named Morgan. Frankie was very loving and caring person.

And you know, still today I can remember feeling her move for the very first time and holding her in my arms, and seeing her take her first steps. And I was fortunate enough to be by Frankie's bedside when she too became a mother herself. And with Mother's Day coming up, there is a huge void that will never be filled. And so, this has really created emotional chaos for everyone.

CRIER: People talk about closure. It is a word actually I have come to dislike, because I don't really understand it. Would there be anything about the execution that would give you closure?

KIGHT: Absolutely not. The day that Frankie was murdered by Tim McVeigh, a part of me left with my daughter, and a part of her still remains with me. The only closure will be on McVeigh's life when he is executed, but it will not bring closure for me.

CRIER: Peggy, tell me about Paul.

BROXTERMAN: Paul was 42 years old when he was killed that day, and he was a very happy person, he loved God country and family, and he loved his job. He was very happy go to Oklahoma, and he was only in the building three days before the bomb. And that ended him and it took a great chunk out of our lives.

CRIER: Did you talk among yourselves, Peggy, when the issue of witnessing the death penalty came up, when you put your name in the lottery? How did other family members feel about that?

BROXTERMAN: Well, we discussed it. And I was adamant that I wanted to go. The rest of the family members sort of had to think about it a little bit. My husband would like to have gone also. But my other children didn't want to witness it. But they did believe in the death penalty.

CRIER: Let me ask you about the media coverage, Peggy. Is there any sense that we have spent so much time on this story that we have given him a life beyond what we should have?

BROXTERMAN: I know what you mean, way too much publicity. But the main thing is, though, is American public just has to know. They have to be kept informed of this, because this happened -- this is a terrible thing to have happened to America, and I just feel as though the media has kept it alive to remind Americans that this has happened, and we don't want it to happen again.

It has given him too much publicity as far as I'm concerned, and our family is concerned, but that was -- that is why we were looking forward to the execution. We were planning on all this to be ended.

CRIER: Yes, well, we also need to continue to focus on the victims and the families, because they are the ones that will carry this long after any execution, if it comes about.

Paul, tell me about Karen.

HOWELL: Karen was 27 years old, mother of two young girls. She had just worked at the credit union about six years, and very loving family member, and loved her job. That is probably what made her so doggone successful there in the loan office. Very sweet and loving woman.

CRIER: Any sense at all -- some people say that the execution will simply make a martyr of Tim McVeigh -- any concern about that?

HOWELL: No. I don't think it will, ma'am. I think people realize who he was and what he is, and I don't think it will happen.

CRIER: So, you feel like there is a sense of closure, with the finality, by executing this man?

HOWELL: Well, I'm kind of like Peggy. I don't think there is ever the word "closure." I think what will happen is -- I like to use the term that I use quite often "out of sight, out of mind." Once he is executed, he will be out of sight and out of mind, and so maybe we can go in there and start forgetting about him.

CRIER: Marcia, you not only don't want to see it, but you actually have opposed the notion of executing this man. What you would like to see done with him?

KIGHT: Well, I would want Tim McVeigh to spend the rest of his life in prison. I have a life sentence. I have to live with this for the rest of my life. I think he should be put in a cell in solitary confinement, no access to a television, no access to the media, 168 pictures on the wall that he cannot touch, like a shadowing, because he killed 168 people and injured 500 to 600 other people, and impacted all of America. We all lost a sense of security and freedom on April the 19th of 1995.

CRIER: All right. A bit later, we are going to be talking to the two authors that have recently published a biography of Tim McVeigh. Various family members have had different reactions to this. Some said you are glorifying him, you are putting his words in print for all to read, others say this is necessary that we understand such a mind. What do you think?

KIGHT: Well, there is -- I think we have a morbid fascination with people that do evil. And it is even my concern that after Tim McVeigh is executed, he will be brought up again and again in media, and I hope it will end with his death.

I guess maybe some people like to read the book, some people like to read the books of the Turner diaries. I guess that is the individual choice, but I have heard enough about the spoke -- what Tim McVeigh has had to say, and I choose not to read the book.

CRIER: All right. I want to thank Peggy Broxterman, Paul Howell, Marcia Kight, and certainly want to thank Aren Almon-Kok for joining us. We're going to take a quick break. We'll be right back.


CRIER: All right. Let's shift focus just a bit in our discussion of the delay in the execution of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. In Oklahoma City, McVeigh's defense attorney Stephen Jones. In Little Rock, Republican Congressman Asa Hutchinson, a former federal prosecutor. In Atlanta, Republican congressman Bob Barr, a former U.S. attorney. In Houston, Ronald Wood, he's the attorney for the Oklahoma City bombing co-conspirator Terry Nichols, and in Miami, defense attorney Roy Black.

Welcome, everyone. Stephen, let me start with you. What do you think McVeigh's reaction was when he heard the news?

STEPHEN JONES, FORMER MCVEIGH ATTORNEY: Probably a combination of satisfaction at the government's embarrassment and a reexamination of his own wishes with respect to the disposition of the case against him.

CRIER: Given what you know about this man, there certainly were some hints by one his attorneys today, although you could accept that that particular attorney is very anti-death penalty and he may be expressing his own wishful thinking but that McVeigh was certainly going over his various options, and may in fact reevaluate his position.

Do you think there is any chance that he'll back off now and say: I want to reinstitute my appeals?

JONES: Well, he might. The problem is, frankly, he didn't follow his lawyer's advice. His lawyers advised him he should keep quiet. He should not grant any interviews, he should not dismiss his appeals, and he didn't do that. And so it's sort of difficult for him to take much advantage of the favorable legal situation that temporarily has been created for him.

CRIER: Representative Hutchinson, how favorable is the situation? We don't know the extent of the documents. Out of some million documents produced by the FBI, some 3,100 now, apparently, were overlooked. We don't know whether this was intentional. Certainly, the FBI says it was inadvertent. But do we have any sense of the value of these documents?

REP. ASA HUTCHINSON (R-AR), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Only what the Justice Department indicates, that they do not go to his guilt or innocence. They're simply interviews that were trying to obtain the location of a John Doe. I think, first of all, Attorney General John Ashcroft did exactly the right thing. There's really no choice under these circumstances that these documents had to be reviewed. But there's no indication it will change the ultimate outcome. The real tragedy is what happens to these victims that we just heard, and our heart goes out to them.

CRIER: That's got to be so difficult. But I understand that Judge Matsch, the judge certainly that sat on this case is not about to do anything unless the defense moves for some sort of hearing based upon these documents. So does that put it back in McVeigh's lap as to whether or not he wants to pursue this in front of the federal court?

HUTCHINSON: Well, I think he has a decision to make himself, but at the same time, the Justice Department has an interest in making sure that justice is handed out very fairly and the government meets its obligation. So that's the initial step here, and that's the reason for the 30-day delay. It's a separate matter as to what Timothy McVeigh may respond, and whether he seeks any additional hearing with the court.

The I.G.'s report -- the review -- the inspector general's report is very important to determine where the management error was. The information flow didn't work here. We've got to be able to find the answers to that as well.

CRIER: All right. Roy Black, what about the management error, the way this is being described, because Mike Tigar, Terry Nichols' attorney came out with both guns blazing today going: What do you mean, management problem? We've had this fight with them before in the courtroom. We've been insisting all along that multiple documents were not produced. Why is this such a revelation?

ROY BLACK, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, Catherine, I've been a criminal lawyer for 31 years, and litigated against the United States government throughout that. This is typical of them hiding information. I'm not casting aspersions in this case because I don't know the details, but the United States government only carefully gives up information.

And Congress and the Department of Justice have made it very difficult for criminal defendants to get access to information, and this is just tip of iceberg. This happens every day in court. All the time we find out that the FBI and other agencies have not made full disclosure. And as I said, I think we have to suspend judgment on this case right now, but there has been a long history of this happening and I'm not going to be shocked that we find the same thing occurred this case.

CRIER: All right. Well, our extraordinary panel is going to stay with us and we're going to certainly take that up a bit later in the hour. We're going to take a break right now and come back with a lot more. Don't go away.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I believe strongly the attorney general made the right decision today. Any time we're preparing to carry out the death penalty, we have a solemn obligation to make sure that the case has been handled in full accordance with all the guarantees of our Constitution.

The very foundations of our democracy depend on our ability to assure our citizens that in all criminal cases, especially in the death penalty, defendants have been treated fairly.



CRIER: Welcome back. Joining me now, two journalists who did more than 75 hours of interviews with Timothy McVeigh. They are the coauthors of "American Terrorist: Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City Bombing." From Buffalo Lou Michel and Dan Herbeck. Gentlemen, thanks so much for joining us. Lou, I want to start with you. As much time as you spent with Timothy McVeigh, speculate for me, might he consider reinstituting that appeal if he thought it would embarrass the FBI, and drag all of this out, looking at their investigative procedures, and possibly, misfeasance within the court system?

LOU MICHEL, "AMERICAN TERRORIST": Timothy McVeigh, it confirms -- today's events confirms what he and his defense team have believed all along, despite repeated reassurances from the government, that documents weren't withheld, and this simply confirms it for Timothy McVeigh. But he still wants to die and if he held the cards right now, Wednesday would be a go.

CRIER: All right, what do you think, Dan, about the involvement now that your book is going to have in the future of this case? If, in fact, these government documents are deemed relevant, not what we might call harmless error, and in some form or fashion could effect a motion for a new trial, the two of you might become witnesses.

DAN HERBECK, "AMERICAN TERRORIST": Well, I guess we're witnesses to history, as far as writing that book. But there was so much evidence that came out in his trial, overwhelming evidence, that I don't really think our book is needed to prove the case. With all that said, if we were called as witnesses, we would testify honestly.

CRIER: I mean, you certainly put yourself in the position of being the receipt of the confession. This man confessed over and again to you. But the one thing he didn't do was bring in other individuals, other than Terry Nichols, who he says was somewhat coerced, in your book, and Fortier, he brings in no one else. Did you believe him?

HERBECK: Yes, I do. And Catherine, if anyone would just read our book and look at how we've laid out the plot, step by step -- how they obtained materiels for the bomb, put bomb together and delivered the bomb, then they will sea if there was some huge conspiracy, the question would have to be raised: What did the other conspirators do? What was left for them to do? And I would ask anyone who thinks there's a huge conspiracy to please look at that and think about that.

CRIER: All right, but Lou, in fact, following the conspiracy theorists, and certainly there are some with some credibility, they say there are numerous witnesses who pointed out discrepancies about who was seen around the truck when the bomb was prepared. You've got the fellow who rented the Ryder truck to McVeigh, who still says there was somebody else with him at one point in time. There are loose ends.

Do you feel you ran down all those potential rabbit trails, and were satisfied nobody else is out there?

MICHEL: Catherine, we repeatedly asked Timothy McVeigh questions over and over, rephrasing them. That's why it took 75 to 80 hours, stretched out over two years. Plus hundreds and hundreds, probably into the thousands of pages of letters. And my question to your question is why didn't the federal government put any of these individuals who claim that they saw McVeigh and others on the witness stand? These people are very well-meaning, no doubt, but it's cases of mistaken identity.

CRIER: Well, some of this did come out at the Terry Nichols' trial, but Judge Matsch simply said it would not in any way exonerate Tim McVeigh, and therefore, we cannot necessarily utilize that to distract the jurors in the course of his trial. So, it is not as if all of this was completely ignored by the court.

MICHEL: Catherine, the thing here, there is a lot of anger toward Timothy McVeigh for what he has done, but underneath it all, our book does not glamorize him or anything like that, but it does humanize him to the point that he is a three-dimensional human being. He's not a Charles Manson with a swastika over his head.

So, beneath that anger, there is a sense of fear. Here is son of American suburbia, who committed the worst act of terrorism in American history, and that is very disturbing.

CRIER: You say sense of fear, what sense of fear? His own?

MICHEL: No. Sense of fear on our behalf. Here's -- he destroyed our sense of freedom in the sense of public assembly. That never truly happened to the magnitude until the Oklahoma City blast, and now we are trying to cope with that as a society, and we are hoping that law enforcement, teachers, psychologists read our book, because there's a thread between Timothy McVeigh and the angry young men, the angry white young men that go into high schools and elementary schools and shoot them up.

Unfortunately, he has broken family bonds, bullied his children, enamored by our culture of violence, of entertainment, like so many other millions of Americans, and failed personal relationships. We are hoping that somebody, somewhere in America can put the equation together, and take some of this aggression out.

CRIER: Well, it is hard to imagine one or two people, much less 168 as a result of that, but thank you very much, Lou Michel and Dan Herbeck, really appreciate it.

We're going to take a quick break, and be back with a lot more coming up next.


CRIER: We are going to get back in our attorneys and congressmen in just a minute, but joining me now from New York novelist Gore Vidal. And he's exchanged letters with McVeigh and been asked to witness his execution.

Gore, welcome. Tell us how you became a pen pal of McVeigh's.

GORE VIDAL, AUTHOR: I wrote a piece in "Vanity Fair" about the emotion of the bill of rights, this was 1998. And I moved -- I just went through the whole lot of them, and got finally to Waco, Ruby Ridge and to what McVeigh had done, and he wrote me from a Colorado prison, so we exchanged some letters.

But listening tonight, what fascinates me is that what we are seeing going on is a government that is out of control, a government that is running amok. One of your people that you talked to was discussing, the trial lawyer, that if you dealt with the federal government, they would never give you papers that they ought to do, they would do everything to act in secret, to be collusive.

Now it is interesting. This whole story begins with the FBI, with a go-ahead from Janet Reno, the new attorney general, to massacre over 80 people in Waco -- religious nuts, admittedly, but human beings -- 20 children were killed, 30 women. And again, at Ruby Ridge, the Weaver family got knocked out.

Now, we see it again! The federal government is at it again. They are trying to say...

CRIER: But let me ask you, have you already made it in your own mind that this was not inadvertent, this was not a system's error, as it's been portrayed already, that this was something deliberate?

VIDAL: What, what McVeigh did?

CRIER: No, that the FBI withheld documents deliberately, and that we are going to find some great revelation that may change our attitude about the case and this material?

VIDAL: Well, you have a guest coming on who can really answer that better than I can, Stephen Jones.


VIDAL: Who has written a marvelous book called "Others Unknown." Now, McVeigh and Nichols were found guilty, as well as others unknown, the government adds. Well, that is good to know. Yeah, I would like to know who some of those "Others Unknown" are.

CRIER: All right, well, let me ask you about the notion of justice, Gore. And that is -- you write about this boy having a sense of justice. Now I can understand vengeance, I can understand a very rough retaliatory -- I hesitate to use the word "justice" -- how do you find a sense of justice in this?

VIDAL: Oh, I find -- I found it very clearly. I noticed -- I read the psychiatrist's report on McVeigh, which was done about six years ago. And the psychiatrist said he's perfectly sane, he's far above average in intelligence, and then, as a sort of a throw away, he said: "Of course, had there not been Waco, there would never have been Oklahoma City."

Well, he had nothing personal to get out of this. He had everything to lose, such as his life, and he went ahead out of a sense of justice. Now, this is something very rare. It is very special. The last big case we know of this was John Brown of Kansas in 1859 who tried to liberate the slaves of the state of Virginia. CRIER: But you see a problem -- real quickly, Gore, because we are going to have to go -- do you see problem, though, when we talk about what he referenced "collateral damage," when we talk about the death of totally innocent people to be the appropriate retaliation against a government?

VIDAL: According to Mr. Stephen Jones, and you ask him when you come to him, he never said it. What he did say -- they had a paper prepared in which he says all sorts of terrible things about everybody. Somehow, the prosecution got hold of it, it got leaked to "The Dallas Daily News," in which he sounds like Genghis Khan.

CRIER: Well, he talked about collateral damage in the biography that the two authors who were just on wrote.

VIDAL: Well, by then, the Dallas story had played all over the country. I don't think that what his -- first of all, collateral damage -- I was in the Army for three years, that's the word used for people who got who it who were innocent. And...

CRIER: Just as a final thought, because we are going to have to wrap. And that is, is that an appropriate act of justice in your own mind?

VIDAL: I think that it comes out of something that says, this must be equal. When the state turns against its own people at Waco and commits murders of innocent people, I want to do something. I would like to do something, too. I'm not about to kill anybody, and I'm not about to advise anybody to blow up buildings.

But yes, there should be some action. We are too passive in the face of a more and more intrusive and tyrannous government.

CRIER: Well, I happen to agree with you on that, but in a democracy, the people take a very different form of action, and I hope they continue to do so. Gore Vidal, thank you very, very much. We are going to take a break. We'll be right back.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: About a third -- about a third of the building has been blown away. And you can see this smoke and debris and fire on the ground, downtown on the ground.



CRIER: Back to our blue ribbon legal panel, In Oklahoma City, McVeigh's former defense attorney, Stephen Jones; in Little Rock, Republican Congressman Asa Hutchinson, member of the judiciary committee; in Atlanta, Republican Congressman Bob Barr, also a member of the judiciary committee; in Houston, Ron Woods, attorney for Terry Nichols; Miami, defense attorney Roy Black.

Representative Barr, let me ask you a question. Not only have the defense attorneys come out and admonished the FBI, but the prosecutor in the Nichols case -- I believe in the McVeigh case, Patrick Ryan came out and said -- quote -- "The FBI failure was embarrassing and totally unacceptable. Part of the resentment was the prosecutors didn't even have access to these documents." What do you think about that?

REP. BOB BARR (R), GEORGIA: I think it illustrates that the problem here goes far beyond simply the McVeigh and the Nichols cases, Catherine. What we have here, I think, is an agency, one of many, but an agency with tremendous power over individuals, the matter of lives and death, of course, that has grown far too much, has accrued far too much power with far too little oversight. And we really need to look at this as a problem of that magnitude, and not just as a problem with the McVeigh and Nichols cases.

CRIER: Well, Representative Barr, then, have we been under an illusion really, since the days of J. Edgar Hoover? Because we knew that it was a bit was bit of a fiefdom at that point in time. But has it continued on, in a sense, with us unaware that the system really hadn't changed to one of more openness and more supervision?

BARR: It's a problem with how our society has grown generally, Catherine. We have over the last 20 years or so, given so much power to the government, not just the FBI, but a number of other agencies as well, that we have allowed the government to become intrusive into virtually every aspect of our lives. And we have stepped back from our proper -- in the Congress -- our proper oversight responsibility, and allowed this to happen.

And I think if we don't get a handle on it, we're going to start seeing more and more instances like this. Not just with the FBI, but with a whole range of law enforcement and regulatory agencies.

CRIER: Ron Woods, someone who's really going to grab onto this with both hands I think would be Terry Nichols, because if anyone's trial could be affected by new documents, it seems to me to be his. Tell me what's going on in the Supreme Court tonight.

RONALD WOODS, ATTORNEY FOR TERRY NICHOLS: Well, that's an interesting point. It is very important to Terry Nichols, and coincidentally, today was the last day we had to file a petition within the Supreme Court asking for rehearing on their denial of cert. We want to proceed on our motion for a new trial, rather than proceed on a post-conviction writ of habeas corpus.

And had this been turned over next week, we would be under a much higher burden on the post-conviction writ of habeas corpus. If we can get our petition on file by midnight tonight -- and Mike Tigar's wife, Jane Tigar, is working on that as we speak, we hope to get that filed -- then we hope to get it sent back through the 10th Circuit to Judge Matsch to have yet a second hearing.

As you recall, we argued last year, when the FBI withheld 35,000 lead sheets, if they didn't give to the prosecutor or to us, that that could have been used to sway the jury on our behalf. Keep in mind, one of your panelists mentioned that the evidence was overwhelming against McVeigh.

Keep in mind that the jury was out for seven days, split 10 to two for not guilty with Terry Nichols. They compromised, they acquitted him of all the murder charges, the use of the weapon of mass destruction, and they convicted him of involuntary manslaughter. We had opportunities, had we had that evidence, we could have used that in cross-examination of some key witnesses, but it was withheld from us.

Now, this is a pattern, as Mr. Barr and Mr. Black and others have mentioned. This is a pattern that the FBI has been in and continues to shoot themselves in the foot with. I used to be an FBI agent, I was a prosecutor and I was a U.S. attorney. I've done this for 36 years, and I've seen this mind-set that the FBI has, that they know better than the prosecutors, and they know better than the courts, what evidence should be turned over. They look...

CRIER: I'll tell you what, we're going to have to -- Ron, we're going to have to take a quick break, but I sure wouldn't want to be any of the FBI representatives in front of Judge Matsch, if he gets this as a hearing. We're going to take a quick break. We'll be back with more right after this.


ROBERT NIGH, MCVEIGH ATTORNEY: The events of the past three days demonstrate that even in Mr. McVeigh's case, the government is not capable of carrying out the death penalty in a fair and just manner. Mr. McVeigh had made the mental and psychological preparations for death. He had said his good-byes to his family and to his friends. He is distressed that he has had to put these people that he cares about through this process, and may only have to put them it again.



CRIER: Timothy McVeigh was convicted and condemned to die in 1997. Joining me now from Denver, one of the members of the jury, Tonya Steadman. Tonya, what did you think when not only you heard about the delay, but you heard the reasons, these FBI documents that didn't get turned over?

TONYA STEADMAN, JUROR IN MCVEIGH CASE: I was very disappointed, actually. I felt kind of betrayed, initially, considering I spent so much time on this jury along with 11 others. And now the fact that the execution was going to come to fruition has changed dramatically, so, disappointed, certainly.

CRIER: During the course of trial, most of the arguing about various documents that the attorneys wanted in would have been going on in camera, in the judge's chambers, side bar -- did you ever get a sense that they were wanting to go forward with these conspiracy theories; talk about various things that may be included in some of these documents. Did you understand there was a much bigger case the defense was trying to present? STEADMAN: I could understand where they were going with it. I had the feeling, though, that it wasn't real tangible. I felt more inclined to go with the information based more on just Tim, and in fact, that's what I was there for, so I certainly focused my attention, but I could see where they were trying to go.

CRIER: Would it have made any difference if you heard that McVeigh was one of several, because certainly he has admitted his involvement, his own culpability, so he certainly couldn't be exonerated by these documents.

STEADMAN: Exactly. As far as Tim is concerned, I am absolutely 100 percent sure that my decision is firm. I don't waiver on that at all, as do none of the other jurors, from what I have heard. So yeah, this information shouldn't change anything with respect to him.

CRIER: There is one issue, though, legally speaking. If the documents actually showed that other people were involved and that McVeigh was more a, quote, "foot soldier" rather than a general, some say that might have affected the jury on sentencing, and therefore, this may be the basis for a new trial, or certainly to reconsider the sentencing, the death penalty itself.

Would that have made any difference given the fact that the evidence shows he was one, if not the sole driver of this truck, and ultimately the deliverer of the explosions?

STEADMAN: I -- it wouldn't change my decision certainly, and that is just not accurate. I mean, what we heard in -- what we heard in during the trial is factual information, and he was the one, and he was the man that pulled up in front of the Murrah building, and he did drive the truck, and he did obtain all the materials. He was one that did it. I have no apprehension whatsoever.

So, if there were some random other people involved, they certainly weren't the drivers, so to speak, so my decision would not change at all.

CRIER: Tonya Steadman, thank you so much for joining us. We really appreciate it.

STEADMAN: You are welcome.

CRIER: All right. We are doing to take a break. We'll be back with the lawyers and the politicians, right after this.


CRIER: Hi, we're back with our legal panel, Stephen Jones, Representative Asa Hutchinson, Representative Bob Barr, Ronald Woods and Roy Black.

And Representative Barr, I understand you need to go. Thanks so much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it, good to see you.

BARR: Thank you, judge. CRIER: All right, Representative Hutchinson, let me come back to you. I heard a lot of blasting of FBI, the government, what do you think? Is the FBI an agency out of control?

HUTCHINSON: Well, I think we need to come back to that, because Timothy McVeigh didn't come in and confess to this crime. He had to be arrested. He had to be convicted. The proof had to be put on there, and it was the FBI that investigated this very serious case of terrorism.

The World Trade Center bombing case -- the terrorism is a real problem in America, and FBI has a responsibility to protect us, and to pursue these cases. They do a good job. There is great agents out there.

What happened here is unacceptable, and we need to make sure we get to the bottom of it. And perhaps, as Representative Barr indicated, it is unwieldy now, because Congress has given it so much authority, and we need to look at it, as to all that responsibilities that it has.

But whenever the good attorney, Mr. Black, talks about the government having a pattern of withholding evidence or not disclosing that, I think we have to remember the government is composed of people, and it is the judges that supervise the courtroom. And it is a competitive process, and there we should keep our eyes that we are trying to pursue justice.

The FBI is a good agency that we need to make sure is responsive to the courts and to Congress.

CRIER: Yes, now, Roy, just as an aside, it was in fact the FBI -- or a single agent, I guess -- that came forward and said, we've got these documents that weren't turned over. Yes, six days before the execution, but they spoke out.

BLACK: Yeah, no, you can't tar everybody in the FBI with this. I think it is systemic problem, as Bob Barr said. So, I mean, we can't -- the FBI is an excellent agency, these are very good investigators, let's not overlook that, and they did an excellent job putting this case together. And that's why I said we need to suspend judgment on this particular case.

But Catherine, I think there is one other thing that must be said. You know, we have talked about justice in this show, and Gore Vidal, who is a great writer, says that, you know, because of Waco there may be some justice in killing other innocent people. I think we have to say, categorically, there is no justice in that. There may be justice in going to court and exposing these things, but killing innocent people can never be justice because of a prior outrageous act.

CRIER: Well, it's certainly not justice in a democratic society. Stephen Jones, how realistic is the June 11th date that the attorney general has now given us?

JONES: I think Mr. McVeigh will decide to call it quits.

CRIER: You don't think he's going to go forward? You think he is going to say, I have a right to waive any further appeal, the judge isn't going to hear it unless I go forward, set me a new execution date?

JONES: He has unfortunately made public statements. It is a tough hill to climb, to prove that jury verdict would have been different. I think he will fold the deck.

CRIER: All right. Given the arguments that both you and Michael Tigar and various attorneys on both sides made for the two defendants, do you think that this could dramatically affect Terry Nichols' appeal?

JONES: I'm not that familiar with Mr. Nichols' case. He had excellent lawyers at the trial, Mr. Tigar and Mr. Woods, he has good lawyers now, and they have been on the mark pretty carefully, so I suspect that Terry Nichols is still in the game.

CRIER: All right. Stephen Jones, Representative Asa Hutchinson, Ronald Woods, Roy Black, and our thanks to Representative Bob Barr for joining us tonight, and all of the guests throughout the evening. Really do appreciate it. Thank you so much for joining us.

I'm Catherine Crier for Larry King. Good night.



4:30pm ET, 4/16

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