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Grand Jury Finds No Oklahoma City Blast Cover-Up

December 31, 1998| From Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY — A grand jury investigating what prosecutors dismissed as crackpot theories about the Oklahoma bombing returned a sealed indictment Wednesday but said it found no evidence of additional conspirators or a government cover-up.

The Oklahoma County grand jury was convened by way of a citizen petition drive, over the objections of the district attorney, because of some residents' suspicions that Timothy J. McVeigh and Terry L. Nichols did not act alone in the April 19, 1995, attack that killed 168 people.

After an 18-month, $525,000 investigation that heard 117 witnesses, the grand jury reported: "We cannot affirmatively state that absolutely no one else was involved in the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. However, we have not been presented with or uncovered information sufficient to indict any additional conspirators."

The grand jury also said it found no credible evidence that the bombing was linked to white supremacists or foreign terrorists, concluding that it was an act "perpetrated by Americans on Americans."

It also reported: "We can state with assurance that we do not believe that the federal government had prior knowledge that this horrible terrorist attack was going to happen."

Prosecutors would give no information about what was in the sealed indictment. Earlier this year, the grand jury complained of attempts to contact members at home. They did not specify who was trying to contact them.

The grand jury was empaneled after a petition drive led by former state Rep. Charles Key and Glenn Wilburn, whose two young grandsons died in the bombing. Oklahoma is one of the few states that allow citizens to convene a grand jury by petition.

Among other things, the grand jury took up lingering questions about the identity of John Doe No. 2, the mystery suspect depicted in FBI sketches shortly after the attack, and the suspicions that people in the government knew of the bombing in advance.

District Judge William R. Burkett, who oversaw the grand jury, said that its 21-page report will satisfy many of those who had serious questions. But he worried that "others will simply now include these jurors as the newest members of the conspiracy."

Oklahoma Atty. Gen. Drew Edmondson, who has complained about "the worst kind of paranoid conspiracy pandering" about the bombing, said of the grand jury Wednesday: "I'm proud of them for the diligence and thoroughness, and not surprised with the outcome."

U.S. Atty. Patrick Ryan, who prosecuted McVeigh and Nichols, said he too was pleased that the grand jury rejected the many conspiracy theories about the deadliest terrorist attack ever on U.S. soil.

Key, however, said he still doesn't think the truth has been told. "There's clear and convincing evidence that there were others involved," he said.

Similarly, Stephen Jones, McVeigh's former attorney, called the grand jury's work a "failed process."

The grand jury also called on Bob Macy, the district attorney in Oklahoma City, to carry through with his plans to bring state murder charges against McVeigh and Nichols once their appeals of their federal convictions are exhausted.

McVeigh received a death sentence in federal court; Nichols got life in prison. An Army buddy, Michael Fortier, got 12 years for knowing about the attack beforehand but telling no one.

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