Time: Mon Jun 30 13:17:35 1997
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Date: Mon, 30 Jun 1997 13:13:58 -0700
To: (Recipient list suppressed)
From: Paul Andrew Mitchell [address in tool bar]
Subject: SLS: Oklahoma holds grand jury on bombing (fwd)

>   Oklahomans to start forming bomb inquiry panel Monday 
>   Legislator alleges government covered up the truth 
>   06/29/97
>   By Arnold Hamilton / The Dallas Morning News 
>   OKLAHOMA CITY - What did federal agents know about plans for the
>   Oklahoma City bombing? And when did they know it?
>   A county grand jury to be impaneled Monday is being asked to explore
>   those questions - and a plethora of others - advanced by government
>   skeptics since America's worst act of domestic terrorism.
>   The investigative panel was ordered after state Rep. Charles Key,
>   R-Oklahoma City, successfully circulated a petition demanding a probe
>   of what he contends was a government coverup.
>   Mr. Key says the federal government had prior knowledge about the 1995
>   attack and failed to prevent it. The government has denied that, and
>   state officials have tried to block the grand jury, but the state
>   Supreme Court ruled he had the right to petition.
>   More than 13,500 qualified Oklahoma County residents - nearly three
>   times as many as required to force the grand jury's impaneling -
>   signed Mr. Key's petition.
>   But some federal law officers, prosecutors and state officials have
>   scorned his effort, calling it wasteful and misleading. The government
>   has spent an estimated $50 million on the federal investigation and
>   defense of Timothy McVeigh. Critics of the grand jury effort say it's
>   unlikely anything was overlooked.
>   "I believe a local grand jury investigation . . . is unneeded," said
>   Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating. "It would be impossible for a local grand
>   jury to match the most massive criminal investigation in U.S. history.
>   "I have complete confidence in the investigation being conducted by
>   the federal, state and local law enforcement officials into this
>   horrific crime."
>   Mr. Key, who helped produce the video Oklahoma City: What Really
>   Happened? and occasionally speaks about the alleged government
>   conspiracy at gun shows and survivalist expos, defends his effort. He
>   insists the inquiry can "get to a lot more of the truth than we
>   already know."
>   The 15-member grand jury - including three alternates - will be chosen
>   from a pool of 100 Oklahoma County residents, picked randomly by
>   computer from state driver's license rolls.
>   They convene Monday at the county jail downtown, about eight blocks
>   south and west from the site of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building
>   and four weeks to the day after a federal jury in Denver convicted Mr.
>   McVeigh of conspiracy and murder for blowing up the nine-story office
>   tower.
>   Mr. McVeigh, a decorated Persian Gulf War veteran, was sentenced to
>   death for the crime, which killed 168 people. Prosecutors depicted it
>   as his revenge for what he perceived as government wrongdoing at the
>   Branch Davidian siege near Waco in 1993.
>   His former Army buddy, Terry Nichols, will stand trial on similar
>   charges starting Sept. 29 in Denver.
>   Among the areas the grand jury may consider:
>   * Was there a John Doe No. 2, or are prosecutors right that a case of
>   mistaken identity led to an innocent man being sought in the bombing?
>   If there was a mysterious, olive-skinned, square-jawed accomplice
>   accompanying Timothy McVeigh, who was he?
>   * Did one bomb, packed in a Ryder rental truck, pulverize the Murrah
>   Federal Building? Or were there other explosives, perhaps some
>   improperly stored in the office tower by federal law officers?
>   * Were federal agents aware of any specific threats against the
>   building? And if so, did they fail to prevent the attack?
>   Federal cooperation
>   In at least a legal sense, the county grand jury review of alleged
>   federal corruption is a late-century version of former New Orleans
>   prosecutor Jim Garrison's bid 30 years ago to investigate the
>   assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
>   Federal officials refused to cooperate with Mr. Garrison then. Some
>   say they aren't likely to be much more receptive to Oklahoma County's
>   grand jury.
>   Friday, Leesa Brown, a spokeswoman for the federal Oklahoma City
>   bombing team, said, "We'll monitor the grand jury, and we will respond
>   appropriately."
>   It also isn't known whether Mr. McVeigh's defense team, preparing an
>   appeal, will cooperate. Lead attorney Stephen Jones repeatedly has
>   suggested an international conspiracy was behind the bombing, and some
>   of the elements cited by Mr. Key and his supporters overlap with that
>   that theory.
>   Mr. Jones was in Washington late last week and could not be reached
>   for comment.
>   Mr. Key, a six-term state representative, said he strongly believes
>   federal authorities had prior warning of the bombing plot. He also
>   said he has evidence federal officials covered up information that
>   could point to others involved in the attack.
>   Federal officials dismiss both accusations as unfounded.
>   Mr. Key said he will ask to speak directly to the grand jury, but it's
>   not a certainty the panel will hear from him. Unlike Texas, where
>   grand juries meet routinely to consider indictments in criminal
>   matters, Oklahoma grand juries typically are convened only when
>   citizens, through petition drives, demand them. Most cases involve
>   allegations of public corruption that residents believe were not
>   investigated thoroughly by elected officials.
>   No guarantees
>   According to experts, Oklahoma law gives grand juries extraordinary
>   latitude to investigate whomever and whatever they want. Although the
>   county's prosecuting attorney serves in an advisory capacity and the
>   presiding judge selects the foreman, grand juries ultimately decide
>   their own direction.
>   While it's unlikely grand jurors would refuse to hear from the
>   petition's organizer, there are no guarantees they will decide he has
>   sufficiently provocative information to warrant an extensive review.
>   "I know a lot of people are very opposed to it," said Oklahoma County
>   District Attorney Bob Macy. "But the people do have the right in the
>   state of Oklahoma to call a grand jury if the court finds the subject
>   to be a legitimate area of investigation."
>   Still, state officials said there are risks that such inquiries could
>   interfere with the federal prosecution of Mr. Nichols or future state
>   prosecution of Mr. McVeigh and Mr. Nichols. And the state officials
>   said there always is the possibility that just one or two grand jurors
>   with a political agenda could drag out the process.
>   "We call these people in off the street," Mr. Macy said. "They're just
>   ordinary citizens. You know very little about them when they're
>   impaneled as a grand jury. There's always a possibility somebody could
>   do something like Hoppy Heidelberg."
>   Mr. Heidelberg is the Blanchard, Okla., rancher who was booted from
>   the federal grand jury that indicted Mr. McVeigh and Mr. Nichols in
>   the Oklahoma City bombing. He was dismissed for violating his oath of
>   secrecy, going public with his concerns, he said, because he believed
>   federal prosecutors were thwarting the grand jury from inquiring into
>   the possible involvement of others in the attack.
>   In the months since, Mr. Heidelberg has repeated his claims of
>   government misconduct. He also predicted Mr. McVeigh would be
>   acquitted, contending federal prosecutors purposely threw the case to
>   serve their political agendas. And he also announced he will run for
>   governor next year.
>   "We've been fortunate," Mr. Macy said. "Most of our grand juries have
>   been very responsible in that they have come in and put in full days
>   and met nearly every day and were able to handle a lot of different
>   matters in a very short time."
>   Fairness is a concern
>   No one knows for sure how long the grand jury will meet; by law it
>   could remain impaneled until year's end. Mr. Macy declined to
>   speculate on the time or cost, but Mr. Key predicted the panel's
>   inquiry could last as long as four months. They begin their work
>   Monday, as do all Oklahoma grand juries, by inspecting the county
>   jail.
>   While Mr. Key and his supporters are pleased the county grand jury
>   finally will be seated, they are not necessarily confident their
>   concerns will be given a fair and impartial hearing. Mr. Macy, whose
>   office will advise the grand jury, fought against its creation, all
>   the way to the state Supreme Court. So did the Oklahoma attorney
>   general, Drew Edmondson. And the state district judge presiding over
>   the grand jury, William Burkett, is a former federal prosecutor.
>   Mr. Key announced Friday that he formally asked the state Supreme
>   Court to order Mr. Macy and Mr. Edmondson to "fully and openly
>   investigate this crime."
>   He said he and his supporters filed the request because there is no
>   mechanism in the state's grand jury laws to remove a prosecutor or
>   seek appointment of a special prosecutor not tied to the attorney
>   general's office.
>   While successful in forcing the grand jury, Mr. Key has been ridiculed
>   publicly by some of the state's leading elected officials. And the
>   state's two largest newspapers also railed against him.
>   "The last thing Oklahoma needs is a state grand jury to redo the
>   federal investigation," the Tulsa World said in an editorial.
>   The Daily Oklahoman, a frequent critic of the federal government,
>   urged Mr. Key to drop his grand jury efforts, saying his "meddling
>   borders on pandering." The paper also said Mr. Key "seems determined
>   to help conspiracy theorists from across the political spectrum create
>   the equivalent of the grassy knoll in Dallas."
>   Staff writer Lee Hancock in Tyler contributed to this report.
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Paul Andrew Mitchell                 : Counselor at Law, federal witness
B.A., Political Science, UCLA;  M.S., Public Administration, U.C. Irvine

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