June 6, 2001
HARTFORD, CONN. — The thousands of FBI documents at issue in Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh's appeal may help a Connecticut attorney who suspects the government knew about the bombing in advance.
Attorney Richard Bieder, who has represented more than 200 victims or relatives since the 1995 bombing, said there is reason to believe the government had prior knowledge of the bombing plot and did nothing to prevent it or evacuate the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.
Bieder would not discuss the basis of his belief. But he said he has asked U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft to turn over copies of any statements that may show FBI agents were tipped off by informants.
He said the request was based on the fact that McVeigh's lawyers - who have had a chance to examine the documents - have raised questions about others who may have been involved in the bombing plot.
"First of all the truth will come out; it hasn't come out before," Bieder said Wednesday. "If an informant did disclose something to an FBI agent before the bombing and that FBI agent hasn't died, at least one FBI agent knows something that he hasn't reported."
Bieder is asking for sworn statements from any FBI agent, active or retired, and is specifically interested in those agents in Oklahoma one year prior to the bombing. He's hopeful the information will bolster his case against the government.
He has not filed a lawsuit on behalf of his clients yet, but did file a notice of intent to sue within two years after the bombing. The FBI statements could provide "one piece to the puzzle" Bieder said he needs to proceed with a lawsuit.
The blast killed 168 people, including many children.
McVeigh lost his bid Wednesday for a stay of execution. A federal judge refused to delay the execution, saying the new FBI documents do not change the fact that McVeigh is guilty.
McVeigh's lawyers, who said they would appeal Wednesday's decision, contend that at least some FBI agents knew of the other possible conspirators but allowed their client to shoulder the blame alone.
"Whether Timothy McVeigh dies or lives doesn't affect my case at all," said Bieder. "On one hand I'd like him around in case information develops that I can ask him questions about. On the other hand, many, many, many of my clients don't want the stay to be granted."