|CIA Aided DOJ Prosecutors in 1995 OKC Bombing Case|
|by Anthony L. Kimery|
|Tuesday, 30 March 2010|
‘Secret’ CIA documents withheld in FOIA suit raise more questions than they answer
Questions about foreign complicity in the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in downtown Oklahoma City for which Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols were convicted, were disclosed Friday in a ruling by US District court judge Clark Waddoups on a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the CIA for the CIA’s refusal to completely declassify records it has acknowledged it possesses that pertain to the case.
It is the first indication that the CIA and the Department of Justice (DOJ) worked together in the bombing investigations and prosecutions.
The classified materials also were never made available to McVeigh’s defense team, led by attorney Stephen Jones, who has publicly expressed his concern that the federal government knows more about the bombing than it has admitted.
The ruling Friday in Salt Lake City was in response to the December 12, 2006 FOIA suit brought by Jesse Trentadue, an attorney who sought numerous documents from the CIA, “including any [related to] potential involvement of foreign nationals in that attack.”
Waddoups ruled that the CIA materials were properly classified by the CIA for the variety of reasons that the Agency had claimed, and that they would not be made available to the public. It was the first such national security defense ever used by the government in denying records to Trentadue.
While the exact content of the documents – which were not reviewed by Waddoups in camera – were not revealed, Waddoups in his ruling hinted at what they contained based largely on “supporting affidavits” and other materials that the CIA provided to him.
The judge’s ruling constituted the first documented involvement of the CIA in the federal government’s handling and prosecution of the bombing investigation, either before or after the attack that killed 168 persons.
In his ruling, Waddoups stated in reference to a “letter … prepared [for the CIA] in response to a Department of Justice attorney’s request for information related to Mr. McVeigh’s prosecution” that “it is clear that the CIA and DOJ were cooperating in the prosecution of Mr. McVeigh.”
The letter “contains information, legal analysis and opinion prepared by a CIA attorney in contemplation of the prosecution of Mr. McVeigh,” Waddoups wrote.
Another “four-pages of classified handwritten notes summarizing classified information that a DOJ attorney reviewed in connection with the Oklahoma City bombing prosecution” were properly classified “secret,” Waddoups ruled, adding, “to the extent it matters here whether the DOJ attorney who made the notes marked classified had security clearances (and it is not clear that it does), that fact can be inferred from the fact that he or she was allowed access to review classified documents.”
Still another September 6, 1996 eight-page letter from a CIA attorney to a DOJ attorney “respond[ing] to the DOJ’s request for further information related to the Oklahoma City bombing trial” was properly classified secret in “its entirety,” Waddoups ruled.
In another document, dated September 17, 1996, “… the CIA clarifies prior correspondence regarding CIA record searches related to the prosecution of Mr. McVeigh and Terry Nichols,” continued Judge Waddoups.