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Gov't. Says OKC Video Tape Does Not Exist

A hearing is ongoing in Terry Nichols' state trial on murder charges over the defense's Motion to Dismiss for withholding of evidence by the prosecution.

Monday, government witnesses testified that the video tape referred to in Secret Service Logs depicting two persons exiting the Ryder truck at the federal building just before the explosion did not exist.

The Judge is expected to rule late today. Background is here and here.

David Neiwert of Orcinus writes today on the Apocalyptic Asymmetry of April 19.

Update: Michael Fortier testified today in Nichols' trial.

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Secret Service Claimed OKC Bomb Video

This is very big news. For background, go here.

Secret Service reports in 1995 state the agency had a video showing the Ryder truck pulling up to the federal building in OKC minutes before the bomb exploded --and that it depicts the "suspects" exiting the vehicle. Up until now, the Government has always claimed McVeigh was alone in the truck. Federal prosecutors and agents say they didn't know about the video.

The article has much more on evidence the Secret Service didn't disclose. If this is true, we hope the Judge in the Terry Nichols trial follows through with his promise to dismiss the case against Nichols, with prejudice.

Today is the 9th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing.

Update: You can view the OKC documents obtained by the AP here (pdf.)

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Terry Nichols' Lawyers Seek Dismissal

Terry Nichols' lawyers asked the court today to dismiss the charges against him, alleging that the Government has withheld critical information. The last time this occurred, the Judge said he would throw out the case if it happened again. He has taken the motion under advisement.

The motion claims prosecutors have withheld a video showing suspects leaving the Ryder rental truck that delivered the bomb just over three minutes before the detonation. No such video has been shown to exist. It also claims prosecutors failed to disclose a phone call McVeigh made to a right-wing enclave in Oklahoma known as Elohim City after he rented the Ryder truck. Allegations have surfaced over the years that McVeigh might have received help from people living there.

The motion also says prosecutors did not provide defense attorneys with documents disclosed in a series of Associated Press stories raising the possibility of additional accomplices in the bombing. Those documents included two 1990s teletypes from then-FBI Director Louis Freeh's office citing possible connections between McVeigh and a gang of white supremacist bank robbers.

A video showing suspects leaving the Ryder rental truck that delivered the bomb just over three minutes before the detonation? That's news to us, and if it exists, that would be powerful, new evidence.

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Inmate to Testify Terry Nichols Didn't Help Build Bomb

Death row inmate David Paul Hammer plans to testify at Terry Nichols' trial that while Hammer and Timothy McVeigh were in nearby cells on death row, McVeigh told him that Nichols refused to help build the bomb--and that the bomb was built in an Oklahoma warehouse and not in Kansas. The prosecution says Hammer is not a credible witness. He is scheduled to be executed June 8 for killing a cellmate. More on Hammer and his upcoming book can be found here.

The jury has been seated. Opening arguments are set for March 22.

Nichols' attorneys plan to argue that McVeigh framed him to shield the real accomplices in the bombing. The attorneys have said Hammer will tell jurors that McVeigh revealed who else was involved in the 1995 attack, including the identity of a second person believed to have been with McVeigh on the day of the bombing. Hammer told the newspaper the second person was a member of the Aryan Republican Army, a gang of white supremacist bank robbers.

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Terry Nichols' Jury Chosen

In only 9 days, a jury has been seated for the Oklahoma murder trial of Terry Nichols. We find this shocking. Even with a change of venue to Denver, and a trial in federal court-- which is known for limited voir dire as compared to that allowed by state courts-- jury selection lasted a month in Terry Nichols' case and three weeks in the case of Timothy McVeigh.

With so much prejudice against Nichols in Oklahoma, the short jury selection process--with most of the questioning done by the judge--gives us very little confidence that this will be a fair trial.

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Terry Nichols' Juror Reports Others Lying to Get on Jury

Jury selection continues in the Terry Nichols trial. A potential juror yesterday told the Judge she heard 4 or 5 other potential jurors saying they intended to lie to get on the jury and convict Nichols. The Judge refused a defense motion for a mistrial. None of those jurors made it through the initial phase.

Still, if there were 4 or 5 who said it aloud, how many more were thinking the same thing? How many others were swayed by the remarks?

More details are here.

A potential juror revealed Tuesday that she overheard three or four others talk about lying to get on the jury so they could convict Terry Nichols. "I had to tell them right offhand that's not what we're here for," she told the judge, prosecutors and defense attorneys. "We took an oath to be fair and impartial, and this whole time they're lying. That's wrong."

Judge Steven Taylor refused a defense request for a mistrial because of the revelation but promised to "deal with this."

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Terry Nichols' Judge Warns Prosecutors About Not Turning Over Documents

Jury selection began today in the state trial of Terry Nichols. Oklahoma is seeking the death penalty against him. The Judge denied the latest defense request for a continuance based on news that the FBI had not turned over all documents regarding other suspects, however, he gave the prosecution a stern warning:

"This case is going to trial today because this court has been assured" by state prosecutors and federal officials that they have turned over to the defense all relevant documents, Taylor said. Should that prove to be false, the judge said, "There will not be a mistrial. There will be a dismissal of this case."

Given the repeated failure of the FBI to get its act together regarding the documents in this case, our money is on a dismissal.

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Oklahoma City: The Conspiracists' Theory

More from Dave Neiwart of Orcinus, this time on the recent revelations in the Oklahoma City bombing case. Neiwert outlines the conspiracists' theory that white supremacist bank robbers and others were involved in the OKC bombing.

Most notably, it was the entire subject of Mark S. Hamm's book In Bad Company: America's Terrorist Underground, published in 2002. According to Hamm, four cells of the ARA were involved. In Hamm's report, the first cell comprised "the bomb builders" -- Steven Colbern, Dennis Malzac, and a third "phantom bomb builder" -- while McVeigh, Nichols, and Michael Fortier constituted the second cell, whose role was "to plan and develop a strategy for the bombing." A third cell for "information, training, weapons, and logistical support" was led by Andreas Strassmier. It also included Denis Mahon and a Elohim City resident, Michael Brescia, whom some have fingered as John Doe No. 2. The fourth and final cell was in charge of financing, which, like The Order in 1984, was largely the product of bank robberies. This was the public ARA, led by Peter Langan, and included Brescia, as well as four others: Richard Guthrie, Kevin McCarthy, Scott Stedeford, and a Posse Comitatus leader, Mark Thomas. All of these ARA participants are either dead (Guthrie committed suicide) or behind bars, except Brescia and Thomas, who both served time and are free now.

Like David, we find the theory wanting in several respects. Nonetheless, it's good that the investigation is being re-opened--provided it's a real one and not just a "going through the motions" type one.

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Death Row Inmate to Testify at Terry Nichols' Trial

Over objections by the prosecution, the Judge in Terry Nichols' state trial will allow death row inmate David Hammer to testify at Nichols' trial. The prosecutors argued Hammer is not a credible witness:

Hammer spent time with McVeigh on federal death row before McVeigh was executed in 2001. Hammer claims McVeigh gave him the identities of coconspirators including John Doe 2, a mystery man some claim to have seen with McVeigh on the day of the bombing, defense attorney Mark Earnest said.

Nichols' attorneys contend Nichols was set up by unknown coconspirators involved with McVeigh in the plot to bomb the building. Hammer's testimony was bitterly opposed by prosecutors, who described Hammer as "one of the least credible sources ever to serve time" in an Oklahoma prison. Assistant District Attorney Lou Keel said Hammer once threatened to kill him and a judge and blow up the Oklahoma County Courthouse.

Hammer is on federal death row for the 1996 murder of his cellmate, Andrew Marti, at the Allenwood Federal Penitentiary outside Williamsport, Pa.

Hammer has co-written a book with another death row inmate about what McVeigh allegedly told him, due out this month. It's titled "Secrets Worth Dying For" and is described as containing "details of being on death row with Oklahoma City Bomber Timothy James McVeigh and revelations about others involved in the 1995 bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City."

David Paul Hammer #24507-077 is on Death Row in Terre Haute, Indiana. His execution is now scheduled for June, 2004. Mr. Hammer's website is here. The Canadian Coalition Against the Death Penalty offers free websites to death row prisoners.

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OKC Bombing and ARA Bank Robbers

Here are some interesting pictures:

Michael Brescia

This is still our favorite though:

John Doe 2 and "Dirty Bomb" Suspect Jose Padilla.

More on the Aryan Republican Army (ARA) is here.

Note: We are not vouching for the accuracy of these internet photos and news reports, just pointing them out.

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FBI Suspected McVeigh Had Help from Supremacist Bank Robbers in OKC Bombing

This is news. The Associated Press reports that one unit of the FBI had information that McVeigh sought help from a group of white supremacist bank robbers days before the Oklahoma City Bombing, and failed to share the information with the FBI unit investigating the bombing:

The FBI believed Timothy McVeigh tried to recruit additional help in the days before the deadly 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and gathered evidence that white supremacist bank robbers may have become involved, according to government documents never introduced at McVeigh's trial.

The retired FBI chief of the Oklahoma City investigation, Dan Defenbaugh, said he was unaware of some evidence obtained by The Associated Press and that the investigation should be reopened to determine whether the robbery gang was linked to McVeigh.

The evidence never shared with Defenbaugh's investigators or defense lawyers includes documents showing the Aryan Republican Army bank robbers possessed explosive blasting caps similar to those McVeigh stole and a driver's license with the name of a central player who was robbed in the Oklahoma City plot.

Does this mean others were involved?

McVeigh's ex-lawyer said the evidence obtained by the AP is the strongest to date to show what he has argued for years -- that the bombing conspiracy may have involved more people than McVeigh and Nichols.

"I think these pieces close the circle, and they clearly show the bombing conspiracy consisted probably of 10 conspirators," attorney Stephen Jones said. "They (government officials) simply turned their backs on a group of people for which there is credible evidence suggesting they were involved in the murder of 160 people."

Some of the original documents cited in the article are available here.

You can read more from older news articles here and here.

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Court: Terry Nichols May Present Evidence of Wider Conspiracy

This could be good news for the Terry Nichols defense team. The judge has ruled that he may present evidence of a wider conspiracy in the Oklahoma bombing if he can back it up with specific overt acts.

Mr. Nichols is going to be allowed to present his defense," Taylor said, ruling that prosecution motions to prevent Nichols from presenting evidence of other bombing suspects were premature.

Defense attorney Mark A. Earnest said Nichols' defense team does not plan to offer the names of other conspirators. He said the defense wants to present circumstantial evidence that Timothy McVeigh conspired with others, possibly members of the Aryan Republican Army, a white supremacist group with anti-government views, to bomb the P. Murrah Federal Building. Defense attorneys say the conspiracy was set up to cast blame on Nichols and shield other conspirators.

If Nichols can establish others were involved with McVeigh, the jury might believe he had a lesser role, warranting a life sentence instead of death. The federal jury that convicted him gave him a life sentence. We still don't see how he can get a fair trial anywhere in Oklahoma, particularly in McAlester, a town filled with prison guards and munitions factory workers, but nonetheless, this is a crumb for the defense.

More than 350 potential jurors were sworn in yesterday. Jury selection (voir dire) begins March 1.

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