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Oklahoma State Rep. Charles Key refuses to buckle, releases 500-page report on OKC

Former Oklahoma state Rep. Charles Key (R), who spearheaded a major independent inquiry into the Oklahoma City bombing, was the guest on the April 15 broadcast of The SPOTLIGHT's weekly call-in talk forum, Radio Free America, with host Tom Valentine.

Key and his Oklahoma Bombing Investigating Committee are preparing to release a detailed, fact-filled 500-page report explaining their findings which point clearly toward the fact that neither convicted bomber Timothy McVeigh nor the federal authorities who built the legal case against McVeigh are telling the truth about what really happened.

What follows is part one of an edited transcript of the interview with Key. Valentine's questions start with a "Q". Key's responses star with an "R". The balance of the transcription will be published next week in The SPOTLIGHT.

Q. Why do you think Tim McVeigh is now saying that he acted entirely alone in this bombing? This new book written by two reporters who say they got that from McVeigh has been widely promoted in the media.

R. I don't know why McVeigh is saying it, but we know for a fact that when he claims that he was the only one involved that this is a flat-out lie. Did he say it exactly as the new book says he said it?

However, since we know it isn't true, then how much of the book can be taken as legitimate? I don't feel like I can take anything in the book to be legitimate.

I can be critical of the authors on at least this: they claim that they documented and "checked out" all of McVeigh's statements to make sure that what he was saying was true. That's not true. If they had checked it out, they would have discovered that his claim about acting alone could not have been true.

In addition, there are questions about the size of the bomb and how it was put together. So I'm not sure what these authors were trying to do. I do know they had the credentials and background to do a better job than they did.

Q. It doesn't make sense, at least to me, that McVeigh didn't give interviews to publications that understand McVeigh's frustrations with the government that purportedly led him to take the actions that he did.

R. Like Liberty Lobby and The SPOTLIGHT, I've been criticized for trying to find out the truth about what happened. Our critics automatically say that we are somehow defending McVeigh and the bombing and that we are trying to get him off the hook, when, in fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

Q. Obviously McVeigh had a role in the bombing, but it's clear that there were other bombs inside the building, based on the evidence that's come out (and which the government is trying to hide).

The government had a FEMA group of civil engineers do a report. These engineers were actually kept about 200 feet from the building. They didn't even let these federal investigators come in. In stead, the FEMA engineers were simply fed information that they used in their report.

They were told, for example, that the crater was 28 to 32 feet in diameter and that's what they based their report on. The fact is that crater was actually 16 to 18 feet in diameter and wasn't very deep. The government intentionally kept these investigators away and set things up for an invalid report.

Q. What first got you suspicious that there was much more to the bombing than the media and the federal authorities were saying?

R. The first thing that really grabbed my attention was the Murrah building and the way it was damaged. I wondered how it could have been damaged as it was and the other buildings in the vicinity didn't have more damage than they did.

That didn't seem to make sense to me, but in the beginning I didn't have enough knowledge or experience in areas such as explosives and demolition (as does Gen. Ben Partin, who contends that there were explosives inside the Murrah building). I didn't carry my thinking any further be yond that until maybe three or four weeks after the bombing.

Then there were other questions being raised because of all of these witnesses who had seen these other John Does in and around Oklahoma City.

And then there were questions about government foreknowledge and the lack of BATF personnel in the building the day of the bombing. There were BATF agents making statements to people about the BATF personnel not being in the building that day.

R. Edye Smith, who lost her two little boys in the bombing, was the one who said on live television, talking to CNN, that there were rumors about BATF personnel having been absent the day of the bombing because they had been tipped off about a possible attack on the building.

The governor, Frank Keating, was very critical of her for saying that. That was very unusual to be critical of a mother who lost two children. She was just asking the question: "Where was the BATF?"

A number of federal officials, including Pat Ryan from the U.S. attorney's office (and who later became one of the government prosecutors in the McVeigh and Nichols trials) and some IRS agents and BATF agents and others came to the home of Glenn and Kathy Wilburn, Edye Smith's parents, to answer these questions. It was a big deal here in Oklahoma City and the press was waiting on their doorstep.

Well, Glenn had a list of questions for them. The first thing that happened was that these federal authorities came in to assure the Wilburns and Mrs. Smith that they had no knowledge and they had everybody's best interests at heart. After they finished, Glenn whipped out his full page of questions. At that point, things got very silent. They didn't want to answer his questions.

He had one big question for them. He asked them if they had considered April 19 to be a significant day and whether they had made any extra preparations. They said, "Oh no. We didn't consider April 19 to be anything special."

However, about an hour after they left, Glenn and Kathy were watching television and John McGaw, the head of the BATF, came on in a national press conference and the media asked him the same question, among other questions, and he said, "We absolutely did consider April 19 to be an important day. We had all of our offices on alert and we took it very seriously."

This completely refuted what was said by this team of federal agents who came to the Wilburn home to try to quiet them and Edye Smith.

Q. These types of things started to raise questions in your mind.

Yes, we started meeting and talking with witnesses who had seen other people with McVeigh and we started discovering that there was this prior knowledge and that it was very obvious that some in the federal government and some in the state government had this prior knowledge. So things didn't add up.

We could tell from the way the FBI investigation was going that it seemed like they were going to put it on just these two guys, McVeigh and Nichols, and we knew that there was much more.

Q. This inquiry that you undertook as a private citizen had a very detrimental effect on your political career as a state legislator representing Oklahoma City.

R. That's right. In the very early part of 1996, I got word from a person who worked closely with the state Republican Party that Gov. Keating and other GOP officials in Oklahoma were trying to recruit somebody to run against me in the Republican primary.

Q. This shows that there was a lot more at work behind the scenes. Clearly, people in high places didn't like you looking into what really happened.

This was right at the time that all of the questions were being raised, but in the Republican Party primary, one guy ran against me and I beat him by a 75-25 margin. The point is that the people didn't see it (as did the governor and my opponents) as being unreasonable to ask these questions.

It wasn't until 1998 that Keating and the state attorney general really ganged up on me big-time, getting the newspapers to make everything an issue, that they were finally able to do the "divide-and-conquer" tactics and I was defeated.

Q. Despite this, you've continued to investigate.

R. We've carried on this investigation for some five years now. During that time there were a lot of battles we faced. We fought to get a grand jury impaneled to investigate the bombing.

Oklahoma is one of two states (along with New Mexico) whose Constitution provides for the right of the people to have a grand jury called at the county level any time on any issue they choose. It's been done pretty regularly, but they tried to stop us on this issue, using a lot of ridiculous legal reasoning.

Finally, after a year and a half, both the appeals court and the Supreme Court of the state of Oklahoma ruled unanimously in our favor.

Q. After all that effort, you finally got the grand jury established, but the local district attorney, Bob Macey, took charge of the grand jury and essentially sabotaged it.

R. That's what happened. When the grand jury finally got set in place in the middle of the summer of 1997, we spent all of our time working to put together all of the information that we could in the type of format that was appropriate for an official investigation.

The one good thing that came out of the grand jury was that we did the best we could. We knew the odds were against us, but we tried it anyway. We knew that at least a large part of this evidence that we uncovered would get out to the public. While it didn't get reported in the national media, it did get reported in the state of Oklahoma, especially Oklahoma City.

Many of the witnesses who are cited in our report came before our grand jury and a large number of them gave witness interviews to the local press as they went in and out of the grand jury proceedings.

So people in Oklahoma got television, radio and newspaper reports for quite a significant period of time. These witnesses and other experts verified what we were saying and raising questions about.

The two assistant district attorneys from Macey's office who were there were clearly trying to put down anyone who went against the federal government's point of view on this.

They had to be careful how they did it. They really beat up on me when I testified. There were certain people that they treated in a totally different way: they treated survivors with respect. They treated Gen. Partin with respect, and a number of others. So they were careful how they did all of this before the grand jury members themselves.

Q. They had to show Gen. Partin re spect. He was one of the Air Force's (and thus one of the entire nation's) leading experts on explosives.

R. Ultimately, however, there has to be somebody on a grand jury who is willing to stand up and take charge of their own power as a juror.

Q. Hoppy Heidelberg, who was on the earlier grand jury that actually indicted Tim McVeigh, raised some uncomfortable questions about other people being involved. He was thrown off the grand jury by the government.

R. At least we had somebody on that grand jury. Unfortunately, we didn't have anybody like that on the second grand jury.

Q. The district attorney's office actually selected the grand jury.

R. That's right. They had people on the grand jury that they shouldn't have. They had an Oklahoma City police officer, a city employee and a couple of state employees, if I remember right.

Q. Did the grand jury ever look at seismic evidence from the Oklahoma Geological Survey (OGS) which came up suggesting that there was more than one blast at the time of the bombing?

R. The grand jury looked at that but we don't know what was said about it. The scientists from the OGS never changed their original story. They just sped talking about what they had found.

Q. Evidently, Dr. Brown of the OGS came under some pressure for having said there was evidence of at least two explosions.

R. Hats off to Dr. Brown for holding his ground for such a long time. But he has given up. The fact is that Dr. Brown and others have said repeatedly that they had evidence of more than one explosion. I'll never forget what Dr. Brown told me when I called him early on. He went into all the boring scientific analysis.

After our conversation, I said to him, "If I understand all this right, you're telling me that the proper scientific interpretation, in your opinion, is that there were multiple events on the seismographic record?" He said, "Yes."

Then I asked him in another way, and said, "Do I hear you right? Do you think it would be an improper analysis from a scientific point of view to describe this in any other way?" And he said, "That's correct." He held that position for quite some time. There wasn't any confusion about that.

The feds came in and took the original records of the seismographic data at Dr. Brown's OGS office. Fortunately, though we've got copies of the records, but the feds have the originals and never returned them.

Q. Even though the grand jury was sabotaged, you have still put together a 500-page report on everything that you've uncovered.

Yes, and it is well documented in all of these areas: where numerous witnesses saw John Does with McVeigh and other persons in Oklahoma City on April 19 and on the days proceeding the bombing. There are also many things about prior knowledge that have not been publicly revealed.

One of the sections I'm very proud of is the section on the Murrah building and the alleged single truck bomb and the damage that was done to the building.

We cite quite a number of experts in there who give their opinions as to what that damage reflects and whether or not a single truck bomb could have inflicted that damage as the government claims.

We have photos of the actual inner beams of the building that give proof of supplemental explosive charges inside the building, which obviously demonstrates that the damage to the building just didn't come from a single truck bomb.

We went to a number of other experts and asked them to look at the report by Gen. Ben Partin (who says that there were clearly explosives set off inside the building) and asked them to give their analysis of what Partin said, along with their own independent analyses.

We wanted our report so ironclad that the federal government couldn't refute it. A lot of people don't know that the federal government could never back up its own claims about the bombing.

There literally is no forensic evidence to prove that it was actually an ammonium nitrate bomb that blew up in front of that building, much less the size of the bomb. The data that the government put out is grossly in error.

That's another thing that we show in the report in a very scientific way: we map out the real size of the crater in front of the building and show that it was actually about half the size of what they claim it was.

There's even evidence of Gov. Keating saying right after the bombing that they took two additional bombs out of the building during the rescue efforts. It's all very well documented. It's not just some people who "got it wrong." The few government officials who have been put on the spot about this have tried to claim that "oh, somebody found a briefcase and thought there was a bomb in it." In another case, they tried to claim that it was an alarm clock and somebody thought it was attached to a bomb.

That's hogwash. There are numerous documented testimonies of actual bombs being taken out of the building during the rescue and of bomb experts talking about these bombs being dismantled and of how they were glad to have found these bombs because it would help them find out who the perpetrators were and who put those bombs together.

The official report of the Oklahoma City Bombing Investigating Committee has not been released. Mr. Key, president of the committee, will give a comprehensive review of the report at The Barnes Review Second International Conference on Authentic History and the First Amendment in Washington, June 15. Copies of the report will be available at the conference.