Reprinted from www.libertylobby.org, home of The SPOTLIGHT archive
FBI 'Foul Up' May Yield New Facts
By Mike Blair
The Justice Department's claim that Timothy McVeigh single-handedly devastated the federal office building in Okla homa City is falling apart with the mysterious appearance of documents that had been withheld for five years, according to a former high official of the FBI.
On May 10, an embarrassed and discredited FBI turned over to McVeigh's at torneys thousands of pages of documents that it illegally withheld at his trial in 1996. The FBI's "lone bomber" was scheduled to be executed on May 16 at the new federal execution center at Terre Haute, Ind.
Now, Attorney General John Ashcroft has delayed McVeigh's trip to death's door for 30 days and attorneys for Terry Nichols, who was sentenced to life in pri son for conspiring with McVeigh to blow up the federal building, have the ammunition they need to file an appeal.
The documents appeared just in time for Nichols's attorneys to file an appeal on May 12 at 11:45 p.m.-just 15 minutes short of a midnight deadline to contest a Supreme Court decision that found no reason to overturn a lower court ruling against a new trial.
What does this pile of documents include?
No less than 3,125 pages of mostly FBI "FD302 forms," which are official reports of interviews conducted by FBI agents around the world. Most of these pertained to interviews about a "John Doe No. 2," who supposedly aided McVeigh in delivering the bomb to the building but who never materialized-at least not publicly -during the FBI investigation.
In addition, the documents include vi deo tapes, photographs, phone records and correspondence.
The documents came from 46 FBI field offices, ranging from Honolulu to Paris.
Retired FBI Senior Special Agent in Charge Ted L. Gunderson, who was head of the FBI's Los Angeles division, says the FBI has been caught in a "massive cover-up."
In answer to FBI and Justice Depart ment claims that the failure of the bureau to present the documents to McVeigh's attorneys during disclosure proceedings at the time of his trial was due to computer problems, Gunderson said:
"A computer glitch! I don't believe it-46 field offices had a computer problem. A little more than coincidence, I would say. That's 46 out of a total of 56 field offices. Impossible."
According to Gunderson, agents do not use tape recorders in field interviews; they take notes.
Later, the agent conducting the interview gives the notes to a bureau stenographer who types out a summary on an FD302 form. This is what the bureau presents to the federal attorneys prosecuting a case as evidence. If the case is of special significance, the handwritten notes are placed in a "1A envelope," and added to the case file, said Gunderson.
This was a reliable procedure when FBI agents and their bosses had a large measure of integrity, Gunderson said, but not today "with some of those jokers there now."
What is to keep an agent or someone above him from having the FD302 forms altered? Unless it is recorded on tape, who is to be believed about the accuracy of the interview report? There is plenty of room for "shaping evidence," Gunderson said.
Ironically, McVeigh has accused the FBI of "shaping" these summary forms to fit their needs in building their case against him, while at the same time he has admitted in the few contacts he has had with newsmen that he did commit the crime.
Gunderson believes that FBI Director Louis Freeh has known about the missing documents all along and that their emergence is why he has resigned two years short of his 10-year term.
After Freeh announced his resignation, Gunderson told The SPOTLIGHT, "I discussed with associates my strong belief that 'something big was coming down,' and, obviously it was."
Gunderson says he does not believe the end of the current 30-day delay in Mc Veigh's execution will bring the death of the FBI's supposed "lone bomber."
"To begin with," Gunderson said, "I don't think 30 days will be sufficient time for McVeigh's and Nichols's attorneys to review all of this material.
"If they execute this man before these missing documents can be satisfactorily and convincingly explained as having no bearing on the cases of these defendants, then the American people will simply never believe that there was just a 'lone bomber,' not a wide-ranging conspiracy," he added.
"They have, in short, blown it. An organization is only as good as its leadership and the leadership today at the FBI is appalling, and I am not just talking about Louis Freeh. It's terrible at all levels. Agents, like myself, who served when the FBI still had respect, and earned that respect from the American people, cringe at what's going on today," Gunderson concluded.
Gunderson believes that there is now an opportunity to finally get the truth about the Oklahoma City bombing.
"There is no doubt that they are in trouble, but I fear that Congress will, as it has in the past with Ruby Ridge and Waco, hold hearings, blow off a lot of steam, and then write the whole thing off, in this case as 'a computer glitch.'"
The SPOTLIGHT asked Gunderson about the call being made by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) for a presidential commission to investigate the FBI and its handling of the Oklahoma City bombing.
"You mean like the Warren Commission that investigated the assassination of President Kennedy?" he said.
Copyright 2001 Liberty Lobby Inc. All rights reserved.