FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEAG
THURSDAY, MAY 24, 2001(202) 616-2777
WWW.USDOJ.GOVTDD (202) 514-1888
ATTORNEY GENERAL STATEMENT REGARDING TIMOTHY MCVEIGH
"Thirteen days ago, I directed the Bureau of Prisons to delay the scheduled execution of convicted mass murderer Timothy McVeigh until June 11. I took this step because it is my responsibility as Attorney General to promote and protect the integrity of our system of justice.
"Timothy McVeigh was convicted by a jury of bombing the Alfred P. Murrah Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995, and sentenced to death. He has admitted to executing this savage crime, the largest terrorist attack within the United States in our history. Even today, he shows no remorse for killing 168 innocent people, including 19 children, injuring hundreds more, and shattering the lives of thousands of Americans.
"His execution was not delayed because of any doubt that he is guilty of this heinous crime, but because we must have a system of justice that is above question. Our system of justice requires fidelity to the rule of law to protect every American's constitutional rights. We must protect and sustain public confidence in the administration of justice. In this instance protecting that system of justice required turning over approximately 3,100 pages of documents from the FBI that should have been produced to McVeigh's attorneys during the original discovery period. Fair process dictated giving his attorneys a reasonable opportunity to review the documents and to consider their options. They have had those documents for almost two weeks, and there are still more than two weeks intervening between now and June 11.
"On Friday May 11, the same day I announced the one month delay in the execution, I directed the Federal Bureau of Investigation to issue a world-wide alert to all their offices. This world-wide alert ordered every FBI office to identify and produce any and all documents required under the broad discovery agreement in the McVeigh case. Even though 11 previous searches had been done, I wanted the FBI to make a final, thorough conclusive search to identify and produce any other potentially relevant documents in this case. Justice required that McVeigh's defense attorneys have an opportunity to review any documents that should have been produced -- even though they do not affect the outcome of this case. Our system of justice demands nothing less.
"Today, the Department of Justice completed a report that has been submitted to me documenting the FBI's comprehensive efforts over the last 13 days to identify any remaining documents. The report explains the content and the nature of the newly-produced documents, and outlines the efforts the Department has made to allow McVeigh's attorneys a fair opportunity to review this material. Today I am releasing the complete report to the McVeigh attorneys and, consistent with the district court's protective orders, a redacted report to the American public.
"As this report explains, the American people can have confidence that all documents now have been identified and produced, and that nothing in any of the documents undermines McVeigh's admission of the murder of 168 of his fellow American citizens, or nothing in these documents undermines the justice of his sentence.
"FBI Director Louis Freeh has certified to me that the FBI has completed its search and produced every relevant document in its possession. Clearly, also at my request, every Special Agent in Charge of every FBI office has certified that all documents pertaining to the McVeigh case have been produced by that Special Agent's office.
"Following the production of the new documents 13 days ago and pursuant to Director Freeh's final worldwide alert, the FBI, working with federal prosecutors, engaged this methodical process designed to find and identify any documents that could have been - but were not - turned over during the extraordinarily broad discovery process. Each FBI office was searched exhaustively for any potentially relevant documents. When such documents were identified by an office, they were immediately sent to Oklahoma City for review. There, an FBI team and attorneys, conducted a two-step review process. First, the team determined whether any of the documents were covered by the unusually broad discovery agreement. Most of the documents were not.
"Additionally, the smaller group of documents that were covered under the agreement were reviewed against the OKBOMB computer databases to determine whether each document already had been produced or made available during discovery. Again, the overwhelming majority of documents reviewed had already been turned over during discovery.
"Under this process over the last nine days, we have identified and produced to the defense 898 additional pages of documents. These include 103 pages of Baltimore documents produced on May 15; 327 pages of Denver documents produced on May 18; 405 pages of documents from various offices produced on May 23; and 63 pages of Oklahoma City documents produced today. These items were sent to the Denver operation immediately upon discovery, where the prosecution produced them to defense counsel as they were processed. The defense team has had ample time to review these documents.
"I would like to make two points. First, we are talking about a relatively small amount of information, particularly in comparison to the incredible volume of documents produced in this case. This particular investigation produced millions of records, including millions of pages of hotel, motel or phone records, over 238,000 photographs, over 28,000 reports of interviews and more than 23,000 pieces of evidence. The new documents represent only a small fraction of one percent of the total number of produced documents in this case.
"Second, and more importantly, it is essential that people understand the substance of the material we are talking about. All of these newly-produced documents have been reviewed by attorneys familiar with the case. This item-by-item review has revealed that none, none of these new documents raises any doubt about the proven and admitted guilt of Timothy McVeigh. Indeed, the review reveals that most of the documents have little or no evidentiary value, and that much of the information was disclosed to the defense through other documents that were already produced in the discovery process.
"While the court's protective order prevents us from publicly releasing the documents or describing them in detail, I thought it would be useful to share a few generalized descriptions of the types of documents that were belatedly produced.
"For example, a lengthy collection of newspaper and magazine clippings, including photos from a swimsuit calendar, was received from a person under psychiatric care, received in one of our offices and not forwarded initially. Most of these clippings did not pertain to the bombing.
"Another example is a long, handwritten letter offering unspecified information in return for an enormous cash reward, in return for release of someone from prison, and in return for a trip to Europe to meet with royalty.
"Other documents include various letters involving information about non-physical beings and offers by psychics to contact the dead victims for information about the bombing.
"Now, in addition to these kinds of documents, some of the new items involve nothing more than information about service of a subpoena or receipt of records, and are only discoverable because an agent happened to document the information in an FBI-302 interview report or insert, which by definition, according to the trial agreement, made it discoverable.
"There also are photographs, fingerprint cards, and criminal history reports involving persons who ultimately turned out to have no connection whatsoever to the case. Many documents concern investigations into whether other persons - in addition to or instead of McVeigh and Nichols- were involved in the bombing, a fact that McVeigh himself denies. While thousands of leads were pursued in this endeavor, nothing in any of the documents links anyone else to this bombing.
"Let me summarize this report's findings. No document creates any doubt of McVeigh's guilt let alone establishes his innocence - which is the legal standard an appeal must overcome. Most of the documents could not have qualified as evidence.
"Finally, the quanitity of documents is minuscule compared to the number of documents already provided to McVeigh's lawyers.
"I delayed this execution by a month to give McVeigh's lawyers sufficient time to exercise his legal rights. I will not delay the sentence of a confessed mass murderer- I will not delay his sentence further on the basis of documents which cast no doubt about his guilt.
"We reviewed these documents carefully, we wrote a thorough report, and we are prepared to defend McVeigh's conviction and the sentence that has been imposed. The lawyers in the Department of Justice have already had the time to prepare to defend the interests of the United States in this case, and have done so while reviewing large volumes of material that has been irrelevant. We are prepared, we have had ample time to prepare, and we believe this demonstrates clearly, that the defense team has had ample time to defend Mr. McVeigh. The first delay in this case was necessary for this review by lawyers for the defense and the prosecution; a second delay of this case would ignore this evidence and the facts of the case.
"We also need to be sensitive to the victims of this ruthless attack. Throughout this legal process, we've been keenly mindful of the pain that careful judicial proceedings sometimes cause victims to endure. I again extend my sympathy again to the victims of this assault and the assault on America and I will not add to their pain.
"To have proceeded on the initial execution date would have discredited the fairness and completeness which due process demands and deserves. Failure to carry out the sentence after such thorough and careful compliance has been achieved would thwart justice and deny victims' closure and would discredit our judicial system.