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News, documents and analysis on violent extremism

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Oklahoma City Bombing Witness Linked to CIA, New Filing Reveals

By J.M. Berger

A potential witness in the Oklahoma City bombing investigation had contact with the CIA.

That is just one of dozens of revelations in a document released by the CIA, in response to a lawsuit by Salt Lake City attorney Jesse Trentadue.

Trentadue has been seeking government documents related to Oklahoma City through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), as part of an investigation into the death of his brother while federal custody (story).

Trentadue sought documents from the CIA under FOIA. Although the Agency released some documents (story, documents), it withheld many more. In response to Trentadue's lawsuit, the CIA filed what is known as a Vaughn Index, describing the withheld material in detail. While much of the material was classified, the CIA also refused to disclose several unclassified documents.

Among the documents described in the index:

  • A document written by a CIA attorney to the Justice Department that "responds to request for information as to whether a potential witness in the Oklahoma City Bombing trial was at any time associated with the CIA." The document describes "contacts between the CIA and the potential witness," which also contains information on "the location of a covert CIA facility."

  • A letter to an FBI agent describing CIA records searches related to Timothy McVeigh and co-conspirator Terry Nichols.

  • A 10-page fax describing a name trace search conducted by the CIA on Terry Nichols.

  • A one-page cable dated April 19, 1995, with the subject line "Bombing in Oklahoma City," which contains information about "the location of a covert CIA facility, a CIA cryptogram, and CIA intelligence limitations and capabilities."

  • A two cable dated April 19, 1995, and titled "Identity of US Citizens Who Attended the PAIC [Popular Arab Islamic Conference]." The annual Sudan-based conference was known as a nexus for Islamic terrorist leaders including Al Qaeda members. The document also contains information about "CIA intelligence collection requests, the location of a CIA covert facility, and cryptonyms."

  • A one-page cable dated April 19, 1995, and titled "Call From Foreign Liason Contact," which describes "the identity of a foreign government that provided information to the CIA in the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing, the location of a covert CIA facility, and information regarding another agency's sources, information sharing, and analysis of source information. Release of the classified information reasonably would be expected to result in serious damage to the national security of the United States."

  • A three-page cable dated April 20, 1995, and titled "Planned Correspondence With Foreign Government Liaison Partners," which describes contact between the CIA and "an asset regarding the Oklahoma City bombing."

  • A two-page cable dated April 20, 1995, and titled "Explosion at Federal Building in Oklahoma" which describes "the location of a covert CIA field station, the identity of a human source, information sharing, and information credited to a representative of a foreign government."

  • Multiple documents dated April 20, 1995, describing claims of responsibility for the Oklahoma City bombing. As previously reported on INTELWIRE, there were several such claims in the aftermath of the bombing (story, story).

  • A two-page cable dated April 20, 1995, and titled "Possible Suspect" which "provides information about a possible person of interest in the Oklahoma City bombing."

  • A two-page cable dated April 20, 1995, and titled "Name Trace Results" which describes "a person named in connection with the Oklahoma Bombing investigation, but whom was not the object of plaintiff's FOIA request." Trentadue's FOIA request specifically requested information on Andreas Strassmeir, a German national linked to McVeigh.

  • A two-page cable dated April 21, 1995, and titled "Investigative Lead."

  • A two-page cable dated April 21, 1995, and titled "Possible Lead."

  • A two-page cable dated April 21, 1995, and titled "Information Regarding Possible Suspects." It contains "the identity of an intelligence source and details regarding inter-agency coordination with respect to the intelligence as well as to protect the location of a covert CIA field station and foreign liaison"

    The Vaughn Index lists numerous other leads generated by human intelligence sources.

    Read the full document

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    Views expressed on INTELWIRE are those of the author alone.



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    INTELWIRE is a web site edited by J.M. Berger. a researcher, analyst and consultant covering extremism, with a special focus on extremist activities in the U.S. and extremist use of social media. He is a non-resident fellow with the Brookings Institution, Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World, and author of the critically acclaimed Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam, the only definitive history of the U.S. jihadist movement, and co-author of ISIS: The State of Terror with Jessica Stern.


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