Bombing Victims Sue Government

Article excerpt

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Federal officials knew or should have known enough to take steps to avert the Oklahoma City bombing, 34 victims of the blast allege in separate $25 million claims filed Wednesday.

"One would expect a reasonable government to do more than let a truck pull up in front of the building and blow up," said Richard Bieder, a Connecticut attorney.

The claims were aimed at the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the FBI, the General Services Administration, the Federal Protective Service and the U.S. Marshal's Service. "The United States government neglected to protect persons in and around the Murrah Building despite knowing that terrorists had discussed plans for violence before April 19, 1995," the date the bombing killed 168 people, Bieder said at a news conference. Simple precautions such as banning parking near the building or blocking off the street could have foiled the plot to bomb the building, Bieder said. Among those filing claims were Glenn and Kathy Wilburn, whose two grandsons, Chase and Colton, died in the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building's daycare center. "We want the truth. We want every facet of the truth brought out," said Wilburn, who has consistently maintained federal officials had some form of advance warning. Federal officials have repeatedly denied any advance knowledge of the bombing. Two men, Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, face separate trials on murder and conspiracy charges. McVeigh's trial is set to begin March 31. The claims center on the significance of April 19. Several key events in the recent history of far-right groups have occurred on that date, most notably the fiery raid on the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Texas, in 1993. Leader David Koresh and about 80 followers died. John Magaw, the director of the ATF, has said his agency was on alert for demonstrations on April 19, a precaution Bieder dismissed as woefully inadequate. "The weapon of choice of terrorists is not picketing, it is car bombs," Bieder said. …

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