Ex-McVeigh Lawyer: Book Exaggerated

Friday, April 6th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Timothy McVeigh exaggerated his role in the Oklahoma City bombing in a new book in part to protect convicted bombing conspirator Terry Nichols, McVeigh's former lawyer said.

Stephen Jones said Thursday that ``American Terrorist: Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City Bombing'' is ``fundamentally dishonest'' and contradicts what McVeigh told him about Nichols' involvement.

Jones said he will revise his own 1998 book, ``Others Unknown: The Oklahoma City Bombing Case and Conspiracy,'' to address some of McVeigh's claims and to show ``why the case should not be closed.''

In ``American Terrorist,'' written by Buffalo News reporters Lou Michel and Dan Herbeck, McVeigh admits to the 1995 bombing and says he has no remorse for it. He even calls the 19 children killed ``collateral damage.''

McVeigh said Nichols helped make the bomb that blew up the Alfred P. Murrah Building, killing 168 people, but McVeigh insisted he carried out the bombing alone.

Jones said McVeigh hoped to help Nichols, who faces a possible death sentence if convicted of murder in Oklahoma. Nichols was sentenced to life after his federal conviction for manslaughter and conspiracy, but he has not been tried in state court on murder charges.

The authors of ``American Terrorist'' based the book on 75 hours of prison interviews with McVeigh and interviews with 150 other people. But Jones said they never checked McVeigh's claims with him, possibly because they wanted to protect their relationship with McVeigh. McVeigh had a falling out with Jones during his trial.

Michel wrote in the introduction that McVeigh was ``perfectly blunt and never shied away from expressing his beliefs.'' He said he and co-author Herbeck never caught McVeigh in a lie.

But Jones called McVeigh an expert liar. He recalled a tearful story McVeigh told him about an Iraqi teen-ager he accidentally killed as a soldier during the Gulf War.

``Two weeks later he told me it was all made up,'' Jones said.

Jones' book theorizes that McVeigh was a patsy in an international plan to carry out the bombing. Jones isn't even convinced McVeigh drove the truck that carried the bomb.

U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch refused to let Jones use the conspiracy theory in McVeigh's trial.