KWAME HOLMAN: The Dallas Morning News reported Friday that Timothy McVeigh confessed to the Oklahoma City bombing which killed 168 people and injured more than 500 others in April of 1995. The newspaper published the information first on its Web site then in an article in its Saturday edition. The paper's reporter, Pete Slover, said he based the article on confidential notes taken by McVeigh's defense team while meeting with him in jail. The article quoted McVeigh as saying he wanted a daytime attack on the Alfred Murrah Federal Building in order to ensure the body count.
Slover also wrote that McVeigh said he and fellow bombing suspect Terry Nichols committed robberies to finance the Oklahoma City attack and gathered the bomb's components. The bombing was the deadliest terrorist act ever committed in the U.S. Timothy McVeigh was arrested by local authorities two days after the blast and immediately was turned over to the FBI and charged with the bombing. That same day Nichols turned himself in to the FBI and was charged in the bombing as well. A federal judge in Oklahoma City ordered the trial moved to a Denver federal court to help ensure a fair trial for McVeigh and Nichols. After two days of trading jabs with The Dallas Morning News, defense attorney Stephen Jones held a news conference today in which he accused the newspaper of hacking into his computer and stealing the files containing the alleged McVeigh confession.
STEPHEN JONES: I have investigated with the assistance of a lawyer in my office and certain other experts in computer law, and the operation of a computer system, and I now know how The Dallas Morning News reporter, Pete Slover, obtained material that is the property of the defense. What is even more shocking is that Mr. Slover is a lawyer and, therefore, there is no justification, no justification whatsoever for this criminal act.
Yesterday I met with Mr. Pat Ryan, the United States attorney for the western judicial district of Oklahoma, and advised him in summary fashion that The Dallas Morning News had compromised by fraud, deception, misrepresentation, and theft computer files belonging to the defense and advising him that I would furnish a detailed statement as soon as I could prepare it for whatever action he or the United States grand jury or the Federal Bureau of Investigation thought was appropriate.
The Dallas Morning News has not only seriously prejudiced the right of my client to have a fair trial, the right of the victims, who are once again victimized, to have a speedy and, I might say, safe verdict in this case, but it also undoes the work of Judge Mate, the court's staff, the some thousand people that have been summoned for jury duty, and everyone else who has worked in an adversarial system but united in the goal of a fair trial so that the public will receive the verdict with confidence not only in this country but abroad. All of that has been put in jeopardy by The Dallas Morning News.
KWAME HOLMAN: A short time later officials of The Dallas Morning News went before reporters and refuted those charges by Jones.
PAUL WATLER, attorney, The Dallas Morning News: The Dallas Morning News categorically denies that it committed any crime. It did not hack into Mr. Jones' computer system, and it did not assist anyone else in doing so. The information upon which it based its articles over the weekend was attained lawfully and through routine new gathering techniques. The Dallas Morning News published new articles only after thoroughly satisfying itself, as it does with every important news story that it publishes, that its information was accurate and authentic. Nothing Mr. Jones has said has changed our opinion of that. We engage in lawful news gathering techniques. We did not violate any laws in putting our story together or gathering information for it. And we are certainly not in the business, as Mr. Jones has incorrectly suggested, of betraying anything about our sources. We absolutely did not betray any source. This was a very clever, I would say, tactic on Mr. Jones's part to stir you up against us. We believe that our entire performance by The Dallas Morning News in this particular occasion, in these stories, has met the highest ethical standard, and we continue to believe that.
KWAME HOLMAN: The trial is scheduled to begin at the end of this month, but Defense Attorney Jones is deciding whether to ask for a continuance based on the publication of the article.