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Timeline: The FBI under Freeh


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The discovery of hundreds of documents related to the Oklahoma City bombing investigation is the latest in a string of embarrassments for the FBI.

The documents were handed over to Timothy McVeigh's attorneys May 10, just days before he was scheduled to die for the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building that killed 168 people and wounded hundreds more.

Justice Department officials insist the documents are not material to the case and would not have cast doubt on McVeigh's guilt, but Attorney General John Ashcroft granted a delay to give McVeigh's attorney's time to review the documents.

The discovery has raised questions about the FBI's computer system and has led some in Congress to call for an investigation.

The discovery came just days after FBI Director Louis Freeh announced he was stepping down after leading the agency for almost eight years.

Major events under Freeh:

June 21, 2001 -- On his last official day in office, Freeh and Attorney General John Ashcroft announced 14 indictments in connection with the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers military barracks that killed 19 U.S. servicemen. The 46-count indictment alleges that all 14 men were members of the Islamic militant group Hezbollah, which federal officials said received support and inspiration from individuals within the Iranian government. No Iranian officials were named as defendants.

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May 15, 2001 -- The FBI expanded its search for additional documents in the Oklahoma City bombing probe after seven new documents were discovered in its Baltimore office. Those documents were not included in an original batch of 700 documents totaling more than 3,000 pages that the FBI failed to turn over to McVeigh's attorneys.

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May 11, 2001 -- U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft delayed the execution of Timothy McVeigh to give his attorneys time to review thousands of pages of documents related to the investigation.

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May 10, 2001 -- The FBI told Timothy McVeigh's attorneys that it had withheld about 3,000 pages of documents related to the Oklahoma City bombing investigation.

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May 1, 2001 -- FBI Director Louis Freeh announced he planned to resign in June after leading the agency since 1993

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February 18, 2001 -- Veteran FBI agent Robert Hanssen is arrested in a Vienna, Virginia, park and charged with spying for the Russians. Hanssen spent much of his 25-year career in counterintelligence and is accused of selling the Soviet Union and later the Russians 6,000 pages of documents and 27 computer diskettes cataloguing secret and top secret programs over 15 years.

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Wen Ho Lee  

September 12, 2000 -- Nuclear scientist Wen Ho Lee pleads guilty to one of 59 felony counts of mishandling classified data at the Los Alamos National Laboratory and is sentenced to the nine months he served in pretrial detention. Lee had agreed to help authorities with their investigation into what happened to 10 computer tape that prosecutors said contained the "crown jewels" of U.S. nuclear defense secrets. The FBI and Justice Department were criticized for their treatment of the Taiwan-born naturalized citizen. In Senate hearings Freeh vigorously defended his agency's actions.

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Siege at Waco  

September 10, 1999 -- After denying for six years that potentially flammable tear gas canisters were used on the final day of the Branch Davidian standoff near Waco, Texas, the Justice Department and FBI turn over documents indicating that pyrotechnic military tear gas rounds were in fact used. Attorney General Janet Reno appoints former Sen. John Danforth to lead an independent probe into the standoff. The investigation later finds that tear gas rounds were not to blame for the fire that killed about 80 people inside the compound. A federal judge cleared the government of wrongdoing in September, 2000.

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Eric Rudolph  

May 5, 1998 -- The FBI launches a nationwide manhunt for Eric Robert Rudolph, accused of the deadly 1998 bombing of a Birmingham, Alabama, clinic that performed abortions, the 1996 bombing of the Centennial Olympic Park that killed one person in Atlanta, Georgia, and the 1997 bombings of a nightclub and a women's clinic in the Atlanta area. Rudolph was put on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted List but remains at large.

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November 1997 -- Freeh writes a memo urging Attorney General Janet Reno to appoint an independent counsel to investigate allegations of illicit fund raising during the 1996 presidential campaign. Reno chooses not to appoint an independent counsel and the memo becomes the center of a tug-of-war between Reno and Rep. Dan Burton who threatens to hold her in contempt of Congress for not turning the memo over to the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee.

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Richard Jewell  

May 20, 1997 -- Three FBI agents who investigated the 1996 bombing at the Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta are punished for tricking security guard Richard Jewell into answering questions without a lawyer present. Jewell discovered the bomb and helped move people away just before it exploded, killing one person and injuring 111. Jewell quickly became the prime suspect, but the FBI cleared him after a three-month investigation.

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April 21, 1995 -- The FBI links Timothy McVeigh to the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City two days after the blast killed 168 people. McVeigh is found about 60 miles away in Perry, Oklahoma, where he had been arrested the day of the bombing on misdemeanor charges.

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