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Nichols meeting in doubt

Nichols meeting in doubt

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A California congressman is seeking info on possible foreign links to the OKC bombing.

WASHINGTON -- A California Republican who wants congressional hearings to look into possible involvement of foreign agents and others in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing says he expects to have a meeting soon with convicted bomber Terry Nichols.

"He has agreed to see me," U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher said of Nichols, who is serving life sentences for his role in the attack that killed 168 people and injured dozens more.

Rohrabacher said his visit with Nichols was to have taken place Friday but was canceled by prison officials because of security concerns.

While the congressman still expects the meeting to take place, such a visit would not be in keeping with the approach prison officials have taken in the past on requests to visit Nichols.

Brian Hermanson, an attorney for the inmate, said Friday that Nichols receives numerous requests for visits, many from the media.

Nichols says yes to them, Hermanson said, but prison officials say no.

Of all of the requests he has received, Hermanson said he knew of only one that has been approved by officials for a person described as a religious adviser.

Hermanson said he has not talked to Nichols specifically about the Rohrabacher request and declined to comment on such a meeting.

A spokeswoman for the Bureau of Prisons said she could not discuss the Rohrabacher request, adding that visits to federal inmates were not considered public information.

Rohrabacher declined to discuss the questions he might ask Nichols.

Although he clearly is pursuing the issue, the congressman appeared to be taking a different tone concerning congressional hearings.

"I'm not rushing this," he said.

Initially, Rohrabacher said, he had hoped to schedule hearings around the 10th anniversary of the bombing, which is next week.

He said he now has decided to take a more deliberate pace to see if hearings are warranted.

Any change in Rohrabacher's approach may have more to do with the opposition his plan has generated.

Congressional aides have said a key House committee chairman whose support Rohrabacher would need to schedule hearings would never go along with his plan.

Still, Rohrabacher believes his interest in taking another look at the bombing and the subsequent federal investigation already is producing results.

He points to the recent discovery of hidden explosives at a house formerly occupied by Nichols.

According to an Associated Press report, the FBI initially dismissed the tip, which reportedly came from another inmate.

Rohrabacher said the recent discovery at a "terrorist location" that should have been searched thoroughly years ago was enough of a reason to take another look at the bombing and the investigation.

Jim Myers (202) 484-1424


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