McVeigh case rubs salt into reopened wound

Published 5:00 am Friday, June 1, 2001

I can’t say that I’m surprised by Oklahoma City bomber TimothyMcVeigh’s decision Thursday to seek a stay of execution.

The wound left by his cowardly act has been reopened in recentweeks, and this is his chance to rub some salt into it.

McVeigh, in case you’ve forgotten, was convicted by a jury andsentenced to die for the 1995 explosion that killed 168 people atthe Murrah Federal Building. He had decided against any furtherappeals and was sentenced to die by lethal injection on May 16.

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About a week before the scheduled execution, the Federal Bureauof Investigation acknowledged that more than 4,000 documents hadmistakenly been kept from McVeigh’s defense lawyers.

This was no minor error.

Attorney General John Ashcroft had no choice but to delay theexecution, and he did so. McVeigh and his attorneys were given amonth to decide their next move. That next move is to seek a newdelay.

This chain of events was set into motion just days after McVeighfinally admitted his role in the crime during interviews with twonewspaper reporters.

It was widely reported that during the interviews “McVeigh gotchoked up while talking about killing a gopher in a field, butnever expressed remorse for the bombing.”

McVeigh called the 19 children who died in the blast “collateraldamage.”

In his warped way of thinking, by bombing a federal buildingMcVeigh was avenging what he saw as two acts of unnecessaryviolence by the U.S. government — a 1992 shoot out in Ruby Ridge,Idaho, that killed the wife and child of a white separatist, andthe 1993 move against the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas,that killed 80.

I’m not about to second guess what happened at either Waco orRuby Ridge, but I do know that any wrong committed by law officersat either place was not made right by what McVeigh did in OklahomaCity.

McVeigh’s fate now rests in the hands of a federal districtjudge who will rule on the request to stay the execution. Isn’t itironic that the same government that McVeigh hates so much couldactually end up saving his life?

The United States Constitution guarantees us all the right tofair and speedy trials. Was McVeigh’s trial fair, or did thegovernment stack the deck against the now-admitted killer? That’sfor the judge to decide.

At least McVeigh had a trial and the chance to use every legaloption available to fight for his life.

He didn’t give his 168 victims that choice before he executedthem.

Write to Nanette Laster at P.O. Box 551, Brookhaven, MS39602; or send email to