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Keeping McVeigh Dead

By James T. Phillips
22 May 2001

Timothy McVeigh is dead, although he hasn't yet died by a state-administered drug overdose. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has delayed the scheduled execution of the child-killing veteran of the Gulf War because of a "clerical" error. McVeigh continues to be outside society, looking in on the justice system that has already killed him.

The thirty-day reprieve granted McVeigh by Attorney General John Ashcroft will only postpone the inevitable killing of the killer. New documents have been discovered, allowing McVeigh's lawyers more television face-time, but the government of the United States will be determined in its effort to serve up justice, pre-cooked and pre-wrapped, to the newly created media market of McVictims.

The story of the misfit, the loner without a life who blew up the Murrah building in 1995, has been told and sold for over six years. An angry young man, with the help of a few friends, designed and constructed a 7000-pound bomb that, upon detonation, killed 168 innocent men, women and children. The explosion in the heartland of America also injured hundreds. He did it, he admitted it and, regardless of whatever potential facts to the contrary might now be discovered, he has to stay dead. Many of the relatives and friends of the Murrah 168 demand vengeance, closure, death. The dead innocents have become a fast-news product in the franchising of McVictims.

The American media serves up a steady diet of McVictims telling stories of grief and sorrow, tinged with anger and hatred. They want McVeigh to stay dead in his prison cell until he can be killed a second time in the execution chamber. They believe that interviews with, and books about McVeigh are as explosive as the bomb he helped create. The authors of "American Terrorist: Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City Bombing" have been criticized for offering an "undeserved forum", and Wal-Mart stores refuse to carry the book on their shelves.

The McVictims and McVeigh will soon get what they want: death. The media will be able to gorge on the few extra weeks or months of selling the spectacle of a semi-public execution. Ratings and readership will increase as the image of a dying McVeigh flits by on a video monitor, watched by hundreds of McVictims and imagined by millions of other consumers.

Tim McVeigh was a participant in an abhorrent crime, an assault on innocent civilians who became "collateral damage" in his one-man war against the United States of America. Or, so we are told and sold by a government that cannot produce previously discovered evidence, a court which makes judgments without witnesses and a media less interested in facts than fortune. 38 years ago, Jack Ruby ended any opportunity to learn the truth about Lee Harvey Oswald and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. "Grassy knoll" is the phrase that many Americans think of when remembering how quickly the United States government happened upon the lone gunman theory in 1963. "John Doe #2" is what grabs the attention of a few people in 2001. Scores of eyewitnesses were able to see a certain John Doe #2 assisting Tim McVeigh in perpetrating the bombing of the Murrah building. Unfortunately, blind justice is practiced in American courtrooms. And if government officials don’t want to see John Doe #2, well then, he just doesn’t exist (not one of the eyewitnesses were called to testify during the McVeigh trial). Soon enough, Timothy McVeigh will be silenced by his government, and the facts about his participation in the bombing in Oklahoma City will be lost forever.

168 people died in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995. They were the ultimate victims murdered by Timothy McVeigh, Terry Nichols and whoever else was involved in the bombing of the Murrah building. The fortunate people who were able to crawl out from under the rubble are the true survivors of that blast. Those who lost a family member have also suffered, and have expressed their sorrow in various ways, privately and publicly. And, millions of Americans have come to understand the heartache and sorrow felt by the victims, survivors, relatives and friends.

However, if Timothy McVeigh is allowed to stay dead, and quickly killed again, the true story of that tragic day will never be known. Justice will be denied, vengeance satisfied and the American people will all become McVictims.© The News Insider 2001James T. Phillips is a freelance journalist who has reported on the conflicts in Iraq, Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo. Currently, Phillips edits the web publication

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