McVeigh still prefers to frustrate public

Posted: Friday, December 29, 2000

Domestic terrorist and mass murderer Timothy McVeigh says he prefers death to Death Row. It is likely but not certain that his request to be executed sooner rather than later - within six months as opposed to years from now - will be granted.

In telling his lawyer and a federal judge that he does not want to pursue any more appeals, McVeigh, 32, is saying he is not interested in trying to have his conviction reversed or in buying time.

This may be a coward's latest twisted effort at making a brave statement.

McVeigh's first such effort involved parking an explosives-laden truck in front of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, walking to a nearby car and leaving the area. Within minutes the truck exploded, killing 168 people, including several children who had been dropped off at a preschool housed in the building. Another 500 people were injured by the blast.

McVeigh's act apparently was intended as a protest against the federal government's behavior at Ruby Ridge and Waco, where sieges and standoffs resulted in the deaths of civilians, children and federal law enforcement agents.

We say "apparently" because McVeigh never has voiced the courage of his convictions. He never has admitted any role in the bombing.

U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch has given McVeigh a couple of weeks to change his mind about accepting his punishment. After Jan. 11, however, the U.S. Bureau of Prisons will set a date for McVeigh to die by lethal injection. If the execution is carried out, McVeigh will be the first federal prisoner to be executed since 1963.

McVeigh told the judge he did not foresee changing his decision not to pursue appeals. But he said he reserves the right to seek clemency from the White House.

As is often the case with unrepentant murderers, the public yearns for a confession, an explanation, a statement of defiance, some admission of guilt and preferably some admission of remorse.

Since at least April 1995, McVeigh's actions if not his words have said: "The public be damned."

There is no reason to expect him to change now, even in the face of death.

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