- The Washington Times - Monday, June 11, 2001

Timothy McVeighs little-known public threats and "pre-suicidal depression" long before the Waco and Ruby Ridge tragedies help explain why an ordinary kid and decorated Army turned into a monster.
Evidence on the record — but largely ignored by those seeking motives that match the crime of killing 168 persons — points more to suicidal thoughts over failure to live up to his own hero image than to his vaunted revulsion at excesses by federal law enforcement.
McVeighs friends, close associates, a prosecutor and now McVeigh himself say his hatred of the government had its roots in actions involving him before the fires at Waco, which they call simply a trigger.
Most of them say his personality changed in 1991 when he failed entry exams to become an Army Green Beret.
After Operation Desert Storm, he received the bronze star, the nations fourth-highest combat decoration, for his "meritorious service" and "selfless actions" as a gunner for the unit commander in the First Infantry Division (Mechanized).
After washing out of the elite Green Beret corps, he quit the Army and wrote his first threats to the Lockport, N.Y., Union-Sun & Journal. That very first, Feb. 11, 1992, letter to the editor — government trial exhibit 1542 — raised the warning flag high and carried his true name and 6289 Campbell Blvd. address, but it went unnoticed until a week after the April 19, 1995, bombing in Oklahoma City.
"What is it going to take to open the eyes of our elected officials? America is in serious decline! We have no proverbial tea to dump, should we instead sink a ship full of Japanese imports? Is a Civil War Imminent? Do we have to shed blood to reform the current system? I hope it doesnt come to that. But it might," he wrote.
"And whats the date of the letter? February of 92, a full year — more than a year — before Waco," Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph H. Hartzler told a grand jury as he portrayed McVeigh as nothing more than a traitor and tried to blunt defense arguments that McVeighs views on government oppression justified mercy. "This is a man who was interested in seeing blood flow in the streets and was just sort of waiting for an excuse, and Waco is served up as his final excuse," Mr. Hartzler said of the plea for mercy by trial lawyer Stephen Jones.
The 12 jurors unanimously accepted four of the governments "special findings," saying in the verdict that McVeigh sincerely blamed Treasury and FBI agents for the more than 80 deaths at the Mount Carmel ranch near Waco, Texas, from Feb. 28 to April 19, 1993, and believed federal agents "murdered Sammy Weaver and Vicki Weaver near Ruby Ridge, Idaho, in August 1992." Even though jurors believed that, they didnt find enough redemption in those beliefs to spare his life.
All 12 jurors also specifically accepted McVeighs statement that "increasing use of military-style force and tactics by federal law enforcement agencies against American citizens threatened an approaching police state." By comparison, only 10 of the jurors believed McVeigh performed honorable Army service in Desert Storm, and none thought that he "believed deeply in the ideals upon which the United States was founded."
Dan Kane, managing editor of the Union-Sun & Journal when the letter was published and a longtime neighbor of the McVeighs, testified to the grand jury about two angry McVeigh letters and another from his younger sister, Jennifer. "It was very poignant the way he wrote that, and prophetic," Mr. Kane said in an interview with The Washington Times, calling McVeigh "a good kid" filled with hope of earning the Special Forces green beret after winning the bronze star in Operation Desert Storm. But after two days of testing at Fort Riley, Kan., a fatigued McVeigh failed the exams, rejected an offer for a second chance and, shortly afterward, volunteered to leave the Army.
"I think what turned Tim around was washing out of Special Forces. Maybe that was the psychological reason," Mr. Kane speculated.
"He actually called a VA hospital after that because he was depressed and had had suicidal thoughts," said Dr. John R. Smith, the Oklahoma City psychiatrist for the defense. Dr. Smith said during an ABC News seminar that he believes the Oklahoma City bombing was little more than McVeigh going back into action to relieve depression.
"This letter maybe shows that McVeigh was starting to go off the deep end way back then," agreed Thomas Ceravolo, the newspapers publisher when the letters arrived. McVeighs former trial lawyer, Stephen Jones, said in an interview that his client vacillated in explaining his motives. "There were two things that old Tim was always consistent about: his political views and his ability to quote from the Declaration of Independence. The rest of his story changed," Mr. Jones said.
"He was chronically depressed, a chronic underachiever. Tim had a great deal of feeling of inferiority, socially and financially," Dr. Smith said, adding that McVeigh told him that he turned away from a VA hospital rather than give his true name because he feared that would prejudice his chances at re-enlisting or getting good jobs.
McVeigh worked as a security guard while spending more than a year writing protest letters and handing out anti-government pamphlets before the fires at Waco pushed him over the top.
"If there would not have been a Waco, I would have put down roots somewhere and not been so unsettled with the fact that my government … was a threat to me. That sort of guided my path for the next couple of years," McVeigh wrote this week to his biographers at the Buffalo News.

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