- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 19, 2001

The Oklahoma City church bells that toll today at 9:02 a.m. for 168 souls killed in the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building bombing also will mark 649 hours left in life — and counting — for the man convicted of that domestic terrorism.
The 168-minute ceremony of silence, interrupted only by bells and recitation of victims names, will be the first at the new Oklahoma City National Memorial, which is restricted today to survivors, family members and rescuers.
"My time is short," Timothy James McVeigh, 32, said this week from the 8-foot-by-10-foot cell that vexes him. He admits parking the truck-bomb containing 2,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate soaked with diesel fuel in the 200 block of Fifth Street NW and igniting it April 19, 1995, to avenge the deaths of more than 80 Branch Davidians at Waco on April 19, 1993.
The countdown to his May 16 appointment with the executioner brings the end near for a remorseless Army veteran who views killing 19 children up to age 5 in military terms as "collateral damage."
McVeigh actually estimated the bomb would kill 400 persons and expected police to kill him later in a firefight, defense psychiatrist John R. Smith said.
Civic leaders and some officials at Terre Haute, Ind. home of the federal prison where McVeigh will die fear their small city may fall victim to the cycle of terrorism, either through morbid news stories or another revenge attack by a McVeigh sympathizer.
"Were all on our toes," said Rod Henry, president of the Chamber of Commerce.
On execution day, schools and the local federal courts will close to avoid providing targets, and some people have concerns as well for todays anniversaries.
"I think its a smart move, just as a precautionary measure," said FBI Special Agent Steve Harcourt, who said he knows of no specific threat for today. Police say federal building security is beefed up through May with emphasis on the week of May 13.
The 124-member Terre Haute police force will be on overtime along with 50 U.S. marshals, 30 FBI agents, 38 sheriff's deputies, extra state police and 650 Bureau of Prisons employees.
"Youre going to see more city police officers on duty at any time of the day than youve ever seen before," Assistant Chief Jeff Trotter said.
In Terre Haute at least 26 witnesses will watch the execution through barred windows, and 285 or more bombing survivors and relatives of the dead will watch via cable television from a federal facility 666 miles away in Oklahoma.
At both ends, the view will look more like a still photograph than the killing of a human being. When curtains are opened for witnesses at the death chamber and the encrypted TV link goes active, McVeigh already will be alone, bound to a cross-shaped table with arms outstretched.
Witnesses will hear any "reasonably brief" last words and watch the unmoving picture until he dies, a process expected to take about seven minutes. Then the curtains will be drawn and the TV link ended.
"I literally want to see that boy on his way to hell. There may be no closure as such, but it will close that one door," said Peggy Broxterman of Las Vegas whose son, federal investigator Paul G. B. Broxterman, 43, was among the dead.
Oklahoma City plans other memorials, but most bookstores there sell the new McVeigh biography, "American Terrorist: Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City Bombing," despite a state legislature resolution denouncing it.
"What the U.S. government did at Waco and Ruby Ridge was dirty. And I gave dirty back to them at Oklahoma City," McVeigh is quoted as saying in the book based on 75 hours of interviews with two Buffalo News reporters.
McVeigh is dissatisfied that the authors gave superficial attention to his motives, "what he was thinking and why," lawyer Robert Nigh Jr. said.
Because no appeals are pending in the first federal execution since 1963 and the official deadline to ask President Bush for clemency has passed, the 7 a.m. lethal injection on May 16 seems all but certain. Officials set the hour to assure "a little bit of daylight."
McVeigh is widely regarded to have sworn off all appeals, but he actually gave up that fight only after losing appeals that proved to be no more than speed bumps on the way to the death chamber.
He lost a direct appeal to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, lost a plea for a Supreme Court hearing, and failed in his one-time right to contend that his civil rights were violated. He claimed that his trial lawyer had a conflict of interest.
McVeighs new lawyer, Nathan D. Chambers of Denver, told The Washington Times he tried to persuade McVeigh to change his mind and keep the case going, which would buy more years of life in the tiny cell he detests.
"I counseled my client to pursue his appeals. I wish that he had. I wish that he let us prosecute that appeal. I thought he had meritorious issues," Mr. Chambers said, conceding frustration that he is blocked from advocacy, even to ask for a presidential commutation to a life sentence.
"My client directed us not to petition for clemency. Thats his decision," Mr. Chambers said. "I have no expectation that hell try anything — either to stop the execution or to delay the execution."
McVeigh has until 5 a.m. May 16 to change his mind and ask for mercy, Attorney General John Ashcroft said.
"This was an assault on America," Mr. Ashcroft said, imploring reporters to deny McVeigh a rhetorical platform that would make the press "co-conspirators in his assault on Americas public safety and upon America itself."
The date of the bombing was vital to McVeigh. Even his phony drivers license, in the alias Robert Kling, listed a false birth date of April 19, 1972. Monday is his real birthday.
The government convinced a jury that McVeigh — in a conspiracy with Terry Nichols who got life — designed the catastrophic explosion to avenge the fiery end of the Branch Davidian siege at Waco on April 19, 1993.
More than 80 followers of Vernon Howell — better known as David Koresh — died in the Waco blaze, including 19 children by McVeighs count. By sheer chance that is the same number of children killed in the Oklahoma City revenge blast.
In jail, McVeigh dwelt on the symmetry and seems to expect popular support if his view of Waco prevailed.
"The public never saw the Davidians home video of their cute babies, adorable children, loving mothers or protective fathersnor did they see pictures of the charred remains of childrens bodies," he wrote of the 51-day siege where he visited the police lines.
That siege began Feb. 28, 1993, after ATF agents Conway LeBleu, Todd McKeehan, Robert Williams and Steven Willis were killed trying to serve a search warrant.
All but four of the 19 dead children at Oklahoma City were in the day care center, where six survived, including P.J. Allen, now 7.
P.J. inhaled superheated air that seared his lungs and requires that he breathe through a tracheotomy tube. His skin is scarred from burns and debris and he has bald spots on his head where rubble lodged in his skull.

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