- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 22, 2001

OKLAHOMA CITY Some of those who lost loved ones in the bombing of the federal building here say they were slighted in the government's decision to dispense an average of $1.65 million apiece to the families of the September 11 dead.
No such federal fund ever was set up for the Oklahoma City victims.
"I don't want to do a hierarchy on terrorism here, but that's kind of minimizing what happened to the people of Oklahoma City," said Marsha Kight, whose daughter, Frankie Merrell, died in the April 19, 1995, bombing that killed 168 persons and wounded more than 500. "The individual loss was just as great for us."
More than 3,000 were killed in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon and in the related airliner crash in Pennsylvania. Generally, their survivors will get a minimum of $300,000, with the exact amounts depending on such factors as the victim's earning potential, age and dependents.
The money will be in addition to the hundreds of millions of dollars in charitable donations that are being distributed to those who suffered in the September 11 attacks.
The government fund was set up in September as part of a $15 billion airline-bailout package. Those who want to receive money have to agree not to sue the airlines over the terrorist attacks.
Spokesmen for Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrats who pushed the bill, did not return calls seeking comment on why Oklahoma City victims were not included, as some families say should have been done.
Timothy McVeigh was executed by lethal injection in June after being convicted of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Building.
After the bombing, the government paid out death or disability benefits to federal employees or their families. The amounts depended on the employees' insurance coverage.
Dan McKinney, whose wife was a federal employee, estimated spouses received $100,000 on average. "Some people may have gotten rich off of it, but none that I know of," he said.
And cafeteria employees, parents of children killed in the day care center and those who died while visiting the building did not receive federal benefits.
Other federal aid given to the state of Oklahoma for the victims totaled about $75,000, said Suzanne Breedlove, director of victims' services for the District Attorney's Office.
Oklahoma City collected about $35 million in charitable donations, mostly to the Red Cross, Miss Breedlove said.
Victims had to prove loss of income or other reasons for assistance. Much of the money was used for mental health counseling and surgery.
Jannie Coverdale, whose two grandsons were killed in the day care center, said she always believed the government treated bombing victims unfairly.
"They never offered us anything," she said. "Since we're stuck here in Oklahoma, our state representatives haven't done anything to help us."
Last year, Congress passed a law that helps compensate American families who lose loved ones in terrorist attacks in other countries.
The law makes it easier for victims to claim damages from the frozen assets of countries suspected of supporting terrorism.
The law retroactively covers the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa and the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. The Oklahoma City bombing was not covered because it took place in the United States.
Martin Cash, who lost an eye in the 1995 blast, said the law should not treat one terrorist attack differently from another.

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