- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 9, 2001

Timothy J. McVeigh, the most prolific mass murderer in U.S. history, has once again confounded officials by remaining virtually silent and leaving many questions unanswered with his May 16 execution day imminent.
The only real exception was to restate his confession and his motives in a letter to Fox News Channel even as he passed up his daily allotment of 15 minutes to talk with reporters on the phone.
McVeighs three-page, 401-word, handwritten statement to Rita Cosby, Fox senior correspondent, delivered what may stand as his last word on the 1995 crime that took 168 lives and shook the nations confidence. And in reply to several questions, McVeigh refused to back off the comment that inflamed so many when he called the deaths of 19 children under age 5 "collateral damage," using military terminology for civilians unintentionally killed by combat operations.
"Collateral damage? As an American news junkie, a military man, and a Gulf War veteran where do they think I learned that?" McVeigh said.
He rejected comments about him by Attorney General John Ashcroft and by Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating, a Republican.
"Hitler? Absurd. Geraldo Rivera used this same analogy, so Keating and Ashcroft are in good company," McVeigh said.
"Americans have the choice to try to learn from me or they can choose to remain ignorant and suffer the consequences," McVeigh wrote to explain why he sent the new statement.
"He thought it needed to be treated more seriously and needed to be explained, that a few of the answers he gave to me were on issues that had not been fully fleshed out in the book," Miss Cosby said, referring to the biography "American Terrorist," by Buffalo News reporters Lou Michel and Dan Herbeck.
"I explain herein why I bombed the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. I explain this not for publicity, nor seeking to win an argument of right or wrong. I explain so that the record is clear as to my thinking and motivations in bombing a government installation," McVeigh began.
Most of the document likens his actions to U.S. military operations and paramilitary police actions. McVeigh said he is not interested in publicizing himself, either through political statements or by his suggestion to televise his May 16 execution to all who want to watch.
"It has nothing to do with seeking to be on camera. Just look at how few on-camera interviews I have done," McVeigh said, insisting he is focused on the contrast between law and policy.
"We show, on television, reenactments of real executions, mock fictional executions (in movies), and real executions from foreign countries, yet we are ashamed to show our own justice system in action," McVeigh wrote.
Miss Cosby was chagrined that McVeigh answered only five of her 60 questions before delivering what she called his manifesto.
"Did he really not know about the kids, or was the psychologist right that he saw the crib shadow and knew they were there?" she said as she listed questions to which she received no answers.
"A lot of the ones he did not answer sort of hit on the emotional factors," she said in an interview.
"Does he think hell meet his maker? Will be ever express regret? Why didnt he put a license tag on the getaway car? What was his religious basis for refusing an autopsy? Who has he chosen for his witnesses? What will he do when he sees the victims?" Miss Cosby said.
Despite her caution in handling the material — McVeigh told his attorney he replied to her rather than countless other reporters because of her "sheer persistence" — Miss Cosby rejected the attorney generals request that reporters not give McVeigh a platform to speak.
"I would ask that the news media not become Timothy McVeighs co-conspirator in his assault on Americas public safety and upon America itself," Mr. Ashcroft said April 12 when he urged press restraint against helping McVeigh "inject more poison into our culture."
Asked about Mr. Ashcrofts claim that the press would share blame, Miss Cosby said, "I disagree. If there is some information we can glean from his responses to me so we can learn about this individual — why he did this heinous act — then maybe we can prevent future Timothy McVeighs who might do something similar to what he did."
When the attorney general encountered Miss Cosby at a dinner with correspondents, he expressed curiosity about how she managed to penetrate the mail flood and get McVeighs attention. She did not reveal that and would not disclose their conversation.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide