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Our Opinion: The McVeigh delay

May 16, 2001

Even the staunchest of death penalty opponents might have a hard time arguing for the life of Timothy McVeigh.

McVeigh killed 168 people, including 19 children, in a federal building in Oklahoma City six years ago by setting off a bomb. McVeigh meticulously planned his attack and had a good idea who he was going to kill, including the children in the day-care center in the building. McVeigh probably was hoping he would kill even more people.

McVeigh's act was the single most murderous act and the single most treasonous act in American history.

McVeigh considers himself an American hero, a martyr who will soon be sacrificed to an evil and scheming federal government. He sees his pending execution as the canonization of a brave American patriot, although this brave American patriot is now having second thoughts on whether he really wants to be put to sleep for his cause.

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He is getting a chance to reconsider his fate thanks to an opening provided by the FBI. The FBI, which has been plagued by scandal after scandal in recent years, withheld more than 3,000 pages of evidence from McVeigh's trial defense team, and that will delay his execution, which had been scheduled for this month. Everyone in America deserves a fair trial, even Tim McVeigh, and officials need time to investigate whether the withheld material jeopardized the fairness of the judicial process, even though McVeigh has admitted he killed the 168 people. This is just more evidence that the FBI needs a thorough housecleaning, and the fact that there will be a new director soon is a good start.

Many of us here in the Imperial Valley have friends and loved ones in Oklahoma City. Many of us were born there and only moved west out of economic necessity. Many of our former residents have moved back to Oklahoma to live their retirement years. So we in the Imperial Valley have a special link, a special bond with Oklahoma, its capital city and its people.

If all goes as planned, McVeigh is now scheduled to be executed in June. If that happens relatively few tears will be shed, even from death penalty opponents.

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