June 9, 2001 -- Defiant to the end, Oklahoma City bomberTimothy McVeigh says he is sorry 168 people died at his hands, butinsists the blame rests on a U.S. government bent on bullying itscitizens.
"I am sorry these people had to lose their lives," McVeighwrote in a series of recent letters to The Buffalo News to bepublished Sunday, the day before his execution. "But that's thenature of the beast. It's understood going in what the human tollwill be."
In the letters to his hometown paper, McVeigh reiterated thatwhat he did was necessary to defend the personal freedom of allAmericans and exact revenge for the disastrous government raids atRuby Ridge, Idaho, and Waco, Texas.
War Against Government
The bombing, he wrote, was "a legit tactic" in a war againstwhat he considers an out-of-control federal government.
McVeigh is scheduled to die by lethal injection in Terre Haute,Ind. He is responsible for the worst act of terrorism on U.S. soil— the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah FederalBuilding. His victims included 19 children, who McVeigh hasreferred to with the military jargon of "collateral damage."
McVeigh, who grew up in nearby Pendleton, N.Y., wrote the Newsthat he might have chosen another tactic for expressing his hatredof the government. He said he sometimes wishes he had carried out aseries of assassinations against police and government officialsinstead.
In the letters, McVeigh insisted he has no fear of hisexecution. An agnostic, he said he will "improvise, adapt andovercome" if it turns out that there is an afterlife.
"If I am going to hell," he wrote, "I'm gonna have a lot ofcompany."
In the letters to reporters Dan Herbeck and Lou Michel, authorsof a book about McVeigh, he said he hopes he will be remembered asa freedom fighter akin to John Brown, the 1800s abolitionist.
Among other topics, McVeigh wrote that:
— He, Terry Nichols, and Michael and Lori Fortier were the onlypeople who had any knowledge of the blast and that he alone had allthe pieces of the puzzle.
"For those die-hard conspiracy theorists who will refuse tobelieve this, I turn the tables and say: Show me where I neededanyone else," he wrote. "Financing? Logistics? Specialized techskills? Brainpower? Strategy? ... Show me where I needed a dark,mysterious `Mr. X!"'
Nichols is serving a life prison sentence after being convictedas a co-conspirator. Michael Fortier is serving a 12-year sentenceafter pleading guilty to having prior knowledge of the bombing planbut not alerting authorities. His wife, Lori, testified againstMcVeigh, and never served any jail time.
Backs Away From 'Vengeful' Ceremony
— He turned down the FBI's request for a final interview for fearthe information would be used to hurt people who stood up to thegovernment.
— His body will be cremated and his ashes scattered by one of hislawyers in a secret location. At one point, he wrote that heconsidered having his ashes dropped at the site of the memorialwhere the Murrah building once stood, but decided that would be"too vengeful, too raw, cold."
— He is convinced an Oklahoma jury will eventually convictNichols of state murder charges and sentence him to death.
— He has had a number of requests for organ transplants. He saidhe would be willing to provide organs, but that prison regulationsprohibit it.
— The siege at Waco was the defining event in his decision toretaliate against the government with the bombing, which occurredtwo years to the day after the fiery end of the Texas standoff.
"If there would not have been a Waco, I would have put downroots somewhere and not been so unsettled with the fact that mygovernment ... was a threat to me," McVeigh wrote. "Everythingthat Waco implies was on the forefront of my thoughts. That sort ofguided my path for the next couple of years."