A letter from McVeigh, and a look at ourselves
By Dave Duffy
May 1, 2001
Judging from the response to my commentary titled “Something unsaid about Timothy McVeigh’s execution,” there’s a lot of uneasiness in America about McVeigh, his bombing of the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City, and the connection with the Waco tragedy. I received surprisingly few angry letters as a result of that commentary (except, curiously, from some newspaper editors), so I thought I’d give readers a chance to see things from McVeigh’s view, in his own voice.
Following is a letter I and a few other media types recently received from McVeigh. To those editors who will again be angry with me, please keep in mind the First Amendment you always so proudly defend.
“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 for right or wrong. I explain so that the record is clear as to my thinking and motivations in bombing a government installation.
I chose to bomb a federal building because such an action served more purposes than other options. Foremost, the bombing was a retaliatory strike; a counterattack, for the cumulative raids (and subsequent violence and damage) that federal agents had participated in over the preceding years (including, but not limited to, Waco). From the formation of such units as the FBI’s “Hostage Rescue” and other assault teams amongst federal agencies during the ’80s, culminating in the Waco incident, federal actions grew increasingly militaristic and violent, to the point where at Waco, our government–like the Chinese–was deploying tanks against its own citizens.
Knowledge of these multiple and ever-more aggressive raids across the country constituted an identifiable pattern of conduct within and by the federal government and amongst its various agencies. For all intents and purposes, federal agents had become “soldiers” (using military training, tactics, techniques, equipment, language, dress, organization, and mindset) and they were escalating their behavior.
Therefore this bombing was also meant as a pre-emptive (or pro-active) strike against these forces and their command and control centers within the federal building. When an aggressor force continually launches attacks from a particular base of operations, it is sound military strategy to take the fight to the enemy.
Additionally, borrowing a page from U.S. foreign policy, I decided to send a message to a government that was becoming increasingly hostile, by bombing a government building and the government employees within that building who represent that government. Bombing the Murrah Federal Building was morally and strategically equivalent to the U.S. hitting a government building in Serbia, Iraq, or other nations. Based on observations of the policies of my own government, I viewed this action as an acceptable option. From this perspective, what occurred in Oklahoma City was no different than what Americans rain on the heads of others all the time, and subsequently, my mindset was and is of clinical detachment. (The bombing of the Murrah building was not personal, no more than when Air Force, Army, Navy, or Marine personnel bomb or launch cruise missiles against government installations and their personnel.)
I hope that this clarification amply addresses your question.”
Timothy J. McVeigh
USP Terre Haute (IN)
I’m not sure what McVeigh meant by his last sentence. I didn’t ask him a question, nor have I ever been in contact with him. It may be addressed to the obvious questions that many people have as to why he did the bombing. You can draw your own conclusions from this letter. As much as I detest what McVeigh did in Oklahoma City, it is difficult to make a moral separation of his actions from those of the U.S. government against foreigners.
Oh, Duffy!! How could you say that?!!
Very easily, actually. We kill foreigners in their own land like their lives are worth nothing. We get away with it because we are more powerful. And I’m not just talking about our government. Polls show most Americans support the killing and we readily forgive ourselves when a bomb or missile goes off target and kills civilians. You’ll remember the air raid shelter we bombed in Iraq that killed many children. We quickly forgave our government because our military said the Iraqi government intentionally deceived us into thinking it was a military installation. In my opinion, we really forgave our government because we as a people have a low opinion of foreigners, especially when we think the foreigners need to be taught a lesson.
The same is true of the dead Branch Davidians at Waco. Those people were so different from most of the rest of us we saw them as foreigners too, making their lives of little consequence. The same used to be true of blacks in this country, but now we have accepted blacks as real Americans so we no longer lynch them with impunity for minor offenses against whites.
McVeigh may be a murderer, but I think we should all look at ourselves and see who we are. Branch Davidians have expendable lives, and so do foreigners. But the innocents of the Murrah Building must be avenged. We are at least hypocrites and probably racists for our easy ability to classify certain people as expendable but others as not.