Published January 13, 2015
The following letter has been authenticated and was sent to FOX News Correspondent Rita Cosby on April 26, 2001. The opening statement was a photocopied statement in McVeigh's writing. The question-and-answer section following it is clearly an original version in McVeigh's writing.
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.
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 counter attack, 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 '80's; 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. (see enclosed) 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 operation, 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. (see enclosed) 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 one 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)
Q: What's the deal with you expressing interest in having your execution televised?
A: First, it has nothing to do with seeking to be on camera - just look at how few on-camera interviews I have done. Rather, it is to make a point: In the U.S. we show, on television, re-enactments 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. It is ironic that we show foreign executions, but are afraid to show identical domestic laws being carried out.
Q: What were some other options considered besides bombing? Who would you have targeted?
A: I waited two years from "Waco" for non-violent "checks and balances" built into our system to correct the abuse of power we were seeing in federal actions against citizens. The Executive; Legislative; and Judicial branches not only concluded that the government did nothing wrong (leaving the door open for "Waco" to happen again), they actually gave awards and bonus pay to those agents involved, and conversely, jailed the survivors of the Waco inferno after the jury wanted them set free.
Other "checks and balances" likewise proved futile: media awareness and outcry (the major media failed in its role as overseer of government ally); protest marches; letter campaigns; even small-budget video production; etc. - all failed to correct the abuse
When violent action thus became an option, I considered, among other things, a campaign of individual assassination, with "eligible" targets to include: Federal Judge Walter Smith (Waco trial); Lon Horiuchi (FBI sniper at Ruby Ridge); and Janet Reno (making her accept "full responsibility" in deed, not just word).
Q: Further describe motivations for bombing, and why you chose the bombing over other options.
A: See enclosed documents (he's referring to letter below)
Q: Summate feelings and lessons learned re: experience with legal system, and particularly, SJ.
A: Stephen Jones was appointed (in his own mind), not as a defense attorney, but as an "independent prosecutor" representing Oklahoma state (just prior to "representing" me, he worked as an advisor to the chief law enforcement officer for the state of OK - Governor Frank Keating.) and its interests; and secondary, looking out for his own interests (namely fame and fortune).
Having this experience under my belt, I would recommend that a defendant never trust his/her lawyer, for you can neither count on the attorney-client privilege, nor the ethical integrity of a given attorney.
(I have also learned what "cronyism" means, in actual effect.)
Q: Regarding to comments by AG; Keating
A: Most of the insults are meritless and quite often absurd, so I don't pay them much attention. Hitler? Absurd. (Geraldo Rivera uses this same analogy, so Keating and Ashcroft are in good company!) Coward? This label would make Orwell proud — it is double think at its finest. Collateral Damage? As an American news junkie; a military man; and a Gulf War veteran, where do they think I learned that? (It sure as hell wasn't Osama Bin Laden!)
For all else, I would refer you to my enclosed paper "Hypocrisy", and to Ramzi Yousef's statement to the court just prior to his sentencing. I filter all labels and insults thusly.
A: Many foreign nations and peoples hate Americans for the very reasons most Americans loathe me. Think about that.
There are most likely many lessons in my story. Americans have the choice to try to learn from me (which is why I cooperated with the authors of American Terrorist), or they can choose to remain ignorant, and suffer the consequences.