Gulf War, Gov't Angered McVeigh

The Associated Press, March 13, 2000
By Judith Kohler

DENVER (AP) - For convicted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, the Gulf War and clashes at Ruby Ridge and Waco loom large. Watching those confrontations, he said, deepened his anger at the federal government.

In an interview broadcast Sunday on CBS' ''60 Minutes,'' McVeigh said that he was angry and bitter after fighting in the Gulf War, where he won several medals for heroism.

``I went over there hyped up, just like everyone else,'' he said. ``What I experienced, though, was an entirely different ballgame. And being face to face close with these people in personal contact, you realize they're just people like you.''

His anger deepened when Randy Weaver's wife and son were shot and killed in a standoff with federal agents at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, in 1992 and dozens of members of the Branch Davidian sect died in a fire after a 51-day standoff with federal officers in Waco, Texas, eight months later.

Jim Denny, whose children Brandon and Rebecca were hurt in the Oklahoma City bombing, said he didn't understand McVeigh's Gulf War comparison.

``We went over there to save a country and save innocent lives. When he compared that to what happened in Oklahoma City, I didn't see the comparison. He came across as 'the government uses force, so it's OK for its citizens to use force.' We don't believe in using force,'' Denny said.

McVeigh did not say he was innocent of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995. The explosion killed 168 people.

His lawyers filed an appeal last week claiming pretrial publicity and defense attorneys' alleged leaks of inflammatory stories to the press deprived him of a fair trial.

McVeigh said that if his latest appeal fails, he is prepared to die.

``I came to terms with my mortality in the Gulf War,'' McVeigh said during the Feb. 22 interview with CBS' Ed Bradley at the federal maximum-security prison in Terre Haute, Ind.

In his only other interview since his 1997 conviction, that same year with the Buffalo News in New York, he also refused to say if he was the bomber or knew who was.

Asked if it is acceptable to use violence against the government, McVeigh said: ``If government is the teacher, violence would be an acceptable option.

``What did we do to Sudan? What did we do to Afghanistan? Belgrade? What are we doing with the death penalty? It appears they use violence as an option all the time,'' McVeigh said.

One of the claims in McVeigh's motion for a new trial is that images of him in an orange jumpsuit, leg irons and handcuffs two days after his arrest prejudiced the jurors. He said the pictures were ``the beginning of a propaganda campaign.''

Jurors who were interviewed by CBS, however, denied they were influenced by the pretrial publicity. ``He's the Oklahoma City bomber, and there is no doubt about it in my mind,'' John Candeleria said.

Asked if he would do anything differently if he could relive his life, McVeigh said: ``I've thought about that quite a few times. And I think anybody in life says, `I wish I could have gone back and done this differently, done that differently.'

``There are moments, but no one that stands out.''

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