Timothy McVeigh was silent as he went to
his death. In the final act of a macabre drama, Timothy McVeigh
was executed this week by the United States government on
which he declared war in 1995 by bombing a federal building
in Oklahoma City.
As the lethal injections took effect, his
eyes stayed wide open staring at the ceiling where a camera
conveyed his final moments to an audience of 232 of his victims
and their families watching in Oklahoma City.
It took just four minutes from the moment
the first drug was administered until he was declared dead.
Warden Harley Lappin later announced to
the nation as he stood beside the corpse: "Inmate Timothy
James McVeigh died at 7:14am Central Daylight Time (1.14pm
BST). This concludes the execution.
Not long afterwards, a black hearse whisked
McVeigh's body away to a coroner's office to establish that
he died by lethal injection.
From there, the body was taken to be cremated.
The ashes will be disposed of in a secret location.
According to witnesses, his expression remained
eerily blank throughout, his tightened lips relaxing only
as the drugs took effect.
To many people's surprise, McVeigh chose
not to say anything, as he lay strapped to the execution table.
After his death, however, prison authorities released his
Looking gaunt and with his hair cut very
short, McVeigh raised his head as the curtain was drawn back
from the witness rooms surrounding the execution chamber.
With his body strapped down, he looked around,
acknowledging his lawyers, the media witnesses, and squinted
through the tinted window to try to see the 10 witnesses drawn
from among his victims.
Once the warden announced "we are ready",
the drugs began to pump through a tube inserted into McVeigh's
Sodium thiopental made him unconscious.
Pancuronium bromide collapsed his lungs. Potassium chloride
stopped his heart.
President Bush, who had to face anti-death
penalty protesters on his visit to Europe, said: "Today
every living person who was hurt by the evil done in Oklahoma
City can rest in the knowledge that there has been a reckoning."
Among McVeigh's victims and their families,
there were mixed emotions. Many of those who watched him die
said that they felt elated by his death. Others were more
Sue Ashford, 58, who survived the bombing,
watched from the witness room. I'm ticked off," she said.
"He didn't suffer at all. They should have done the same
to him he did to other people."
McVeigh was transferred to the execution
unit, a separate building on the grounds of the penitentiary,
early on Sunday morning.
He took a moment to look at the moon, said
prison officials, not having seen it once during his six years
of confinement. He also took a deep final breath of fresh
At his request, Ecclesiastes, chapter three,
verses 1-8, were read at the Catholic mass in Terre Haute
on Sunday evening: "To everything there is a reason
a time to kill and a time to heal
a time to love and
a time to hate; a time of war and a time of peace."
McVeigh was raised a Catholic but later
claimed to be an agnostic.
His family released a statement which said:
"We want Tim to know we love him very much and many people
have told us they will be praying for him in their churches."
President Bush hailed the execution of Timothy
McVeigh as an act of redemption and justice.
Mr Bush, who presided over the execution
of 152 people as governor of Texas, made a public statement
90 minutes after McVeigh died.
"This morning, the United States of
America carried out the severest sentence for the gravest
crimes," Mr Bush said of the first federal execution
for 38 years.
"The victims of the Oklahoma City bombing
have been given not vengeance but justice. And one young man
met the fate he chose for himself six years ago.
"Today, every living person who was
hurt by the evil done in Oklahoma City can rest in the knowledge
that there has been a reckoning.
"Life and history bring tragedies and
often they cannot be explained," he said in the White
House. "But they can be redeemed. They are redeemed by
dispensing justice, through eternal justice is not ours to
"May God, in his mercy, grant peace
to all: to the lives that go on and to the life that ended
In his attitude to the death penalty, Mr
Bush is in step with the majority in America. The most recent
opinion polls show 67 per cent favour the death penalty for
murder with 25 per cent against. But when people are asked
to choose between capital punishment and a prison sentence
of life "meaning life", 48 per cent are in favour
and 43 per cent against.
McVeigh's punishment was condemned as barbaric
by politicians and pressure groups across the European Union.
Lord Russell-Johnston, the president of
the Council of Europe, said: "Timothy McVeigh was a cold-blooded
murderer. He will not be missed. But the way he died was sad,
pathetic and wrong.
"It demonstrated the futility of capital
punishment to act as a deterrent, giving him the notoriety
he sought in committing this horrendous crime."
In Rome, where a small group demonstrated
outside the American embassy, a Roman Catholic peace group
described the lethal injection as a "useless barbarity".
"The execution of Timothy McVeigh has
made the death penalty fashionable once again and jeopardises
more than ever the minimum threshold for civilization in our
democracies," the Sant' Egidio Community said.
"The death of a man, whoever he is
and whatever he has done, is and remains a barbarity."
The Pope had appealed to President Bush to spare McVeigh.
In London, a Foreign Office spokesman said:
"As a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights,
the UK is opposed to the death penalty in all cases."
The human rights group Amnesty added: "By executing the
first federal death row prisoner in nearly four decades, the
US has allowed vengeance to triumph over justice and distanced
itself yet further from the aspirations of the international
The German government released a statement
saying it "remains opposed to the death penalty, including
as far as the execution of Oklahoma bomber Timothy McVeigh
But it added: "This does not imply
any kind of sympathy with the perpetrators of this awful crime."
The United States and Japan are the only
major industrialised nations that still regularly put convicted
criminals to death.
The United States was relatively free of
terrorism until 19th April 1995. Then, 168 people were killed
and hundreds wounded in a truck bombing outside the Alfred
P Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. It was the worst
act of terrorism on American soil.
The linking by McVeigh of Waco and Oklahoma
City, and his execution on Monday, have ensured that his name
will not die. The federal authorities were guilty of the worst
abuse of government power on American soil since the massacre
of 200 Sioux Indians at Wounded Knee in 1890; the FBI withheld
crucial documents from congressional investigators; McVeigh,
and possibly others, took their revenge in Oklahoma City;
the federal authorities had him put to death; he met his end
calmly, quoting, in a written signed statement, words from
the poem Invictus by the 19th century British poet William
Ernest Henley: "I am the master of my fate. I am the
captain of my soul." The mixture of allegation and facts
lays the foundation for a powerful myth of individual defiance
of federal tyranny. President Bush's talk of redemption is
McVeigh ghouls caught a virus. Internet
users who tried to view video footage of the execution of
Timothy McVeigh on Monday have unwittingly downloaded a malicious
computer program on to their machines, it emerged on Wednesday.
Within hours of McVeigh's lethal injection,
Internet chat rooms were offering a link to a website that
claimed to have a pirated video of his death. The website
claimed it had hacked into the video of the execution that
was relayed from his Indiana prison to an American government
office in Oklahoma where survivors and relatives of victims
of the bomb attack were watching.
Instead of the video, the weblink downloaded
a malicious program called SubSeven on to their computers.
Presidential gaffes come just as easy in
Spanish. During this week's visit to Spain by President Bush
he has been quick to show off his much-touted Spanish language
abilities, but with mixed results.
He launched into shaky Spanish in an interview
with Spain's state-funded television service broadcast hours
before his arrival.
His pithy statement in Castilian expressing
pleasure at visiting Spain was calculated to charm Spaniards.
In the event it was good enough for the
report to conclude that Mr Bush was the first Spanish-speaking
president of the United States.
However, the change of language did not
spare Mr Bush from making the sort of gaffes that his opponents
lampooned throughout his presidential campaign.
He mispronounced the names of the Prime
Minister, José María Aznar, calling him "Anzar"
but sounding more like ansar, the Spanish for "goose".
The newspaper El Mundo described his Spanish
as "a little chronic", as the president-mangled
grammar, misplaced accents and confused genders.
If connoisseurs of Castilian winced at a
Tex-Mex accent that seemed more Taco Bell than Cervantes,
the president made light of his linguistic shortcomings in
the same way that he does when at home in America.
"I have to practise this very lovely
language," he said. "If I don't practise, I am going
to destroy this language."
Perhaps knowing that some of Mr Bush's aides
are learning Spanish, King Juan Carlos entered into the spirit
of the occasion when he welcomed the visitors at Zarzuela
He greeted Condoleezza Rice, the US National
Security Adviser, with the words: "Buenos dias, Arroz."
Extremity: The backslapping and gregarious
king was clearly indulging in a jeu de mots. In Spanish arroz