American Terrorist- Timothy McVeigh


American Terrorist : Timothy McVeigh and…- When I first heard about this book, I wanted nothing to do with it. There is no way I could justify spending money on a book that would in any way, benefit McVeigh. After hearing that he got nothing for the book, and that some of the profits go to the families of the victims. As the 6th anniversary of the bombing approaches and we debate the possibility of televising McVeigh’s execution, this book is certainly timely.

American Terrorist is a thorough and at times exhaustive look at the life of Timothy McVeigh. From his normal upbringing in rural New York, (If you consider watching your mom bounce in and out of your life and an early fascination with guns, ‘normal’) to his successful tour during the Gulf War, we see Tim as ‘any boy’ from Anytown, USA. There can be no doubt that he wasn’t that different from many young people who learn that killing for your Government isn’t as glamorous as the Army ads make it out to be. Ironically, after the war, McVeigh’s gung-ho drive may have pushed him down the wrong path. Already beginning to see things in the military he couldn’t stomach, McVeigh returned and entered Special Forces training. It was to be the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. Instead, he crapped out. His time in the desert certainly had something to do with this failure, and that is the greatest moment of reflection in this story. What if the military had insisted he wait and rest before entering the SF program? What if Tim had known his own body’s limitations?

The post Army years for McVeigh are the ones we all know from media reports. Drifting from gun show to gun show, selling army surplus gear, guns and copies of his favorite book, qvzzqThe Turner Diaries.qvzzq Back in the Army, McVeigh had been reprimanded for passing the book around, but insists it was the gun message he found appealing, not the racist angle. (With all due respect, having read the book in question, that’s a laughable statement and makes me wonder why he feels the need to pull punches at this late date.) Outraged by events at Ruby Ridge and Waco, McVeigh was pushed (or leaped) over the edge. He as a warrior hell-bent on making the Government pay for what they were doing to gun loving Americans everywhere. With the help of some like minded Army buddies, the now infamous bombing was planned. Those of you looking for a nuts and bolts look may be disappointed, but I’m sure the authors didn’t want to be accused of giving some nutball copycat, the recipe for a repeat.

Naturally much of the trail phase of the book describes how his attorneys were incapable of doing their job. I rarely feel sorry for defense lawyers, but I can’t imagine who would enjoy defending one of the most hated figures in the history of America. Those readers looking for answers to the key questions such as ‘why’ and ‘did he know’ about the daycare center will get answers. Are they the truth? Did he pick the Oklahoma Federal Building because he believed that the Waco orders came from there? Was he really unaware of the daycare center? The answer to the latter, according to McVeigh is yes. Of course, he does have to compare a day care center in a federal building with human shields used by Sadaam Hussein which makes me a little suspicious. (Not to mention the tough to swallow idea that McVeigh would know exactly which hated government agencies were housed in the building, but miss a daycare center.

Given the recent revelations about mishandled FBI files, this book is going to ring true to a lot of people. McVeigh is careful, too careful in fact, to not push blame for his angst and wandering on his parents. Clearly, this was a confused and angry young man. What this book does is give Tim a voice, to let the world hear what he wanted to say on the stand. When all is said and done, I hear his reasons and I still think he can’t be executed soon enough. He wants to consider himself a hero, that’s fine with me. After thorough consideration, I still prefer to see him for what he is, a coward, a murderer and a traitor.

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