Monday, April 19, 2010

mcveigh tapes

Rachel Maddow previews the McVeigh Tapes on tonight at 9:00pm.

WaPo | Fifteen years ago today, Timothy McVeigh parked a Ryder truck filled with explosives and ammonium nitrate fertilizer in front of the Oklahoma City federal building and detonated a bomb so strong it sheared off half the building and killed 168 people. History is still puzzling through the event's lingering effects.

McVeigh is dead (he was executed in 2001) and yet very much with us, in an eerie vibe that rolls around every April 19. At least he is for MSNBC talk-show host Rachel Maddow, who has been having 1990s flashbacks with the anti-government vitriol that most recently accompanied the health-care reform debate.

"Nine years after his execution, we are left worrying that Timothy McVeigh's voice from the grave echoes in the new rising tide of American anti-government extremism," Maddow says at the outset of her MSNBC special Monday night called "The McVeigh Tapes: Confessions of an American Terrorist."

She's talking, of course, about the latest news about militias, weapons stockpiling, "tea party" anger and the perception of rising unrest in those who seek to reclaim an America supposedly lost to federal control: "On this date, which holds great meaning for the anti-government movement," Maddow says, "the McVeigh tapes are a can't-turn-away, riveting reminder."

What MSNBC has here are 45 hours' worth of cassettes containing prison interviews McVeigh gave to Lou Michel, a reporter from the Buffalo News. The interviews formed the basis of Michel's 2001 book "American Terrorist" (with co-author Dan Herbeck), and they are probably the most comprehensive discussion McVeigh ever had after the bombing, about his life, views and motives.

In Maddow's special, the tapes get a chilling new listen, in which a clear-voiced, unrepentant McVeigh talks how those 168 deaths made him feel: "I had no hesitation to look right at [the victims' families, in court] and listen to their story. But I'd like to say to them: 'The specific details may be unique, but the truth is you're not the first mother to lose a kid, you're not the first grandparent to lose a granddaughter or a grandson.' . . . I'll use the phrase -- and it sounds cold, but I'm sorry I'm going to use it, because it's the truth -- get over it."


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