The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 04/17/15
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Next week in Boston, a jury will consider
how to sentence this man for his part in the Boston marathon bombing.
Federal prosecutors are seeking the death penalty just as they sought it
for another domestic terrorist, Timothy McVeigh.
Sunday marks the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, which
killed 168 people. And as we again try to understand why that happened,
there is a remarkable fact that Timothy McVeigh left a record of why it
happened on tape.
Tonight, a special presentation of “The McVeigh Tapes”.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`ve got a lot of people here. We need to get
this together right now.
MADDOW (voice-over): Six years before 9/11, in the worst act of
domestic terrorism the United States had ever experienced, a truck bomb
explodes in Oklahoma City. A hundred sixty-eight people died, over 700
people are injured. The man who did it, a former U.S. Army sergeant,
Timothy McVeigh, never confessed his crimes to the FBI, to the courts or to
But he did do a series of interviews detailing what he did and why to
two newspaper reporters, interviews that had never been heard publicly
TIMOTHY MCVEIGH, OKLAHOMA CITY BOMBER: Death and loss are integral
part of life everywhere. These people in Oklahoma that lost loved ones,
I`m sorry. But you know what? We have to accept it and move on.
MADDOW: McVeigh`s voice will lay out his version of events. Using
new facial replacement technology, we transform recreation shot with actors
into visuals that graphically place McVeigh into the very scenes he
Drawing from 45 hours of exclusive audiotapes, we`ll go deeper than
ever thought possible into the mindset of this calculating killer.
CATE MCCAULEY, INVESTIGATOR, OKLAHOMA CITY BOMBING CASE: This is one
kid who got it in his head that he could play God.
MARK POTOK, SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER: When McVeigh talks about the
actual bombing, he`s not almost bragging, he`s boasting completely.
MCVEIGH: First of all, I believe there is no hell. You go if I go
further and say even if there is, I don`t think I`m going.
LOU MICHEL, CO-AUTHOR, “AMERICAN TERRORIST”: Can you imagine like, if
Lee Harvey Oswald had had the chance to spill his guts or John Wilkes
Booth? I knew I had one of the most saddest and horrible stories that has
ever been told in American journalism.
MCVEIGH: I never had trouble admitting to my involvement in what I
did, because I feel no shame for it.
You see, with these tapes, I feel very free in talking.
MCVEIGH: You`ve got this adrenaline pumping, but you force yourself
to stay calm. I then pulled up to the light which is red at the time, and
lit the main fuse which was approximately two minutes.
You could see the ridiculous nature of somebody calling me a coward
with a 7,000-pound bomb fuse burning behind my back. I lit the two-minute
fuse at the stoplight and I swear to God that was the longest stoplight I
ever sat at in my life.
I`m thinking, OK, it`s lit. Green. Green. I`m down, what, a minute
30? I pulled up to the building, pulled the parking brake, turned it off,
and then I made sure my door was locked. I stepped out and walked across
The mission was accomplished. I knew it was accomplished and it was
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Without warning, all of a sudden, you know, you
hear this, you know, kaboom! It`s just seconds that you just don`t know
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everybody out of the building from the second up
PATTI HALL, SURVIVOR: I was hollering help, and there was six floors
on us, but we didn`t know it. People were everywhere, babies were crying
and they were saying, where are you? We`ll get you. Where are you?
JORDAN MATLI, SURVIVOR: I just remember the ceiling falling in, the
windows shattering glass everywhere, and it being smoky.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Were our children on there?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is our office. We don`t know the children.
JANNIE COVERDALE: I saw mothers running down the street screaming
because they couldn`t find their kids. I was trying to get in the
building, and this policeman yelled at me. And I said, but you don`t
understand. My little boys in there, I`ve got to go in there and get them.
SUSAN URBACH: Hell is breaking loose because nobody knows what`s
going on. And you walked out in the street and people are running and
yelling, and it seems like everybody`s bleeding.
MADDOW: The blast destroys one-third of the Alfred P. Murrah
Building, creating a 30-foot wide, eight-foot deep crater and the
equivalent of a 3.0 earthquake.
Overall, 324 buildings in a 16-block radius are damaged or destroyed.
PAUL HEATH, SURVIVOR: I thought first, well, maybe we had a natural
gas explosion. But if it wasn`t that, maybe we had an earthquake. And if
it wasn`t an earthquake, maybe a plane hit the building.
MADDOW: But investigators quickly determine the cause of the massive
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The FBI, we are told now, has confirmed that it
was a bomb that caused this explosion.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is one of the critical.
MADDOW: Millions around the world watch and wrestle with the mystery
of why such a quiet Midwestern city could be the target of a terrorist
MICHELLE RAUCH, JOURNALIST: It`s a pretty all-American, average city.
So you think, why here? Why on earth would somebody do something so
vicious in the middle of the heartland?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As soon as we get an ambulance here, we`re going
to have you in the air, all right?
POTOK: Immediately after the bomb went off, there were commentators
all over this country saying, you know, it`s the Muslims. It`s the
TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: Some group calling itself the Nation of
Islam saying it was responsible. That has not, however, been confirmed.
But it does look like it could have been the kind of device that we
saw outside the American embassy in Beirut.
MADDOW: While rumors and speculation about who is responsible swirl
among the media, FBI agents are fortunate to catch a solid lead early on
DANNY DEFENBAUGH, RETIRED FBI INSPECTOR, OKLAHOMA CITY BOMBING TASK
FORCE: Within three hours of the bombing itself, the rear axle to the
bomb-laden truck was found. That rear axle had a confidential vehicle
identification number. We were able to identify that an individual by the
name of Timothy McVeigh was probably one of the main primary subjects. And
the investigation started from there.
MADDOW: Back in McVeigh`s birthplace outside Buffalo, New York, local
print reporter Lou Michel was already looking for a way to work the
hometown angle to get to the heart of who this guy really was.
LOU MICHEL, CO-AUTHOR, “AMERICAN TERRORIST”: I made it my business to
become an expert on Timothy McVeigh, because it isn`t everyday that one of
the worst domestic terrorists in American history comes from your backyard.
MADDOW: By the winter of 1999, four years after the bombing, Timothy
McVeigh has been tried, convicted and sentenced to death. The looming
execution sparked a mad sprint among media outlets around the world to get
an exclusive interview.
MICHEL: You had “The New York Times,” you had the “L.A. Times,” you
had the “Washington Post” vying for interviews. So I had very low
expectations. And in `99, he sent me this letter saying, “Lou, I`ve
considered a lot of different print journalists wanting to tell my story
and I`d like you to consider it.” And I was just flabbergasted.
MADDOW: What resulted was “American Terrorist,” the only authorized
biography ever written on Timothy McVeigh. The 45 hours of audiotapes from
those jailhouse interviews had been boxed up and collecting dust – until
DAN HERBECK, CO-AUTHOR, “AMERICAN TERRORIST: Nobody has ever heard
McVeigh in his own words speak about the bombing.
MICHEL: Well, here is a blueprint, an oral blueprint of what turned
one young man into one of the worst mass murderers and terrorists in
MCVEIGH: The shrink would conclude, I`m not sure if they used the
word psychopath or sociopath, that is they have no respect for human life.
Far from that, I have great respect. But I also realize that my nature as
a human being, that humans kill.
MADDOW (voice-over): By May of 1999, McVeigh has been convicted and
sentenced to death for the Oklahoma City bombing.
MCVEIGH: I`m not going to go into that courtroom, curl into a fetal
ball just because the victims want me to. I`ve already accepted my death,
and in that sense, you can have what you want. I`ll go to my death. You
can be happy, I`ll be happy.
MICHEL: McVeigh was done with life. This was his ultimate statement.
I knew I was there to get a confession from him.
MADDOW: Up to this point, McVeigh had said nothing publicly about his
involvement in the bombing. But with a death sentence approaching, McVeigh
chooses to trust Lou Michel and wastes little time getting to the core of
He begins by describing what drove him to choose the Murrah Building
as his target.
MCVEIGH: The building was chosen out of a phone book, looking in the
blue pages and looking under law enforcement agencies. If you look under
DEA and U.S. Marshal, ATF – if they started giving the same address, you
know they`re all in one building.
POTOK: I think that what most people probably have not realized is
how very carefully some of the details of this were planned out and for how
long he had really been thinking about how to carry this off.
MADDOW: McVeigh`s plan requires the acquisition of thousands of
pounds of materials, all needing to be stored without detection. A job
this big is too much for one person, so McVeigh calls on one of his only
friends, ex-Army buddy Terry Nichols.
MCCAULEY: Terry Nichols certainly believed that the federal
government was against the average person. He considered himself to be a
prisoner in a country that wasn`t his.
Beginning in September of `94 is really when they started to gather
MICHEL: Both of them were buying the material for the bomb and
collecting it. It was like a long-term project for them, because this is a
7,000-pound bomb they`re building.
POTOK: They are going and making large purchases of ammonium nitrate
in these 50-pound bags. This, you know, granular fertilizer that will make
up half the bomb. They go around. They`ve got various storage sites where
they are storing this stuff and getting ready to pull it all together.
HERBECK: McVeigh had Nichols totally under his control. From the
beginning, the plan was McVeigh`s. Nichols was a bit player.
MADDOW: But who was this man and what made him become the terrorist
to go on and kill 168 innocent people?
MCVEIGH: I take full responsibility for all my actions and for who I
am. I am not looking in any way, shape or form to bring anything on my
parents or my upbringing.
DICK BURR, MCVEIGH DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Tim was born into a working
class family just north of buffalo, New York.
MICHEL: The family he was born into was very typical American.
Timothy McVeigh was the first son in that family, he`d had an older sister
and then later a younger sister came along.
MCVEIGH: Growing up to me, I was taught with my family that even
getting a speeding ticket was like a sin type thing. It wasn`t this
religious thing. I don`t want to say sin in a religious tone. I mean like
any breaking of the law is bad, Tim. You should never break the law.
MADDOW: After graduating from high school, McVeigh attends a local
business college but gives it up after only one year. He is restless and
looking for focus.
MICHEL: He wanted excitement. He comes home, he tells his father I`m
joining the Army, Dad. His father says when? Well, I go in tomorrow. And
Bill said, “OK.”
MADDOW: In the spring of 1988, McVeigh chops off his hair and is
shipped down to Fort Benning, Georgia, for basic training. From there he
is assigned a post at Fort Riley, Kansas. Immediately, McVeigh takes to
the discipline and regimentation of military life.
MCVEIGH: I wanted to get out and experience the rest of the world. I
wanted to get out of my isolation of Pendleton. I want to be part of the
team. I was a gun enthusiast. You can`t go wrong on brushing up your
skills and the army`s free ammunition. The military for me were some of
the best years of my life.
POTOK: I think that McVeigh found success really for probably the
first time in his life in the army. I think McVeigh was looking for some
kind of family that would make him happy.
MCVEIGH: As you look back at where I come from, it`s a military
background, military mindset, and I want to make clear that the military
didn`t brainwash me into thinking this way. The truth is that the military
helped introduce me to the cruelty of the real world and the way things
MADDOW: In November of 1990, in response to Saddam Hussein`s invasion
of Kuwait, Timothy McVeigh and his Fort Riley unit are shipped out to the
Persian gulf with the U.S. army`s first infantry division.
BURR: The Gulf War for Tim was sort of the culmination of his young
military career. The way that that mission was described to him, the
mission of the U.S. was noble.
MADDOW: During the Gulf War, battles on the ground are rare, but for
McVeigh and his platoon, one bloody encounter stands out from the rest.
MICHEL: McVeigh looked into his pathfinder inside the turret of the
Bradley fighting vehicle and saw way out in the distance a group of Iraqi
MCVEIGH: I put the crosshairs up there, pulled up my shot and the
next thing I saw is everything from above his shoulders disappeared in red
dust, it was like a red mist and the guy next to him dropped. I did kill
them in self-defense. It was a single shot that got two guys.
BURR: That moment for Tim was a moment of pride. He did what he`d
been trained to do, did it very effectively.
MCCAULEY: I think Tim`s time at war, as short as it is, did teach him
to kill. But then you start to see these people who are starving and
suffering the effects of war and beginning to realize that the government
is evil because it can go kill these innocent people.
MCVEIGH: My overall experience in the gulf war taught me that these
people were just that, they were people. They were human beings that even
though they speak a different language, at the core they`re no different
than me, right? Then I had to reconcile that with the fact that, well, I
BURR: He couldn`t believe that his government would be doing that and
would be misleading people like him to do this.
MADDOW: Then, after a failed try-out for the Green Berets, McVeigh
quits the military, citing his mixed feelings about the government.
MCVEIGH: In the Gulf, I realized I didn`t like being someone`s pawn
because I felt it was abusing the Gulf, right, that just rubbed me the
wrong way. That`s one of the reasons I got out of the military.
MADDOW: Upon returning home after almost four years in the army,
McVeigh discovers civilian life is not as liberating as he had hoped.
MCVEIGH: I was so excited to get out of the military and go home, and
when I got home, there was no excitement there. Once you had that
adrenaline rush, once someone`s walked on the razor`s edge, everything is
dull by comparison. Some people get addicted to it.
MCDERMOTT: When Tim came home, he really seemed changed. You just
really didn`t, at that point, want to talk about his Army experiences at
all. It was like he just washed his hands of the whole thing.
MADDOW (voice-over): In January 1993, Timothy McVeigh is frustrated
by the dead-end existence he has been enduring since leaving the Army and
he`s still is shaken by his experiences in the Gulf War. Eager to figure
out his mission in life, McVeigh packs up his car and says good-bye to his
quiet hometown of Pendleton, New York.
MCVEIGH: I lasted at home for one year and one month. This whole
neighborhood, this isn`t for me. I don`t have a place here, I haven`t
fallen in love, and I hit the road.
HERBECK: The odyssey that he was living in the early `90s was really
bizarre. He thought nothing of getting in his car and driving hundreds or
even thousands of miles, and he was searching for something.
MADDOW: McVeigh`s mission is still unclear, but he is beginning to
hone in on his main focus of fury: the U.S. government. He finds like-
minded thinkers on the gun show circuit. During the early 1990s, these
expos become gathering places for the fast-growing militia and patriot
movements. It is in this subculture that McVeigh finally finds an outlet
for his growing rage.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, you could find an amazing amount of
literature on insurgency, on forming militias, on building weapons.
They`re amazingly antigovernment.
MCVEIGH: One of my favorite bumper stickers, when you`ve heard the
one that says “When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.” Well,
there`s a new one – and it was my favorite, it says, “When guns are
outlawed, I will become an outlaw”. And it was at that point when I was
fully intent on my life that I was going to live outside the law.
HERBECK: He started to believe that our government was going to come
into people`s homes and take their guns away. And this scared the hell out
of Tim McVeigh.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tonight at least four federal agents and one cult
member are dead. And at least 14 other people were wounded in the gun
MADDOW: On February 28th, 1993, outside the central Texas town of
Waco, many in the patriot movement believed the spark to that next war is
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can`t point guns in the direction of my wives
and my kids. Damn it, I`ll meet you at the door anytime.
MADDOW: In an effort to take Branch Davidian spiritual Leader David
Koresh into custody, federal agents raid his compound, and a massive fire
fight breaks out.
STUART WRIGHT, PROFESSOR OF PSYCHOLOGY: Six Davidians and four ATF
agents were killed. And that started the 51-day standoff.
BURR: It was a clash between federal law enforcement might and
withdrawn people who were fiercely protective of their community.
MCVEIGH: You feel a bond to this community, the bond is that they`re
fellow gun owners and believe in gun rights and they`re fellow
survivalists, and freedom lovers. When do you draw the line and say,
enough is enough? Somebody has to send a message to say, “You can`t go any
HERBECK: And McVeigh got in his little junk car and drove to Waco,
Texas, to find out what was going on.
MADDOW: Michelle Rauch, a college newspaper reporter at the time, was
at the Branch Davidian compound outside Waco to investigate the story. It
wasn`t until one year after the Oklahoma City bombing that she realized the
man she interviewed on the hood of his car was none other than Timothy
RAUCH: He was very unassuming. He was literally just very casual
sitting on the hood of his car, very articulate. Tim said, “People need to
watch what`s happening and heed any warning signs.” At the time, I
thought, well, what does that mean?
Well, when I went back and read that in my article, it gave me chills.
Because I thought, did that mean Oklahoma City? Was he foreshadowing?
MADDOW: After camping in his car outside the Branch Davidian compound
for a few days, McVeigh drives to Terry Nichols` farm in northern Michigan.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In less than an hour, the compound that had
fascinated the world for 51 days was destroyed in a raging inferno.
MADDOW: On April 19th, 1993, McVeigh and Nichols watched the violent
end of the Waco siege on television.
MCVEIGH: Watching flames and lick out windows, and I`m watching tanks
ram walls. And my eyes just welled up in tears, and tears started coming
down my cheeks, and I`m watching this scene unfold, just stood there in
What is this? What has America become? I just remember that scene
burned into my memory. I`m emotional right now as I talk about it. You
know, I felt absolute rage.
BURR: Tim saw this as an act of war against the people.
MCVEIGH: The rules of engagement, if not written down, are defined by
the actions of an aggressor. OK? Now, what rules of engagement would you
interpret in examining Waco? Kids are fair game? Women are fair game?
POTOK: I think that that was the final moment for McVeigh, and he
says so himself, right? I mean, after Waco, now is the time for action,
right? Now, we`re going operational.
MADDOW (voice-over): It`s April 18, 1995, just 24 hours before the
tragedy in Oklahoma City, and McVeigh is in possession of the rented 20-
foot Ryder truck. The horrific plan is now in motion. But co-conspirator
Terry Nichols is trying to back out, refusing to join McVeigh in Kansas to
help build this 7,000-pound bomb.
DAN HERBECK, CO-AUTHOR, “AMERICAN TERRORIST”: He told McVeigh, I`m
out. I don`t want to be involved with this. McVeigh got him on the phone
and yelled and screamed at him and told him, you`re in this. You are going
to help me put this bomb together.
MADDOW: But McVeigh browbeat Nichols into seeing the plan out.
MICHEL: McVeigh is in charge. McVeigh becomes the alpha male in this
small conspiracy to get even with the federal government.
MADDOW: It takes four hours for McVeigh, now joined by Nichols, to
build the massive bomb. When it`s done, McVeigh and Nichols part ways for
the last time. With Nichols going home to his family.
MCVEIGH: I headed toward Oklahoma and I primed myself, I knew ahead
of time, I thought, am I going to be able to sleep, right? For the most
part, I was at peace. In the Gulf War, when B-52s would come over and do
their carpet bombing, OK? And I was literally, I could feel the ground
tremble underneath my sleeping bag. So sleeping on the back of a 7,000
pound bomb is no big deal.
MADDOW: The weather along the Kansas/Oklahoma border is crisp and
clear when the sun rises on the morning of April 19, 1995. One hundred
miles north of Oklahoma City, Timothy McVeigh wakes at dawn after sleeping
soundly on the side of the highway in the cab of his rented Ryder truck,
now loaded with 7,000 pounds of explosives, ready to ignite.
POTOK: He had initially intended to bomb the building at about 11:00
in the morning, but he finally decides at the very last minute, despite all
his talk about, you know, how he had ever detail of the plan worked out in
advance, he decides he has to go right away. There`s too much chance of
being caught. So he actually leaves at about 7:00 in the morning.
MADDOW: McVeigh gets off the highway a few minutes before 9:00 a.m.
Upon entering downtown, there are moments when he isn`t sure if he will be
able to complete his mission.
MCVEIGH: You`ve got this adrenaline pumping, but you force yourself
to stay calm and not be noticed. Then pulled up to the light, which was
red at the time. I did the two-minute fuse at the stoplight. And I swear
to God, it was the longest stoplight I ever sat in, in my life. I`m
thinking, OK, it`s lit, green, green.
POTOK: There`s kind of an amazing moment as the fuses are burning
back from the cap of the truck into the rear. McVeigh`s kind of tapping
his fingers at a red light counting down the last two minutes.
MICHEL: He has the windows rolled down just as he`s approaching the
light, because he didn`t anticipate that smoke would fill the cab.
MCVEIGH: I`m thinking, oh, (EXPLETIVE DELETED), people are going to
this is suspicious. So while accelerating, I had to roll the window down.
I was adjusting to turn on the fan and blow it out the window with the
defrosters, right, and I was trying to clear the smoke out. And by the
time I pull up, because it`s going to look funny. I was rolling the
windows back up as I pulled in. I didn`t want to do it after I stopped,
because we`re talking seconds now, right?
POTOK: He pulls up the truck, locks the doors, and strides across the
MCVEIGH: I walked very slowly, because it avoids suspicion. You have
to be calm and controlled. It`s part of the control over yourself. Walked
across the street and walked square toward the YMCA. Once I got in the
blind alley of the YMCA, where nobody can look, I did jog, because I knew
nobody was looking. Just for my own personal pride, I make sure I use the
word “jog” there, because I wasn`t running in a panic or nothing. It was a
conscious decision to jog.
MICHEL: He`s very specific on that, that he did not start running, it
was just a gentle trot, because, in his words, I`m a professional and I`m
not afraid. But he is waiting, when is this bomb going to go off.
HERBECK: So he started thinking to himself, am I going to have to go
back there and shoot the bomb to ignite it? And just as he was thinking of
that, the bomb blew up.
MCVEIGH: The blast went off and I felt the concussion in both the air
and in my feet.
MICHEL: It goes of and just rattles all the buildings around him.
And he never goes back to look at his handiwork.
MCVEIGH: So, I both heard it clearly through my earplugs and
literally I was lifted off the ground. I didn`t feel the skin contorting,
but you could felt the over pressure in the air. There is no doubt about
that. You just feel an over-pressure, like a poof.
HERBECK: It was like an earthquake, only very loud. He says he just
kept walking toward his getaway car, which was parked a couple of blocks
MCVEIGH: And I`m walking one way, and everyone else is coming out of
their stores, and I`m walking the other way. And I know this may sound
like I`m cold and detached, but remember, this is military training. I was
never hyped up. I was always in complete control.
The mission was accomplished. I knew it was accomplished. And it was
POTOK: I think that when McVeigh talks about the actual bombing, the
carrying out of the last few minutes of the bomb, and he`s not almost
bragging, he`s boasting completely. You know, it`s all about, you know, I
am the consummate technician and his whole concern is to show that he was
always icy cool, calm and collected. But, you know, what the guy is
talking about is mass murder on an incredible scale, including the murder
of children. I felt very much that this is a guy who has no connection to
any kind of emotions really at all.
MADDOW: McVeigh makes it to his getaway car. Behind him lay the
ruins of the worst terrorist attack the United States had ever seen. What
lies ahead is one of the biggest American manhunts of all time.
MADDOW (voice-over): Timothy McVeigh drives north, away from the
wreckage in Oklahoma City, toward the Kansas border. But the car he is
driving has no license plates. McVeigh says that was a deliberate choice.
MCVEIGH: At this point, since I had dealt myself a wildcard with
leaving the license plate off, because when you leave a license plate off,
you cannot predict who`s going to pull you over and when. So that entire
trip, every inch my tire rolls on the interstate, I`m probably thinking,
OK, what am I going to do at this inch if this happens? What am I going to
do at this inch?
HERBECK: I just can`t see how he would leave that plate off, because
so much of his plan was very meticulously thought out. It always perplexed
MADDOW: Just 75 minutes after the bombing, McVeigh is pulled to the
side of the highway by Oklahoma State Trooper Charlie Hanger. Up until
this moment, McVeigh says he is convinced he was making a clean getaway.
It turns out he almost did.
MCVEIGH: Hanger was a fluke, because he said his – he was just – at
the exit he pulled me over, I was within spitting distance of the exit. He
said he was going to get to that exit because it was the county line, go up
on the overpass and turn around and head back. They were requesting
assistance in Oklahoma and he was going to head that day. Yes.
So I was within, you know, one mile an hour more, in that 20 mile
stretch, and he wouldn`t have seen me because I would have been past.
MADDOW: McVeigh is handcuffed and taken to the nearest local lockup
in the small town of Perry, Oklahoma. He`s charged with misdemeanors of
driving a vehicle without plates and carrying a weapon without a permit.
At booking, McVeigh is calm and unassuming.
MCCAULEY: And I talked to the people who booked him in. Nice boy.
Not nervous. Didn`t show any inkling. This kid can mask what`s going on
inside of him very well.
MADDOW: McVeigh is booked about two hours after the bombing and still
doesn`t know the degree of damage he has inflicted. But while waiting for
a cell to become available, he catches sight of a television showing images
of the carnage.
MCVEIGH: It was at the Perry courthouse when they were booking me in,
right? And I was watching the TV. And, of course, I`m absorbing it
without pretending I`m not, right? Pretending I`m worried about being
arrested and all this stuff.
MICHEL: That`s when he caught his first glimpse of the Murrah
building. And his first reaction was, damn, I didn`t take the building
MADDOW: McVeigh waits all that first day to be identified, but
nothing happens. Meanwhile, the hunt for the bomber is on.
An international manhunt is issued for two unnamed suspects. Several
witnesses claim to have seen a second man in the Ryder truck prior to the
MICHEL: While McVeigh`s in prison in this little relative ocean of
solitude, you know, just waiting for something to happen, the rest of the
country is just uptight, in knots, wondering: is there going to be another
People are wondering: is this something from the Middle East? Who
could do this?
MADDOW: FBI agents combed the debris for clues to who could have been
behind the bombing. They quickly locate a very revealing piece of
DANNY DEFENBAUGH, RETIRED FBI INSPECTOR, OKLAHOMA CITY BOMBING TASK
FORCE: It was within three hours of the bombing itself that the rear axle
to the bomb-laden truck was located and found. That rear axle had a
confidential vehicle identification number which led to the Ryder truck and
took us to Kansas to start the investigation there as to who rented that
MADDOW: Federal agents swarmed Junction City, Kansas, and talked to
the owner of Elliott`s Body Shop, where McVeigh rented the Ryder truck.
They emerged with the description of the renter, Robert Kling, a tall white
male with a military buzz cut.
Down the street, at the Dreamland Motel, the manager tells agents that
the Kling description resembles a man who had stayed there just days
before, a guest registered under the name Tim McVeigh. The question
remains: why would he use his real name? It`s turning out that McVeigh has
left clues everywhere.
MICHEL: You have to realize that inside that marquee was a big thick
brown envelope with all kinds of anti-government literature, espousing his
And he`s wearing a t-shirt that has a quote from John Wilkes Booth
when he shot Lincoln, “Sic simper tyrannis.” The Latin words, “Tyrants
thus forever.” And on the back there`s the words of Thomas Jefferson, that
“The tree of liberty must be watered from time to time with the blood of
tyrants and patriots.”
MCVEIGH: I left the trail on purpose. Just a few pieces in my car, I
have piece – I was wearing it on my back in my shirt. Even if I wouldn`t
have been apprehended and had a trial, I would have still gained the
benefit automatically of being identified. I already made sure that was in
place. There was a no lose situation.
MADDOW: By the time federal agents identify McVeigh just two days
after the bombing, he is being arraigned and about to be released from the
Noble County jail. Just an hour or so from being set free, agents contact
the sheriff to put a hold on McVeigh, to keep him in custody. They rush to
Perry to meet with their number one suspect.
But despite his claiming that he wanted to be caught, McVeigh isn`t
MCVEIGH: The guy says, you better talk to us, because you`re facing
the death penalty, and he pulls out pictures of dead babies, OK? And he
slides them toward me and says, you`re familiar with the Oklahoma bombing,
right? Or something to that effect, some way to introduce the pictures and
make me feel bad and start talking.
Well, it didn`t work. I just said – I kept a straight face and said,
“I want an attorney.”
MADDOW: That same afternoon in Harrington, Kansas, after learning
that he had become a person of interest, Terry Nichols turns himself in.
Unlike McVeigh, Nichols cooperates with authorities. He`s not the John Doe
number two they`re looking for, but he provides enough information to
implicate McVeigh as the architect of the bombing plot.
Later in the day, back in Perry, FBI agencies prepare to take McVeigh
out of the Noble County courthouse. It will be the first time the world
gets a look at the Oklahoma City bomber.
MCVEIGH: There were steps leading out of the courthouse. And I had
to concentrate on where those steps would be without dipping my head down
and looking down, because people would take dipping my head down as a sign
of defeat or something and I`m in leg chains. The leg chains, if you`ve
ever tried walking downstairs, and your stride is too long, you`ll fall
right down because the chain catches on the little step. So, those are the
things I was thinking of.
DR. KATHLEEN PUCKETT, PH.D, FORMER FBI FORENSIC PYSCHOLOGIST: I think
the overall visceral action was that looks like the kid down the block.
How could he have done what he did?
MADDOW (voice-over): Among the 168 killed and nearly 700 injured in
dozens are young children. Paula Matli`s daughter Jordan was only 3
1/2 years old when the blast tore through her daycare classroom across the
street from the Murrah Building.
PAUL MATLI, MOTHER OF SURVIVOR: Following the bombing, Jordan had
much difficulty sleeping. She had nightmares. She had extreme separation
anxiety. She was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, and
underwent about a year of therapy for that, where she would draw pictures
and just relate her anger about the situation.
JORDAN MATLI, SURVIVOR: I remember thinking that the person who did
that to so many families, that they should – that they should have some
repercussions for it. I mean, they shouldn`t just get away with it.
PAULA MATLI: You know, she – she wanted him punished, the ultimate
punishment for him.
MADDOW: Janney Coverdale lost her two young grandsons that day. They
were just beginning their morning at the daycare center on the Murrah
Building`s second floor when the explosion took their lives.
JANNEY COVERDALE, GRANDMOTHER OF VICTIMS: I remember the day they
told us that Aaron and Elijah were dead. I remember screaming at God. It
took me a long time to get over some of that anger.
So, now, I go visit Aaron and Elijah out at the cemetery. Sometimes,
I get angry then, too. They were little boys, and you just don`t murder
Aaron would be 20 years old now, Elijah would be 17. Sometimes,
during the day, you`re going to cry. Or there`s going to be something
that`s going to remind you of the bombing, and you`re right back where you
were on April 19th, 1995. We don`t ever get too far from there.
BURR: There were reports of up to 50,000 people in the Oklahoma City
area suffering symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. I looked at all
the photographs from the crime scene. I looked at all the photographs from
the coroner`s office. It was overwhelming.
MCVEIGH: Death and loss are integral part of life everywhere, and
accidents like plane crashes where you lose 100, 200 people, all these
examples I give you right now are unexpected losses. We have to accept it
and move on.
MCCAULEY: He was very hostile to the victims, really almost detaching
himself from their hurt altogether.
MCVEIGH: I had no hesitation to look right at them and listen to
their story, but I`d like to say to them, I`ve heard your stories many
times before. 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 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.
MADDOW: More than two years after the Oklahoma City bombing, a
federal jury finds Timothy McVeigh guilty on 11 counts of murder and
conspiracy. On June 13th, 1997, McVeigh is sentenced to death.
MCVEIGH: To any realist in that situation, you pretty much know
they`re going to get the death sentence regardless of what happens at
trial. So, I had accepted that from the beginning. So, my entire attitude
the whole time, including now, ever day, is carpe diem, seize the day.
I`ve already accepted my death. In that sentence, the victims, you
can have what you want. This earth holds nothing more for me, OK? I`m
ready to move on.
MICHEL: McVeigh was done with life. He wanted to be executed. He
wanted to go down in flames and put it in the government`s face, that
you`re killing me for killing people.
MCVEIGH: In the crudest terms, 168 to one. If you have had it on a
scoreboard, right? So, I sit here today content that there`s no way that
they can beat me by executing me.
MADDOW: Early on the morning of June 11th, 2001, Timothy McVeigh is
brought to the death chamber.
MCVEIGH: You asked what I would be feeling on whatever, gurney,
contentment and peace. Peace is an important word to put in there. I
didn`t just want to leave it at contentment. I`d be content and peaceful.
SUBTITLE: In 2006, the investigation into the Oklahoma City bombing
was officially closed. The suspected second bomber was never identified or
An Army friend of McVeigh`s, Michael Fortier, ended up serving 10 1/2
years in prison for having knowledge of the attack and failing to warn
On May 26, 2004, Terry Nichols was convicted of 161 counts of first
degree murder. He is now serving 161 consecutive life terms without the
possibility of parole at the federal supermax prison in Florence,
Timothy McVeigh was 33 years old when he was executed. His ashes were
spread in an undisclosed location.
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