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Sludge Report #85
And One More Makes 169
In April 1995 in downtown Oklahoma a huge explosion set by Timothy McVeigh killed one hundred and sixty eight men women and children, and injured a further 500.
A little more than six years later, tonight, at midnight New Zealand Time, in Terre Haute Indiana Timothy McVeigh is scheduled to die by lethal injection. And with his death, the toll as a result of the 1995 bombing will rise to 169.
As he dies an estimated 85% of American citizens, according to polls, will most probably sigh with relief.
Elsewhere in the world however the impression left by the execution of McVeigh will be a quite different matter.
It will be noted in editorial columns around the world that the USA is one of a tiny minority of nations among the so-called “western democracies”, and indeed among nations as a whole, in which the death penalty is still used.
It will further, no doubt, be observed that the US Supreme Court decided today to refuse an application which would have allowed the videotaping of the execution, for use by an anti-death penalty campaigner.
The campaigner, an inmate, had wanted a tape of the execution made to serve as evidence that death by lethal injection is a cruel and unusual punishment as defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
In making its ruling the US Supreme Court upheld a US law which apparently forbids the recording of death sentences being carried out. Which, of course, begs the question, why does such a law exist? Is it there to protect those who will be executed, the public, or the system?
Whatever the answer to this one thing is clear, what justice there is to be done in Terre Haute tonight is not to be allowed to be seen being done.
And in these circumstances the mass murderer McVeigh will appear, at least internationally – to those unaccustomed to state administered executions - to be yet another victim of an ethically moribund and antiquated US justice system.
Which, given that McVeigh’s stated reason for bombing the FBI building in Oklahoma was “revenge for the FBI (State) killings at Waco”, contains, Sludge thinks, a rather sublime irony.