Oklahona City Bombing Essay, Research Paper
The Government’s Response to the Oklahoma City Bombing
The Oklahoma City Bombing affected many Americans, including the President
of the United States. From the start the White House immediately dispatched
the FBI. The initial reaction was to close the airports, but that would
infringe on civil liberties. Government intervention with this tragedy
would help many victims’ family members cope with the loss of their loved
ones. Presidential response as well as monetary compensation would
attribute to the healing process. Since the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah
Federal Building many government actions have been taken to prevent another
incident like the Oklahoma City Bombing.
President Bill Clinton put aside his own political problems to give the
nation response to this tragedy. President Clinton had to choose his words
with care while speaking to the media. The Waco tragedy was fresh on the
minds of many and all of America would be listening to his reaction to the
situation. Clinton was very angry about the tragedy and said that the
bombers were “evil cowards” and would be treated like “killers,” and he was
so gripped with anger that he wanted to put his fist through the television
screen when he first saw the incident (Carney 66). Even though Clinton was
angry he still dealt with the situation very carefully, knowing that what he
said would affect how millions of Americans would cope with the tragedy.
An act of terrorism is what lead to the Oklahoma City Bombing, this tragedy
happened because someone had different beliefs. What is the government
doing about terrorism? An anti-terrorism bill would give the government an
additional $1 billion to help fight the war against terrorism. By linking
this bill to the Oklahoma City Bombing, Clinton and congress would get this
extra money when the bill was finally enacted into law. Libertarian Party
Chair Steve Dasbach said, “It shows that there is no tragedy that
politicians won’t try to capitalize on to further increase the power of
government.” Desbach also thinks that if any government with the power to
kill their own citizens through the criminal justice system also has an
obligation that no innocent person is ever executed (LP Warns 1). Some say
that the best defense against domestic terrorism is a vibrant, open
political system where no American will feel excluded or voiceless. This
would lead to an American foreign policy that does not interfere in the
affairs of other nations.
This policy would help fight against terrorist like Terry Nichols, Timothy
McVeigh, and the others who may have contributed to the bombing of the
Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. Nichols was found guilty for his part in
the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma on April 19, 1995. On this
day 168 people were killed, more than 500 people were injured, and including
the death of eight federal agents. Nichols was convicted for conspiracy and
involuntary manslaughter; he was sentenced for life in prison and was also
acquitted by the jury on the charges of first and second-degree murder
(Oklahoma 2). Even though convicted he wanted the jury and America to
understand that Timothy McVeigh had intended to kill hundreds of people.
U.S District Judge Richard Matasch sentenced Nichols to life in prison for
the conspiracy conviction, and he also received concurrent six-year
sentences for each of the eight accounts of manslaughter (U.S 1).
McVeigh was known to people who knew him as a boy gone bad. He was found
guilty on 11 counts of murder and conspiracy for the 1995 bombing of the
Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. McVeigh was sentenced to die by lethal
injection. If the conviction is upheld on an appeal, it could take three
years (Annin 40). The jurors reached a verdict of death despite McVeigh’s
military record and his boy next-door appearance; they all thought that he
should die. Their votes were unanimous and they had no doubt about his
guilt. To them he was a terrorist not a patriot. Church bells rang across
the city, as the death sentence announcement spread throughout Oklahoma
City. And where the Murrah Federal Building once stood, victims and their
family members gathered to witness a turning point in their tragedy
Mike Fortier, McVeighs former best friend also played a role in the bombing
and he too admitted to his part in one of “America’s biggest tragedy’s” (U.S
1). Fortier received a reduced sentence, but if tried and convicted he too
could have been sentenced with death. Fortier’s testimony is what helped
convict McVeigh. Fortier shared how McVeighed planned the bombing, he first
mapped out the Murrah building and surrounding area with exact detail
(Annin). He chose this building because it was close to the highway where
he could make a fast getaway.
For those who were victims in the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal
Building trying to move on and continue their life is hard especially if
they lost a loved one. It seems that such tragedies like this one
ironically bring a community closer together. Downtown Oklahoma is
something that belongs to all the citizens, and reviving the city’s center
was a project initiated before the bombing occured. The federal government
has made a pledge of $40 million to replace the decimated office structure,
and another $40 million to restore a section downtown where the Murrah
building once stood. Their major priority is reconstructing a proud, active
downtown, and meeting place for the citistate.
The Oklahoma City Bombing was a very harsh tragedy and was hard to cope
with for Americans everywhere. Even the ones who weren’t present or
residents in the state still wept with the citizens and victims of Oklahoma.
This tragedy killed over a hundred people and among these people killed,
was also nineteen innocent children. Many lost loved ones in the bombing of
the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building just because one man wanted to kill
people. Why did he want to kill these people in this building? He is a
terrorist who wanted to express his beliefs, and after the bombing was done
and over with he still believed that he was innocent and that a man should
not be convicted because of his beliefs.
It’s been nearly five years since the bombing, the lives of many Americans
have changed, directly and indirectly from the act itself and through the
enactment of new laws passed by congress. On the fifteenth of April of the
year nineteen hundred and ninetyfive marked a histroic and tragic day in the
eyes of America. On this day Terry Nichols, Timothy McViegh, and some
others decided to set a bomb off in the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building,
killing over a hundred of adults and children. But it seems that more
questions than answers have evolved. It came as no surprise to anyone that
Timothy McVeigh was a poster boy for the death penalty. The question now
is, will it make the next madman think twice before blowing up another
building? Will his death bring back those who perished? Will this event
give closure to those families who lost loved ones?
Many questions have also evolved from the passing of the
“Anti-Terrorist Bill.” Does this bill give more power to our government
agencies resulting in another Waco tragedy, it makes it a crime to
contribute money to organizations that the government arbitrarily designates
as a foreign organization or “terrorist.” (Anti-terrorism) Terrorist acts
increase wiretapping, search and seizure, and invasive surveillance of
private citizens. According to a book written by David Hoffman, The
Oklahoma City Bombing and the Politics of Terror, he details the evidence
about the U.S. government’s alliance with the terrorist underworld and a
sting operation that led to the bombing in Oklahoma City. Shocking, but
unfortunate, tragedy such as this bombing results in capitalism, and more
power for the government. But tragedy such as this bombing also brings
people together regardless of color, race, or religion. And Americans will
continue to struggle with justice.
Andrew, Murr and Peter Annin. “A Very Narrow Escape: Jurors let Nichols
some wonder if the Oklahoma City plot has really been cracked.” Newsweek 19
Jan 1998: 25.
Annin, Peter. “The plot goes on trial: McVeigh’s Army buddy prepares to
fight for his
life.” Newsweek 22 Sept 1997: 64.
Annin, Peter and Tom Morganthau. “The Verdict: Death.” Newsweek 23 June
“Anti-terrorism Bill Inches Foward in Senate.” St. Luis Post 6 June 1995:
5A. 26 Oct
Blank, Jonah. “Guilty – but just how guilty: defense ‘mitigation
specialist’ could help
spare Nichols’s life.” U.S News and World Report 12 Jan 1998: 121-123.
Carney, James. “Measure of a President.” Time 1 May 1995: 65-67.
on Hate.” Newsweek May 1995: 20-24.
“The Death March.” The Progressive August 1997: 8-10.
Hoffman, David. “The Oklahoma City Bombing and the Politics of Terror.”
1-2. 25 Oct 1999
“LP Warns Anti-terrorism Bill a Danger to U.S.” June 1996:1-2. 25 Oct 1999
“Oklahoma Bombing Conspirator Nicholas Loses Appeal.” 12 Oct 1999: 1-2. 25
Pierce, Neal R. “Oklahoma City: Fire, in the Ashes.” Nations City Weekly 1
“Punishment and Mercy.” U.S News and World Report 29 Dec 1997: 115.
Roebuck, Karen and Gordon Witkin. “Torments that will not end: why Terry
escaped execution.” U.S News and World Report 19 Jan 1998: 33.
“U.S vs. McVeigh: the biggest murder trial in U.S history has opened in
CurrentEvents 28 April 1997: 1-2