THURSDAY, APRIL 12, 2001
"In 1988, the federal death penalty was reinstated by the United States Congress and the President with the enactment of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act. In 1994, Congress and the President expanded capital sentencing in the Federal Death Penalty Act. Under these two legislative acts, the federal statutes allow the death penalty for some of the most heinous and violent crimes imaginable. These include the intentional killing; espionage and treason; a kidnapping or conspiracy that results in a murder; killing a law enforcement officer; or committing a major drug-trafficking crime.
"Under both laws, before the death penalty can be imposed, a special hearing is required to determine whether a sentence of death is justified. A jury, following a death-eligible conviction, must determine whether a sentence of death is justified, based on evidence and arguments presented by each side and instructions from the court.
"On June 2, 1997, a jury convicted Mr. Timothy McVeigh of the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Building in Oklahoma City. This brutal act of terrorism killed 168 innocent people, including 19 children, and injured hundreds more. Its savagery stole parents from 219 children and made 30 children orphans in a single act. This cowardly crime against our nation was the largest terrorist attack ever within the United States of America.
"On June 13, 1997, the jury that heard the case of the Oklahoma City bombing made a recommendation of death for Mr. McVeigh, and the sentence was imposed by a federal judge on August 14, 1997. Mr. McVeigh's convictions were affirmed on direct appeal and his post-conviction challenges have been rejected by the courts. Mr. McVeigh has exhausted his right to any further appeals, and he is scheduled to be executed on May 16, 2001.
"The last death penalty imposed by federal courts under federal law occurred in 1963. The policies the Justice Department outlines today will provide the basis for handling future federal executions ordered by federal courts. These policies will be written into the appropriate documents and made available to the public, including the final Execution Protocol. The Bureau of Prisons has been preparing to fulfill its responsibilities under the law for years now, and we have consulted closely and thoroughly with them in establishing these policies.
"As you know, I also met with about 100 survivors and victim family members on Tuesday to hear their stories and to try to understand their loss. The magnitude of this case is certainly stunning. My time with these brave survivors changed me. What was taken from them can never be replaced nor fully restored. Their lives were shattered, and I hope that we can help them meet their need to close this chapter in their lives.
"I also hope that their experience in Oklahoma City is unique in our American experience. Obviously this case has many unique elements and it is a unique set of circumstances that confront us. The Oklahoma City survivors may be the largest group of crime victims in our history, so the Department of Justice must make special provisions to assist the needs of the survivors and victims' families in accordance with our responsibilities to carry out justice.
"Current Bureau of Prisons' regulations allow for eight witnesses. This is plainly inadequate. As Attorney General, I authorize the following measures for victims of this crime.
"First, we have decided to allow two additional citizen witnesses to be present at the execution in Terre Haute. This will bring the total number of citizen witnesses to ten and will equal the number of media witnesses. These witnesses will be selected by lottery, as was done for the trial.
"Second, under these special circumstances, we will arrange for a closed circuit transmission of these events to Oklahoma City, just as was done during the trial, pursuant to the Congressional authorization. The closed circuit transmission will take place at a facility in Oklahoma City that is yet to be determined. The Bureau of Prisons will work with the FBI's Crisis Response Unit to provide a highly reliable and secure closed-circuit audio and video transmission from the United States Penitentiary in Terre Haute to the designated site in Oklahoma City. The broadcast will use the latest encryption technology integrated with state-of-the-art video conferencing over high speed digital telephone lines.
"Federal regulations prohibit any recording of the execution; therefore, any closed-circuit transmission will be instantaneous and contemporaneous. Because of our concerns about attempts to steal or disrupt the transmission signal, we are not able to provide any further details about the transmission process.
"The transmission to the victims in the Oklahoma City area will begin at the same time the curtain is opened for viewing by the victim witnesses in the execution facility. All witnesses will see Mr. McVeigh on the execution table and they will be able to hear any final statement Mr. McVeigh makes.
"Third, at the request of the victims I met with on Tuesday, we will show those who are watching from Oklahoma City a video with footage of the site in Terre Haute, including the execution room. In addition, we will have representatives of the Bureau of Prisons on site to help prepare these witnesses for what they will see on the closed circuit transmission.
"Finally, I realize after visiting with survivors and victims' families that there are some people who, in the event that they are not one of the ten citizen witnesses, still want to be present in Terre Haute, even if they cannot view the execution on via closed circuit television. For those victims we will provide an area in Terre Haute near the prison facility.
"To those of you here, I am aware that several media outlets have requested access to interview inmate McVeigh. As an American who cares about our culture, I want to restrict a mass murderer's access to the public podium. On an issue of particular importance to me as Attorney General of the United States, I do not want anyone to be able to purchase access to the podium of America with the blood of 168 innocent victims.
"Media access to Special Confinement Unit Inmates will be limited to each inmate's ordinary allotment of telephone time. Inmates in the special confinement unit in Terre Haute are allowed a 15-minute personal telephone call each day. Inmates can use those calls in any way they choose, including interviews with the media. Requests for interviews may be made to the Warden. Should an inmate agree to an interview, the Warden will coordinate the setting up of the interview.
"If the news media conducts an interview with Timothy McVeigh, I would ask them for self-restraint. Please do not help him inject more poison into our culture; he has caused enough senseless damage already.
"We are already being sued to provide more publicity for this execution. I would ask that the news media not become Timothy McVeigh's co-conspirators in his assault on America's public safety and upon America itself.
"Finally, unless a Court intervenes, the execution is expected to proceed as scheduled at 7:00 a.m. on May 16, 2001.
"I would now like to introduce Kathleen Hawk Sawyer, the Director of the Bureau of Prisons. The Bureau of Prisons has done a great deal of work in preparation for this execution and I want to commend the Director and her staff for a job well done."