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A former teenage bomber, now grown if not reformed, asks:

Should McVeigh be put to death?

by B_____

The jury said yes today, June 13th.
Does his death punish him or us?
In my life, I've seen heartache and pain...
Do we do unto?
Wrong psalm--I really meant:
An arm for an? A what?
A tooth for a ...
No it doesn't apply, or does it?

I was once a bomber. I bombed buildings and schools, and lit a fire or two. I was a kid, 15 or 16, radicalized by Vietnam, Earth Day, Caesar Chavez, Huey Newton and the Black Panthers, Malcom X and Algiers, Sausalito and the hippies, my parents and teachers, emboldened by a manic teenage immortality, thrust into multiple acts against the established powers that were, and really still are. Arrested by the FBI and confessed. Spent three and a half months in juvenile hall and looked at spending many a birthday at California Youth Authority prison.

The FBI and local police screwed up in their zeal to catch their bad guy, however, and so what all the world thought would be the end of my freedom for many years turned out to be something quite different.

I was sent off with the sons of the rich and powerful to prep school after the judge threw out the most serious charges against me, because my Miranda rights to an attorney during questioning were violated, which made my confession fruit of the poisoned tree.

Well, I ended up doing OK at prep school -- graduating with honors and gaining entry to UCLA. Did four years at UCLA before I quit to work and get married. Raised four kids and two grandchildren. I've worked for the government doing environmental work for about eight years now.

My bombs and fires never killed anyone; I tried to keep that from happening. They did not pack the punch of McVeigh's Ryder truck, for sure. But then luck was mostly in my corner, I think, or people probably would've died. When I was arrested, my father was quoted as saying, "Well if he did it, it's amazing he didn't blow himself up--he was never very good with his hands."

I was protesting the killing in Vietnam and the invasion of Cambodia; McVeigh was seeking revenge for the killings at Waco by the ATF and other federal agents. He killed a lot of people; I was lucky that I didn't. I went to prep school, he's going to the executioner. I'm a government inspector, he's a federal prisoner waiting transfer to Death Row.

Prisons were made for people like me and McVeigh. I lucked out; good lawyers helped set me free. Tim's luck ran out and he's sure to die as punishment. Prison could hold him just fine; no one doubts our ability to incarcerate and keep him locked away. So why not lock him up and throw the key away instead of having him murdered for justice?


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