At approximately 9:02 a.m. on April 19, 1995, the Alfred P. Murrah
Building in Oklahoma City was gutted by a massive explosion. On that day 168
people died. Citizen terrorist Timothy McVeigh would later explain, “I chose
to bomb a federal building because such an action served more purposes than
other options.”

Last week Randy Weaver, who lost his son and wife in a shoot-out with
federal agents prior to McVeigh’s terrorist act, referred to McVeigh as “a
soldier’s soldier who went over to the other side.”

Was McVeigh a good soldier fighting against an evil government?

There is no doubt that McVeigh sought hero status and presented
himself as a patriot. Furthermore, he did not rate himself as a “mass
murderer.” McVeigh reasoned as follows: According to Carl von Clausewitz,
the great 19th century theorist of war, “the aim of all action in War is to
disarm the enemy.” McVeigh believed the U.S. government was making war on
the American people by seeking their disarmament. “The worst condition in
which a belligerent can be placed,” wrote Clausewitz, “is that of being
completely disarmed.”

McVeigh later argued that the U.S. federal government was preparing to
conduct “Waco-style raids” across the country, in the spring of 1995, to
deprive all citizens of their firearms. He also argued that lawless acts by
federal officials demanded some kind of response. Citizen terrorist McVeigh
therefore saw the Oklahoma City bombing as “a retaliatory strike; a counter
attack for the cumulative raids that federal agents had participated in over
the preceding years [against the American people].”

As a violent revolutionary McVeigh did not recognize the government’s
right to enforce laws or maintain order. For him courts and legislative
bodies were insufficient for the redress of grievances. To McVeigh’s way of
thinking only a Second American Revolution, ignited on the anniversary of
Lexington and Concord, would be acceptable. McVeigh said that “our
government – like the Chinese – was deploying tanks against its own

McVeigh was attempting to trigger a war on American soil. This war,
he reasoned, would free us from a tyrannical government. This know-nothing
politician, without the least historical or strategical understanding,
embarked on his bloody business fortified with the idea that he alone of all
Americans knew the best course. Forming himself as judge, jury and
executioner, McVeigh ruled that there was “an identifiable pattern of conduct
within and by the federal government” which justified a military type of
response. “For all intents and purposes,” he wrote to his friend Bob
Papovich, “federal agents had become soldiers.”

McVeigh’s action at Oklahoma City was “meant as a pre-emptive strike”
against Uncle Sam. “When an aggressor force continually launches attacks
from a particular base of operations,” wrote McVeigh, “it is sound military
strategy to take the fight to the enemy.”

And what about the innocent women and children within the targeted

McVeigh saw no problem. In his holy war against the U.S. government
the ends clearly justified the means. After all, he was merely “borrowing a
page from U.S. foreign policy.” The moral argument of the citizen terrorist
was simple: “Bombing the Murrah federal building was morally and
strategically equivalent to the U.S. hitting a government building in Serbia,
Iraq, or other nations.”

McVeigh’s argument for what he did breaks down as follows: He broke
the law in order to uphold the law; he killed innocent people to avenge the
killing of innocent people; he used the same bloody methods he blamed the
government for using.

McVeigh’s reasoning was indistinguishable from all totalitarian
reasoning. He cooly argued that the end justifies the means. In reality, of
course, his end was unattainable and his means despicable. As for his
action’s strategic dimension, the bombing strengthened the government’s
hand and weakened the case of gun owners and militia organizers on whose
behalf McVeigh had supposedly acted.

Some strategist!

The self-grandiosity of McVeigh should not be missed. He not only
made war on the U.S. government, but he made war on the American people. By
attacking civilians he showed his contempt for us all. According to McVeigh,
“what occurred in Oklahoma City was no different than what Americans rain on
the heads of others all the time, and subsequently, my mindset was and is one
of clinical detachment.”

Tell that to Edeye Smith, a mother who lost two young sons in
McVeigh’s brutal attack. Tell that to the other relatives of the 168
victims. Were these ordinary Americans “enemies of the people” who deserved
to be liquidated?

But citizen terrorist McVeigh’s mindset was “one of clinical

The American justice system is imperfect, yes. Our system of checks
and balances does not always work. But this is not news. Our system was
flawed in 1800. It was flawed in 1900. It is flawed today in 2001. There is
no perfect system. And McVeigh’s bombing did not bring us closer to

McVeigh was no strategist and he was no “soldier’s soldier.” He was a
traitor and a baby-killer. He has admitted the whole thing. Those of you in
the patriot movement who look up to McVeigh, or attempt to apologize for him,
should rethink your position. He is not your hero. His bloody argument is
not something you want to associate yourselves with. A man who resolves
everything into violence, who sees his solution in bombs and guns, is more
beast than man. Citizen terrorist McVeigh lost the thread of humanity which
binds us, as Americans, to unity under imperfect republican institutions.

For those, like Randy Weaver, who consider McVeigh to be a POW, it is only fair to respond that McVeigh’s war was not only against the
government but against innocent Americans. For those patriots who consider
Clinton’s bombing of Serbia as a war crime, then McVeigh’s bombing must also
be considered a war crime.

Citizen terrorist McVeigh, therefore, is being called to account.

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