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Lockdown For McVeigh Death

Federal, state and a local law enforcement agencies are putting the finishing touches on a massive security plan for the May 16 execution of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, reports CBS News Correspondent Jim Stewart.

McVeigh once mocked the security outside his Indiana prison cell.

"Trust me," McVeigh told an interviewer, "If I was out there and had as few as five good men, I could launch a successful assault on this place."

These days, it's not likely he'd be as flippant as he once was.

In addition to 700 guards -- including several military-style prison reaction teams -- there will be 450 FBI, U.S. Marshall and other federal agents, 124 local police, 100 Indiana state troopers and others for a total of 1,400 lawmen in Terre Haute that day.

A command center will be set up in the prison and virtually the whole town will be locked down.

The airport is already under heightened security. Schools will be closed, as will the courts. And to avoid the kind of mayhem that erupted at other notable executions, pro and con protestors will be kept strictly apart. Buses will bring the protesters inside the prison compound.

Amnesty International has condemned the execution plans and the event has drawn opposition from other death penalty opponents, including the Roman Catholic church.


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Motorized golf carts will shuttle reporters around the expansive meadows that surround the prison. A "no fly" zone will be put in place over the prison to keep away news helicopters.

The objective is to carry out the federal government's first execution in 38 years "with great dignity, compassion and respect for everyone involved in the process," said Harley Lappin, warden of the prison.

"We're not anticipating any problems here," said local police chief James Horrall. "It's just, you know, preparing for the unknown and the loner out there that may want to mark this day with some tragic event."

Even the militia movement that so captured McVeigh's imagination — and may have sympathy for his plight — seems ill-prepared to help. Their numbers have fallen from 800 groups to fewer than 200.

"Tens of thousands of people who were in this movement in the mid-1990s have simply gotten older, have gotten tired of running around the woods with war paint on weekends and essentially have gone back home to their wife, kids and TV sets," said Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which studies anti-government groups.

Still, the federal government will be on high alert on May 16. McVeigh himself is the only reminder the government needs to remember what one man and one bomb can accomplish.

The warden said he had met with the 33-year-old McVeigh in early April to ask him to name the six witnesses he wants present in the execution roo, and to decide on the disposal of his body as well as his last meal. McVeigh has chosen the witnesses, he said, though the government does not plan to reveal their names.

As to his final meal and disposition of his body, "he asked us if he could think about it a little longer," Lappin said.

There will also be 10 witnesses from among the victims and survivors of the explosion McVeigh set off at the federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995, which killed 168 men, women and children.

In addition, 10 media representatives will be allowed in a viewing room adjacent to the death chamber and the execution will be telecast via closed circuit back to Oklahoma City for survivors and victims there to view.

Asked to describe McVeigh's demeanor in his final days, Lappin said "he's been a very manageable individual and continues to be so."

Lappin predicted the execution, set to begin at 7 a.m. CDT would be over within 15 or 20 minutes.

The last federal execution was Feb. 15, 1963, when convicted kidnapper and murderer Victor Feguer was hanged in Iowa. In December, McVeigh ended his appeal of his conviction and asked a federal judge to set an execution date.

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