McVeigh Comes Clean

#405304: Timothy McVeigh headshot, defendant in Alfred Murrah Federal Building bombing, photo
AP (file)
In a book to be published next week, Timothy McVeigh finally admits that he is the Oklahoma City bomber. As CBS News Correspondent Maureen Maher reports, the chilling admission by the convicted bomber comes just shy of the sixth anniversary of the bombing.

The book, American Terrorist: Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City Bombing, represents the first time McVeigh has explicitly and publicly admitted the crime. In the book, Timothy McVeigh is quoted as saying, "the truth is, I blew up the Murrah building."

The April 19, 1995, bombing killed 168 people.

The comments came during a series of interviews for the book, which will be released next week. In it, McVeigh told Lou Michel and Dan Herbeck, reporters for The Buffalo News:

  • He did not know about the day-care center in the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, and rather callously calls the death of 19 children "collateral damage." FBI agents say McVeigh had to know about the center.
  • Admits the bombing was retribution for the incidents at Waco and Ruby Ridge.
  • Says he coerced convicted co-conspirator Terry Nichols by threatening his family. According to McVeigh, Nichols got cold feet the day before the two men were supposed to build the 7,000-pound bomb.

    While McVeigh's remarks are unlikely to affect his execution date, now just six weeks away on May 16, they could provide new ammunition for Nichols, who still faces a possible death sentence if convicted in an upcoming trial in Oklahoma.

    By publicly coming clean, McVeigh has presented the Bureau of Prisons with a big problem. Other than his 60 Minutes interview with 60 Minutes Correspondent Ed Bradley, the bureau has refused all broadcast interview requests.

    "I think, like anyone else, it was a horrible tragedy," McVeigh told Bradley.

    But CBS News has learned that McVeigh now wants to go before cameras again to tell his side of the story, something that provokes considerable ire from the families of the victims.

    "I don't put any stock into what McVeigh says. He's a cold blooded killer and a terrorist," said Jim Denney, father of one of the victims.

    This latest round of McVeigh rhetoric in the book has angered victims' families.

    "Thank you for making him a martyr,"Kathleen Treanor said Thursday, mockingly addressing its authors. She said she felt sick to her stomach after reading excerpts. Treanor lost her 4-year-old daughter Ashley Eckles and her husband's parents in the bombing.

    "This book just negates the whole purpose behind executing him," Treanor said. "It gave him the forum he was looking for."

    She also criticized the publisher and the authors. She said after she read some of the excerpts Wednesday night, she spent all night pacing and "figuring out how I could stop this" book. She urged peoplnot to buy it.

    "Every person who buys this book is an accomplice to murder and has validated what he stands for. The only reason to purchase that book is to take time out to burn it," she said.

    Tom Kight, whose stepdaughter Frankie Merrell died in the bombing, said he is friends with its authors and believes they meant well.

    "But the timing of this is terrible because the execution is coming up," he said. "I think it opens a lot of old wounds."

    Kight said he would buy the book to educate himself about McVeigh.

    "This is the first time I've heard McVeigh admit guilt, so it does remove that barrier," he said.

    Bud Welch, whose 23-year-old daughter Julie Welch was killed in the bombing, said he does not hold anything against the authors.

    "I don't fault them for telling the truth. We don't like the truth, but no one else has been able to talk to him and find out what went on," he said.

    Welch, whose strong anti-death penalty views have put him at odds with many of the bombing survivors, said McVeigh's statements in the book did nothing to change his opinion that McVeigh should not be put to death.

    "Because somebody is saying something we don't want to hear, is that any more reason to kill him?" Welch said.

    If there is one comment made by McVeigh that everyone can agree on, it's probably this: "Isn't it kind of scary that one man can reap this kind of hell?"