Nation awaits McVeigh's execution
TERRE HAUTE, Indiana (CNN) -- A story of pain and suffering that began on an April morning in 1995 enters its final chapter today as the federal government executes convicted mass murderer Timothy McVeigh.
McVeigh, a decorated Army veteran, continued to believe the blast that destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City -- killing 168 people -- was a military action brought on by an overreaching federal government.
For his final meal on Sunday, McVeigh ordered two pints of mint chocolate-chip ice cream, a prison official said.
McVeigh, who was moved Sunday to a cell next to the execution facility, spent the day sleeping normally, watching TV, and meeting with his attorneys and with prison staff, said Dan Dunne, the spokesman.
Earlier Sunday, the convicted bomber's attorneys said McVeigh is "sorry" for the suffering his actions caused, but firmly believes what he did was right.
"Mr. McVeigh's temperament is very even," attorney Robert Nigh told reporters outside the federal prison in Terre Haute. "He is calm. He is himself. He is prepared to go forward with this execution tomorrow. Quite frankly he is ready to die."
The 33-year-old Gulf War veteran will have a final statement, Nigh and fellow lawyer Nathan Chambers said. McVeigh doesn't intend for his final words to cause more pain, Chambers said, but "the effect that they have is going to be up to the listener."
Earlier, about 75 protesters participated in the two-mile march from St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church to the prison on Sunday.
"We don't believe the government should have the power to take a human life," Abe Bonowitz, a leader of the anti-death penalty movement, said. "Execution is not the solution."
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court rejected a bid from a lawyer in an unrelated case who wanted to videotape the execution so that he could use it in his trial as a way to show that execution by lethal injection would violate the constitutional ban against cruel and unusual punishment.
Justice David Souter referred the application to the full court, which rejected it.
McVeigh -- convicted on murder, conspiracy and explosives charges for unleashing nearly 5,000 pounds of explosives on Oklahoma City's Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995 -- is scheduled to die by lethal injection Monday at 7 a.m. (8 a.m. EDT). (More on the execution protocol)
In excerpts of letters published Sunday in his hometown newspaper, The Buffalo News, in New York state, McVeigh defended the bombing as a "legit tactic," an act of war against what he considers an overbearing federal government.
He also revealed that at one time he considered having his ashes scattered at the Oklahoma City bombing memorial, but eventually decided against it.
"That would be too vengeful, too raw, cold. It's not in me," he said in a letter.
The convicted bomber also addressed the conspiracy issue that has always surrounded the case.
"For those die-hard conspiracy theorists who will refuse to believe this, I turn the tables and say: Show me where I needed anyone else. Financing? Logistics? Specialized tech skills? Brain power? Strategy? ... Show me where I needed a dark, mysterious 'Mr. X!"' he said in one letter.
Lou Michel and Dan Herbeck, reporters at The Buffalo News and authors of "American Terrorist," said the letters showed that McVeigh remains angry with the federal government and believes his actions were justified.
"He wanted the people of Oklahoma City to know that he held nothing personal against them," Michel said. "His enemy was the federal government. He's sorry that so many people had to die. However, he's not taking back the act."
Herbeck called McVeigh's expression of sorrow "hollow."
"I'm sure it doesn't bring peace to those of Oklahoma City and really it's not an apology -- just an acknowledgment that those of Oklahoma City did suffer, but he still puts all the blame on the federal government."
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