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Ashcroft Considers Telecast of McVeigh Execution

April 01, 2001  | 

(April 11) U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft signaled Tuesday that he favors allowing survivors of the Oklahoma City bombing and victims' relatives to witness Timothy McVeigh's execution by closed-circuit television.

He promised to announce a decision this week after he returns to Washington and confers with federal Bureau of Prisons officials.

"I'm going to do what I can to accommodate the needs of these families," he said. He met privately for nearly an hour with about 100 survivors and victims' families to discuss the possibility of such an unprecedented telecast.

Visiting the bombing site for the first time, Mr. Ashcroft also expressed disgust at Mr. McVeigh's recent description of the 19 children who died in the blast as "collateral damage." And he vowed to limit the convicted bomber's platform to spread his "offensive" views in the weeks before the scheduled May 16 lethal injection at the federal death row chamber in Terre Haute, Ind.

The closed-circuit telecast is under consideration because the Indiana prison has only eight seats available for victims to witness executions. A similar broadcast was arranged during Mr. McVeigh's 1997 trial in Denver, where the case was moved because of extensive pretrial publicity.

"This is the first of the executions that the United States will have undertaken in this century and the first during the last 37 or so years," Ashcroft said. "So, what we do here will obviously shape the process in some measure in the future. We'll have to be attentive to that."

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