Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: Talking Point
Front Page 
World 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
Forum 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 

Monday, 18 June, 2001, 08:11 GMT 09:11 UK
McVeigh execution: Should it have gone ahead?

The execution of Oklahoma City bomber, Timothy McVeigh has taken place. He received a lethal injection at 0700 local time (1200GMT) on Monday.

McVeigh's execution has caused much controversy and was initially postponed in May after the Justice Department handed over some 4,000 FBI documents that should have been available to McVeigh's defence team during his trial.

His lawyers had been pushing for a further delay in the execution, claiming that the government misled the court by not handing over the documents.

US prosecutors said the recently found documents would not alter the original conviction and therefore the execution should proceed.

Should the judge have allowed the execution to go ahead? Has it changed anything?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


Your reaction


McVeigh's demise was justified and what he expected

Bill Steedman, New Zealand
McVeigh's demise was justified and what he expected. The problem was it took too long and permitted the media to dramatise his behaviour. Forget him, he was nothing and certainly not a martyr, just a rotten murderer.
Bill Steedman, New Zealand

Tim McVeigh must have believed very strongly in something to willingly give his life for it. I'm sure that's what many are thinking. All the execution has done is created sympathy for him and his ideals. Surely this cannot be a good thing for the American government.
Claire, UK

I do not feel killing Tim has helped any of the victims and their families. As one of them said after the execution, they could only feel better the day they die. So really the death penalty does nothing to change or stop the pain of the victims. If Tim had been given life in prison I am sure that he would have been tormented more and probably he would have regretted his actions.
Alick Kapeza, South Africa

The death penalty isn't a deterrent. All it achieves is to save money by not having to lock up the murderer for a life sentence(s).
Michael Pala, UK

The fact that there is a public debate about the rights and wrongs of the death penalty, and concern for Tim McVeigh's fate, demonstrates the yawning gulf between us and him. He murdered those people without a second thought and would do it again, if given the chance. Some people are fundamentally "broken" inside and cannot be rehabilitated or mended - he was one of them. I view his execution in the same way that I would view putting a rabid dog to sleep - regrettable but necessary. The death penalty may or may not deter others, but it certainly will deter Tim McVeigh.
James, USA


McVeigh deserved this end

Mukhtar Ali Naqvi, USA
McVeigh deserved this end. A man who kills others forfeits his right to live. It was found out at the trial that he was annoyed at the action of the government in Waco and planted a bomb in the Federal Building. This was sheer madness to kill those who did not have anything to do with the Waco affair. If his feelings were so strong he should have given vent to them by killing these officials who were responsible for alleged killing in Waco.
Mukhtar Ali Naqvi, USA

Eye for eye will make the whole nation blind.
Bob Mackenzie, Canada

Why is everyone in England so upset about the death penalty in the US, but not upset with it in other countries like Saudi Arabia and China?
Nina, San Francisco, U.S.A

In examining the fascination people in this country had with this guy's execution, I must say I choose not be a dog with a piece of meat. That is exactly how his execution was played out. When speaking with people who are for the death penalty they said that justice was being done....I am afraid it was not. All that resulted was very much like a pack of dogs with a piece of meat but the only people being punished were Mr. McVeigh's family. In spite of what he has done, killing him did not solved anything except bring the death toll to 169.
Michael, Texas, USA


There is a sickly morbidly romantic element to it all

Shawn Alfred Arney, Japan
There is a sickly morbidly romantic element to it all. I heard they even served snacks there. I question whether the victims really found healing or closure witnessing Timothy McVeigh's death. I believe they went in there to view it with the same curiosity as drivers do when they slow down to see a traffic accident.
Shawn Alfred Arney, Canadian in Japan

The biggest problem with McVeigh's execution is that it wasn't made public. Making them public will make them a deterrent. As for all the other nations that think it is wrong, I think the US would be happy to ship all the murderers on death row to your country so your people can pay to take care of them the rest of their days.
James, USA

A man like Timothy McVeigh doesn't deserve human rights - he gave that up the day he murdered 168 people. If his execution gives even small comfort to the families of his victims then it is the right thing to do - nobody else has the right to say that they shouldn't be allowed this small piece of justice.
Cheryl, UK


Essentially his execution adds one more to the total body count

Neal, USA
Execution won't help the relatives move on, if anything McVeigh's defiance, belief in his actions and composure till the end will have a negative impact on the victims friends and families. Essentially his execution adds one more to the total body count. Bush's statement that capital punishment is the will of the of the democratic majority who voted his administrations in was amusing, seeing as the popular vote went to Gore, Bush got the Electoral vote.
Neal, USA

Most of us in Oklahoma City will be relieved that McVeigh can no longer keep his own name in the media. Now, if only the media would let him die too.
Pam H., Oklahoma City, USA


There was no such peace for his victims

Heather, USA
In 1995 I watched as the bodies and maimed were pulled from the rubble of the building and was sickened. How could someone do such a horrible act? Many innocents were killed in a horrible way. Yet Timothy McVeigh was executed six years after his horrendous act. There is a very lengthy appeals process that he went through before he died. And when he died he peacefully went to sleep. There was no such peace for his victims. He was not sorry for what he had done and he would have done it again had he the opportunity. I shed no tears for Tim McVeigh.
Heather, USA

I am appalled at the way that this "public lynching" has been handled in this country. I am English but live in this country and woke up Monday morning to see the live media circus detailing exactly what may have been happening in the room where he was to die. I believe no man or woman has the right to kill another and especially in this public and so called "acceptable method". He committed an appalling act and should have been locked up for the rest of his life where he may have thought and suffered for his crimes. The government and press of this country should be ashamed at the way this was handled.
Nick K, USA

Something about the whole McVeigh case smells very fishy. As another correspondent has pointed out - why were so few federal agents killed in the blast? Why did the FBI suppress evidence at his trial? How could one man accomplish such a deed by himself? Regardless of whether it is right for the state to kill in revenge for murder, McVeigh should have been kept alive at least long enough for the whole truth to be uncovered.
Richard Fallon, England


Did he deserve to die? Probably. Did he get a fair trial? Absolutely not!

David Guay, USA
A jury convicted McVeigh of murdering 168 people and sentenced him to death. They did so based upon the evidence and testimony presented to them. However, approximately one week before his execution and nearly four years after his trial the FBI discloses it failed to turn over nearly 4000 investigative documents to McVeigh's defence lawyers. This is evidence that the jury never heard or saw. McVeigh gets a 30-day stay of execution so his defence team can make what they will of the documents and file any appeals. What could they do in only 30 days? Virtually nothing of course! McVeigh is executed. Did he commit the heinous crime? Yes, he admitted it. Did he deserve to die? Probably. Did he get a fair trial? Absolutely not! Was his execution rushed for political expediency and a mob mentality? No doubt about it.
David Guay, USA

I am not saying that McVeigh was innocent. I am only trying to say, that he had tried to highlight the method the U.S. government treated the ones who had had some kind of different points of view. Think John Lennon! Was he really assassinated by a mentally sick person? Was he? Or: simply the federal authorities did not like the way he had been thinking, concerning the actual politics of the States. Now again another man, who had disagreed with state violence, became just the victim of it.
Gabor Korosi, Hungary

For those considering some alternative to capital punishment (i.e. confinement), there is NO guarantee it would work. Sympathisers could hijack planes demanding McVeigh's release. The anti-capital punishment folks would be the first to plead for McVeigh's release to save hundreds on a jumbo jet. Where were Europeans during the massive deaths (ethnic cleansing) next door? Americans were aghast that Europeans would take no action to stop the mass killings. However, now we hear bleeding hearts sympathising with a mad bomber who not only killed 168 but also injured many more, impacting even more families. It's one thing to sit back and theorise, and yet another to do justice, set an example and assure the host of affected families McVeigh won't be released, EVER.
Olaf, U.S.A.


Try explaining McVeigh's execution to a six-year-old

Steve N, London, UK
Try explaining McVeigh's execution to a six-year-old. That child will be implanted with the idea that it is OK to kill. Need I say anymore?
Steve N, London, UK

In the 70s there was also a fierce discussion in Germany about the death penalty for the RAF terrorists. But looking back from a current viewpoint, it was good not to change our basic law on this aspect. It could only have become worse. Mr McVeigh's death neither will save money nor avoid future victims for the US in the long term. There is too much discussion in the US about reacting on crimes instead of trying to avoid as much crimes as possible. I'm not always happy how our state is dealing with criminals. But if I'm looking at the result and the development in the last ten years, I must agree that the chosen politics have proved to be highly efficient.
Michael S, Germany


The high cost of execution is driven up by the lengthy appeals process

Simon, USA
Clive from England, wrote "the millions of dollars that would have been spent keeping him in secure custody for the rest of his life is now available for something hopefully more constructive". It actually costs more to execute someone in the USA than to keep them in prison for a lifetime. The high cost of execution is driven up by the lengthy appeals process.
Simon, USA

Well done America. Leading the rest of the world in compassion and human rights, right back into the dark ages. I wonder if the death penalty would be "just" if it were not profitable. McVeigh called the victims of his crime "collateral damage"; I wonder who taught him to say that? What you sow, you reap, the US should be thankful if they have dry seasons.
Arnold Teston, France

Timothy McVeigh was a model product of middle-class America's gung-ho paranoia. He was brought up facing society in simplistic and naive terms of good vs. evil, and was treated by that society in much the same way. These acts of reciprocal vengeance, along with the theories that nurture them, have no place in a country that aspires to be called civilised.
Dimitris Mentis, Greece


One must keep in mind the history of the US when looking at its use of the death penalty

Dave Smith, USA
One must keep in mind the history of the US when looking at its use of the death penalty. As recently as 100 years ago, there was still much of the country that was unreachable by traditional courts and police, and justice was a few guys and a length of rope. This frontier mentality will not go away overnight and is a part of US psyche. The death penalty will eventually be eliminated as it has in most of the industrialised world, but because of the history of this country, it will take a while. People must also remember that because the US Supreme Court has ruled that the death penalty does not violate the Constitution the US government cannot outlaw it outside of federal jurisdictions. Each state would have to pass its own legislation or a constitutional amendment would have to be passed by Congress and then ratified by each state to abolish it throughout the country.
Dave Smith, USA

A murderer kills people. The state of Oklahoma will kill a murderer and call it justice. Can you see the sick resemblance? McVeigh was killed, but did it do any good? What did we get out of it except the satisfaction of an inhuman revenge?
Hilde, Norway

To all the high-minded moralists wringing your hands over poor Timmy, go back and find the picture of that brave fireman cradling the broken body of that little girl. Tell her parents why the evil monster who killed their child should be allowed to spend his days in relative comfort. The only justice can be to have this monster removed from this world to meet his final judgement. I am glad to know that no longer even 1 penny of my taxes will go to keep McVeigh alive
Daniel Petrie, USA


Surely all life is of equal value

Phi Rose, Scotland
Timothy McVeigh was a fool who seems to have suffered paranoia mixed with military training. A bad mix. But my point is not that. I worry about the hierarchy of value of life. Several times, before I gave up reading, I saw mention made of the fact that children were killed. Why are children seen as more valuable than women and women more valuable than men? As a male adult I am sad to find myself at the bottom of the human heap. Surely all life is of equal value.
Phi Rose, Scotland

Maybe it is high time those people who are so opposed to the death penalty (and all other severe forms of punishment for crime) think a bit about the victims of crime. Instead of focusing so much attention on how the 'poor' murderer is suffering or on how the 'dear' bank robber or drug pusher is stressed they should think of those whose lives have been destroyed by such heartless people. Maybe if the victims of crime are made the focus of attention, then people would think twice before defending and saving criminals!!
Ada, UK

It's really a simple equation. Dead criminals don't commit crimes. That's it
Frank Cobain, South Africa


The execution of McVeigh has not really achieved anything

Greg, London, UK
The execution of McVeigh has not really achieved anything, apart from about 30 minutes of self-satisfaction, to those whose lives had been destroyed by such a horrific act. In the long term nothing has been achieved and we have given McVeigh status and position in society, as well as in history. The fact that people were stood outside with banners saying, "Thou shalt not kill & Live 168" totally goes against what they are claiming to stand for, but that is very easy for me to say as I was not, nor am I a victim of such an evil person.
Greg, London, UK

Should Tim McVeigh have done what he did? Absolutely not? Should he have been executed in response? I honestly don't know. The death penalty is an issue that my conscious wrestles with whenever the reality of it confronts me. Clearly this is the case with many of the people who have made comments on this page. I'll be humble, and say I don't know if it's right. But the fact that we undergo such soul searching gives me hope for the future of mankind.
Chris Power, Manchester, UK

It's funny how people in other countries speak out against the US death penalty statute. If you don't like it, stay in your own country! I don't think that there is any country in the world that is "saintly" and "forgiving."
Jeff Edwards, USA


Death penalty is fundamentally flawed.

Rory, UK
If we take the position that punishment is about making a man face the consequences of his actions then death penalty is fundamentally flawed. Tim McVeigh died still believing his actions were justified. If he had been made to spend the rest of his days in jail he may have reached a point where he could apologies for his actions and for the misery he caused.
Rory, UK

Personally, I don't believe in the death penalty. I think life and death should be determined by GOD. I do not support McVeigh's action in any shape or form. However, there are thousands and thousands of people in the United States who have committed murder. They are on the death row for years and years. The life of one human is just as valuable as the life of 168.
Ousman Diallo, u.s.a.

I am not opposed to the death penalty categorically, but I do think there are crimes that deserve capital punishment. While I do not agree with the selective and seemingly arbitrary way the death penalty is applied in the US, I do believe that Timothy McVeigh got what he deserve. Indeed, he wanted to die. In my opinion, his spirit was dead a long time before - a victim of his own hate. The government only finished the job by killing his body.
Frank, United States

If we do not punish convicted rapists by raping them, why do we punish convicted killers by killing them?
Losang, Taiwan

Yes, Tim McVeigh is no more. Will it solve the agony faced by the relatives of those 168 killed in that bomb blast? If this is justice what should be the name given to those people who kill in thousands in the name of justice and democracy (including children, women and innocent civilians world over). Why aren't they called mass murderers. Why can't they think of the feelings of those people. I think there is no justification in this case when there is no justice at the top.
A M M Nizam, Sri Lanka


It is to be hoped that the forces that shaped this man's actions and thoughts will not be overlooked

Diane Fagan, New Zealand
Surely Timothy McVeigh's legalised murder can do little else other than perpetuate man's inhumanity to man. It is to be hoped that the forces that shaped this man's actions and thoughts will not be overlooked in some people's new found zeal for martyrdom. The truth is that McVeigh was trained by a government to kill and to regard his victims as collateral damage.
Diane Fagan, New Zealand

Yes, something has changed, an unrepentant murderer is no longer a future threat to our children, and the millions of dollars that would have been spent keeping him in secure custody for the rest of his life is now available for something hopefully more constructive.
Clive, England

Capital punishment is wrong. And Mc Veigh´s execution proves just that; If one considers that the strongest argument in favour of capital punishment is the element of deterrence, then it's easy to see how in cases like Mc Veigh's capital punishment is ineffective as a deterrent to others. The twisted perception of things that McVeigh had, which led him to the heinous crime he committed could not be deterred by any form of punishment that can be handed down by humans. His execution rather completed the cycle of events as he envisaged them, creating a legacy of evil and death that I sincerely hope no one else will follow.
Phivos Hadjigeorgiou, Cyprus

Tim didn't deserve to die. There is no way a 7000lb fertiliser bomb can cause the devastation that happened in Oklahoma. Also, why were there only a handful of ATF agents in the building on the day it was blown up? Normally it would be full of agents. Did the government/FBI/ATF know about this planned attack? You can bet your bottom dollar they did.
Rob Marrey, Ireland

Justice was served today. McVeigh killed 168 people, 19 of which were children. These people weren't given the choice to live or not. McVeigh made the choice for them. If there was ever a time for capital punishment, this was it. McVeigh received what he deserved, death. Today there was no vengeance, only justice.
Julia, Missouri, USA


I live in a country that condemns the death penalty to the end, and still we have one of the lowest crime-statistics in the Western world.

Stian Sandberg, Norway
All my life I've been told that killing is wrong, and I'm sure children in America are taught the same thing. Yet when they grow up, they might end in a position where they're killed by their own country - the country they helped shape and create. They did in fact pay for their own death. It's no secret that the USA has an extraordinary amount of crime, yet they show no interest in reviewing their own society. I live in a country (in a part of the world, for that sake), that condemns the death penalty to the end, and still we have one of the lowest crime-statistics in the Western world.
Stian Sandberg, Norway

Having read the comment of one of the witnesses that McVeigh calmly died looking as though he would do it all again, the pointlessness of execution is rather obvious. The kind of mad logic that leads people to kill is not swayed by the threat of execution. So why bloody the hands of innocent voters by having their government murder someone in what is simply revenge?
Alastair Somerville, UK

How could people stand in Indiana today with banners reading, "Thou shalt not kill and live"? What on earth did they think was going on inside the execution chamber?
Barbara C, Scotland

We are supposed to be humane and caring, and to be honest, the death penalty should have no place in our society. On the other hand, sometimes someone will commit a crime so heinous that the ultimate response seems justified. It would be wrong for me to criticise those who have been touched by this crime when they call for the death penalty. Who is to say I would not feel the same way if I had been so affected. My concern is not for Tim McVeigh but for the victims of this outrage who deserve our heartfelt condolences. The heartache for them will continue long after McVeigh is forgotten by the rest of the world.
Mike Scollan, West Yorkshire, UK

Yes, it was right to kill McVeigh. Just why did it take so long? Six years of hell for all parties to this crime. I pray that we will never see the likes of Tim McVeigh again.
John, USA

I am sure in common with many people I can't make my mind up if I am in favor of the death penalty or not. My basic instinct is that I am against the death penalty but in the face of such an horrific crime committed by McVeigh I am swayed in favor of it in his case. However, what I find disgusting is some of the US media coverage of his execution. Some of the journalist hacks seem to have a macabre interest in the whole business. For example on one broadcast they gave details of how he was to be dressed for his execution. The news broadcasters sit in front of their cameras preening themselves and feigning concern over McVeigh's victims and ignoring the serious debate over the morality of state killing, under the guise of "presenting the news."
John Armstrong, USA

As the hour approached for the execution, I felt sick inside. What is the matter with us, as a civilised society? How can we say, "It is against the law to take a life, so we are going to kill you"...? We are now in the 21st Century, and we should be more civilised and humane. I do not condone what Timothy McVeigh did, and my heart goes out the families. But we need Justice, not revenge. He should have had life imprisonment and hard labour, ....no-one deserves to die, and no-one has the right to take a life. As a human race, we should be ashamed.
Kym Routledge, United Kingdom


I have no doubt in my mind that what was done had to be done

Tânia Viana, Portugal
I have no doubt in my mind that what was done had to be done. No one can just sit back and forgive a man who took away so many lives, including little children who had so much to give the world. This execution was the correct and only attitude that could be taken. I hope that other countries look at this and reinstate the death penalty for men without soul such as McVeigh.
Tânia Viana, Portugal

I'm sure that some of those people who feel that executing McVeigh has saved them a few tax dollars, can rest assured that they now have a larger disposable income to continue to fund terrorism in Northern Ireland, while deploring its presence in their own country! As you cosseted Yanks are so fond of saying, "wake up and smell the coffee"!
Scott, UK

I fail to see how justice has been done here. There seems to be no viable argument for wilfully ending someone's life, murderer or not. Who benefits from Timothy McVeigh's death? Are the families of the Oklahoma victims any happier now that he has gone?
Marguerite Riches, UK

Today was a sad day indeed; sad in two respects. For many, it brought back the painful memories of that day in 1995 when 168 people lost their lives, needlessly, in one of the worst tragedies ever known. It was also a sad day for humanity. What sort of society makes a law against murder, whilst allowing the greatest premeditated form of killing, that of execution? In my opinion, people who support the death penalty are accomplices to murder, very sick-minded individuals. The issue I am discussing here is that of the death penalty. I completely condemn what Timothy McVeigh did, and my heart goes out to all those people who lost friends and relatives. But if we take one lesson from this whole episode, it will be that the taking away of someone's life is wrong; free will extends to living as well.
Paul J, England


This execution is likely to make him a martyr to all those who share his ideas

Anita, Ireland
The crime that Timothy McVeigh masterminded was cold-blooded mass-murder on a huge scale. He is now taking full advantage of the opportunity to mastermind an equally cold-blooded and spectacular punishment for himself. This execution is likely to make him a martyr to all those who share his ideas, while leaving our society worse, not better, for having danced to his tune.
Anita, Ireland

My greatest concern is that Mr McVeigh's execution will make him a martyr to the ultra-right. Put him in a cell and forget about him. Let him grow old alone in a cage. But don't give him the opportunity to inspire others to acts of terrorism. There is not one thing about this man that is worth risking the lives of others, including his punishment.
Carrie, Massachusetts, USA

I am not clever enough to say whether he should die but perhaps the reason why he caused the deaths should be looked at more closely.
Bob Newcombe, Britain

The death penalty is wrong. It makes no difference how many people Timothy McVeigh killed - they will all still be dead on Tuesday. Almost every civilised country has dispensed with the death penalty. And few developed countries have murder rates equal to that of the United States. My fellow Americans, this isn't working. Wake up and smell the human rights.
Matthew Grieco, Bradenton, Florida, USA

It's easy to sit in judgement of the death penalty, and McVeigh's execution. The anti-lobby bunch fail to recognise the relatives as always. It's probably their one chance to truly move on after his death. Revenge is no substitute, but at least they can live their lives knowing justice has at last been done. Letting him live would be a great burden and daily reminder for all the victims' families. Just think long and hard about this!
Karl Roberts, Wales, UK

I am a Christian and I believe that killing another man is not anyone's job. Only the faithless can think that they are doing the right thing to punish a murder by killing him. I feel there are a lot of other better option to punish this person. Let him work for a cause throughout the rest of his life. This killing of a murderer is a crime perpetuated by the state in a modern world of peace and compassion.
Joseph T, India

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE


Links to more Talking Point stories