Les rumeurs et les délires...
Timothy McVEIGH :
Witnessing an Execution
(THE NEW YORK TIMES, Saturday, April 14, 2001)
Attorney General John Ashcroft announced that the execution of
Timothy McVeigh on May 16 in Terre Haute, Indiana, would be
televised via a live, encrypted, closed-circuit telecast. It will be
shown in an unnamed facility in Oklahoma City for families of the
victims who were killed in the 1995 bombing of the Murrah
Federal Building. The telecast will not be recorded. Instead it will
be, as Mr. Ashcroft put it, "instantaneous and contemporaneous,"
leaving no permanent record for others to view.
This is a warrantable solution to a basic logistical problem - the
sheer number of direct victims of McVeigh's crime. The Federal
Bureau of Prisons, which allows the families of victims to witness
an execution, has increased the number of such witnesses allowed
at the prison in Terre Haute to 10. But it was impractical to
accommodate on-site all interested relatives of the 168 people
who died in Oklahoma City, and many of them would be hard
pressed to make the journey to another state in any case. Thus
Mr. Ashcroft made the sensible decision to allow the execution to
be transmitted on closed-circuit television to this group.
There is no telling what emotions the survivors and victims' families
will feel when they watch that telecast. There is no knowing
whether seeing McVeigh's death will satisfy those who want
revenge or bring closure to those who are seeking it. That is for
them to understand as best they can.
Mr. Ashcroft was right to bar televising the execution for the
public. Under most circumstances, we believe such decisions
belong in the hands of the news media, not the government. In this
situation, however, the very act of permitting television cameras for
general public broadcast would make a cruel and unusual
spectacle of the legally mandated sentence. Such broadcasts
would be different in kind from those parts of the legal process,
including court trials, that should be regularly televised. McVeigh
has said he would like his execution to be broadcast, but it is the
standards of a civilized society that should govern, not his opinion.
We oppose the death penalty for many reasons, most of which
need no rehearsal here. But by publicly televising McVeigh's
execution, broadcasters would be showing the very kind of act -
the taking of a human life - for which McVeigh is being executed.
The telecast would appeal to the basest instincts of the viewing
public and would inevitably coarsen U.S. society.
The U.S. government stopped conducting public executions in the
early 20th century for much the same reason it will use lethal
injections rather than more brutal technologies to kill McVeigh - to
reinforce the distinction between a lynching and a soberly
considered act of duly authorized justice. The last federal
execution occurred in 1963, and the Supreme Court declared the
death penalty unconstitutional in 1972. But now, under a
subsequently enacted death penalty statute, the United States is
drifting backward and resuming federal executions by putting to
death McVeigh. It is essential to drift backward no further by
making the execution a public spectacle.
As a rule, we support the goal of ensuring media access - including
camera access - to newsworthy events, a principle that, to some
people, might justify televising this execution. We believe,
however, that in the extraordinary case of McVeigh's execution
the public interest will be well served by the presence of 10 media
witnesses who will be in the federal prison in Terre Haute along
with the family members, although without television cameras.
What might be gained by publicly televising this man's death would
be very hard to balance against its ultimate cultural cost. - THE
NEW YORK TIMES.