On April 20, 1996 (Hitler's birthday of golden memory, at least for the producers of The Producers), President Clinton signed the Anti-Terrorism Act ("for the protection of the people and the state" - the emphasis, of course, is on the second noun), while, a month earlier, the mysterious Louis Freeh had informed Congress of his plans for expanded wiretapping by his secret police. Clinton described his Anti-Terorism Act in familiar language (March 1, 1993, USA Today): "We can't be so fixated on our desire to preserve the rights of ordinary Americans." A year later (April 19, 1994, on MTV): "A lot of people say there's too much personal freedom. When personal freedom's being abused, you have to move to limit it." On that plangent note he graduated cum laude from the Newt Gingrich Academy.
In essence, Clinton's Anti-Terrorism Act would set up a national police force, over the long-dead bodies of the founders. Details are supplied by H.R. 97, a chimera born of Clinton, Reno, and the mysterious Mr. Freeh. A 2,500-man Rapid Deployment Strike Force would be organized, under the attorney general, with dictatorial powers... After a half-century of the Russians are coming, followed by terrorists from proliferating drug-related crime, there is little respite for a people so routinely - so fiercely - disinformed. Yet there is a native suspicion that seems to be a part of the individual American psyche - as demonstrated in polls, anyway. According to a Scripps Howard News Service poll, 40 percent of Americans think it quite likely that the F.B.I. set the fires at Waco. Fifty-one percent believe federal officials killed Jack Kennedy (Oh, Oliver, what hast thou wrought!). Eighty percent believe that the military is withholding evidence that Iraq used nerve gas or something as deadly in the Gulf. Unfortunately, the other side of this coin is troubling. After Oklahoma City, 58 percent of Americans, according to the L.A. Times, were willing to surrender some of their liberties to stop terrorism - including, one wonders, the sacred right to be misinformed by government?
TIME: You said you became disillusioned with war during the Gulf War experience. Could you tell me why?
MCVEIGH: When you're on the ground, and you're not in the rear of the action, you're right up front, you realize that the people fighting are no different from you. They've got a wife and kids at home, they've got a family. They don't want to be out there. And you don't want to be there. You realize you must fire on them or be killed yourself, that's the reality of war. When we took most of the surrendering Iraqis the first day and saw how badly they had been treated and learned that the Republican Guard was behind them, not to back them up, but to make them hold in position, it completely changed your view of the war.
TIME: Were you then completely repulsed by the idea of war at that point?
MCVEIGH: I was taken aback by what I had been told. We all thought we were doing this for your country and these people are terrible, every single one of them. You get over there and you realize two things, they're not so terrible and how is this helping my country?
TIME: How many of the enemy did you kill?
MCVEIGH: There were two. They were firing upon us. I'd like to put that rumor to rest. I think there was one person who either mixed me up with someone else or for some reason was taking a pot shot at me. We rode up within 1600 meters of an enemy position and they fired upon us and we fired back. That was on the second day of the conflict.
TIME: How did the war change your outlook on life and your outlook on the military?
MCVEIGH: It gave me a new perspective on life. First, to value every moment of your life, because it may be your last, you never know. And it opened my eyes to be aware of everything going on around me, to read between the lines of things that I'm told.
WASHINGTON (AP) - When Timothy McVeigh blew up the Oklahoma City federal building, the government had a TOW antitank missile stowed in a locker several floors above the daycare center.
The missile, about 3 feet long, actually had an inert warhead and only a small amount of rocket fuel, and the government says it did not contribute to the massive explosion that day. Instead, it tumbled into the rubble of the Alfred P. Murrah building.
``Tow Missile recovered from A.P. Murrah Building,' states an Oklahoma County sheriff's department evidence form showing the missile was removed from the rubble by the department's bomb squad and examined by military ordinance experts.
The GSA says its security procedures have changed greatly since 1995. The changes ``include extensive exchange of information with local, state and federal law-enforcement organizations, designing federal buildings to incorporate security measures and using magnetometers, X-ray machines and other innovations, some not visible to the public,' GSA spokeswoman Viki Reath said.
Just last summer, GSA implemented a new regulation requiring federal agencies to seek its authorization before bringing ``hazardous explosive or combustible materials' into federal buildings.
Still, the TOW missile is among a growing number of recent examples of weaponry, ordinance and other potentially dangerous materials that have been involved in incidents in government buildings.
The Customs Service acknowledged it possessed the TOW missile in the Murrah building. When its discovery in the rubble sparked alarm, a Customs agent attempted to assure rescuers the missile was unarmed and pleaded unsuccessfully not to delay the rescue efforts.
``The Customs agent offered to personally remove the inert TOW missile from the building,' the service said in a statement to AP. ``Rescue officials did not take up the agent's offer.'
Customs said the missile was marked live because it ``must appear to be live in order to gain the confidence of suspected arms traffickers during undercover investigations.' But the agency added it believes its storage in a ``reinforced strong room' was legal.
``Customs' actions in possessing and storing this system were completely within the law,' the agency said. It would not discuss the details of the planned sting.
The FBI eventually took custody of the missile and traced the weapon's history from its creation and initial firing at an Alabama Army depot to its reconfiguration with a dummy warhead.
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