Video: McVeigh's path to terrorist

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    >>> anarbor.com released things found at the hutaree, among guns, guns and more guns, liquid tear gas , bomb manuals, a book of adolf hitly speeches, grenade holders and thousands and thousands and thousands of rounds of ammunition, a couple of items stand out. the search of hutaree leader david brian stone's home turned up three dvds listed waco . the search of thomas piatek's home turned up audiotapes of the turner diaries . it is a white sprem cyst wait war fantasy. the destruction of the branch davidian compound at waco is what he says drove him to plan and commitment the oklahoma city bombing . under the first amendment right we have the right to even disgusting speech. it's not illegal to read neonazi books, it is certainly not illegal to own dvds about the siege at waco . but the constitution 's protection of the right to read and espouse all sorts of things does not require we ignore threats and parallels seemingly reading from the script of past american extremists who committed horrific acts of domestic terrorism . they are accused of plotting and training for the mass murder of u.s. law enforcement officers and waging war against the u.s. government . a week from today, april 19th , is the 15th anniversary of the turner diaries and waco -inspired bombing of the alfred p. murrah building which killed 168 americans . during this hour on msnbc on april 19th , we will be airing a documentary, based on never-before- heard tapes of timothy mcveigh , including his account of what motivated him and what exactly happened on the day of the bombing in 1995 . here is a preview of "the mcveigh tapes."

    >>> in january 1993 , timothy mcveigh is frustrated by the dead end existence he's endured since leaving the army and he is still shaken by his experiences in the gulf war . eager to figure out his mission in life, mcveigh packs up his car and says good-bye to his quiet hometown of pendleton, new york .

    >> i lasted at home for one year and one month. i said [ bleep ] this whole neighborhood. this ain't for me. i don't have a place here. i haven't found a love. and then i hit the road.

    >> the odyssey that he was living in the early '90s was really bizarre. he thought nothing of getting in his car and driving hundreds or even thousands of miles. and he was searching for something.

    >> as a guy, who i think had a lot of trouble relating to other people, that was a world that was very kind of amenable to him.

    >> he was gathering inspiration and information for what he thought was his mission in life. he wasn't going to be the super soldier , so who aways going to be now?

    >> mcveigh 's mission is still unclear but he's beginning to hone in on his main focus of fury, the u.s. government . he finds like-minded thinkers on the gun show circuit. during the early 1990s , these expos become gathering places for the fast-growing militia and patriot movements. it is in this sub culture that mcveigh finally finds an outlet for his growing rage.

    >> i mean, you could find an amazing amount of literature on insurgency, on forming militias, on building weapons. they're amazingly anti- government .

    >> one of my favorite bumper stickers , you've heard the one that says, when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns? well, there's a new one that was my favorite, it says, when guns are outlawed, i will become an outlaw. and it was at that point when i was fully intent in my life that i was going to live outside the law .

    >> he started to believe that our government to believe our government was going to come into people's homes and take their guns away. this scared the hell out of the tim mcvay .

    >> that same mentality is what you see from gun show to gun show to gun show . get your weapons now, stockpile them now. for tim mcvay , this must seem like the next war that's about to be waged.

    >> tonight at least four federal agents, one cult member are dead.

    >> on february 28th , 1993 , outside the central texas town of waco , many in the patriot movement believe the spark to that next war is ignited.

    >> you can't point guns in the direction of my wives and my kids. damn it, i'll meet you at the door anytime.

    >> in an attempt to bring david koresh into custody, federal agents raid his compound and a massive fire fight breaks out.

    >> six davidians and four atf agents wii killed. that started the standoff.

    >> it was a clash between federal law enforcement might and withdrawn people who were fiercely protective of their community.

    >> the bond is they're fellow gun owners , and fellow survivalists, and freedom lovers. when do you draw the line and say enough is enough? somebody has to send a message to say you can't go any further.

    >> and mcvay got in his little junk car and drove to waco , texas , to find out what was going on.

    >> michelle roush, a college newspaper reporter at the time, was at the branch davidian compound outside waco to investigate the story . it wasn't until one year after the oklahoma city bombing that she realized the man she interviewed on the hood of his car was none other than timothy mcveigh .

    >> he was very unassuming, very casual, sitting on the hood of his car, very articulate. tim said, people need to watch what's happening and heed any warning signs . at the time, i thought, well, what does that mean? well, when i went back and read that in my article, it gave my chills, because i thought, did that mean oklahoma city ? was he foreshadowing?

    >> after camping in his car outside the compound for a few days, mcvay drives to terry nichols car in morn michigan.

    >> in less than an hour, the compound was destroyed in a raging inferno.

    >> on april 19th , 1993 , mcvay and nichols watched the violent end of the waco siege on television.

    >> watching flames lick out windows, and watching tanks ram walls. my eyes just welled up in tears and tears started coming down my cheeks. just stood there in stunned silence. what is this? what has america become? i remember that scene. it burned into my memory. i'm emotional right now as i talk about it . i felt absolute rage.

    >> tim saw this as an act of war against the people.

    >> it was the bully again. this time the horns were on the head of the federal government .

    >> the rules of engagement , if not written down, are defined by the accesses of an aggressor. okay? now, what rules of engagement would you interpret in examining waco ? kids are fair game ? women are fair game ?

    >> i think that that was the final moment for mcveigh , and he says so himself, right? after waco , now is the time for action, right? now we're going operational.

    >> with oklahoma city being a counterattack, i was only fighting by the rules of engagement introduced by the aggressor. waco start this had war. hopefully oklahoma would end it.

    >>> you can watch our two-hour documentary next monday, april 19th , 9:00 p.m . eastern. we'll be right back. at remax.com, you

Where where you when Oklahoma City happened and what was your initial impression?
Rachel Maddow:
I was living in San Francisco at the time.  I remember the phone ringing while I was unlocking the door to my apartment.  It stopped before I got to the phone, but then just immediately started ringing again.  It rang off the hook all day—this was before a lot of people had email addresses or spent time online, so everyone picked up the phone to call their family and friends—no one could believe it.  I certainly couldn’t.  I remember talking to a friend on that phone in my apartment hallway, and suddenly feeling visceral fear when it occurred to me that the bombing might not be a one-off, that it might be the first of multiple attacks.

Why is this story important now?
The story’s important now on its own terms—the Murrah Building bombing is the worst incident of domestic terrorism we’ve ever experienced as a nation. The families of the 168 people who were killed and the hundreds of people who were injured are real, flesh-and-blood casualties to whom we owe pure remembrance of the date, and commemoration of the lives lost and changed.  I think it’s also an appropriate occasion to talk about the threat of domestic terrorism.  How strong is the threat now, 15 years after McVeigh?  Are we heeding warning signs that may be out there now? 

Listening to his voice nine years after the execution, what are your impressions of McVeigh?
I have only a layman’s understanding of what it means to be a sociopath—but that’s what he strikes me as.  The calm soldier’s affect that he so self-consciously adopts (and talks about on the tapes) doesn’t really mask his narcissism and his disinterested callousness toward life, and humanity.  There’s a huge distance between the hero he is in his own mind, and how basely unheroic he seems to anyone hearing the tapes now.  I personally am not a supporter of the death penalty—I believe that people are more than the worst thing they ever did—but hearing him talk, it’s hard not to wish him gone.

Did his tapes affect your impression of him or what he did?
It didn’t change my impression, so much as flesh it out.  One important issue, I think, is the degree to which he didn’t consider himself to be a “lone wolf”.  He really saw himself as part of the gun-rights, anti-government, so-called “Patriot” movement—he parrots a lot of their talking points.  It’s difficult to listen to, because the talking points for those folks are similar now, in 2010, to what they were in McVeigh’s era.  None of that is out-of-keeping with what we knew about McVeigh and anti-government extremism before hearing these tapes—but hearing it is jarring.

Do you think this program gives McVeigh too much of a platform to expound his anti-government views?
There’s a reason that in 15 years, McVeigh hasn’t been considered a martyr even by the extremist forces he thought he represented.  There’s a reason, too, why McVeigh’s confederates resisted helping him with the bombing, and turned on him once he was arrested:  McVeigh is profoundly unsympathetic—even repugnant—on his own terms; you don’t need to work to make him seem that way.  Documenting his crime, his motivations, his sources of support, is in service toward ensuring that our country never goes through this sort of thing again.

"The McVeigh Tapes: Confessions of an American Terrorist" airs April 19, Monday, 9 p.m. ET on msnbc. Watch preview video clips here.

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