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Okla. families can watch McVeigh execution on TV

U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft toured the Oklahoma City National Memorial on Tuesday.  

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Survivors and family members of Oklahoma City bombing victims will be allowed to watch the execution of convicted bomber Timothy McVeigh on a secure, closed-circuit television feed, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft said Thursday.

Ashcroft announced the decision and other details of the May 16 execution at a news conference Thursday morning.

Ashcroft said that current Bureau of Prison regulations that allow only eight members of the victims' family to witness an execution were "plainly inadequate" given the magnitude of the crime.

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"This brutal act of terrorism killed 168 innocent people, including 19 children, and injured hundreds more. Its savagery stole parents from 219 children and made 30 children orphans in a single act," Ashcroft said.

He said 10 people would be chosen, by lottery, to attend the execution in person and that a closed-circuit telecast will be provided in Oklahoma City.

Ashcroft said the witnesses would be able to hear any final words McVeigh may have and watch him die by lethal injection. The execution is scheduled for 7 a.m. CT.

Ashcroft met with about 100 survivors and victims' family members Tuesday in Oklahoma City before making his decision.

"My time with these brave survivors changed me. What was taken from them can never be replaced nor fully restored," he said.

Limited contact with media

Ashcroft said he would not grant media requests for televised interviews with McVeigh in the days leading up to the execution.

"As an American who cares about our culture, I want to restrict a mass murderer's access to the public podium," Ashcroft said. "I do not want anyone to be able to purchase access to the podium of America with the blood of 168 innocent victims."

He said McVeigh would be allowed use the telephone for 15 minutes a day and could use those calls to speak to reporters. He said the warden of the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, would help arrange any interviews McVeigh chooses to grant.

Ashcroft urged the news media to exercise "self-restraint" in trying to contact McVeigh and asked them not to "help him inject more poison into our culture."

McVeigh had tentatively agreed to five televised interviews, but this week he apparently decided to back out of all of them.

McVeigh attorney not happy with plan

Following the announcement, McVeigh attorney Rob Nigh told CNN that he "is not happy about any of it."

He said he will meet with the warden in Terre Haute on Monday to discuss the details of the execution plan and then talk to McVeigh on Tuesday.

Nigh is opposed to capital punishment and says he was unable to change McVeigh's mind about pursuing further appeals.

"My efforts to stop it [the execution], to convince Tim to move forward with his appeals, did not work," Nigh told CNN.

Aside from himself, Nigh said he is not yet able to disclose anyone else his client may have chosen to be among his six allowed witnesses.

One of the authors of McVeigh's biography -- Buffalo News reporter Lou Michel -- has told CNN that McVeigh asked him to be one of his designated witnesses.

Nigh said he knows of no plans for immediate members of McVeigh's family to visit him in the days before the execution. "As far as I know, no family members will be there," he said.

Nigh also said he knows of no spiritual adviser who has been in contact with McVeigh. Ashcroft said McVeigh would be permitted to have a spiritual adviser present as a witness to the execution.

CNN's Terry Frieden contributed to this report.

Ashcroft OKs closed TV feed of McVeigh execution
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AAshcroft discusses McVeigh execution plan
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March 29, 2001
McVeigh autopsy deal says no 'invasive procedure'
March 19, 2001
Terrorism changes mind of death penalty opponents
March 6, 2001
McVeigh's attorney: 'I'm extremely disappointed'
February 16, 2001
Timothy McVeigh clemency deadline Thursday
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McVeigh scheduled to die by lethal injection May 16
January 16, 2001
Judge says McVeigh can drop appeals
December 28, 2000
Roger Cossack on McVeigh request to end death penalty appeals
December 28, 2000
Oklahoma City bombing victims remembered, 5 years later
April 19, 2000
McVeigh: Gulf War killings led him on path to disillusionment
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December 30, 1998
Oklahoma City bombing trial
March 1997
Timothy McVeigh and the death penalty
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McVeigh, Nichols plead not guilty in bombing
August 13, 1996

Federal Bureau of Investigation
U.S. Department of Justice
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms
Oklahoma State Government
Death Penalty Information Center
U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons

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