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Timothy McVeigh Not to Ask for Presidential ClemencyAired February 16, 2001 - 12:30 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ROGER COSSACK, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: We're now going to go to a press conference held by Timothy McVeigh's attorney to explain Timothy's McVeigh's action. We go there now.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
ROBERT NIGH, MCVEIGH ATTORNEY: ... to fully discuss the matter with him and provide him with information we intended to submit on his behalf.
After considering that information, Mr. McVeigh determined that he did not wish to submit the petition. There are a number of reasons for Mr. McVeigh's decision. Perhaps first was his belief that the chance of obtaining relief was exceedingly small or nonexistent. In addition, in Mr. McVeigh's mind, the executive branch has not acted in compliance with its own rules in connection with his case.
And he did not wish to return to that forum in an effort to gain relief. Finally, even if relief were granted, Mr. McVeigh does not believe he would be in a better position. Having nothing to look forward to but solitary confinement in a Bureau of Prisons facility does not appeal to Mr. McVeigh. We did not want to make an announcement concerning Mr. McVeigh's decision until the deadline had actually passed and Mr. McVeigh had been given every opportunity to submit a petition for clemency. The deadline has now passed and Mr. McVeigh has decided not to ask for a commutation of his sentence.
QUESTION: Mr. Nigh, what is his frame of mind? I mean, how would you describe his frame of mind, I guess, is the question?
NIGH: I would describe his frame of mind as very realistic. And I believe his mind is set.
QUESTION: Well, is this it? Are there any other options after this?
NIGH: The Code of Federal Regulations established a deadline of yesterday at midnight for a clemency petition to be submitted and does not contemplate any further procedure once that deadline has passed.
QUESTION: He doesn't like solitary confinement? Is he having bad dreams? He doesn't like the confinement?
NIGH: Well, I don't think that anybody who has not actually experienced a complete loss of liberty in the confines of a 10-by-12 cell for at least 23 hours a day, with extremely limited access to sunlight and no liberty can effectively judge what that does to your outlook on life.
QUESTION: So he's looking at this as an escape, then?
NIGH: Well, I don't know that he would use those words. I suspect that he would not. But certainly the prospect of the alternative don't appeal to him.
QUESTION: Will you go there for the execution? And could you address the question about broadcasts at all?
NIGH: I will attend the execution because I've been appointed to do so and because Mr. McVeigh has asked me to. The question of the broadcast is something that Mr. McVeigh has not asked for, will not ask for, will not ask the Bureau of Prisons to do it. He will not file any motions with the court asking that it be done.
He most likely will not oppose a request for a closed-circuit television feed to Oklahoma City. If a request is made beyond that for more equal access to the procedure, he would not oppose that either. And that would be consistent with his view that government action, all government action, including executions, should be subject to public scrutiny.
QUESTION: Will he offer letters or anything to the victims' families at all, or say anything to them, or address them in any way, that you know of now, Mr. Nigh?
NIGH: I can't discuss those matters with you because they would involve my confidential communication with Mr. McVeigh. And I, of course, cannot breach the attorney-client privilege.
QUESTION: Rob, when did he make the decision? When did he make this final decision? Did you talk to him last night, even?
NIGH: I did not speak to him last night. I did speak to him this morning. And consistent with our request, he did not make any final decision until the absolute last moment, which would have been midnight last night.
QUESTION: So you were...
COSSACK: That was Robert Nigh Jr., who is Timothy McVeigh's attorney, discussing that Mr. McVeigh will not ask for clemency from President Bush and will go ahead with his presently scheduled execution -- which is presently scheduled for Terre Haute Federal Penitentiary on May 16.
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