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McVeigh Execution: Prison Official Details Final Arrangements, Media Observers

Aired June 11, 2001 - 07:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
COLLEEN MCEDWARDS, CNN ANCHOR: It is 6:00 a.m. in Terre Haute, Indiana, where Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh is scheduled to die one hour from now.

CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: Daybreak in Oklahoma City, as well -- once the scene of terror for so many, now a place to wait and remember.

MCEDWARDS: The final minutes before Timothy McVeigh's execution.

LIN: Hello, this is CNN special coverage of the McVeigh execution, and I'm Carol Lin.

MCEDWARDS: And I'm Colleen McEdwards.

A special welcome to viewers around the world who are watching on CNN International.

LIN: That's right.

Exactly one hour from now, 33-year-old Timothy McVeigh is scheduled to die by lethal injection.

MCEDWARDS: This will be the nation's first federal execution since 1963.

Our Bill Hemmer is at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana -- Bill.

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, Carol and Colleen.

Colleen, as you mentioned, the first time since 1963, dating back 38 years -- the federal government will execute Timothy McVeigh in less than an hour's time.

Timothy McVeigh, in a holding cell overnight, was moved early Sunday morning, and will take a short walk into the execution room within the next hour. He will have intravenous injection by three separate drugs. The first drug will render him unconscious, the second one will stop his breathing, and the third will stop his heart.

We do anticipate a briefing by prison officials, expected to take place at any time, here in Terre Haute. In fact, the briefing room has been established and set up. This is a live picture from just across the way in the fields, here at the federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana. As soon as that briefing begins, we will bring it to you live.

In the meantime, though, the schedule we anticipate: 8:00 a.m. Eastern time here in Terre Haute is when the scheduled execution will take place. Again, Timothy McVeigh will be led into the execution room at that time. And then afterwards, there will be a briefing by the warden, to come out into that briefing area we talked about and announce the time of death for Timothy McVeigh.

Also, following that, we'll get a briefing from media witnesses, 10 of which will watch the execution this morning, and then possibly other witnesses as well.

We've been watching the events throughout the night here. Security, indeed, is very tight here at the federal penitentiary. State troopers are patrolling the grounds throughout the area.

This, now, is Dan Dunne with the prison.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

DAN DUNNE, FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS: ... of Timothy James McVeigh. The United States Penitentiary in Terre Haute continues with preparations for the court-ordered execution of Timothy James McVeigh.

Currently, inmate McVeigh is being prepared for removal from the holding cell in the execution facility, and will be escorted to the execution room. The execution will begin at 7:00 a.m.

Once inmate McVeigh has been pronounced dead, the warden will announce the official time of death to all witnesses. After all press pool members have returned to the press briefing area, a post- execution press statement will be provided by bureau staff, and press pool members will participate in the post-execution press briefing.

The news media representatives selected as official press pool witnesses include, from the category of local newspaper, Karin Grunden from the "Terre Haute Tribune Star" From the category of newspaper from the community where the crime occurred, in Oklahoma City, the representative is Nolan Clay from the "Daily Oklahoman." The representatives from the print media are Kevin Johnson from "USA Today," as well as Crocker Stephenson from the "Milwaukee Journal Sentinel." The representatives selected from the category of television include Byron Pitts from CBS News. Another representative selected from the television category is Shepard Smith from Fox News. And the final representative in the television category is Linda Cavanaugh from KFOR-TV, Oklahoma City. The representatives selected from the wire service category include Rex Huppke, Associated Press. The final representative from the wire service category is Diana Penner, Gannett News Service. And lastly, from the radio category, the representative will be Susan Carlson, WLS Chicago radio.

I would also like to mention at this time that connections to the Oklahoma City Transfer Center have been tested, where the victims in Oklahoma City will have an opportunity to witness the execution. That test was successful.

I would like to also mention that the warden has given the inmate a detailed 30-minute briefing this morning, and the inmate received the information cordially.

And lastly, I'd like to point out that two of inmate McVeigh's attorneys visited him this morning and left the institution at 5:00 a.m.

I'd now like to open up for a couple of questions.

QUESTION: Dan, what was in the briefing that the warden gave to McVeigh?

DUNNE: Final instructions pertaining to the execution that the warden felt the inmate would benefit from.

QUESTION: Such as?

QUESTION: How exactly is he being prepared for death at this hour?

DUNNE: All of the procedures that the inmate would need to be aware of related to the execution process are what have been reviewed by the warden with him.

QUESTION: Can you please explain them?

DUNNE: The details are outlined in the execution protocol, and those are the specific references...

QUESTION: For the people who are watching?

DUNNE: They are specific to the final hour at which the inmate is brought into the room and the process for the administration of the drugs, types of drugs, and what occurs during that process.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: The time that the warden and Mr. McVeigh were together, was it strictly the warden reading something out of a book, was it a conversation? They've met many times before -- what was it like?

DUNNE: It was a meeting in which the warden was able to explain all of the details. I wouldn't want to characterize it as a formal meeting, but it was a discussion just between the two of them.

QUESTION: How did McVeigh do at night? Did he sleep?

DUNNE: He did sleep, yes.

QUESTION: How long?

DUNNE: It was on and off during the evening.

And two more questions, please.

QUESTION: Do you know...

QUESTION: What did he watch on TV?

DUNNE: Excuse me, sir.

Yes? Yes?

QUESTION: What did he watch on TV?

DUNNE: I don't have the specifics on that.

Final question.

QUESTION: Did he have a spiritual adviser?

DUNNE: He has the opportunity to have a spiritual adviser, but I couldn't disclose if he has one or not.

Thank you. Thank you.

HEMMER: Again, that is Dan Dunne, a spokesperson for the Bureau of Prisons. Just a few more bits of information given out to the media this morning. He did indicate that Timothy McVeigh did sleep for a time last night, and also that two of his attorneys, Nathan Chambers and Robert Nigh, as anticipated, did meet briefly with Timothy McVeigh a short time, possibly about an hour, ago.

According to protocol, it's a very strict schedule here and a 54- page step-by-step procedure that takes us down to the final moments of Timothy McVeigh's life.

In addition to that, one of the open-ended issues still has to do with McVeigh's final words. It is not clear what those words will be, but we are told they will come from a 19th century poem titled "Invictus." Part of that poem reads, "I am the master of my fate:/ I am the captain of my soul."

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