Don’t Miss “The McVeigh Tapes”

By Terry Turchie

When NBC first contacted Kathleen about being part of a documentary on Timothy McVeigh in 2009, the lone aerial assault on the IRS building and the Hutaree Michigan Militia arrests hadn’t happened yet. Independent producer Toby Oppenheimer was fascinated with what drove McVeigh to bomb the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City 15 years ago, and wanted Kathleen’s input about her work on Lone Terrorists. Like other interviewees, Kathleen spent hours at 30 Rockefeller Center in New York last December taping her contribution, and you can see the results in a two-hour special on Monday, April 19, the 15th anniversary of the bombing, on MSNBC:


(NEW YORK, NY) — APRIL 14, 2010 — Fifteen years after the Oklahoma City bombing, Rachel Maddow brings viewers the inside story on the deadliest terror attack on U.S. soil prior to the events of Sept. 11. 168 lives were lost and more then 500 people were injured that day and now, on Monday, April 19 (9-11 PM/ET), MSNBC viewers will hear Timothy McVeigh’s chilling confession in his own words for the first time in “The McVeigh Tapes: Confessions of an American Terrorist.” Drawing from 45 hours of never-before-released interview audiotapes recorded during McVeigh’s prison stay, the film reveals the bomber’s descriptions of the planning and execution of the horrific attack and offers insight into how a decorated American soldier became a dangerous, anti-government terrorist. Nine years after his execution, McVeigh’s voice from the grave resonates today as once again anti-government extremism is on the rise. The film will re-air on MSNBC on Friday at 10 PM ET and Sunday at 9 PM ET.

There’s a lot of confusion about “lone wolf” terrorists – even among many psychologists. There’s a tendency in psychology and law enforcement to define a “lone wolf” as simply someone who has no accomplices. It’s far more complicated than that.

In Kathleen’s 2001 study for the Counterterrorism Division of the FBI (summarized in the second part of our book “Hunting the American Terrorist”), she found a unique psychology at work in “lone wolves” like Theodore Kaczynski that was shared by others like McVeigh and Eric Robert Rudolph, the Olympic Park Bomber.

Unfortunately, however, many in the media seem determined to view protests against government policies that are being currently expressed by the “Tea Party” movement as directly linked to the danger of extremist violence like that planned by the Hutaree faction in Michigan. In the Newsweek blog DECLASSIFIED on April 16, Mark Hosenball quoted a “leaked” 2009 Homeland Security report on a resurgence in right wing extremism as “prescient,” and characterized “conservative activists and pundits” who reacted angrily to speculation that military veterans were a potentially dangerous component in right wing extremism as making the Department of Homeland Security “gun-shy” in dealing with the issue. http://tinyurl.com/yylonj6

The unfortunate result is that, as usual, there’s been a polarization of opinion on this that has swerved both right and left and dangerously confused the issue.

We congratulate Toby Oppenheimer and his team, and we’ll be watching this MSNBC special avidly tomorrow night with hopes that the lessons we learned during our experiences with right wing extremist violence in the 1990s are represented in as balanced a way as was possible for them to do it in this current atmosphere.

Every citizen – regardless of political convictions and beliefs – should pay attention to the real danger posed by the lone wolves among us, whether they act on the ideologies of the far right or the far left. Simply put, it’s up to all of us to recognize real threats in the middle of impassioned rhetoric, and to communicate real and useful information about them to local and federal law enforcement.

To paraphrase the police sergeant in the old television show: Let’s ALL be careful out there.


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