Parallel Lives: Bill Clinton and Timothy McVeigh

Timothy McVeigh was a psychopath, as was his chief antagonist:

The plan Reno approved and took to President Clinton for approval contemplated the children choking in the gas unprotected for forty-eight hours if necessary, to produce the requisite “maternal feelings”. By taking aim at the children with potentially lethal gas, their mothers would be compelled, according to the FBI plan repeatedly defended by the Clinton administration afterwards as “rational” planning, to flee with them into the arms of those trying to gas them. [Emphasis added.]

An independent report on Waco written by the Harvard Professor of Law and Psychiatry, Alan A. Stone, for the then Deputy Attorney General Philip Heymann, says it “is difficult to believe that the US government would deliberately plan to expose twenty-five children, most of them infants and toddlers, to CS gas for forty-eight hours”. Unfortunately, however, that appears to have been exactly the plan.

The effect of CS gas on an unprotected infant exposed for only two to three hours is discussed in the report; in that case report, dating from the early 1970s, the child’s symptoms during the first twenty-four hours were upper respiratory; but, within forty-eight hours his face showed evidence of first degree burns, and he was in severe respiratory distress typical of chemical pneumonia. The infant had cyanosis, required urgent positive pressure pulmonary care, and was hospitalized for twenty– eight days. Other signs of toxicity appeared, including an enlarged liver.

Professor Stone’s report is measured, careful and damning. It is hard to know whether Heymann’s courage in commissioning it was a reason for his subsequent departure from the Justice Department. In the mean time, questions about the performance of the Justice Department are treated by the Clinton administration not as serious allegations of criminal activity, but as little more than a below-the-belt salvo in the culture wars.

I was shocked to read in Stone’s report that the Justice Department had undertaken, and had defended in the press as such, activities which if conducted in wartime would constitute war crimes. Because exposing the children to CS gas was the point of the FBI exercise: no children exposed, no pressure.

You can argue, “Well, Bill Clinton only accepted the plan because it was the FBI bringing it to him.” The fact is that all sorts of plans get thrown on a president’s desk, many of which should never get that far. That’s when a sane person in the Oval Office comes in handy, because a sane person has swift and certain prudential judgement on a question like gassing children to incite emotions in adults that will theoretically produce a specific behavior by those adults.

But Bill Clinton could barely keep his mask of sanity on straight (the evidence for that goes well beyond his behavior with respect to Waco). Underneath that mask he had nothing even resembling a fully formed conscience. He was an exact parallel with McVeigh, who also wore a mask of sanity throughout the execution of his own deadly plan to exact vengeance for Waco (a mask not sufficient to pass muster with a group like the Michigan Militia, which booted him out). Informed as he was by the neo-Nazi novel, The Turner Diaries, McVeigh took the fantasy vengeance of that into reality in the face of government directed vengeance signed off on by Clinton. McVeigh wasn’t a critic of Clinton; he wanted to be his direct competitor.

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