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GOVERNMENT opposes appeal to videotape McVeigh's execution

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Justice Department asked the Supreme Court not to allow a videotape of Timothy McVeigh's execution, saying the filming could sensationalize the Oklahoma City bomber's death.

A request to allow the filming was before the Supreme Court on Sunday, but there was no indication when the court would rule. McVeigh is scheduled to be executed by injection on Monday morning.

Lawyers for a man who could face the same method of execution asked the court's permission to tape his death, saying the footage could be helpful in their legal argument that lethal injection is unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment.

The taping would be done unobtrusively, and the footage would not be released to the public, the lawyers argued in an appeal filed Saturday.

But the Justice Department said taping the execution risks sensationalizing it, and poses security and privacy problems as well.

``In light of the ubiquitous interest in the Oklahoma City bombing, the mere creation of a videotape of McVeigh's execution would present the government with unique challenges,'' Acting Solicitor General Barbara Underwood wrote.

The taping request came from lawyers for Joseph Minerd, a Pennsylvania man charged in a 1999 bombing that killed his pregnant former girlfriend and her daughter.

Federal prosecutors have indicated they will seek the death penalty in Minerd's case. If convicted and sentenced to death Minerd would be executed in the same Terre Haute, Ind., death chamber where McVeigh is scheduled to die for the 1995 bombing that killed 168 people and wounded scores of others.

A tape should be made to document whether the McVeigh execution goes as smoothly as the government says it will, Minerd's defense team said.

``Given the widespread attention on Mr. McVeigh's execution, problems with that execution would demonstrate that no authority could guarantee that execution by lethal injection would go smoothly,'' Minerd's lawyers wrote.

McVeigh's scheduled execution would be the first carried out by the federal government since 1963.

In its eight-page response, the Justice Department urged the Supreme Court not to overturn a lower court ruling that blocked the taping.

``It is well settled that the lethal injection form of execution passes muster under the Eighth Amendment'' to the Constitution, barring cruel and unusual punishment, the Justice filing said.
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