NO more delays, Ashcroft says

Sunday, May 13th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ The 30-day delay that U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft ordered in the execution of Timothy McVeigh is the only one he will grant, Ashcroft said in a published report.

``We feel that ample time has been provided, and I have no intention of further extending this deadline,'' Ashcroft told The Daily Oklahoman by phone late Friday. The newspaper reported the development in a copyright story in Sunday's editions.

McVeigh was scheduled to be executed Wednesday for the 1995 bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building, which killed 168 people including 19 children.

McVeigh, 33, has confessed to the attack and said he is ready to die. Ashcroft ordered the delay Friday because thousands of pages of investigative materials were withheld from defense lawyers.

McVeigh would have to go to court to get a further delay. Defense attorneys have been given 3,135 pages of FBI reports. McVeigh attorney Rob Nigh declined to discuss what he has seen in the documents.

``It's a slow process. I'm at the very beginning of it,'' said Nigh, who did not plan to meet with McVeigh on Saturday. ``We had a long meeting yesterday and we resolved all issues for the time being.''

Ashcroft called The Oklahoman on Friday night to say he was thinking of the victims.

``I thought long and hard about this, and it wasn't without serious consideration of the emotions and the hurt and the uncertainty and the problems that have already been those of the victims,'' he said.

``The last thing I want to do is to distress people who have already endured a kind of pain that none of us can even understand, let alone would want to endure.

``I just felt like there had to be a clarity in the mind of the American public that our responsibilities were carried out in advance of this final act to bring closure to this whole episode.''

Ashcroft visited Oklahoma City on April 10 to meet with victims and their relatives and to tour the Oklahoma City National Memorial. He agreed a few days later to let victims watch the execution on closed-circuit television in Oklahoma City.

Friday night, Ashcroft sought to reassure victims who are worrying McVeigh could get a new trial.

``I do not believe it in any way signals that _ in any way,'' he said. ``We are not of a mind that these documents are in any way exculpatory.

``This individual has asserted in his own words his involvement,'' Ashcroft said. '' ... These documents are not going to create any basis _ that I could in any way foresee _ for a new trial.''