New Oklahoma City federal building dedicated
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ A new, secure federal building was dedicated Monday as a symbol of freedom by U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, nine years after its predecessor was destroyed by a terrorist bomb.
``Today, I'm reminded that terrorists will never succeed,'' Ashcroft said. ``This gathering, this building, this city are clear evidence, a demonstration of the kind of spirit in America showing that men and women who are allowed to breath the bracing air of freedom will always come together to defeat tyranny, the tyranny of fear and hatred.''
He also read a statement from President Bush:
``Nine years ago, America was shaken by the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. Citizens responded with strength and compassion and this new federal building will stand as a proud symbol of perseverance. By rebuilding in the face of loss, we honor both those who have survived and those who died that day and we renew our commitment to a more peaceful and secure world.''
The three-story building is kitty-corner from the site where the Murrah building once stood and a block from the memorial to the 168 people killed in the bombing.
Ashcroft said the nation will not forget those killed.
``It is because we hold every life precious that this nation will never bow to terror,'' he said before a crowd of about 600 people on a sunny and breezy morning.
He said Oklahoma City showed leadership in the wake of the attack.
``The response to the attack here is an example of leadership for all of America, indeed for the world,'' Ashcroft said. ``It is an example that in spite of pain and bloodshed that we move forward in defense of the liberty and the freedom that we cherish.''
Security features in the new building include shatterproof glass, a steel-plated main entrance and concrete plugs designed to prevent vehicles from getting too close. The bomb that destroyed the Murrah building was carried to its front door April 19, 1995, by a Ryder truck driven by Timothy McVeigh. He was executed in 2001.
Co-conspirator Terry Nichols was sentenced in federal court to life in prison and is now on trial on state murder charges and could get the death penalty if convicted.
``Thanks to the help of courageous citizens, local law enforcement, the justice community, those responsible for the craven act of murder here were hunted down and caught, prosecuted, imprisoned,'' Ashcroft said.
``One murderer has met his final end and we will not rest as defenders of liberty and freedom until those who commit terror will be brought to justice.''
The horseshoe-shaped building was constructed at a cost of $33 million.
It houses 11 federal agencies, and three more are planning to move into the building. Six of the agencies in the new building, were formerly housed in the Murrah building, including the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which lost 35 people in the blast. Several HUD employees who didn't want to work in the new building have been allowed to work from home and at an alternate location.
The replacement for the nine-story Murrah building is the first federal building, other than a courthouse, built in the United States in more than 15 years.
Other agencies in the building include the Food and Drug Administration, the Social Security Administration, the Department of Agriculture, Veterans Affairs, General Services Administration and offices for the Army and Marines.
Construction of the building started in October 2001, and occupants began moving in in December 2003.