Former Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick said that President Barack Obama should speak in front of members of the militia movement to calm down rhetoric in the midst of a resurgent anti-government movement.
Gorelick was speaking Friday as part of a panel discussion marking the 15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing on Monday. On April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh blew up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, killing 168 people. McVeigh, an anti-government extremist who was hoping to spark a revolt against the federal government, was convicted, sentenced to the death penalty and executed on June 11, 2001.
“It is harder to demonize someone who is real and right in front of you,” said Gorelick, now of WilmerHale. “Although it was a long time ago, our experience dealing with militia groups in the aftermath of Oklahoma City was pretty powerful.”
According to Gorelick, after the bombing, the Justice Department asked the FBI to approach militia movements across the country and tell them they could speak out and hold exercises in the woods but that they couldn’t threaten violence against the government. President Bill Clinton also went to Michigan State and spoke to students and members of the militia movement and thanked those who had opposed the bombing.
Gorelick recommended that Obama try a similar approach.
“I see these things as waves, and I believe we’re having another wave right now, it feels that way to me, and I’m hoping there’s something short of a catharsis — which in the case of Oklahoma City and the abortion clinic bombings and others has been death — that will stop that pendulum swing,” said Gorelick.