Capture of John Doe I and II


American citizens can breathe relief and deep satisfaction that "one of the individuals believed to be responsible" for the Oklahoma City atrocity has been in jail since an hour and a half after the event. Gratitude is owed the Oklahoma lawmen who stopped Timothy McVeigh for traffic reasons, found a gun in his possession and locked him up. They found they had the FBI's "John Doe No. 1" in custody. Hours later Terry Nichols, the second suspect, turned himself in.

All Americans will applaud the steely resolve that has been shown in the well-coordinated effort to hunt suspects down. Agencies of the government sometimes said to be in rivalry have cooperated with each other superlatively. Foreign regimes, whatever differences of opinion they may have with Washington on other matters, offered every cooperation. The speedy return of a possible witness from London was commendable.

President Clinton, Attorney General Janet Reno and FBI Director Louis Freeh have been disciplined in discouraging speculation about the motive and extent of the conspiracy until they know all there is to know. That time is not yet, though the investigation appears to be progressing rapidly.

It is a matter of national sadness but not surprise that the %J terrorists making war on all Americans with this atrocity have at least included some Americans, whether or not there was another dimension. The world thinks us a violent country. Things blow up in our TV entertainment -- one of our leading exports -- all the time. Hate is on the rise in this country. Gunfire is commonplace.

The harassment of some Arab-Americans and immigrants, as widely reported in the wake of the bombing, was always wrong and was always a service only to the terrorists, whoever those terrorists would turn out to be.

President Clinton yesterday afternoon proudly listed the work of federal agencies in preventing acts of terrorism by an Arab group working in this country, with a spectacular trial of 11 defendants now under way in New York. But that never implicated other Arabs resident here, who are as shocked and fearful of terror as everyone else. And it never implied that terrorism is the monopoly of any one group. We all know better than that.

The enforcement work so far has been impressive and leads to confidence the case will be wrapped up sooner rather than later.

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