Michael Fortier to Get New Identity on Release

Yesterday I wrote about Michael Fortier's impending release Friday from prison. He's done with his 12 year sentence--he served 10 1/2 years, 85%. Fortier pleaded guilty to knowing about plans to bomb the Oklahoma City federal building in 1995 and not reporting it to authorities, as well as lesser offenses.

Tonight the Dallas Morning News reports that Fortier, his wife Lori (who received immunity from prosecution in exchange for her testimony against McVeigh and Nichols) and their children will immediately be whisked off into the Witness Protection program, given new identities and moved to a new location.

This reaction by one of the survivors of the bombing is particularly insightful:

"I wouldn't be surprised if he gets right back into what he was into and get into trouble," said Janet Beck, a Social Security Administration claims representative who survived the blast. "That's my complaint against the justice system. They're so busy trying to control people, they don't do much in terms of education and helping them to readjust."

Michael Maguire (Mack), Fortier's lawyer, has done a great job defending Fortier for the past ten years. Fortier is lucky to have him. Mack also shows his media savvy with comments like these, that do not defend what Fortier did, but try to humanize him and portray his remorse.

"Fortier has been held accountable for everything he did," Mr. McGuire said. "He's done his sentence. He owes nobody at this point."

Mr. McGuire said he wouldn't attempt to compare Mr. Fortier's shattered life with those who lost loved ones in the blast, but added: "He will always carry the burden and personal anguish of what he should have done and didn't do before the bombing. "That will never leave him."

His strategy has paid off. Here's what another victim, the father of two children injured in the blast had to say:

"McVeigh already got his punishment, and Nichols will be in prison for the rest of his life," Jim Denny, whose two children, Brandon and Rebecca, were injured in the blast, told The Associated Press. "Let this guy get out and get on with his life."

Update: Budd Welch, the father of Julie Welch who was killed in the bombing and later became an active, vocal opponent of the death penalty, had this to say:

Bud Welch, whose daughter, Julie, was killed in the bombing, said he phoned Fortier's mother, Irene Fortier, shortly after learning that Michael Fortier was to be released.

"I told her that I had received the letter (about her son's release) and that I was OK with that. I just wished her and her family well." Welch said. "I wish them peace for the rest of their lives as they try to put their lives back together."

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    The government's star witness in the Oklahoma City bombing case is looking forward to spending time with family after serving his sentence, his attorney said Wednesday. If I was one of his children, I would be completely ashamed to have him as a father. And highly insensitive for him to even say that considering all the children who died and their parents can no longer hold them in their arms again.

    As a 1995 Bombing Survivor, I was very shocked to get my notification Michael was being released. I do not watch the news, nor do I read a newspaper. After some research I feel it is okay for him to be out of prison. He probably does need to be in the witness protection plan for many reasons. What is done is done, he has served his time our Government has sentenced to. He and his wife will live with the horrible nightmares of what they should have done. They can't go back in time to change their mistakes no more than anyone else can. I hope they will cherish their children and thank God their whole family is intact and not disabled or maimed for the rest of their lives.