Wednesday, Mar. 04, 2009

Atlanta's Anguish

Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park was designed as the "town square" of the 1996 Olympics. On July 27, thousands of spectators gathered for a public concert. Unbeknownst to them, Eric Rudolph — a former explosives expert for the United States Army — had planted a knapsack containing three bombs underneath a bench, killing two people and injuring 120. Rudolph believed that "the conception and purpose of the so-called Olympic movement is to promote the values of global socialism" and had hoped to "confound, anger and embarrass the Washington government in the eyes of the world for its abominable sanctioning of abortion on demand."

President Clinton denounced the explosion as an "evil act of terror" and the Games continued as planned. Security guard Richard Jewell, who discovered the bag, was falsely implicated in the bombing, and it took until 2003 for the FBI to nab Rudolph. He's currently serving four life terms, without the possibility of parole, at Colorado's ADX Florence supermax prison.

Read a TIME cover story on the Atlanta Games.