President George W. Bush should grant clemency to Timothy McVeigh, Human Rights Watch said in a letter to the president.

Human Rights Watch said that the last-minute revelation that the Federal Bureau of Investigation withheld thousands of pages of documents from McVeigh's defense counsel underscored the inherent imperfections and fallibility of criminal prosecutions.

"If the FBI could fail to turn over documents in a case this important, think what happens in the thousands of lesser cases where the death penalty is also meted out," said Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch. "The death penalty is invariably plagued by arbitrariness, prejudice and error, and it should surely be abolished."

Human Rights Watch urged President Bush to exert human rights leadership by granting clemency to McVeigh and commuting his sentence to life imprisonment without parole. The group said that such a commutation would adequately serve the nation's legitimate interest in justice for this atrocious crime.