From The Austin American Statesman via Information Clearing House:
Bone Thugs: Bush Puts America on Death Row
Written by Chris Floyd
Thursday, 16 March 2006
Hardened cynics often accuse President George W. Bush of ruthlessly exploiting
the tragedy of 9/11 to advance his pre-set agenda of killing a whole heap of foreigners.
This is, of course, a calumnious slander against the Dear Leader's noble ambitions.
For as he clearly demonstrated last week, Bush is also exploiting the tragedy of
9/11 to advance his pre-set agenda to kill a whole heap of Americans as well.
In yet another of those momentous degradations of public morality that go
unremarked by the ever-vigilant watchdogs of the national media, Bush slipped
a measure into the revamped "Patriot (sic) Act" he signed last week that will
allow him to expedite the death penalty process across the land, the Austin American-Statesman reports. Prisoners just aren't being killed fast enough for ole
George, you see. They hang on for years and years, using all them lawyer
tricks and court procedures and what all, that DNA hocus-pocus and habeas
corpus junk, or even new testimony showing that they're innocent – as if
that mattered. No, you got to strap 'em down and shoot 'em up with that
poison juice lickety-split, churn those convict corpses out like so much prime
pork sausage – the way ole George did it when he was head honcho down in Texas.
This remarkably vindictive and bloodthirsty measure – which has absolutely
nothing to do with the "war on terrorism" or "homeland security," the ostensible
subjects of the Patriot Act – strips the judiciary of its supervision over state-devised
"fast track" procedures to speed up the execution process. The history of the
move actually goes back to that remarkably vindictive and bloodthirsty precursor
to the Bush Regime known as the Reagan Administration. During that glorious
"morning in America," it became all the rage to "cut the red tape" that kept
prisoners alive until the appeals process had run its course and determined there
were no egregious errors in their cases before the government killed them.
The tape-cutting crusade was led by then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who
once ruled that even new proof of innocence was no bar to killing a prisoner if state
courts had earlier upheld his conviction, the Washington Times reports. Urged
on by Rehnquist – who was executed by God last year – several states went the
fast-track route, limiting the time that prisoners have to file petitions and narrowing
the range of factors that judges can consider in death-row appeals.
Unfortunately, America's courts were not yet fully packed with hard-right cadres,
and even the vulturous Rehnquist couldn't keep them all in line. Fast-track options
in state after state were struck down by federal judges – because the fast-trackers'
overall death penalty systems were such a shambles, riddled with literally fatal
incompetence. One glaring example could be found in – where else? – Texas, where
Guv Dub was mowing them down on his way to becoming the greatest mass killer
in modern American history, with 152 notches on his belt.
Bush had set up a veritable execution assembly line in his fiefdom, aided by his
trusty legal aide, Alberto Gonzales. Knowing just what the boss wanted, Al would
prepare dumbed-down capsules of death penalty cases, stripping away pesky
details like "ineffective counsel, conflict of interest, mitigating evidence and even
actual evidence of innocence," as Alan Berlow reported in the Atlantic Monthly.
Bush would "sometimes" bother to look at the reports, sometimes not, Gonzales
said. In his six years as governor, Bush spared only one condemned prisoner from
execution: the serial killer Henry Lee Lucas. All the rest – including women, juvenile
offenders, even the mentally retarded – got the spike.
Yet one in every eight death row inmates have been exonerated since America
resumed the death penalty in 1976, the Washington Times reports – an astonishing
percentage of false imprisonment in capital cases. It is virtually impossible that
Bush did not kill some innocent people with his relentless 152-1 execution ratio.
In 1996, the courts put a crimp in Bush's carnival of death, ruling that Texas failed
to meet "minimum competency standards" for the fast-track system. He had to
make do with the old-fashioned appeals process, which slowed but never stopped
his killing spree: he averaged almost two executions a month during the course of
But he never forgot – or forgave – the judicial interference with his dominion over
life and death. How it must have rankled, to think that this judicial brake on wholesale
state-sponsored slaughter still existed in the Homeland, when he – the great
Commander, breaker of nations – could now order the "extra-judicial killing" of
anyone on earth whom he arbitrarily deemed a "terrorist" and send mighty armies
to grind tens of thousands of people into bloody mulch. Who would dare put fetters
on the god-like sway of the "unitary executive"?
So now he has taken his revenge. The backdoor measure in the Patriot Act decrees
that responsibility for awarding fast-track death-penalty status to the states will
now be the sole prerogative of the U.S. Attorney General – one Alberto Gonzales.
Yes, the fawning minion whose perversions of law on behalf of his boss have abetted
murderous war, systematic torture, mass corruption, assassination, abduction,
rendition, dictatorship – and the slipshod Texas death machinery – will now decide
if states are legally scrupulous enough to resume lickety-split executions. You can
hear those sausage grinders gearing up all over America.
God only knows what festering psychic wounds drive these spiritual cripples and
their obsession with death. But for them, power isn't real unless it's written on the
body of another human being – a prisoner, guilty or not; an "enemy," real or imagined;
or the multitude of slaughtered innocents whose only crime was living in a land that
the cripples wanted to conquer.
This is an expanded version of the column appearing in the March 17 edition of
The Moscow Times. .