Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Hanging AG

By Cernig

So yet another little-known provision in the Patriot Act has reared its very ugly head - the most incompetent Attorney general in American history gets to shorten the time that death row inmates have to appeal convictions to federal courts.

Politically, it's another nail in the once-was-conservative coffin of the GOP. Steven Taylor writes:
We should recall that that the entire US Attorney’s mess was brought to us primarily as a result of the same reauthorization of the Patriot Act, as there was a provision that ceded special powers to the AG–in that case the power to appoint interim USAs was taken away from the judiciary and given to the AG.

Setting aside the thorny issue of the death penalty itself, it is unclear as to why the AG of the United States should be involved in the process at all. It certainly is yet another example of the recent trend in the Republican Party, i.e., an interest more in power than in supposedly long-held principles (in this case, federalism).
Taylor is correct, but let's not set aside the thorny issue of the death penalty - or rather, the thorny issue of whether such a casual zealot for executions should be given extra powers over individual capital cases.

My good pal Kyle Moore is sure the answer should be "under no circumstances". Not just because of the zeal which which Gonzales prepared "clemency memos" designed to usher then-Governor Bush along the path to execution of 152 people in Texas with minimal consideration, but because Gonzales has nothing but contempt for laws which get in his way:
With the same disdain that Gonzo has held the Geneva convention, he has also in his time serving George W. Bush, back in the Texas State government also held little regard for the lesser talked about Vienna convention.

According to this accord, in the instance of a foreign national accused of a capital crime on our soil, we have a responsibility to notify the accused’s home nation, and give them the opportunity to represent the accused in our courts.

This was not the case, however, when it came to Ireno Tristan Montoya, a fisherman who was convicted of murder in Texas. In regards to the Vienna convention, Gonzales would provide a precursor to his actions in the White House by legally ninjaing Texas’ way out of having to follow the Vienna convention in the first place.

The logic? Texas never signed on, so it doesn’t have to play. Though, one might wonder that in regards to international affairs, it might rightly be assumed that Texas stands with the rest of the United States, unless of course it would like to leave the union and become its own nation.

...When it comes to state sponsored execution, Alberto Gonzales has no scruples, and he has no interest in fairness.

Today he is widely under fire for his incompetence. When he doesn’t know what he is doing, which seems like a great deal of the time, things fall apart. But he knows about sending people to the gas chamber, he did it often and did it well, and we must under no circumstances give him the power to do it some more.
Agreed. Congress needs to repeal this additional power to the hanging AG as soon as possible. And next time read the damn thing before passing it, you morons!

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