Friday, December 29, 2006

The Butcher of Baghdad Meets His Just Fate

December 29, 2006

I am watching cable news with morbid fascination awaiting the news of former Iraqi dictator Suddam Hussein's fate. He dies within the next 24 hours as ordered by an Iraqi tribunal, the order signed into effect by the Iraqi government. I thought it was particularly polite of the government and prosecutors to bring only 148 counts of what we would call "deliberate homicide" against him when in fact he surely gave orders and maintained culpability in well over one hundred thousand sanctioned murders. Since the executioner can only hang him once I suppose it would've been overkill to waste everybody's time and money tying up the boisterous legal proceedings in Iraq with cases involving that many victims. How interesting to see updates on the "cable news giants" every few minutes telling us that Saddam's time is at hand. During their broadcasts this past year pinning the administration on their justification for the war and weapons of mass destruction, little if any attention was paid to the biggest weapon of mass destruction in the region over the past decade. Saddam's own hands murdered as many as five hundred canisters of mustard gas or a dirty bomb ever could. Don't believe what you hear about the war. The media flexed their muscles this past election and helped (not caused) dupe an already dumbed down American populace into believing the "know nothing and do less" Democrats had the secular agenda to save America. Don't you just love editorial slant.

I am a fence-sitter in the capital punishment debate. In theory and philosophy, I am a supporter of the death penalty. Of course old Saddam's issue is not part or parcel of America's capital punishment system but some of the same questions exist. In America, short of having lived in a cave for the last twenty or so years, anyone with any intellectual aptitude concedes there are significant problems with the old death factories like those in the Oklahoma and Texas Departments of Correction. In short, several innocent men have been executed based on faulty crime lab work and always unreliable witness identification and testimony. The scientific breakthroughs and protocols in DNA testing made the decision a little easier for me.

To fix it, let's keep it simple. Retest all physical evidence for those on death row. A match is a match is a match is a match. Suspend all capital punishment until every state complies with DNA testing on these individuals. If DNA is not applicable within the evidentiary confines of a particular case, no death sentence can be given. If DNA matches exist and appeals are exhausted, then on with the show. It is not difficult and what a relief to prosecutors and defense attorneys alike. More deals can be struck lightening the load on overburdened dockets and the monsters with DNA matches in capital cases can be expedited to their just desserts. As for Saddam it doesn't really matter. In a society that prides itself on cutting off hands for stealing cookies and denigrating women in a male-dominated culture, it probably would've taken more than DNA to save the Butcher of Baghdad.

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