Saving 49 Lives (Part 2), The First Action Step

(10 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

cross-posted from The Dream Antilles

Yesterday I wrote about the 49 people facing the death penalty in the federal courts because of decisions made by previous, Bushco AGs, and that these were lives we could save.  This essay continues that discussion.

The Bush Justice Department went far, far off the tracks on torture, rendition, black sites, wiretapping, the federal death penalty, and on and on and on.  It went so far afield that articles about this evening’s expected confirmation of Eric Holder as Attorney General note the gigantic changes expected at DoJ from the new, Obama Administration.  The NY Times, for example, writes:

The Justice Department, probably more than any other agency here, is bracing for a broad doctrinal shift in policies from those of the Bush administration, department lawyers and Obama administration officials say.

Please join me below.

Eric H. Holder Jr., whom the Senate is expected to confirm on Monday as the nation’s 82nd attorney general, plans to take the oath of office that evening to demonstrate a quick start, which will include overseeing the creation of a new detention policy for terrorism suspects.

Mr. Holder will have to contend with that and other issues rapidly. Lawyers inside and outside the department say he will face crushing time constraints. Chief among them is a pledge by President Obama to close the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, within a year. Mr. Holder and a department task force must find a solution to the question of what to do with the remaining prisoners there and any apprehended in the future.

“This will be a sea change of what went on before,” said an Obama administration lawyer, noting that the principal authority over detention policies will move from the Defense Department under the Bush administration to the Justice Department.

The article also enumerates several of the important, pending cases in which AG Holder’s DoJ has to make immediate decisions about the scope of habeas corpus and the state secret defense, among other topics, and anticipated changes in the Civil Rights Division.

Missing entirely from the article is mention of the 49 people presently facing federal death sentences.  Have they been forgotten?  Is the present administration going to permit their trials to go ahead and, if they are convicted, allow them to be executed?  Are these 49 lives so unimportant that they don’t require any attention?  Shouldn’t the administration revisit the Bush AGs’ decisions that these cases were somehow appropriate ones in which to seek the death penalty?

Yesterday I wrote that we should be asking Attorney General Holder to review all of the previous administration’s decisions to seek the death penalty in these cases.  I pointed out that imo many of the federal death cases were selected for the political purpose of “federalizing” the death penalty, and not because of any specific non-political reason.  I didn’t request any specific action.

Today, I’m asking you, dear reader, to send an email via asking that the Attorney General review each of the pending federal death penalty designated cases to determine whether the death penalty is appropriate.  The consequence of this, I hope, will eventually be a de novo review of each of the cases, the recognition that the United States, like the overwhelming majority of other nations in the world, can do very well with a maximum sentence, should there be a conviction, of life without parole, and that in light of this and other circumstances, seeking the federal death penalty is inappropriate.  This review may actually save lives.

Please send an email to AG holder at  Your message has to be limited to 500 characters.  Here’s some help (497 characters):

Please review all of the determinations made by previous administrations to seek the federal death penalty.  There are 49 defendants who presently face the death penalty because of decisions made by former attorneys general.  Many of these decisions overruled local US Attorneys’ views, were politically motivated, and do not meet the expressed criteria of the present administration for seeking execution. Such a review can save lives and restore confidence in the justice department.  Thank you.

Please join me.


Skip to comment form

  1. Makes me feel like an incipient Alice’s Restaurant Massacre.

    Thanks for reading.

  2. I sent the email — was hoping you’d have some kind of action item we could do here.

Comments have been disabled.