Bush Team Sells Death Penalty

Diplomacy never was a strong suit of the Bush administration. Even when they attempt it, they’re an international embarrasment. Like this

The Bush administration has instructed U.S. diplomats abroad to defend its decision to seek the death penalty for six Guantanamo Bay detainees accused in the Sept. 11 terror attacks by recalling the executions of Nazi war criminals after World War II.

A four-page cable sent to U.S. embassies and obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press says that execution as punishment for extreme violations of the laws of war is internationally accepted and points to the 1945-46 International Military Tribunals as an example… The unclassified cable was sent by the State Department to all U.S. diplomatic missions worldwide late on Monday.

In it, the department advises American diplomats to refer to Nuremberg if asked by foreign governments or media about the legality of capital punishment in the 9/11 cases.

“International Humanitarian Law contemplates the use of the death penalty for serious violations of the laws of war,” says the cable, which was written by the office of the department’s legal adviser, John Bellinger.

“The most serious war criminals sentenced at Nuremberg were executed for their actions,” it said.

What’s wrong with this picture, evoking the heroic allies who stopped fascism dead and brought its perpetrators to justice? Well, sixty years, for one. Much has happened in the meantime:

At the turn of the last century only three countries had permanently abolished the death penalty for all crimes. Today, at the beginning of the 21st century, over half the countries in the world have abolished the death penalty in law or practice. Indeed, over the past decade more than three countries a year on average have abolished the death penalty in law or having abolished it for ordinary crimes have gone on to abolish it for all crimes. Moreover, once abolished, the death penalty is seldom reintroduced.

This trend reflects the growing awareness that there are alternative punishments to the death penalty that are effective and which do not involve the premeditated and cold-blooded killing of a human being by the state in the name of justice.

Yup. There would be a pretty small coalition of the willing to execute prisoners. Why, you can’t even count on, uh, Uzbekistan:

The trend towards total abolition of the death penalty has continued with Uzbekistan becoming the latest country to put an end to executions.

From 1 January 2008, it becomes the 135th country in the world to abolish the death penalty in law or practice.

You see, the whole world is not Texas. So these four-page “why we kill” talking points ain’t gonna play in the civilized world. Unless they expect them to play in Red States come November. Hmmmm…

And we wondered why it took the Bushies so many years to bring these cases forward?

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