Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Deterring suicide bombers with the death penalty, and more genius from the Texas congressional delegation

The WP reported today that the US House slipped "little-noticed" provisions to expand the federal death penalty into the renewal of the USA PATRIOT Act.

While the provisions themselves are bad, and the way they were added with no debate also shameful, I want to focus on the dumbass Texan at the center of it. From the Post:

The death penalty provisions were added as an amendment by Rep. John Carter (R-Tex.), who had originally proposed the changes in a separate bill called the Terrorist Death Penalty Enhancement Act. The same package was included in a House intelligence reform bill last year but was stripped out during conference negotiations with the Senate, officials said.

Carter spokeswoman Gretchen Hamel said the proposals are important because "the congressman believes capital punishment is a deterrent for all kinds of crimes, including terrorism."

Only a fucking idiot -- and a fucking idiot from a trigger-happy state like Texas -- could actually say something this stupid. First off, there's never been any evidence the death penalty is a deterrent to crime.

Second, not even law enforcement themselves believes that -- and I've seen them testify as such at legislative hearings. Third, in surveys of criminals and academic research on how criminals make decisons (I recommend this) it seems that the likelihood of getting caught is pretty much the only thing they consider, if they consider anything at all.

And fourth, of course, is that it's moronic to think that you deter terrorists and suicide bombers with the threat of death. (Maybe if you caught them alive, they might look forward to death if it meant an end to Al Gonzales-sanctioned interrogation techniques.)

You have to wonder if anyone read Carter spokeswoman Gretchen Hamel's quote before she put it out. Was she off the cuff with the reporter? Is she being ridiculed around the capitol today and feeling stupid? Or -- and this would be the worst -- did she write that line, run it by her Chief of Staff and the Congressman, have them consciously approve it, and then happily release it?