[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----OHIO, GA., KY., PENN., USA
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Mon Jul 19 10:57:30 CDT 2004
Killer's execution set for Tuesday
When his parents hid the keys to his blue Isuzu Trooper to keep him from
going out to buy drugs, Scott Mink snapped. The 36-year-old man got a claw
hammer out of his father's toolbox on the porch and then walked into the
bedroom of his sleeping parents.
William and Sheila Mink, 79 and 72, were bludgeoned with the hammer,
stabbed with kitchen knives and beaten with cutting boards. Sheila Mink
also was strangled, her neck broken with an electric cord.
Scott Mink then bought drugs by selling his parents' possessions,
including pictures off the walls of the upstairs duplex where the 3 lived
in the community of Union, just northwest of Dayton. 4 days later, Mink
turned himself in to police and confessed to killing the couple.
Mink pleaded guilty to their murders and currently sits on death row,
scheduled to be executed Tuesday for the September 2000 slayings. Last
week, the Ohio Parole Board by a 7-0 vote recommended that Gov. Bob Taft
Mink told a court-appointed psychologist: "I deserve it. ... I really
don't want to die, but the severity of the crime and the circumstances fit
the death penalty for me."
Mink, now 40, declined requests for an interview. Calls seeking comment
from his brother and 3 sisters were not returned.
Mink's execution -- three years from when he was convicted -- would be the
fastest an Ohio inmate's death sentence was carried out since the state
re-enacted the death penalty in 1981. The previous fastest occurred with
Wilford Berry, who was executed in 1999 after being convicted in 1990.
Mink also would be the first inmate executed since that time to plead
Dan Brandt, assistant Montgomery County prosecutor, said Mink deserves the
"The crimes themselves were especially heinous in nature due to the fact
that they were the defendants' own parents and were brutally attacked
while they lay in bed sleeping," Brandt said. "And there was the ferocious
nature of the killings themselves."
The youngest of five children, Mink graduated from Colonel White High
School in Dayton and took a few courses at Sinclair Community College. He
never married and lived with his parents most of his life.
Tired of their son's growing crack habit, the Minks had set a 10 p.m.
curfew and sometimes hid the keys to his truck. Mink complained that his
parents treated him like a child and that his father would only give him
$10 or $20 at a time for spending money.
Just before they died, the Minks told their son he would have to find a
place of his own because they would be moving to a smaller apartment.
They never got the chance.
After the attack on his parents, Mink found his keys. He took $7 and his
father's ATM card. Mink withdrew $10 with the ATM card because there was
only $12 in the account and bought a fake substance he thought was crack.
The next day Mink sold his father's Ford Escort for $50 to $100 worth of
crack. The day after that, he traded his parents' television for $30 in
drugs. He later sold a lounge chair, a clock and pictures off the wall for
money to buy drugs.
William and Sheila Minks' bodies were found four days after they were
slain when their daughters drove to the apartment to check on them and
then called police.
Mink turned himself in to Tipp City police, telling them he had done
something awful. He later confessed to killing his parents.
On Oct. 4, 2000, Mink was indicted on charges of aggravated murder with
death penalty specifications. The following April, he announced his
intention to waive a jury trial, plead guilty and waive his right to
present any evidence on his behalf.
Thomas Martin, a court-appointed psychologist who evaluated Mink, said
Mink told him he did not fear death.
"I have a firm belief that I still have a chance of getting into heaven;
God can forgive," Mink said.
(source: Associated Press)
Lawyers Rally Around Death Row Inmate Case
Defense attorneys are rallying around the case of a death row inmate
scheduled to die for kidnapping, raping and murdering his 2-year-old
niece. They argue that DNA tests on 2 newly discovered hairs could prove
he isn't the killer.
Eddie Albert Crawford, 57, faced execution Monday by injection after 20
years on death row for the 1983 killing of Leslie Michelle English in
Griffin. Crawford claims he blacked out after heavy drinking and doesn't
remember what happened.
Several defense attorneys are seeking DNA testing of two hairs found on
the girl's body and clothing to determine if they belong to Crawford or
someone else. The attorneys hope the courts will find that prisoners have
a constitutional right to have such existing evidence tested.
The state parole board denied their requests Friday. Crawford was
originally set to die last December before the Georgia Supreme Court put
his execution on hold pending DNA testing of several items taken from the
crime scene. But the high court then ruled that even if the items tested
positive for someone else's DNA, that wouldn't clear Crawford.
State courts have ruled additional DNA testing inadmissible on 4 occasions
because Crawford still would have been found guilty, said Spalding County
District Attorney Bill McBroom. 2 separate juries convicted Crawford and
sentenced him to death, even after the Georgia Supreme Court overturned
the 1st conviction, McBroom said.
"Just because you find some hairs out there, you have to show it's
connected to the crime," McBroom said. "He killed a 2 1/2-year-old girl,
took her out of the bed in the middle of the night, raped her, strangled
her, took her out in the woods and dumped her body. That's pretty bad to
Crawford's attorney at his first trial, Tamara Jacobs, said she still has
doubts that someone else perhaps committed the crime. 3 men convicted or
accused of child molestation, including some family members, may have had
access to the girl that night.
"This one bothers me. It's always bothered me," Jacobs said. "I retain
reasonable doubt as to whether my client had done the deed."
Prosecutors argued at trial he sneaked into the house and kidnapped the
girl after her mother -- his sister-in-law -- refused to have sex with
"You go, 'Gosh, there are people like that? There are people that demented
that would do this to a 2 1/2-year-old child?'" said Angela Ledford, the
girl's cousin. "I'm sorry, but he doesn't deserve to breathe the same air
The new hairs will be tested in the coming weeks by the Georgia Innocence
Project, which attempts to free innocent state prison inmates through DNA
evidence. "We are going to make sure everything gets tested, even if the
execution goes forward," said Aimee Maxwell, the project's executive
In Georgia Case, the Reach of DNA Appeals Is Tested
In the 1st test of a state statute permitting convicts to seek
exonerations through DNA tests, the Georgia Supreme Court and the state
parole board have denied a request from a man scheduled to be executed
Barry Scheck, a lawyer who presented the case to the Board of Pardons and
Paroles last week, said that to his knowledge it was the 1st time a death
row inmate had been denied DNA testing after making every possible appeal
at the state level.
"It's just never happened before," Mr. Scheck said. "Usually some clemency
board, or the governor or someone, will step in." In Georgia, the Board of
Pardons is the final authority on clemency matters.
Mr. Scheck is a founder of the Innocence Project, which has assisted in
the cases of many of the 145 inmates nationwide who have been exonerated
by DNA tests.
Last week, Mr. Scheck argued before the board for Eddie Crawford, offering
to have the Innocence Project pay for the tests. In a friend-of-the-court
brief, he said that in denying the tests in June the Georgia court
"ignores the lessons learned from our nation's recent history of
post-conviction DNA exonerations over the last 15 years."
But after hearing from Mr. Scheck and Bill T. McBroom, the district
attorney of the Griffin Judicial Circuit, where the case was heard, the
board declined on Friday to stay the execution. Heather Hedrick, a
spokeswoman for the board, said it reached its decision because DNA
testing had already proven guilt, there had been overwhelming
circumstantial evidence and Mr. Crawford had confessed shortly after the
Mr. Scheck said there was a great deal of evidence that had never been
tested. "They have nothing to lose," he said. "And I'm mystified and
Mr. Crawford's lawyers, Mark E. Olive and Thomas H. Dunn, have appealed
his case to the United States Supreme Court, providing what they say is
the first opportunity for the court to address the issue. The lawyers hope
that the court will establish that defendants have a constitutional right
to DNA testing of existing evidence.
More than 35 states have enacted laws allowing post-conviction testing,
but standards of eligibility vary. In Kansas, for example, one need show
only that there is related evidence that was not tested; in Georgia, whose
statute was passed in May 2003, one must show that such testing could have
affected the outcome of the case.
Mr. Crawford was convicted on charges that in September 1983 he walked
into the unlocked house of his wife's sister, kidnapped his 2-year-old
niece, Lesley English, assaulted and strangled her at his own home and
dumped her body on the roadside. Mr. Crawford, a Vietnam veteran, is an
alcoholic and at the time suffered from frequent blackouts, according to
courtroom testimony. He claims not to remember the night in question, his
Prosecutors based their case on testimony from the victim's family and
friends, who placed Mr. Crawford at the crime scene that night; statements
Mr. Crawford himself made; and visual comparisons of a pubic hair found on
the body to that of Mr. Crawford, as well as fibers and other hairs that
they said linked him to the crime.
In December, Mr. McBroom, the district attorney, had some evidence tested,
including blood found on a shirt said to have been worn by Mr. Crawford
and hairs found in his car. He said the results showed that the material
tested belonged to a descendant of the victim's mother (there is no DNA
sample from the victim herself).
Mr. Crawford's lawyers say that the tests were actually inconclusive, and
point out that Mr. Crawford was married to the mother's sister. Relatives
acknowledged that the victim had ridden in his car a few days earlier.
It was not until well after he was convicted that Mr. Crawford learned
that the prosecutors had taken several items from his niece's home. No DNA
tests have been done on those items, the pubic hair or vaginal swabs taken
from the girl.
Mr. McBroom said the items taken from the home were inadmissible in court
because they had been seized more than a day after the child's
disappearance. After the defense learned of their existence, he said,
federal courts ruled that they would have had no effect on the trial's
In June, the State Supreme Court, citing the "overwhelming evidence"
against Mr. Crawford, found he had not shown that the results of DNA
testing of any of the objects could reasonably have resulted in his
But Mr. Crawford's lawyers and Mr. Scheck say the evidence presented
against Mr. Crawford is exactly the kind that DNA testing has repeatedly
Their legal brief suggests several potential suspects who they say were
not fully investigated: the victim's great-uncle, who lived in the house
next door, was being investigated for possible molestation of his daughter
and stepdaughter, according to the brief. Across the street lived a
convicted killer who was also under investigation for child molesting. The
ex-husband of the niece's mother had a history of violent altercations
with her and might have just discovered that the girl was not his
Mr. McBroom said the request for DNA testing was simply a gambit to stall
Mr. Crawford's execution. "There is nothing in this case that is newly
discovered," he said.
(source for both: New York Times)
BOYD COUNTY PROSECUTOR'S WITHDRAWAL FROM DEATH PENALTY CASE----'Respect'
I am responding to a July 10 article prompted by a prosecutor in Boyd
County who, because of his faith, would not seek death for an alleged
murderer. Other prosecutors, who are also ministers, do not find a
conflict between their jobs and their faith.
As one who opposes the death penalty, I take issue with the statement of
Barbara Whaley, an ordained United Methodist minister and special
prosecutor in the Kentucky attorney general's office. She said, "Opponents
to the death penalty generally focus only upon death as a punishment. They
don't focus on the victim."
Not true. I care about the survivors of murder, both the family members
and all who are law-abiding citizens. I am heartened by Murder Victims
Families for Reconciliation, a group of family members and their
supporters that joins me in opposing the use of the death penalty.
My opposition does not focus upon death as a punishment, but on the fact
that I am being asked to approve the killing of another human being.
Life without parole does hold killers accountable and protects society,
though Whaley claims keeping them alive endangers other prisoners. As an
officer of the court, she ought not propose punishing people for what they
might do. That goes against any true sense of justice. To suggest the
state should kill someone in my name because he or she might kill is
I have the utmost respect for the Boyd County prosecutor. Now is the time
for other prosecutors to call for abolition of the death penalty so they
can perform their jobs without having to worry about conflicts with the
teaching of their denominations.
NORMAN LINTON----Louisville 40205
Uphold state's laws
I would like to commend my friend, colleague and former classmate,
Commonwealth's Attorney David Flatt, for stepping up to the plate and
performing not only his sworn duty, but that of Commonwealth's Attorney J.
I don't know Schneider, but wholeheartedly support and encourage his right
and privilege to honor his religious convictions. If Schneider was opposed
in his election, a common platform in a bid for commonwealth's attorney is
that the candidate will uphold the laws of Kentucky and prosecute the
crimes that are presented to him through the grand jury system. Further, a
promise to uphold Kentucky's laws was part of the oath of office he took.
I am certain that Schneider was aware of the state of the law in Kentucky
regarding the death penalty, and if he could not, in good conscience or
because of religious convictions, uphold that law, then as an officer of
the court and as a Christian he should not have sworn to do so.
There are many good, Christian prosecutors throughout this commonwealth
who have sought the death penalty because in certain cases it is
appropriate and warranted by the facts. It is the law in Kentucky.
Would Schneider have the public believe that prosecutors who carry out
their sworn duties in full cannot be Christians? I take issue with that,
and with the implied discreditation of all those current and past
Christian prosecutors who have stood tall and mightily performed their
jobs, irrespective of the difficulty or danger involved.
CATHERINE BROWN CAPPS----Former Assistant, Commonwealth's Attorney,
Burkesville, Ky. 42717
Execution order put on hold by judge
An execution warrant for a man convicted of killing 2 people during an
argument about professional basketball was stayed by a Philadelphia judge
(last) Thursday, the same day Gov. Ed Rendell signed it.
Isaac Mitchell, 53, was convicted of killing 2 bystanders during an
argument over whether Allen Iverson or Gary Payton was the better
Rendell had set Isaac Mitchell's execution for Sept. 9. Instead, a hearing
on Mitchell's post-conviction appeals was scheduled for Aug. 18.
Mitchell was convicted in March 1999 in the shooting deaths of Jamika
Wright, 22, and Derrick Washington, 21. Prosecutors said Mitchell began
shooting after one of his sons got into the argument with another man. The
victims had nothing to do with the argument, they said.
The state Supreme Court upheld the death sentence on Dec. 30, 2003.
The execution warrant was the 19th signed by Rendell. Since 1995,
Pennsylvania governors have signed a total of 286 execution warrants, and
227 people are currently on death row. 3 executions have been carried out,
the most recent in July 1999.
(source: Associated Press)
Juvenile Death Penalty Opposed; Opinion to be Shared in Supreme Court Case
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Society for Adolescent
Medicine (SAM) released a joint policy statement today opposing the death
penalty for juvenile offenders, which is under consideration by the U.S.
Supreme Court in the case of Roper v. Simmons.
"We should never, ever kill teenagers," said AAP President Carden
Johnston, M.D. "Regardless of the crime, rehabilitation and treatment
should always be the course of action for young people at the state,
federal and international level."
According to the joint statement, the vast majority of adolescents in the
juvenile and criminal justice systems suffer from serious psychological
and physical health problems. They are also more likely to have been
victims of child abuse or neglect and to have experienced school failure
or learning disabilities.
"We view the execution of juvenile offenders as the most fundamental
failure of society," said SAM President Andrea Marks, M.D. "It is our
responsibility to give every adolescent the support they need to grow up
to lead healthy, responsible, and productive lives."
The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the Roper v. Simmons case
during its next session scheduled to begin in October.
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 primary
care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric
surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well being of
infants, children, adolescents and young adults.
SAM is a multidisciplinary organization of 1400 health professionals
committed to improving the physical and psychological health and well
being of all adolescents.
(sources: American Academy of Pediatrics / Yahoo! News)
Court Asked to End Juvenile Executions----Carter, Gorbachev, 48 Nations
Lobby Supreme Court to End Juvenile Executions
Jimmy Carter, Mikhail Gorbachev, the American Medical Association and 48
nations are among those lobbying the Supreme Court to end the execution of
killers who committed their crimes before age 18.
The United States is among only a handful of nations that allow the
practice. The high court will reconsider this fall whether such executions
A collection of death penalty opponents on Monday planned to challenge the
"By continuing to execute child offenders in violation of international
norms, the United States is not just leaving itself open to charges of
hypocrisy, but is also endangering the rights of many around the world,"
said the filing on behalf of Nobel Peace Prize winners, including former
President Carter and former Soviet President Gorbachev.
"Countries whose human rights records are criticized by the United States
have no incentive to improve their records when the United States fails to
meet the most fundamental, baseline standards," it said.
The 25-nation European Union, plus Mexico, Canada and other nations argued
that execution of juvenile killers "violates widely accepted human rights
norms and the minimum standards of human rights set forth by the United
Mexico noted separately that three of the 73 current death row inmates
condemned for killings that took place before they were 18 are Mexican
The American Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association and
other medical and mental health groups also told the court they oppose
execution of teen killers, as did the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Diplomats including former undersecretary of state Thomas Pickering and
former ambassador to France Felix Rohatyn argued that growing
international consensus against such executions leaves the U.S.
The United States executed more young killers than the rest of the world
combined between 1990 and 2003, the diplomats' filing said.
In the past four years, only five nations have executed juveniles, the
diplomats said: Congo, China, Iran, Pakistan and the United States.
"In no other area of human rights does the United States consider these
nations to be our equals," the filing said.
2 friend-of-the-court briefs filed earlier support continuation of the
"(Our) experience strongly indicates that a bright-line rule categorically
exempting 16- and 17-year-olds from the death penalty no matter how
elaborate the plot, how sinister the killing, or how sophisticated the
cover up would be arbitrary at best and downright perverse at worst,"
lawyers for Alabama, Delaware, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and Virginia told the
Those states are among 19 that allow execution of killers who were 16 or
17 at the time of the crime. Not all states that allow the death penalty
apply it to underage killers, and no state allows the execution of those
who were younger than 16 at the time of the crime.
The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case from Missouri, where the state
Supreme Court declared juvenile executions unconstitutional last year.
Christopher Simmons was 17 when he and an accomplice broke into the
Fenton, Mo., home of Shirley Crook in 1993, then bound her with tape,
electrical wire and the belt from her bathrobe and pushed her off a
railroad bridge to drown.
Prosecutors said Simmons told teenage friends that they would get away
with it because of their ages.
The liberal wing of the 9-justice Supreme Court is already on record
supporting 18 as the minimum age of eligibility for the death penalty.
Those four justices took an extraordinary step in the fall of 2002,
signing a dissent in an appeal by a death row inmate that called it
"shameful" to execute juvenile killers.
"The practice of executing such offenders is a relic of the past and is
inconsistent with evolving standards of decency in a civilized society,"
Justice John Paul wrote then. He was joined by Justices David H. Souter,
Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer.
The issue turns on the Constitution's ban on "cruel and unusual
punishments," and is similar in many ways to the question of whether
mentally retarded killers can be executed for their crime. The Supreme
Court banned that practice in 2002.
The Case is Roper v. Simmons, 03-633.
(source: ABC News)
The Death Penalty: A Capital Idea!
I would venture that the question over which Americans are most
passionately divided isn't abortions or even whether or not Julia Roberts
has any sex appeal, but the issue of capital punishment.
Frankly, I don't understand the position of those who are opposed to
ending a life for taking a life. I mean, aside from murderers and their
cohorts, the criminal defense attorneys, why on earth would anybody object
to society's ridding itself of its most vicious predators?
There are those people who argue that an execution is the same as a
cold-blooded murder. That is such a loony contention that only a pinhead
would ever suggest it. A murder, after all, involves an innocent victim;
an execution doesn't.
The other major difference is that murderers are done away with as
humanely as possible. That is an option that their often-tortured and
mutilated victims are denied. In fact, I find it bizarre that in America
there are only two groups that are provided with merciful, painless
deaths--our beloved pets and our most degenerate psychopaths.
There are those, of course, who draw their inspiration from the Ten
Commandments. Thou Shalt Not Kill, they repeat ad nauseam, unaware, I
assume, that they are parroting a bad translation of Thou Shalt Not
Murder. You don't have to be a biblical scholar to appreciate the enormous
difference between those two words. It is fairly obvious that God had no
qualms when it came to killing in a righteous cause. And what could
possibly be more righteous than to take the life of one who has cruelly
taken another's life? Unlike in a war, there is no collateral damage. No
innocent women and children die when a serial killer is executed. On the
contrary, future atrocities are thus prevented.
Some misguided souls contend that life imprisonment is just as effective a
deterrent. This contention is false for any number of reasons. The first
of which is that deterring a possible crime is secondary to punishing an
actual one. But, so long as a murderer is alive, there's always the chance
he'll do it again--thus endangering prison guards, medical personnel and
fellow inmates. Besides, as proven recently by the outgoing governor of
Illinois, there's nothing to prevent a feeble-minded politician from
pardoning and commuting to his heart's content.
But what about those innocent people who, through judicial error, wind up
on death row? Would I happily see them executed? Of course not. Every
effort must always be made to guarantee that justice be doled out in our
courts. However, if it were left up to me, I wouldn't let a murderer off
because some court of appeals decided after he was convicted that the
guy's lawyer didn't measure up to Clarence Darrow, or the trial judge had
neglected to tell the jury that the defendant had been spanked when he was
a child--and perhaps that's why he grew up to be a mad dog.
I have heard it argued that the death penalty should be eliminated because
far too many blacks and Hispanics are executed. The fact of the matter is
that far too many blacks and Hispanics commit murder. To use the race card
as a reason to eliminate capital punishment is sheer humbug. Study the
statistics and you'll find this to be one area in which minorities
Finally, I resent it when people use the measure of intelligence or sanity
as a reason not to execute a murderer. The well-meaning argument is that
it wouldn't be fair because the defendant wouldn't have the mental
capacity to assist in his own defense. Particularly where the retarded are
concerned, folks like to argue that to do otherwise smacks of Hitler's
Germany. To which, I reply, the Nazis eliminated such people as a matter
of barbaric national policy. Their victims, no matter how kind and decent
they may have been, were doomed. They were not being punished for their
evil acts. As for the necessity that a defendant be able to assist in his
own defense, I say the only appropriate question is whether he was capable
of murdering on his own.
The way some people troop out to hold candlelight vigils every time the
state executes one of these villains, you'd think they were an endangered
species we were eliminating. Ah, if only they were, what a better world
this would be.
Finally, I am sick and tired of people, including members of the murder
victim's own family, who self-righteously forgive the killer. The only
people who have the moral authority to offer forgiveness are the victims.
And I very much doubt if, given the opportunity, any of them ever would.
Furthermore, I don't want to hear anyone insist that life in prison is
worse than death. If that were truly the case, those serving life terms
would all be doing the decent thing for once, and imitating lemmings.
About the Writer: Burt Prelutsky is a humorist, movie reviewer, writer for
television series and movies, and author of the new book, "Conservatives
Are From Mars, Liberals Are from San Francisco." His website is at
http://burtprelutsky.com. Burt receives e-mail at BurtPrelutsky at aol.com.
Open Letter to my fellow Catholics in the U.S.A. (from Robert Thompson)
This is, according to the teachings of our Lord, brought down to us by the
Church, a proper manner in which to address fellow members of the Body of
Christ. When asked to define my religious affiliation, I reply quite
happily that I am a committed practicing Catholic Christian, and I make no
excuses for being such.
Here in France, it is exceptional for the Church to make any
pronouncements of political matters, and the last time that this happened
was when the Spokesman of our Bishops' Conference, jointly with the
Chairman of the Protestant Federation, the Chairman of the national Muslim
representative body and the Chief Rabbi, clearly condemned all forms of
discrimination based on race, ethnicity or religion. This was in reply to
populist statements made by the Front National (the neo-fascist party, the
nearest thing which we have to your neo-conservatives) which were highly
discriminatory. I feel it perhaps helpful to add here that the whole idea
of "right" and "left" in politics comes from the lay-out of our Assemble
Nationale (the lower house of our parliament) where the Chairman looks
down from his "perch" on the members sitting in a semi-circle before and
below him. Furthest to the left are the Communists, then (in order) the
Greens, the Socialists, the Union de la Dmocratie Franaise (U.D.F.), the
U.M.P. (the party currently in government, which supports Mr Chirac) and
finally the Front National. I am a card-carrying member of the centrist
U.D.F., and dislike the dogmatic approach often adopted by the Socialists
(democratic left) and the U.M.P. (democratic right), but many Catholics
belong to each of these parties, as also do some to the Greens. I do not
in any way consider that they are acting against our commonly held
beliefs, but I obviously would prefer them to join me in the U.D.F. The
Communists are close to becoming a totally spent force, but I worry at any
support given to the Front National which regularly shows its enmity
towards, and hatred of, essential Christian tenets. In any case, an
essential element in our politics is that all the democratic parties leave
their elected legislators free to vote according to their consciences when
matters of morality come to be considered, which we consider to be normal
We look across the Atlantic and see what, if it were not so serious, could
be taken for a tragi-comic "Hollywood B movie". In the White House, or on
his Ranch, we see the archetypal Connecticut Yankee Dude, who was once the
Governor of Texas, with a full supporting cast. There we find the
traditional characters, the hanging judge, Mr Ashcroft, the sly
businessman, Mr Cheney, the slick salesman (and former close friend of
Saddam Hussein), Mr Rumsfeld, and the old soldier who seems to have been
tricked into serving them all, Mr Powell, with the tentacles of the
Mafia-like neo-conservatives winding round, and thereby controlling, all
You may well ask "What has this to do with our being Catholics, and why is
he writing to us?", and this is a fair question, which I will attempt, in
so far as I am able, to answer.
We have been horrified by the total disregard for the sanctity of human
life, shown by this extraordinary crew. Firstly, when he was still
Governor of his adopted state, Mr Bush was an enthusiastic proponent of
the application of the death penalty, considered in most democratic
nations to be barbarous, especially when it follows trials which fall
short of the minimum standards of what we consider to be fair and just.
Secondly, this same man supports the policies of such extremists as Mr.
Ariel Sharon, who openly boasts of his having ordered the murders of
persons who are merely suspected of certain criminal activities. He also
gives his strong approval to Mr. Sharon's policy of expropriation of
Palestinian lands belonging to our fellow Christians as well as to their
Muslim colleagues. Were you not shocked at the siege endured by the
Franciscans and the Orthodox clergy in Bethlehem? I was, and this mainly
Christian area is steadily being carved up into uneconomic parcels of land
which are being taken away from their owners. The claim that such a wall
is necessary to separate Israel from the rest of Palestine to keep out
terrorists does not bear close examination, since the Israelis could have
built such a wall on "their" side of the Green Line rather than well
inside the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Mr Bush continues to give
support, by way of your money, substantial quantities of arms and constant
backing in the United Nations, to this murderer, who not only admits his
crimes but boasts about them.
This makes it all the more surprising that this man, who ordered the
chaotic invasion of Iraq, thereby causing thousands more deaths of
innocent human beings (including among your own armed forces), should
suddenly wish to make political capital out of abortion. I am against
abortion, as I oppose all unnecessary killing of any human being, but I do
not see the pathetic women who resort to it as being necessarily totally
evil, I consider them to be among the victims of a whole society which has
gone far too far along the road of materialism and has lost touch with
basic humanity. For this reason, I believe that persuasion is a better
policy than legislation in the fight to save lives. As a Lawyer for over
half a century, I can see no moral difference between abortion, capital
punishment and waging an unjustified war against a half-starved people as
This brings me necessarily to the invasion of Iraq, which was roundly
condemned by the Pope since before it started, although I agree that
Saddam Hussein was a monster. Unlike Afghanistan, which was invaded
because it refused to hand over the vicious terrorists who had, among
other things, perpetrated the attacks on your country on 11th September
2001, there was no excuse for the invasion of Iraq. If the U.S.A. are to
wage war against, and invade, all cruel rgimes, why have they not invaded
China or Saudi Arabia to take two obvious examples. The answer is simple.
In the case of China, it is too powerful, and is likely before long to
challenge the present status of the U.S.A. as the world's only
super-power. In the case of Saudi Arabia, it is impossible to say what
would result from any liberation of this highly repressive state,
including "interruptions" in its oil exports. On the other hand, as a
result of the sanctions which had no effect on the ruling clique but
impoverished and starved the people, Iraq was clearly unable to withstand
an invasion. However, it would have been better to leave any such invasion
until clear plans had been prepared for the future of the country and to
keep out the terrorists whom Saddam Hussein had most effectively prevented
from entering the country. Please remember that Mr Oussama bin Laden
criticized the Iraqi rgime for being godless and socialist, but, as soon
as it was invaded, he claimed that this showed that Mr Bush was continuing
his "Crusade" against Islam.
As a Catholic, I could not in good conscience vote for Mr. Bush or the
tarnished team which backs and controls him, since not only do they have
the blood of innocents on their hands, but also they show no shame or
repentance for their crimes against humanity, and I totally fail to
understand how any genuine believing Catholic can contemplate voting for
I remain open, of course, to considering any point which any one of you
might wish to put forward in favor of Mr, Bush and his team, but their
record on human rights and respect for human life is so bad that I cannot
imagine any argument which could persuade me.
It is appropriate to end this missive by wishing to all of you the peace
of Christ, as we do in the Mass, and a great future for your country,
Yours in Christ,
[Robert Thompson Robert.Thompson is a retired attorney, living in France.
who writes the occasional blog Thoughts from France]
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