DEFER, DEFER, TO THE LORD HIGH EXECUTIONER
Attorney General John Ashcroft has ordered federal prosecutors to seek the death penalty for a murder suspect, even though he had agreed to testify against others tied to a deadly Colombian drug ring in exchange for a life sentence....
Lawyers said it appeared to be the first case nationally in which Mr. Ashcroft had insisted on seeking the execution of a defendant who had secured a promise of life in exchange for information.
--New York Times
In case we hadn't quite grasped the fact that these God-bothering Bushies think morality shines out of their own keisters, here's Ashcroft establishing a new government policy of welching on deals -- because, presumably, God told him to. Yes, as the article points out, such deals have always been subject to the approval of the attorney general, but denial of approval is a new Ashcroft wrinkle -- previous AGs have generally trusted the judgment of local prosecutors.
The cynical calculation here is that few people will want to take the side of a guy like this, and anyone who does will look like a squishy bleeding heart. But we should be furious that the government is openly acknowledging not giving a damn about acting in good faith (reportedly, the suspect had a written agreement from prosecutors, an agreement he had every reason to believe would be honored). In addition, the policy is lousy law enforcement:
...lawyers said the case could lead to major changes in federal cases across the country. Jim Walden, a former senior federal prosecutor in Brooklyn, said it was "a remarkably bad decision" to superimpose national death penalty policy over local federal prosecutors' judgments about cooperating witnesses. "It will likely result in fewer murders being solved because fewer defendants will choose to cooperate," Mr. Walden said.
The print edition of the Times has this on the front page, above the fold -- kudos to the Times for that.