Satyagraha

Cultural Psychology

Capital Punishment – Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti and Awad Hamed al-Bandar

with 4 comments

I protest the planned use of capital punishment in the cases of Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti and Awad Hamed al-Bandar.

Both men were convicted in connection with the killing of 148 men of the city of Dujail and with other reprisals against the civilian population of the city following a failed assassination attempt against Saddam Hussein in 1982.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dujail

While the harsh actions taken against the population of Dujail are to be condemned, they do not justify the use of capital punishment.

Moreover, the Iraqi government has an opportunity to promote in a tangible way peace in Iraq by exercising clemency.

John Uebersax

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Written by John Uebersax

January 4, 2007 at 6:17 pm

4 Responses

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  1. I am not sure what you mean when you say that even though they were connected to the killing of 148 men, they don’t deserve to be executed? What do they deserve if not capital punishment? It is easy to comdemn the use of capital punishment when none of the victims were related to you. What if they were your family or friends? Murdering many innocents DOES deserve harse punishment. Do you think that Saddam also didn’t deserve his fate even though he killed many innocent Kurds and other victims? While I do not approve of capital punishment in cases where there is a possibility of a persons innocence, this isn’t the case with these 3 mass murderers. Hanging them is what they deserved since they showed no mercy to the many people who they had killed. Maybe other insane dictators and henchmen will think twice before violating international laws when they see the fate of those who are guily of the same crimes. I would like to know how you came up with this soft premise and what your answer is when dealing with violent criminals who have the power to mass-murder and get away with it. We are in a war with violent Islamics who think nothing of killing us, and going soft on criminals like this will only make things worse!!

    John Griffin

    January 15, 2007 at 5:56 pm

  2. Thank you for your comments. I welcome your opinion. My own opinion on this and similar issues is open to review. I state my dominant opinion, but, as in most things, I review in my mind a number of arguments pro and con. I agree with some of your points and disagree with others.

    John Griffin wrote:

    > What do they deserve if not capital punishment?

    Perhaps life imprisonment. Perhaps hard labor.

    I am a Christian. St. Paul persecuted the early Christians before his own
    conversion. He was present at the execution of at least one, and may have been directly or indirectly responsible for the killing of others. In a
    legitimate sense of the term, the actions of the Jews of the time towards the Christians could have been considered an “ethnic cleansing.” Yet St. Paul was forgiven by Christ, and by the Christians. He went on to become a great saint.

    By analogy, St. Paul might have been apprehended by the Christians and executed. As a result, Christianity might not exist today.

    While this is an extreme case, lesser degrees of conversion could occur
    with any person–but not if they are executed.

    > It is easy to condemn the use of capital punishment when none of
    > the victims were related to you. What if they were your family or friends?

    I am fairly confident that even if one of the victims were related, then,
    however difficult it might be, I would request that the death penalty be
    withheld. This is something I’ve already considered. But obviously I cannot say for certain.

    > I do not approve of capital punishment in cases where there is a
    > possibility of a persons innocence,

    Then we agree on that much. One may take this premise and argue thus:
    It is never known *with certainty* that, in any case (including the one in question) a defendant is guilty. Therefore there will always be a probability, however slight, that an innocent person is executed. The only way to be certain this never happens is to abolish capital punishment entirely. That is my position.

    Again, neither you nor I were present at the trial. Under the circumstances, I consider the possibility that they were railroaded by a hostile court not something to logically exclude. Who knows what actually happened there? Maybe snipers attacked military patrols and they retaliated? I don’t know. But the point is there is almost always an element of doubt.

    > Hanging them is what they deserved since they showed no mercy

    A does not imply B here by logical necessity. One must assume an intermediate premise, like “Justice means an eye for an eye.” There is no a priori basis for that premise. Further, it is denied by Christianity.

    > Maybe other insane dictators and henchmen will think twice before

    This is valid point, and, for me, the best argument in favor of the death penalty–the deterrent argument. However, I don’t know how one would prove that tyrants are deterred by this. Further, life imprisonment with hard labor would also be a strong deterrent.

    In any case, this issue is much debated, and I doubt we can solve it here. The classical response is that the offenders don’t expect to be caught–i.e., they are not thinking logically. Deterrents dissuade sane people, but not insane ones, etc.

    > I would like to know how you came up with this soft premise

    I’m sorry, I don’t understand what you refer to here by soft premise.

    > you answer is when dealing with violent criminals who have the power

    1. Prevention.
    2. For example, life imprisonment with hard labor.

    > We are in a war with violent Islamics who think nothing of

    I for one would like much more information on the psychological makeup of terrorists, Islamic and otherwise. I believe the issue is more complex than it is made out to be. There are terrorists, yes, and there are innocent people. But there are also politicians and corporations who benefit indirectly from war and therefore from terrorism. And there are the “swing groups”–the people in Islamic countries who are not terrorists, but who are turned against the US by something like the war in Iraq. Commuting the death sentences of the Iraq defendants might have helped calm down this “swing group.”

    > and going soft on criminals like this will only make things worse!!

    First, I am not persuaded that this is true. Second, I don’t think aggressive prosecution and life imprisonment is going soft.

    satyagraha

    January 17, 2007 at 6:41 pm

  3. I enjoy debating issues such as this and I know there are many who are against capital punishment. In the state where I live (Illinois), a former governor (George Ryan) abolished the death penalty on his last day in office and this created much publicity on this issue. He was later tried and convicted of corruption (along with many of his cronies in the infamous “license for bribes” scandal in which drivers licenses were sold for bribes which resulted in several horrible crashes–one in which 5 children were killed by a trucker who couldn’t even speak English. I knew 2 of the murderers on death row–they killed several innocent ladies in this area and their guilt was without doubt. There is still a big push to give the ex-governor the “Nobel Peace Award” due to his abolishment of the death penalty in spite of his conviction. As far as the terrorists are concerned, there are many who are still in this country waiting for an opportunity to strike again. We can’t negotiate with them. Their mission is to kill as many of us as possible in the name of their sick beliefs and we are at war with them. Too many people have forgotten 9/11 and the danger of “letting our guard down” by going soft. That is why I am for using brutal methods of extracting info. from them if we are fortunate enough to capture one of them—to extract future terroristic attacks and prevent this from happening again. They do not deserve the same rights as others because they are traitors who should be executed. Didn’t we do the same to spy’s in other wars? We shot many spies in WW2 and nobody seemed to be bothered by this back then—-Why??—Because we were at war and that is what you do to win. Too many people forget that this is a war that we are in and can’t accept this. I truly believe that we have to be brutal in times like this to traitors to our country or we will have another horrible terrorist attack which will be as bad as (or worse) than we had on 9/11. I do respect your opinion though, and enjoy debating this issue. You do bring up some good points. Lets just say we agree to disagree. Thanks for the lively debate and hope to hear your opinion on this.

    John Griffin

    January 19, 2007 at 6:35 am

  4. Bush and the Republicans were not protecting us on 9-11, and we aren’t a lot safer now. We may be more afraid due to george bush, but are we safer? Being fearful does not necessarily make one safer. Fear can cause people to hide and cower. What do you think? How does that work in a democracy again? How does being more threatening make us more likeable?Isn’t the country with
    the most weapons the biggest threat to the rest of the world? When one country is the biggest threat to the rest of the world, isn’t that likely to be the most hated country?
    Are we safer today than we were before?
    The more people that the government puts in jails, the safer we are told to think we are. The real terrorists are wherever they are, but they aren’t living in a country with bars on the windows. We are.

    Antibush

    February 15, 2007 at 9:09 am


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