A panel of appeals court judges announced last week that former Iraqi president, Saddam Hussein, will be executed some time before the end of January. Hussein, who notoriously ordered the murder of 148 Shiite men in 1982, was convicted of crimes against humanity on November 5, 2006.
Many Americans have watched the speed and skill of the Iraqi justice system, and have begun to question why it takes so long (often decades) to try and execute criminals in the United States.
Other Americans have stopped questioning and have taken steps toward action.
Bill McCracken, founder of the Texas-based grassroots organization, Americans for the Right to a Speedy Execution (A.R.S.E.), recently commented, “When George W. was governor of Texas, it seemed like things were headed in the right direction. We executed 152 criminals in 5 years. I’m not sure, but I think it may be a record.”
McCracken and the members or his organization are not happy with what they call “the current rate-of-execution” in the U.S. and their discontent prompted them to form A.R.S.E. Their organization points to recent successes in Iraq’s criminal justice system as a model for domestic execution reforms.
“Those Iraqis have the right idea. They don’t tie up the process with multiple appeals. When someone is convicted of a crime and sentenced to death, they kill the son-of-a-b***h before he has a chance to ask for clemency. That’s why Iraq is a model of efficiency,” said McCracken.
Officials note that, since reinstating the death penalty in 2005, Iraq has, in fact, executed more than 60 individuals for various crimes, ranging from torture to murder. Members of A.R.S.E. observe that Iraq’s current rate-of-execution puts them in line to surpass Bush’s record in half the time; a fact that bothers some.
“It’s almost not fair,” observed Hubert Filch, A.R.S.E.’s vice-president. “We can’t just execute people for things like torture in America. It’s Habeas Corpus, man. I mean, how are we supposed to keep pace with Iraq’s judicial system?”
Members of A.R.S.E. are not discouraged, though.
“America is the best country in the world,” said McCracken, “and we have to keep fighting to maintain our place at the top of the pile, even if it means learning from a third-world country, like Iraq.”
In an attempt to further the principles of A.R.S.E., McCracken and a few members of the organization plan to travel to Iraq to witness Saddam Hussein’s execution. By bringing attention to the effectiveness of Iraq’s judicial system, McCracken believes A.R.S.E. can raise awareness about the faltering rate-of-execution in the United States.
“It’s ironic,” McCracken commented. “Saddam is being executed because he killed a bunch of Shiites in the North that were trying to assassinate him. He knew that speedy executions are sometimes necessary. The Iraqis learned that lesson from him, and now he is on the receiving end. It’s like the circle-of-life, or something. It smells a lot like justice, and that’s all that we