Really. Texas has a long and bloody history of executions, both legal and para-military. It's usually okay to execute blacks, mexicans, asians, Indians, immigrants, and other undesireables. But they draw the line when the innocent victim is white. Hence the case of Cameron Todd Willingham, who was apparently executed mostly for having threatening tattoos, thereby mimicking an undesirable and ensuring his fate...
At Alternet, today:
By now you've probably heard of Cameron Todd Willingham, the Texas man who was executed in 2004 for supposedly setting a fire that killed his three young daughters. His conviction was based on junk science, prejudice, and wild allegations about his homicidal tendencies based on his tattoos (really). The arson investigation that sent Willingham to the death chamber has been thoroughly debunked by no fewer than six arson experts, leading to one inevitable conclusion: Texas killed an innocent man.The last two Governors of Texas, between them, have sent more than 350 individuals (the Chimp killed 152, Perry more than 200) to their state-sponsored assassinations.
Not surprisingly, Texas Governor Pick Perry, who signed off on Willingham's execution despite alarming proof of his innocence, has gone to great length to suppress this story. In the past two weeks, Perry fired four members of the state Forensic Science Commission -- including its chairman -- 48 hours before it was scheduled to hold a critical hearing on the Willingham case. He has appointed a new Commissioner, John Bradley, a district attorney and "one of the state's most notorious tough-on-crime advocates," according to the Texas Observer. The investigation is now stalled until further notice.
Perry's moves reek of desperation, particularly given his upcoming bid for re-election. His top challenger, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, has seized on the Willingham case, simultaneously using it to discredit her opponent while reaffirming her own pro-death penalty stance. (She accuses Perry of providing "liberals" with ammunition against capital punishment.)
CNN and MSNBC have now picked up on the Willingham case, echoing some of the questions being raised by the local press. "Only the governor knows whether his motives were political, but these recent episodes have produced a pungent smell of politicization," wrote the Fort Worth Star-Telegram this week. "And the odor is nauseating."
Most recently, Perry has gone beyond backroom machinations to publicly restate his own belief in Willingham's guilt. "Willingham was a monster," he told reporters this week. He claims that there is "clear and compelling, overwhelming evidence that he was in fact the murderer of his children," even if their was no proof that the fire that killed them was set on purpose. But as Bob Moser recently wrote, "That makes so sense. If there was no arson, there was no crime, and Willingham was, by definition, innocent." (That, however, makes no difference as a matter of principal to the US Supreme Court. W.)
Rick Perry is running scared. But he can't hide. After signing off on more than 200 executions during his term -- a figure that makes one wonder how he sleeps at night -- it looks like one of them will be coming back to haunt him.