Framing the Dialogue

Parse-imony – Drug Deaths

In “Parse-imony” I break down current news stories with my pithy, running commentary…

First the headline:

DEA seizes key execution drug in Ga.

ATLANTA – The Drug Enforcement Administration confirmed Tuesday that the agency seized Georgia’s supply of a key lethal injection drug because of questions about how the stockpile was imported to the U.S. [using the term “seized” conjures up an image of Janet Reno’s automatic weapon bearing agents breaking down doors and “seizing” a young Elian Gonzalez to return him to communist Cuba]

DEA spokesman Chuvalo Truesdell said he didn’t know if other states’ supplies of sodium thiopental were being collected. [Now they use the term “collected.” So which was it?] The seizure [now we’re back to “seizure”] comes less than two months after a convicted killer in Georgia was executed, despite raising questions about where the state had obtained the drug and whether or not it had expired. [God forbid that a convicted murderer sentenced to death for his heinous crime is given inferior or expired drugs. I have an idea…neither bullets nor rope expire. The officials also probably forgot to use disinfectant on his skin before injecting him…talk about cruel and unusual punishment. It is not as if Georgia was going to shotgun him to death]

Truesdell wouldn’t elaborate on exactly what worried the DEA. [Perhaps it is because Eric Holder’s boss doesn’t like capital punishment and wants to put up roadblocks]

“We had questions about how the drug was imported to the U.S.,” he said. “There were concerns.” [Okay this was not a crack house. It was the State of Georgia. Why not ask them for information and suggest that the drug not be used until the “concerns” can first be formulated and then resolved. It is not as if they are putting folks to death very often.]

Georgia’s stockpile [this makes it sound like they have an awful lot of this laying around] of the drug has been a target of death row inmates and capital punishment critics [activists] since corrections officials released documents this year that showed the state obtained the drug from Link Pharmaceuticals, a firm purchased five years ago by Archimedes Pharma Limited. Both are British firms. [Ooh the drug was made in Britain. Perhaps we should get the drug from China]

The drug was used in January to execute Emmanuel Hammond, 45-year-old man convicted for the 1988 shotgun slaying of an Atlanta preschool teacher. His attorneys sought a delay in the execution to gather more information on how the state obtained the drug, claiming in court documents it came from a “fly-by-night supplier operating from the back of a driving school in England.” [No word on where their client purchased his shot gun shells that he used to brutally killer the teacher] They said the drug could have been counterfeit. [Apparently it worked fine as Mr. Hammond has met his maker]

The U.S. Supreme Court, as well as lower courts, rejected Hammond’s argument.

Joan Heath, a spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Corrections, said state officials were not concerned with the quality of the drug.

“We contacted the DEA and asked them for a regulatory review, and that’s what we’re doing,” she said. “We’re going to make sure we’re in regulatory compliance with the DEA over how we handle controlled substances.”

Sodium thiopental, a sedative that is part of a three drug cocktail used in executions, has been in short supply since the sole U.S. manufacturer decided to stop producing it. [Any chance that they stopped producing the sedative because of nuisance lawsuits by lawyers trying to get their convicted murderous clients off of death row?]

The shortage has delayed executions in several states [Success for the activists], and an Associated Press review found that at least five states — Arizona, Arkansas, California, Georgia and Tennessee — had to turn to England for their supply of the drug. Nebraska, meanwhile, secured a stockpile from an Indian firm. [Outsourcing in the extreme]

Note: I don’t mean to make light of capital punishment. I struggle not with the concept of capital punishment, but how our legal system applies it. There seems to be just enough false convictions to make me queasy about the death penalty in some instances, but there are some clear cut examples like the terrorist who murdered all of the Americans at Fort Hood.  I do believe that the value of human life is quite high and that when you decide to take someone’s life you forfeit your own life. 

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