FEATURED POST

In the crosshairs of conscience: John Kitzhaber's death penalty reckoning

Image
To cope with his dread, John Kitzhaber opened his leather-bound journal and began to write.
It was a little past 9 on the morning of Nov. 22, 2011. Gary Haugen had dropped his appeals. A Marion County judge had signed the murderer's death warrant, leaving Kitzhaber, a former emergency room doctor, to decide Haugen's fate. The 49-year-old would soon die by lethal injection if the governor didn't intervene.
Kitzhaber was exhausted, having been unable to sleep the night before, but he needed to call the families of Haugen's victims.
"I know my decision will delay the closure they need and deserve," he wrote.
The son of University of Oregon English professors, Kitzhaber began writing each day in his journal in the early 1970s. The practice helped him organize his thoughts and, on that particular morning, gather his courage.
Kitzhaber first dialed the widow of David Polin, an inmate Haugen beat and stabbed to death in 2003 while already serving a life sentence fo…

A young man is skinned alive, a sign of new Taliban brutality

The 15-year war is taken an increasingly brutal turn
'The 15-year war is taken an increasingly brutal turn.'
KABUL — In a remote area of Afghanistan, where thousands of years of hardscrabble tribal culture increasingly mixes with a resurgent Taliban militancy, this is how Fazl Ahmad allegedly died.

Local officials in Ghor province said one of Ahmad’s distant relatives was suspected of killing a former Taliban commander. In December, militants dragged Ahmad from his house and cut out his eyes in retaliation.

Ahmad was still alive and screaming when the attackers began carving the skin off his chest, leaving his heart exposed. Then they threw the 21-year old laborer off a 10-story cliff, officials said.

“They skinned him alive,” said Ruqiya Naeel, a member of parliament from the area.

The Taliban denied involvement in the grisly crime, the aftermath of which was documented in a recently circulated video and photograph.

But even so, Ahmad’s death is the latest in a string of violent acts across Afghanistan over the past six months. Rattled officials say the 15-year war is taken an increasingly brutal turn.

“The amount of casualties, particularly with civilians, is a crime — a crime against humanity, a crime against Afghanistan, and a crime against our people,” a somber Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said in a meeting with reporters last week.

Since 2001, the United States has invested more than $100 billion building Afghan military and police forces, a judicial system and schools in hopes of moving the country closer to normality. But all that spending appears to have done little to slow a cycle of rage and revenge that has made Afghanistan one of the world’s most dangerous countries.

Horrific violence is nothing new in Afghanistan.

Public executions were common when the Taliban ruled the country in the 1990s, and tens of thousands of Afghans have been killed during the post-2001 Taliban insurgency. Afghanistan, like neighboring Pakistan, also has a long history of cultural and religious conservatism associated with violent retribution.

But analysts say the scale of the brutality continues to evolve as the Taliban becomes more fragmented and pushes out into additional areas of Afghanistan. Younger Taliban commanders also now operate more independently and are increasingly inspired by other brutal acts easily viewed on the Internet, the say.

As the original leaders of the insurgency die, they are being replaced by younger commanders who appear less interested in maintaining ties to the local areas in which they are fighting. These fighters also are more connected through the Internet to the global ambitions of militant Islamic groups, which is resulting in some Taliban commanders’ attempting to borrow the fear tactics used by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.


Source: The Washington Post, Tim Craig, June 11, 2016

- Report an error, an omission: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com - Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Most Viewed (Last 7 Days)

New Hampshire: More than 50,000 anti-death penalty signatures delivered to Sununu

Texas: The accused Santa Fe shooter will never get the death penalty. Here’s why.

Malaysian court sentences Australian grandmother to death by hanging

Post Mortem – the execution of Edward Earl Johnson

Convicted killer from infamous “Texas 7” prison escape gets execution date

Ohio: Lawyers seek review of death sentence for 23-year-old Clayton man

Texas man on death row for decapitating 3 kids loses appeal

Amnesty International Once Again Highlights Shocking Justice System in Iran

Maria Exposto: Can she avoid execution?

In the crosshairs of conscience: John Kitzhaber's death penalty reckoning