Friday, May 28, 2004

The death penalty is a liability in the war on terror

The US's addiction to the death penalty may be about to disrupt the war on terror. They're trying to extradite Abu Hamza, a radical Muslim cleric living in Britain, on charges of hostage-taking and providing material assistance to Al-Qaeda. Bush's Attorney-General trumpeted that the maximum penalty for the charges was death. The problem? Britain hates the death penalty, and cannot extradite (or even provide evidence) unless assurances are given that it will not be pursued or carried out.

Abu Hamza isn't the only case where this is a problem - the UK has reportedly threatened to boycott Saddam's trial and refuse to turn over senior members of the Ba'ath party or provide evidence to Iraqi authorities if they face death.

In cases where the British have custody, the Ameicans are going to have to give way - which is really going to stick in the craw of the Bush administration. But strangely, I don't mind that at all.