In the era of Internet news, sometimes now it’s Internet providers who are skewing the headlines. I was shocked to log into Comcast this morning and see this headline: “Bush OKs Execution of U.S. Army Private.” We’re at war, and Bush is executing our soldiers? Not even the AP headline is that misleading. It was “Bush: Former army cook’s crimes warrant execution.” The story began:
President Bush could have commuted the death sentence of Ronald A. Gray, a former Army cook convicted of multiple rapes and murders.
But Bush decided Monday that Gray’s crimes were so repugnant that execution was the only just punishment.
Bush’s decision marked the first time in 51 years that a president has affirmed a death sentence for a member of the U.S. military. It was the first time in 46 years that such a decision has even been weighed in the Oval Office.
Gray, 42, was convicted in connection with a spree of four murders and eight rapes in the Fayetteville, N.C., area between April 1986 and January 1987 while he was stationed at Fort Bragg. He has been on death row at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., since April 1988.
In other words, Bush made what should be a fairly uncontroversial decision to suggest a murderer and rapist still deserves execution after sitting around on Death Row for 20 long years. (He’s obviously not currently a “U.S. Army private,” as the chuckleheads at Comcast might suggest.) Shouldn’t the controversy here be that it takes more than 20 years to exhaust appeals?