The head of a Texas anti-death penalty group has accused that state’s governor of scuttling an investigation into a possible wrongful execution for political reasons.
“[Texas Governor Rick] Perry saw the writing on the wall,” Scott Cobb, president of the Texas Moratorium Network, told CNN. “He moved to cover that up.”
The “writing on the wall” Cobb was referring to was the investigation by the Texas Forensic Science Commission into the execution of Cameron Todd Willingham, who was put to death in 2004 for the 1991 arson deaths of his three daughters.
Forensic investigations done since Willingham’s conviction have found no evidence of arson. Nonetheless, Perry refused to grant Willingham a stay of execution in 2004, even though credible questions had already been raised about Willingham’s guilt.
On Wednesday, Gov. Perry ordered the removal of three members of the forensics commission, and instituted a “political ally,” as CNN described him, to head the committee. That ally is reported to have ordered the investigation into Willingham’s execution delayed indefinitely, saying he “couldn’t begin to guess” when the commission would reconvene.
As CNN’s Randi Kaye noted, since Willingham’s conviction, “three forensic investigations found there was no evidence of arson. None.”
What’s more, as RAW STORY reported in August, Gov. Perry was informed before Willingham’s execution that the claim of arson made by fire officials and the prosecution in the 1991 trial was likely unfounded.
Put together, those facts may make Gov. Perry “the first governor in history to preside over the death of [a known] innocent man,” CNN stated in a report aired Friday.
“Critics suggest he’s trying to delay or maybe even derail the state’s own investigation” into the Willingham case, CNN’s Kaye stated. And the reasons for it may be quite obvious: The commission’s final report would likely have arrived weeks before the primary gubernatorial election Perry faces next year.
Asked about the removal of the three commissioners, Perry stated: “Those individuals’ terms were up, so we replaced them. There’s nothing out of the ordinary there.”
But, as the Fort Worth Star-Telegram notes, some of those removed had already had their terms renewed.
CNN’s Kaye noted that Perry “declined to make the time for an interview” for its report.
ACLU: ‘EXTREMELY SUSPICIOUS’ TIMING
“Gov. Perry said that the change was ‘business as usual,'” the ACLU wrote on its blog Friday. “Unfortunately, his words ring all too true. Willingham is not the first likely innocent person executed by the State of Texas. Others include Carlos De Luna and Ruben Cantu. But the state has never acknowledged any of these tragic mistakes. Business as usual, all right.”
The ACLU statement described the governor’s timing for the removal of the three commissioners as “extremely suspicious, to say the least.”
But some observers have gone further. Glenn W. Smith at FireDogLake states that Gov. Perry may have violated federal law when he shut down the investigation into Willingham’s execution.
Smith argues Perry could be prosecuted under USC.18.1001, which makes it a crime for anyone “in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Government of the United States” to “falsify, conceal, or cover up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact.”
The federal statute applies, Smith argues, because Texas takes money from the federal government for its justice system, and the funding guidelines refer to the law directly.
“If firing three members of the commission and bringing to a screaming halt an investigation and hearing about the execution of an innocent man is not a trick to cover up material facts, nothing is,” Smith wrote.
The following video was broadcast on CNN’s AC 360 on Friday, Oct. 2. 2009.
John Oliver perfectly explains the Mueller report in a way all Americans can understand
The overwhelming majority of Americans have not read the 400-plus-page report from special counsel Robert Mueller.
As it stands, it's unclear how many elected officials have either. It's become a problem for Democrats, who would like to impeach the president but can't get the American people to pay attention long enough.
"Last Week Tonight" host John Oliver has a solution. In his Sunday show, Oliver outlined a vital piece of the report that outlined just one of many obstructions of justice at the hand of President Donald Trump.
After he outlined what impeachment is, he showed Trump talking about the law that claims it's for "high crimes and misdemeanors." According to Trump, he has to be accused of both because it says "and." An annoyed Oliver corrected the president's incorrect assessment.
John Oliver unleashes epic supercut of Fox News host who can’t stop bragging about learning German in high school
Fox News host Brian Kilmeade took German as his foreign language in high school. If you didn't know that, then you likely don't watch Fox News, because the host has made a claim several dozen times.
HBO host John Oliver spent a few moments out of his Sunday episode of "Last Week Tonight" to mock Kilmeade for his desire to remind people of his three years of classes frequently.
Kilmeade has talked about it so many times that his co-hosts began preempting his comment every time the country of Germany is mentioned, or the German Chancellor Angela Merkel appears on the screen.
Watch the hilarious mockery below:
Trump thinks he can create his own healthcare law that will take the issue off the table for Democrats
One of the significant issues Republicans lost on in 2018 was their nearly decade-long crusade to unmake the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.
This week Trump will announce that he's running for president again, and he promises a surprise announcement while there. While it's unclear what he intends for the surprise, one thing he is talking about is a better healthcare law than the Democratic one.
According to The New York Times, Trump is "vowing to issue the plan within a month or two, reviving a campaign promise with broad consequences for next year’s contest."