Thursday, October 1, 2009

Usually Cover-Ups Are More Clandestine Than This

It’s not short, but if you haven’t yet read David Grann’s piece in the New Yorker about Cameron Todd Willingham, do so. The article is getting some much-needed attention (not as much as Roman Polanski’s case of course, but I suppose America’s obsession with celebrity isn’t going anywhere anytime soon), and it seems clear that Texas now has the distinction of being the first state to execute a demonstrably innocent human being in decades. Even if you think that’s overselling it, the best spin you could put on this is that, as Scott Lemieux puts it, “they executed a man despite the fact that there was no reliable evidence at all that he was guilty.”

Now we have the spectacle of Governor Rick Perry’s hamfisted and nakedly transparent attempt to make sure the Texas Forensic Science Commission did not review Willingham’s case. While his actions are disturbing (though understandable; if Willingham is ever exonerated, Perry will have been complicit in his murder), surely this won’t work as a long-term plan.

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