Monday, July 28, 2008

An Interesting Historical Event, Worthy of Attention

When a President signs a death sentence, it seems an event worthy of attention. Read this from a Charter news thingy. (Monday, July 28, 2008 11:38 PM EDT The Associated Press By DEB RIECHMANN Associated Press Writer)

This April 1988 picture shows Ronald A. Gray in handcuffs and chains, escorted by military police leaving a Fort Bragg, N.C. courtroom. President Bush on Monday, July 28, 2008 approved the execution of the Army private, the first time in over a half-century that a president has affirmed a death sentence for a member of the U.S. military. Gray was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg. (AP Photo/The Fayetteville Observer, Marcus Castro)
Bush OKs execution of Army death row prisonerMonday, July 28, 2008 11:38 PM EDT The Associated Press By DEB RIECHMANN Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Bush on Monday approved the execution of an Army private, the first time in over a half-century that a president has affirmed a death sentence for a member of the U.S. military.
With his signature from the Oval Office, Bush said yes to the military's request to execute Ronald A. Gray, the White House confirmed. Gray had had been convicted in connection with a spree of four murders and eight rapes in the Fayetteville, N.C., area over eight months in the late 1980s while stationed at Fort Bragg.
"While approving a sentence of death for a member of our armed services is a serious and difficult decision for a commander in chief, the president believes the facts of this case leave no doubt that the sentence is just and warranted," White House press secretary Dana Perino said.
In the military courts, "Private Gray was convicted of committing brutal crimes, including two murders, an attempted murder and three rapes. The victims included a civilian and two members of the Army. ... The president's thoughts and prayers are with the victims of these heinous crimes and their families and all others affected."
Unlike in the civilian courts, a member of the U.S. armed forces cannot be executed until the president approves the death sentence. Gray has been on death row at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., since April 1988.
Members of the U.S. military have been executed throughout history, but just 10 have been executed by presidential approval since 1951 when the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the military's modern-day legal system, was enacted into law.
President Kennedy was the last president to stare down this life-or-death decision. On Feb. 12, 1962, Kennedy commuted the death sentence of Jimmie Henderson, a Navy seaman, to confinement for life.
President Eisenhower was the last president to approve a military execution. In 1957, he approved the execution of John Bennett, an Army private convicted of raping and attempting to kill an 11-year-old Austrian girl. He was hanged in 1961.
The death penalty was outlawed between 1972 and 1984, when President Reagan reinstated it.
Gray was held responsible for the crimes committed between April 1986 and January 1987 in both the civilian and military justice systems.
In civilian courts in North Carolina, Gray pleaded guilty to two murders and five rapes and was sentenced to three consecutive and five concurrent life terms.
He then was tried by general court-martial at the Army's Fort Bragg. In April 1988, the court-martial convicted Gray of two murders, an attempted murder and three rapes. He was unanimously sentenced to death.
The court-martial panel convicted Gray of:
—Raping and killing Army Pvt. Laura Lee Vickery-Clay of Fayetteville on Dec. 15, 1986. She was shot four times with a .22-caliber pistol that Gray confessed to stealing. She suffered blunt force trauma over much of her body.
—Raping and killing Kimberly Ann Ruggles, a civilian cab driver in Fayetteville. She was bound, gagged, stabbed repeatedly, and had bruises and lacerations on her face. Her body was found on the base.
—Raping, robbing and attempting to kill Army Pvt. Mary Ann Lang Nameth in her barracks at Fort Bragg on Jan. 3, 1987. She testified against Gray during the court-martial and identified him as her assailant. Gray raped her and stabbed her several times in the neck and side. Nameth suffered a laceration of the trachea and a collapsed or punctured lung.
The six-member court-martial panel returned its unanimous verdict after about two hours of deliberations. The panel also reduced Gray from Spec. 4 to private, forfeited all his pay and ordered him to be dishonorably discharged from the Army.
Gray has appealed his case through the Army Court of Criminal Appeals (then known as the U.S. Army Court of Military Review) and the Court of Appeals for the Armed Services. In 2001, the Supreme Court declined to hear the case.
Silas DeRoma, who left active duty in 1999, was one of several military attorneys who represented Gray on appeal.
"It's disappointing news, as you can imagine," said DeRoma, who now works as a regulatory attorney in Honolulu for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. He said the basis for some of Gray's appeals focused on the prisoner's mental competency and his representation at trial.
Bush got the secretary of the Army's recommendation to approve Gray's death sentence in late 2005. Since then, it's been under review by the Bush administration, including the White House legal counsel.
Complicating the administration's deliberation was a case under review this year by the Supreme Court.
The court ruled in April to uphold the most common method of capital punishment used across the United States. The justices said the three-drug mix of lethal-injection drugs used by Kentucky and most other states does not constitute cruel and unusual punishment. The ruling in the case of Baze v. Rees cleared the way for a resumption of executions nationwide.
It was unclear where Gray would be executed. Military executions are handled by the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
Bush's decision, however, is not likely the end of Gray's legal battle. Further litigation is expected and these types of death sentence appeals often take years to resolve.
The military also has asked Bush to authorize the execution of Dwight J. Loving, who has been at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., since 1989 after being convicted of killing two taxicab drivers while he was an Army private at Fort Hood, Texas. But that request is not yet ripe for a presidential decision. The White House declined to discuss the case.

I approve of the death penalty. I disapprove of such heinous crimes as murder and rape. Although I dispise Foucault, I agree that even though there is the possibility of a death sentence it does not stop potential killers and rapists from doing what they do. Punishment must be swift, or it will be of little use. There are those who abhore violence and there are those who desire it, how do we stop them?

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Nukes in Minot

I am sure you recall last fall when a B-52 was loaded with 6 nukes and flew across country unaware of their payload's lethality. Well, apparently the boys at Minot were not so hot yet again. This is an interesting blog entry. Seems to me that the base commander would be on the ass of every person assigned to be on their best behavior. Is it just me or wouldn't you want to avoid getting your ass reamed? So, the security forces were apparently playing games on their cell phones while they should have been repelling a simulated attack. Maybe they were texting loved ones about their coming courtsmartials.

Considering the amount of security surrounding nukes in the Cold War, this comedy of errors is evidence of today's kids and their inability to appreciate the gravity of such things. I am not as scared of radiation as I once was (flashback to 1986, when Chernobyl had blown and rain across the US was said to be possibly somewhat radioactive. I was 12, but I recall being aware that it was a bad thing to be soaking in the rain at the time). I have a much better understanding of radiation and blast effects. I am not stupid, I know that any nuclear blast would be a bad thing. I simply am not over-worried about the prospects. Still, these are things best kept in controlled places. Part of the control is a security force that should be on the ball...apparently, we need to work on that. I would expect an all volunteer force to work better than it sometimes does. Maybe it is the group culture that has evolved in the modern US...who knows. I suppose we shall have to wait and see.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Progress is slow

I continue to be interested in wrecks and such, but getting my Master's comes first...however long that takes. I have some good news on the front of Exercise Coulee Crest. I got an e-mail a week or two ago that told me they were backlogged and would send the info I had requested in a few weeks. The person added that there was quite a bit of information on Exercise Coulee Crest, so it may be sent in a couple packets.

I saw a couple jets flying formation yesterday. They landed at Yakima Airport. I called the air museum and asked what they were, since I could not see them clearly. They were definitely NOT A-6 Intruders like we normally see here. The museum folks were not helpful, though. They did not know what the jets were, but they could tell me they were navy jets. Apparently they stopped at the terminal. I still need to call and see if anyone finally figured out what they were. They might have been Hornets since the gentleman I spoke to said he thought they were Tomcats...Tomcats have been retired since September of 2006. So, there youhave it, sorry for the tardiness...