By Bill Blum
According to a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll, more than 70 percent of Americans support the death penalty for 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev if he is found guilty of perpetrating the Boston Marathon bombing.
So, will the Obama administration and the Department of Justice, ever determined to stay tough in the war on terror and safeguard the nation’s security, give the people what they want? The answer, contrary to popular sentiment, is probably not.
Tsarnaev will be eligible for execution if convicted on federal charges of using a weapon of mass destruction and maliciously destroying property resulting in death. And the carnage wrought at the marathon–three people dead and more than 260 wounded, some badly burned, others requiring amputations–was horrific. Surely then the administration, which has ordered lethal drone strikes of dubious legality abroad, has no scruples about the morality of imposing capital punishment at home.
It doesn’t, but the Obama administration is nothing if not pragmatic. In the end, the White House and the DOJ will likely opt to avoid the risks inherent in taking the Tsarnaev case to trial and thereafter weathering a long and drawn-out appeal, and instead offer Tsarnaev a deal to plead guilty and be sentenced to life in prison in return for future cooperation in the government’s continuing investigation.
Despite all its bravado, the Obama administration–and the Bush one before it–entered into plea bargains in several high-profile terrorism prosecutions, including those of Richard Reid, the shoe bomber; Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the underwear bomber; and Faisal Shahzad, the Times Square bomber. And although none of those cases involved capital crimes, as no bombs were ignited and no one was killed, the most notable terror prosecution the DOJ actually sought the death penalty in–the 2006 case of 9/11 co-conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui–ended with a jury verdict recommending against it. Instead, Moussaoui was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
In endorsing a plea with Tsarnaev, the administration would be following form and, above all, playing the odds. According to the Death
This article originally appeared on : TruthDig