Texas: Execution Drugs Should Be “State Secret”

I think Justice Ismail Mahomed sums up Capitol Punishment very simply:


The burning of the house of the offender is not a permissible punishment for arson. The rape of the offender is not a permissible punishment of a rapist. Why should murder be a permissible punishment for murder?

– Justice Ismail Mahomed, S v Makwanyane, 6 June 1995


The article of Interest: Texas: Execution Drugs Should Be “State Secret”

Tired of taking a back seat to Arizona in death penalty zeal, Texas today upped the ante in the high stakes game of keeping secrets from the public in whose name they are enthusiastically killing prisoners.  According to the Austin American-Statesman, a lawyer for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice has asked Texas’ Attorney General to declare information on lethal injection drugs to be a “state secret.”

A letter requesting this designation says in part:

“We submit that the release of any of the information would be akin to a local DPS office providing a requestor (a potential terrorist) with how much ammunition was stored in the office.”

That’s right, death penalty opponents are “akin” to terrorists.  And if they were to get information on the drugs Texas uses in executions, this could somehow lead to all sorts of unspecified mayhem.  Or something.

The TDCJ’s letter was in response to efforts by the Austin paper to get information on Texas’ current supply of sodium thiopental (there is a national shortage).  I don’t need to tell you how dire the consequences would be if the paper succeeded in its nefarious efforts to provide the public with information on the functioning of a state agency.  TDCJ’s explanation says it all:

“If the (American-Statesman) published how much sodium thiopental we currently have and when it expires, this would operate to inflame an already volatile situation. People could get seriously injured or killed.”

It is true that ten years ago, during the execution of Gary Graham, there were protesters carrying AK-47s outside the Huntsville death house. But of course, that’s perfectly legal in Texas – and there were death penalty supporting Ku Klux Klan members there too.  No one was seriously injured or killed then, and nothing remotely like that has happened in over a decade.

And how an increased knowledge ot sodium thiopental quantities would have inflamed that, or any other situation, is not exactly clear.

As is the case with all such “state secret” requests, the demands go beyond what could even dubiously be justified on security grounds.  TDCJ is also asking that information on the cost of execution drugs be concealed from the public (aka taxpayers).

Meanwhile, in Arizona, a Federal court has ordered the state to reveal its source for sodium thiopental, or to at least explain why its source should remain a secret.

Source: (http://goo.gl/Thxofrom Human Rights Now – Amnesty International USA Blog


1 Response to “Texas: Execution Drugs Should Be “State Secret””

  1. October 25, 2010 at 9:18 AM

    The Texas Dept. of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) wrote an Oct. 15, 2010 letter to the Texas Attorney General regarding a similar Texas Public Information Act request regarding amounts of the lethal injection chemicals TDCJ has available.

    This other TDCJ letter is available online at


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

The Month in Review

October 2010
« Sep   Nov »

%d bloggers like this: