U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on the Judiciary
Statement of the Honorable William D. Delahunt of Massachusetts

In Support of the Delahunt-Scott Amendment to Title 1 of H.R. 3275, The Terrorist Bombings Convention Implementation Act of 2001

November 15, 2001

Mr. Chairman, I have an amendment at the desk.

Mr. Chairman, this amendment, in which I am joined by my good friend, the ranking member of the Crime Subcommittee (Mr. Scott), would delete the language authorizing the imposition of the death penalty for the offenses set forth under section 102.

Yesterday, at our subcommittee hearing, the Administration witnesses acknowledged that this provision is not required by the international convention we are seeking to implement. In fact, Mr. Chairman, not only is it not required by the convention, but it could actually impair the fight against international terrorism - by making it harder for the Justice Department to secure extradition in these kinds of cases.

Our continued use of the death penalty has brought condemnation from civilized nations across the globe. Even some of our closest allies - such as Canada - have begun to refuse extradition requests by the United States unless their courts can be assured that the defendants will not face execution. Given that situation, how can it serve our national interests to enact additional provisions that further marginalize us within the family of nations?

The only answer I have heard is that this new death penalty provision merely tracks current law with respect to comparable domestic crimes. That may well be. But the fact that current law presents an obstacle to our law enforcement objectives is hardly a persuasive argument for compounding the problem.

The fact is that no persuasive argument can be made. People will continue to disagree about whether the death penalty acts as a deterrent to certain categories of crimes. But with respect to the type of crime we are addressing in this legislation, is there anyone who seriously believes that the prospect of the death penalty will deter terrorists from committing the kinds of atrocities our nation experienced on September 11?

No, Mr. Chairman. Let us implement these conventions with all due speed. But let us do so in a way that advances our national objectives. I urge support for the amendment and yield back the balance of my time.