2A -The Michigan Daily - Monday, January 13, 2003
Gov. commutes all death sentences in Illinois
Since 1997, 12 people have
been executed, while 13 death
row inmates have been found
CHICAGO (AP) - As Illinois begins emptying
its death row by order of the governor, opponents of
capital punishment are setting their sights on wider
reforms, while death penalty supporters are question-
ing Gov. George Ryan's motives.
On Saturday, Ryan commuted the sentences of all
167 condemned inmates - most to life in prison with-
out parole - saying he felt a moral obligation to act
because the system is "haunted by the demon of error."
Opponents of capital punishment praise it as a
bold move, and they are holding up the blanket
clemency order as an example for the rest of the
country to follow.
"It is inevitable that momentum will follow this
announcement," said David Elliot, spokesman for the
National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. "It's
going to reinforce the emerging impression in the
minds of the American public that the death penalty
system is fundamentally flawed."
Death penalty supporters, however, say the order
was just a smoke screen to deflect attention from a
political scandal that was threatening to become the
Ryan leaves office today, one day before opening
statements are expected in the racketeering trial of
his former chief of staff Scott Fawell and Ryan's
"What an amazing coincidence that he holds this
nugget in his pocket until the last moment," Peoria
County State's Attorney Kevin W Lyons said Satur-
day about Ryan's commutation decision. "Why
would he do that?"
"It has nothing do with death penalty. It has noth-
ing to do with right or wrong. It has to do with Gov-
ernor Ryan building a legacy," said Dianne
Clements, president of Justice for All, a Texas-
based victims advocacy group that supports the
Since Ryan took office in 1999, he has been
dogged by a federal investigation into the trading of
drivers licenses for bribes during the period when he
oversaw drivers bureaus as secretary of state.
The scandal has led to the indictments of his
friends, top aides and his campaign fund. Although
Ryan has not been charged, prosecutors allege that he
knew aides were destroying key documents that
showed his political offices operated as an arm of his
U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said he knew of
only two other campaign committees ever federally
indicted: Richard Nixon's Campaign to Re-Elect the
President and the Lyndon Larouche campaign fund.
"As far as I'm concerned, the death penalty has
never been the real issue. It's a smoke screen," said
Jacqui White, upset that Ryan's move means her sis-
ter's murderer will be allowed to live.
Sen. Peter Roskam, a Republican who proposed
more modest death penalty changes than Ryan
pushed, said the backlash from victims' families and
prosecutors could hold back reform efforts.
"I don't think the public will understand why peo-
ple who have committed vile, brutal crimes on chil-
dren and women and men in Illinois will not get the
ultimate punishment," Roskam said.
Some death penalty opponents fear Ryan's sweep-
ing decision may change the focus from an examina-
tion of capital punishment to an examination of the
power of executive clemency. Dianna Wentz, execu-
tive director of the New Orleans-based Moratorium
Campaign, said state legislators could try to restrict
governors' power to grant clemency because of
Ryan set the stage for death penalty reform in
2000 when he issued a moratorium on executions in
Illinois. Thirteen death row inmates there had been
wrongly convicted since capital punishment resumed
in 1977 - a period when 12 other inmates had been
Maryland followed Ryan's lead with its own
moratorium last year, and several other states have
been considering reforms, said Nancy Bothne,
Midwest regional director of Amnesty Interna-
"He chose to fight the death machine," the Rev.
Jesse Jackson said today in a guest sermon at a
New York City church. "He chose to end legal
AOL Chairman Case will resign in May
Steve Case, co-founder of America Online and an architect of its merger with
Time Warner, will resign as AOL Time Warner Inc. chairman in May, the compa-
ny said yesterday.
Case said in a statement that he was stepping down because "some sharehold-
ers continue to focus their disappointment with the company's post-merger per-
formance on me personally."
The announcement follows months of executive shuffles at the company -
and speculation as to how long Case would last. He will remain on the company
board and continue to co-chair its strategy committee.
"This decision was personally very difficult for me, as I would love to serve as
Chairman of this great company for many years to come," Case said.
Although the AOL Time Warner merger was promoted as an example of a new
economy business reviving an old one, the influence of America Online on the
company is waning. Many of the key proponents of the merger have left, been
forced out or been demoted in the last year as investors have grown increasingly
Jerry Levin, the Time Warner chief executive at the time of the merger, retired
in May, just a year and a half after it was finalized.
Espionage trial could lead to death penalty
It's the first U.S. espionage trial in nearly 50 years that could end in a death
sentence: A retired Air Force master sergeant, deeply in debt, is accused of
offering satellite secrets to Saddam Hussein and others for more than $13 mil-
lion in Swiss currency.
Barring a last-minute plea agreement, jury selection is to begin today in the
case against Brian Patrick Regan in U.S. District Court. His lawyers waged a late,
unsuccessful fight to delay the trial because of a possible U.S. invasion of Iraq,
one of the countries to whom Regan was accused of offering to sell secrets.
Legal experts said a plea avoiding trial this late was unlikely.
"I think you can assume any offers that were put on the table have been long-
since rejected," said Lawrence Robbins. He was the losing defense lawyer in the
last espionage trial in 1997, when a federal jury convicted a married couple of
spying for East Germany.
Full-blown spy trials in civilian courtrooms are rare. The Justice Department
nearly always negotiates a plea agreement, even in cases where espionage has
resulted in the deaths of America's foreign agents.
N. Korea denies having nuclear program
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -
North Korea insisted yesterday that it
never admitted having a secret nuclear
program, sending another conflicting
signal in the escalating crisis over its
alleged plans to build nuclear weapons
as a U.S. envoy began talks in South
Korea on the standoff.
In October, the United States said
North Korea had admitted having a
weapons program. That announcement
touched off the latest standoff, which
has led to North Korea's decision last
week to withdraw from the landmark
Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
"The claim that we admitted devel-
oping nuclear weapons is an invention
fabricated by the U.S. with sinister
intentions," South Korea's Yonhap
news agency quoted the official
Rodong Sinmun newspaper as saying.
It wasn't clear if the statement was
aimed at influencing a new round of
talks on resolving the crisis. U.S. Assis-
tant Secretary of State James Kelly
arrived in South Korea yesterday to
meet President-elect Roh Moo-hyun,
who believes diplomacy is the only
solution. Kelly also planned to meet
Foreign Minister Choi Sung-hong and
two presidential security advisers -
Yim Sung-joon and Lim Dong-won.
Kelly will travel tomorrow to China,
as well as Singapore, Indonesia and
The United States believes North
Korea has one or two nuclear weapons
and could make several more within
six months if it extracts weapons-grade
plutonium from spent fuel rods at a
The newspaper blamed the United
States for the current crisis and
warned: "If the United States evades
its responsibility and challenges us,
we'll turn the citadel of imperialists
into a sea of fire."
In the October announcement, the
United States said the North had
admitted to having an atomic
weapons program in violation of a
1994 accord, under which Pyongyang
pledged to freeze operations at its
nuclear facilities in exchange for
energy supplies. In response to the
admission, the United States suspend-
ed fuel shipments, and the North said
it would bring reactors at its Yongby-
on nuclear facility back online.
After announcing its withdrawal from
the treaty Friday, North Korea ratcheted
up tensions even further by suggesting it
"The claim that we admitted developing
nuclear weapons is an invention
fabricated by the US. with sinister
- Rodong Sinmun
North Korean official newspaper
might resume missile testing.
On Saturday, North Korean leaders
vowed at a rally attended by 1 million
people to "smash U.S. nuclear mani-
acs" in a "holy war."
But North Korean Deputy U.N.
Ambassador Han Song Ryol told New
Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a former
U.S. ambassador to the United
Nations, that the country had no inten
tion of building nuclear bombs.
"He told me that in a dialogue with
the United States, North Korea would
discuss America's concerns over veri-
fying its nuclear program. I think that's
positive," Richardson said Saturday at
the end of three days of meetings with
Also Saturday, a North Korean offi-
cial said its nuclear plant north of
Pyongyang was ready for operation.
The threat of new missile tests came
from the North's ambassador to China,
Choe Jin Su, who said tests could
resume if U.S. relations don't improve.
New tests would be the first since
1998, when North Korea shot a missile
over Japan into the Pacific. Pyongyang
later set a moratorium on tests which
was to last into 2004.
Another official left open the possi-
bility of the North reprocessing spent
fuel rods from its nuclear reactor to
make atomic bombs. Son Mun San, who
oversees Pyongyang's relations with the
U.N. International Atomic Energy
Agency, said the reprocessing plant-now
stands in a state of "readiness."
Turkey allows U.S. to
inspect bases for war
As tensions grow with the United
States, its most crucial ally, the Turk-
ish government, has finally agreed to
allow the U.S. military to inspect
Turkish bases for use in a possible
war with Iraq.
But the decision to allow inspec-
tions to start today leaves open
whether Turkey will give in to U.S.
pressure to allow tens of thousands of
American soldiers to invade Iraq from
Turkish soil - a move that U.S. and
Turkish generals agree would likely
shorten any war.
The issue is causing friction between
Washington and the new government of
Prime Minister Abdullah Gul, which
must balance its ally's desires against a
Turkish public that is overwhelmingly
opposed to a war.
U.S. military leaders have been push-
ing for a final decision on U.S. troops
using the bases, concerned that delays
are complicating war plans.
day and handed over to Pashtun tribal
elders, said Gen. Abdul Majid Rozi,
contacted by satellite phone at Dos-
tum's headquarters in the northern city
of Mazar-e Sharif.
Most of the prisoners were captured
in late 2001 as forces allied with the
northern alliance of opposition groups
that opposed Taliban rule swept the
country with U.S. assistance.
The advance followed a U.S. aerial
bombardment campaign - aimed at
unseating the Taliban - that was
prompted by the Sept. 11 attacks.
GREENWICH,Conn. (AP) - The
millionaire chairman of an investment
company was reportedly kidnapped for
more than 30 hours, then released
unharmed yesterday ,authorities said,.
Federal authorities took three people
into custody yesterday night in the kid-
napping of Edward S. Lampert, 40, of
Greenwich. There was no demand for
ransom; authorities would not discuss a
possible motive and the FBI did not give
any information about the suspects late
Lampert is listed on the Forbes 400
list released in September as the 288th
richest person in America with a net
worth of $800 million. He is the second-
richest person in Connecticut, according
Lampert was weary from the ordeal,
but not physically injured, police said.
- Compiled from Daily wire reports.
Stike killS 50Taliban fighters
released by warlord
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GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) -
Israeli forces killed four Palestinians
in military strikes yesterday in the
Gaza Strip, including two teenage
boys hit in a botched missile attack on
In the north, two Palestinian infiltra-
tors killed an Israeli in a village next to
the West Bank, as both rhetoric and
violence intensified in the approach to
Israel's Jan. 28 election.
Palestinians charged that Israel was
increasing attacks to distract voters
from election-related scandals, while
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
declared that Palestinian leader Yasser
Arafat is an "obstacle to peace" and
must ''exit the political stage."~
Also, in a rare incident of violence
on the Israel-Egypt border, Israeli
soldiers shot and killed two infiltra-
tors in the desert south of the Gaza
Strip, the military said. One soldier
Hours earlier, Israeli helicopters
fired missiles at two vehicles between
the refugee camps Khan Younis and
Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, wit-
nesses said, aiming for fugitives from
the Islamic militant group Hamas.
Instead, the explosions killed two
teenage boys walking nearby.
Hospital officials identified the dead
as Abdallah Najar and Mohammed
Karaweh. Another teenager was seri-
ously wounded, they said.
There were conflicting reports about
their ages. Hospital officials said the
victims were 15 and 16, an uncle said
Najar was 18 and a U.N. agency
refugee agency said he was 19.
Mahmoud Abu Tahar, a gas sta-
tion owner, said the missiles were
fired toward a taxi and a car when
three youngsters were nearby, two
on bikes and one walking. "I saw
two people dead and another lying
nearby in a pool of blood;" Abu
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ST'A'F "I Iz. 11T. " Ti F
After appeals from tribal elders,
northern Afghan warlord Abdul Rashid
Dostum has released 50 members of
the Taliban militia captured during
fighting more than a year ago, Dos-
tum's deputy said yesterday.
The men were freed from prison in
the northern city of Kunduz on Satur-
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