via yesterday's NYT: In a breathtaking afterthought at the close of debate, the House voted to triple the number of terrorism-related crimes carrying the death penalty. The House also voted to allow judges to reduce the size of juries that decide on executions, and even to permit prosecutors to try repeatedly for a death sentence when a hung jury fails to vote for death.
The radical amendment was slapped through by the Republican leadership without serious debate. The Justice Department has endorsed the House measure, and Representative James Sensenbrenner Jr., the Judiciary Committee chairman, who is ever on the side of more government power over the individual, is promising to fight hard for the death penalty provisions.
There are now 20 terrorism-related crimes eligible for capital punishment, and the House measure would add 41 more. These would make it easier for prosecutors to win a death sentence in cases where a defendant had no intent to kill - for example, if a defendant gave financial support to an umbrella organization without realizing that some of its adherents might eventually commit violence.