In what should — but almost certainly won’t — be the final nail in the coffin of Nebraska’s ridiculous death penalty system, the European manufacturer of Nebraska’s supply of sodium thiopental (which the state purchased through a drug dealer, who lied to the company to obtain it, and which the state has refused to return in violation of a federal court ruling) is now recalling the drug through the FDA.
"The product is being recalled from the market because it was illegally diverted from the company’s supply chain and has been outside the company’s control in breach of Naari AG’s established standard operating practices," Naari AG says in a document sent to the FDA.
The Journal Star obtained a copy of the document, in which Naari asks that Nebraska officials “immediately quarantine and return to us or FDA any product in your possession. … The product is being removed from the market with the knowledge of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.”
You’d think this means Nebraska will have to put on hold its plans to execute Michael Ryan and the few other men on death row. But you’d be wrong!
On Tuesday, officials at the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services said they would not respond to the recall.
"All documents examined indicate our department received the sodium thiopental in a legitimate manner," said Robert Houston, director of the department. "NAARI has made their position clear; however, we do not feel a response to this recall notice is necessary or appropriate."
If all the documents they’ve examined indicate that Nebraska “received the sodium thiopental in a legitimate manner,” they must not have looked at any of the documents. The drug was plainly obtained by fraud; the broker in India told the company that it was intended for medical trials in Africa, not for resale to Americans who intend to kill people with it.
With this in mind, I have to say that the response from the state reminds me of nothing so much as a child putting his fingers in his ears and shouting, “I’m not listening” over and over.
As the attorney for Michael Ryan helpfully notes:
"It is unfortunate that the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office appears to take the position that it can ignore federal statutes and regulations, ignore a clear directive from the FDA and ignore the order of a conservative federal judge from the D.C. court."
But not just unfortunate, no. Also morally repugnant. And expensive. Indeed, get ready for more expensive execution-related lawsuits, Nebraskans, only this time they’re not going to come exclusively from the people you’re trying to poison to death! Your fiscally-conservative Attorney General — now running for Senate with the endorsement of the Tea Party — is saddling the state with a massive bill in his zeal to put people to death. When push comes to shove, he doesn’t seem particularly concerned about how much of Nebraskans’ tax dollars are being spent on this boondoggle of his.
I guess it’s hard to put a price on bloodthirstiness.
HT: Jacob Colling.