During debate of a controversial bill to extend, amend and add provisions to the USA PATRIOT Act, the Senate Judiciary Committee today adopted an amendment offered by Ranking Member Chuck Grassley that would make terrorists who commit a crime using a weapon of mass destruction eligible for the death penalty. Current law does not carry the possibility of the death penalty for when someone uses these weapons.
The amendment would add the death penalty for five specific crimes that cause death, including participating in, or providing material support to, developing, using, or threatening to use a nuclear weapon; producing or using a missile to destroy an aircraft; using or threatening to use atomic weapons; using a dirty bomb, or radiological dispersal device; and producing or using a virus.
"The most serious of crimes, should have the most serious of penalties. When a terrorist commits one of these horrific crimes with weapons of mass destruction, the death penalty should be an option on the table," Grassley said.
Grassley said he will be ready to offer several additional amendments if the bill is debated by the full Senate.
"The legislation discussed today would make it harder for the law enforcement community and agents on the ground to do their jobs. It would unnecessarily increase the burden on national security investigations and drive a wedge between criminal and national security investigations. The bill that came out of committee has some serious flaws, and will undoubtedly be a target for numerous amendments on the Senate floor," Grassley added.
Grassley has introduced a bill, along with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Saxby Chambliss, that would make permanent the provisions authorizing roving wiretaps of terrorism suspects, the "lone wolf" provisions, as well as the Section 215 orders for business records.