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Attorney General Bill Barr. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Attorney General Bill Barr has instructed the Federal Bureau of Prisons to reinstate the death penalty, the Justice Department announced Thursday.

“Congress has expressly authorized the death penalty through legislation adopted by the people’s representatives in both houses of Congress and signed by the President. ... The Justice Department upholds the rule of law—and we owe it to the victims and their families to carry forward the sentence imposed by our justice system.”
— Attorney General Bill Barr

Why it matters: No federal executions have taken place since 2003 — an informal moratorium as the Justice Department "reviewed its lethal injection protocols," per the Washington Post. In addition to directing the BOP to resume capital punishment, Barr has asked the acting director of the agency to schedule the executions of 5 death-row inmates convicted of murder, beginning on Dec. 9.

The big picture: The updated federal execution protocol ordered by Barr would closely mirror a single-drug procedure used in several states, including currently Georgia, Missouri and Texas. A number of drugmakers that used to supply the 3-drug cocktail used for execution purposes stopped selling them in protest, making it more difficult for states to enforce lethal injections.

  • Capital punishment across the country is largely on the decline, with New Hampshire becoming the 21st to eliminate the death penalty in May. According to a Gallup tracker, 56% of Americans are in favor of the death penalty, down from a peak of 80% in 1994.

Go deeper: Where the death penalty survives around the world

Go deeper

Updated 42 mins ago - Politics & Policy

National Guard chief: Pentagon's "unusual" Jan. 6 restrictions led to 3-hour delay

William Walker, commanding general of the D.C. National Guard, testified Wednesday that a three-hour delay in approval for National Guard assistance during the Jan. 6 Capitol attack was exacerbated by "unusual" restrictions on his authorities by Pentagon leadership.

Why it matters: Walker testified that if Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy had not prohibited him in a Jan. 5 memo from using the National Guard's "Quick Reaction Force" without authorization, he would have "immediately" sent troops to the Capitol after receiving a "frantic call" from then-Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund.

1 hour ago - World

U.S.-Iran nuclear diplomacy is going nowhere fast

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Iran's cool response to the Biden administration's push for diplomatic engagement, along with rising tensions in the region, makes clear that salvaging the 2015 nuclear deal may be far more difficult than many had anticipated.

The state of play: Both the U.S. and Iran have entered the diplomatic dance, but it seems to be moving in circles.

Venture capital firm Indie.vc is shutting down

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Indie.vc, an effort launched six years ago to invest small amounts in bootstrapped businesses, announced on Tuesday that it’s winding down.

Why it matters: Venture capital, despite being the money of innovation, is rarely innovative itself. Indie.vc was an effort to break out of the tedium, so its failure is de facto disappointing.