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The Holocaust History Project.
The Holocaust History Project.

The Expertise of Fred Leuchter

1. Deniers who quote from the Leuchter Report often refer to Fred Leuchter as a "leading expert" on executions.

2. This Quick Fact shows that Mr. Leuchter's credentials have been questioned by Attorneys General and others for quite some time.

  • According to an affidavit by Dr. Edward A. Brunner, chair of the Department of Anesthesia at Northwestern University Medical School, "Leuchter's lethal injection system caused excruciating pain but rendered victims incapable of screaming to communicate their distress."

    Denying the Holocaust Deborah E. Lipstadt, p. 172.

  • And in the New York Times of October 13, 1990
    In August [1990] , the Alabama Attorney General's office sent other states a memorandum raising questions about Mr. Leuchter's expertise and reliability, and a prominent Illinois physician testified in an affidavit in Federal court that use of Mr. Leuchter's injection method would paralyze inmates and cause them intense pain before they died. The system has been used so far only in Missouri and Illinois.

    Leuchter was not always given contracts because he was the "best choice:"

    ''A lethal injection machine is not an off-the-shelf product,'' said Gail Hughes, deputy director of the Missouri Department of Corrections. ''Leuchter was the only person to bid for the contract to make the machine, so we gave it to him.''

    The New York Times article continues:

    In August the Alabama Attorney General's office sent out its memorandum questioning Mr. Leuchter's credentials, and Dr. Edward A. Brunner, chairman of the anesthesia department at Northwestern University Medical School, testified in an Illinois inmate lawsuit that the Leuchter injection system would render an inmate incapable of screaming about the ''extreme pain in the form of a severe burning sensation'' caused by the potassium chloride.

    The Illinois Department of Corrections terminated Mr. Leuchter's contract for ''execution support'' on August 17. On August 20, Mr. Leuchter wrote a letter to Illinois officials saying that because he was not maintaining the equipment he would bear no responsibility if it failed. He added that the machine ''has an intermittent functional problem and may very likely fail during the execution.

    In other words, Leuchter had sold Illinois a faulty product from the start (an intermittent functional problem very likely to fail) and admitted that he was aware of this problem before he sold the machine to the state of Illinois.

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