A new rumor about Obamacare, formally known as the Affordable Care Act, making its rounds on the internet is that the law will make beheading an official method of execution in the United States. The rumor, apparently has its origin in an article by Lorri Anderson on the Freedom Outpost on Nov. 18, 2013, about international medical codes. Conspiracy sites claim that a medical code for “legal execution” reveals that beheading and decapitation are coming to the United States. The Freedom Outpost is a conservative pseudo-news site that has articles on birtherism, nullification and other conspiracy theories.
Anderson's article refers to a medical code, “ICD 9 E 978,” that conspiracy theorists believe purports to list the legal methods of execution in the United States. The definition of the coding is found on CentralX.com under “International Classification of Diseases” and is as follows:
E978 Legal execution
All executions performed at the behest of the judiciary or ruling authority
[whether permanent or temporary] as:
asphyxiation by gas
beheading, decapitation (by guillotine)
other specified means
INJURY UNDETERMINED WHETHER ACCIDENTALLY OR PURPOSELY
Anderson notes that the code is part of an international coding system, but doesn’t seem to understand what the codes are for or how they are used. She seems to believe that, because the United States is using the coding system, all parts of the code will apply to patients in the United States and that is is being forced on American doctors by the Department of Homeland Security and UN.
Writing for About.com, Trisha Torrey explains that “ICD” codes are “International Statistical Classifications of Diseases.” The codes are used to categorize every disease, set of symptoms or cause of death that can be attributed to human beings. The coding system was developed by the World Health Organization, the coordinating authority for health in the United Nations. As electronic medical records are implemented, the codes will be used for diagnosis and treatment of health problems.
When someone dies, an ICD code will also be used to record the cause of death. This is where Anderson’s code for “legal execution” comes in. The code will obviously be used when a person has been executed “at the behest of the judiciary or ruling authority [whether permanent or temporary].” Even though “beheading” and “decapitation (by guillotine)” are not legal methods of execution for the federal government or any of the 50 states, beheading is still legal in Saudi Arabia. Additionally, rebels in Syria and the Taliban in Pakistan (possibly a temporary authority in areas that they control) have been known to use beheading, as did Saddam Hussein in pre-war Iraq. Other Islamic terrorists have also been known to behead their captives. In one notable case, Nick Berg, an American business who was Jewish, was kidnapped and beheaded by Iraqi Muslim terrorists in 2004 and the video of the murder was posted online. And no, there is no evidence that Barack Obama is a Muslim.
Regardless of what international medical codes define as legal methods of execution, the method of legal execution in the United States is established by the legislature. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, 35 states plus the federal government have the death penalty. All states have lethal injection as the primary method of execution. In Georgia, lethal injection is the only legal means of execution. Federal law requires that in federal death penalty cases, the method of execution follows the law of the state in which the conviction took place. No state law permits execution by beheading.
Anderson also attempts to tie in the ICD coding to Agenda 21 by asserting that “WHO is a specialized agency of the United Nations and directly linked to the League of Nations under the guise of collecting data.” In reality, the League of Nations was the predecessor to the United Nations and was disbanded in 1946 after failing in its primary mission of preventing a second world war. The United Nations was founded a year earlier in 1945.
Agenda 21 (read the full text here) is frequent fodder for conspiracy buffs. Agenda 21 is a protocol for achieving “sustainable development” in the 21st century that was drafted by the United Nations Earth Summit in 1992. The agenda is not a treaty. The Heritage Foundation noted in 2011 that Agenda 21 is “voluntary” and “nonbinding.” The United Nations Association agrees that Agenda 21 is “not legally binding” and “does not take precedence over U.S. law.” Agenda 21 passed the House of Representatives in 1992 (sponsored by Nancy Pelosi) according to the Library of Congress but was never passed by the Senate so it never became U.S. law.
Conspiracy proponents like Townhall.com columnist Rachel Alexander sometimes refer to Executive Orders that supposedly implement Agenda 21 without congressional approval. In reality, President Obama’s Executive Order 13575 which in 2011 established the White House Rural Council specifically says that “nothing in this order shall be construed to… affect… authority granted by law” and that the order “shall be implemented consistent with applicable law….” Obama’s Executive Order 13547 carries similar disclaimers to avoid in pretense of amending current federal law. Similar claims about other presidents are also farfetched. Two orders by Bill Clinton cited by conspiracy buffs (12852 and 12996) establish an advisory council for the president on sustainable development and create wildlife refuges on public use lands. George W. Bush is also blamed for Executive Orders 13423 and 13366, which are equally innocuous and also carry disclaimers that they do not amend existing law.
It takes little research to quickly determine that the Affordable Care Act will not implement beheadings in the United States. It can be determined almost as quickly that however ill-advised that Agenda 21 may be, it does not apply to the United States.
If you find an internet conspiracy theory that would like Examiner to investigate, contact the Atlanta Conservative Examiner at ThorntonDavid@yahoo.com or on the Common Sense Conservative Facebook page. If your conspiracy is selected for an article, you will receive an official Atlanta Conservative Examiner tinfoil hat. Readers might also be interested in Examiner’s guide to “Becoming a discerning internet user,” a helpful article on distinguishing fact from fiction on the internet.