The Department of Homeland Security has a clear, if difficult, mission. It includes securing 7,500 miles of border and 9,500 miles of shoreline, and protecting 300 million Americans from the threats posed by a bold and determined jihadist enemy.
But its greatest menace is a former stay at home mother of 11 and grandmother of eight from Brookfield, Wisconsin. Or so it would seem.
Peggy Hamill, state director of Pro-Life Wisconsin, is among a group of pro-life activists upon whom a DHS “threat assessment” was performed last year. The assessment targeted the free speech rights of peaceful pro-life activists in Madison, Wisconsin, who oppose the state university’s plans to force medical professionals to perform late-term abortions
But don’t expect to hear any apologies from DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, whose agency worked with local police to collect intelligence that it now steadfastly refuses to release. The “threat assessment” reflects the views of an administration that regards those willing to stand up for the constitutional right to life as a national security threat. News of the assessment also likely has many Americans wondering whether this administration knows who the real enemy is.
The controversy erupted last year when the last remaining full-time abortionist in Madison announced his retirement. That sent the state’s abortion advocates searching for a way to prop up the state’s marginalized abortion industry. Early in 2009, University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics announced that the Madison Surgery Center (MSC), a new medical facility that it part-owned, would begin performing late-term abortions.
Most MSC employees protested the move, and pro-life employees called The Alliance Defense Fund, a First Amendment law firm, which insisted that conscience rights of those who do not want to participate in abortions be protected. Local pro-lifers organized a rally to inform the public and provided testimony at a public hearing.
Meanwhile, DHS and local police were writing their “threat assessment” to find out what kind of a threat Hamill and her small group of pro-lifers posed to national security.
DHS eventually concluded that performing the assessment was an improper use of department resources inappropriately directed against activities protected by the First Amendment, and that law enforcement had engaged in “the collection, retention and dissemination of U.S. person information regarding protest groups which posed no threat to homeland security.”
This wasn’t the first time that the federal agency had targeted pro-lifers. Last Spring a leaked DHS report listed pro-lifers as a source of possible terrorist activity.
In an interview with CNN’s John King, Sec. Napolitano defended the report, insisting that threats could come from “groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion."
When King asked Napolitano whether DHS was actively investigating pro-life groups, she refused to answer. Now we know why.
Napolitano said she would not comment on the department’s activities, stating only that pro-life groups have a “history” of violence. “At the very edge of the [abortion] debate,” she explained, “…are the extremist groups that have committed violent crimes. They’ve committed bombings and the like.”
Napolitano was simply invoking the common narrative of anti-abortion violence. The Left has always clung to idea that pro-lifers are an inherently violent bunch.
The president himself once compared his relationship with unrepentant domestic terrorist William Ayers, a member of a group responsible for bombing government buildings, to his friendship with pro-life physician and Senator Tom Coburn.
But hundreds of pro-lifers stand in front of abortion facilities every day in America without incident. The vast majority are peaceful, prayerful and very attentive to the law.
Statistics show that violence by abortion advocates is more common than pro-life violence. But you’d never know it. When late-term abortionist George Tiller was killed last year, there were front page headlines and news stories for weeks about the incident. The president even made a statement denouncing the killing.
But when peaceful pro-life protestor Jim Pouillon was gunned down in Michigan last September, there was silence by most of the mainstream media.
Administration officials testified on Capitol Hill recently that they believed it was absolutely certain that terrorists would attempt another attack on American soil in the next six months. Joe Biden told Larry King he expects attempts at smaller “but devastatingly frightening attacks.”
With such threats supposedly imminent, the Obama administration’s inability to recognize where those threats will come from is very worrying.
Over the past year, the Obama administration has granted Miranda Rights to al Qaeda terrorists, tried to confer more legal protections to the 9-11 mastermind than American soldiers enjoy and has been desperately searching for a way to ship GITMO terrorists to American soil.
These actions have left many Americans wondering whose interests their president is working to protect. With the administration’s attempts to silence their First Amendment right to free speech, pro-lifers know it’s not theirs.