Ben Johnson

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Pro-lifers should be concerned about Obama assassination list: Judge Napolitano

Ben Johnson
Ben Johnson
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WASHINGTON, D.C., February 6, 2013, (LifeSiteNews.com) – One of the country’s leading legal experts and political commentators says that pro-life activists may have a personal reason to be concerned about a new Justice Department white paper outlining some of the criteria the Obama administration uses to select Americans it can assassinate without a trial -- because the administration has repeatedly labeled the pro-life movement as one of the primary sources of domestic terrorism. Some are asking specifically whether the policy could one day apply to the pro-life movement, gun enthusiasts, preppers, or small government conservatives.

"There are other memos out there -- you’ve seen them, I’ve seen them -- that suggest extreme religious views, people who are pro-life, some of those people could be considered to be domestic terrorists. Their names could be on watch lists. They could be monitored by the government," said Fox News journalist Shannon Bream Tuesday in the wake of the document's release. She asked Judge Andrew Napolitano, "How far can this be taken?" 

“This is all very dangerous stuff,” said Judge Napolitano, a constitutional scholar and author who taught at Seton Hall Law School for years before becoming FNC's legal expert.

Since 2011, when a drone strike in Yemen killed two U.S. citizens active with al-Qaeda, Congressional leaders and concerned citizens have asked what conditions the president believes justifies killing Americans without trial, by a drone or any other method. 

Under guidelines in a new document obtained by NBC News, theoretically any individual who holds beliefs a “high-level” government official deems threatening could be added to a hypothetical kill list.

Reporter Michael Isikoff obtained a 16-page white paper from the Justice Department outlining some, though not all, of the Obama administration's conditions. 

The DOJ white paper sets three criteria before the president could have an American assassinated: “(1) an informed, high-level official of the U.S. government has determined that the targeted individual poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States; (2) capture is infeasible, and the United States continues to monitor whether capture becomes feasible; and (3) the operation is conducted in a manner consistent with the four fundamental principles of the laws of war governing the use of force"—i.e., "necessity, distinction, proportionality, and humanity."

However, these criteria are not as rigorous as they sound. For instance, the government's definition of “imminent” threat “does not require the United States to have clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future.”

Capture would be deemed “infeasible” if it could not be “physically effectuated during the relevant window of opportunity” or if it posed “undue risk to U.S. personnel.”

To be deemed an “imminent threat,” a citizen must only have "recently been involved in activities posing an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States, and there is no evidence suggesting that he has renounced or abandoned such activities.” 

Numerous government studies released during the Obama administration list the pro-life viewpoint, as well as other conservative views, as indications of potential domestic terrorists.

A recent government report, authored by Dr. Arie Perliger of West Point's Center for Combating Terrorism, claimed, “The Christian fundamentalist violent far right emerged from...the anti-abortion/pro-life paradigm.”

An April 2009 DHS report entitled Rightwing [sic.] Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment,” identified “groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration” and opposition to same-sex “marriage,” as “the most dangerous domestic terrorism threat in the United States.”

"The memorandum said people who are pro-life, people who believe in the right to keep and bear arms, returning veterans, people who think the government is too big and the IRS is too powerful, could be characterized as domestic terrorists," Judge Napolitano said, offering an assessment that could be applied to many similar government reports. "Well, that group of people could characterize two-thirds of our country.”

“This one is carrying things to an extreme most Americans wouldn't recognize,” he said. “A fair interpretation of this 16-page document...is that the president of 'a high-ranking U.S. government official'...can kill anyone he wants – no matter what the laws say, no matter what the Constitution says, no matter what this president himself has said.”

The U.S. Constitution endows U.S. citizens with greater legal protections. “Unless you are actually pulling a trigger or are in moments of pulling that trigger or dropping a bomb, the government has an obligation to do its best to arrest you and charge you with a crime and prosecute you before it can indiscriminately kill you,” he added.

Napolitano is not the only one concerned. A bipartisan group of 11 U.S. Senators sent President Obama a letter demanding that he reveal “any and all legal opinions that lay out the executive branch's official understanding of the president's authority to deliberately kill American citizens” – something the president is bound by law to do. 

If he stonewalls, they threaten a “confrontation that could affect the Senate's consideration of nominees for national security positions.”

The first casualty would be John Brennan, the president's nominee for CIA director and one of the men who crafted the policy. Brennan refused to answer similar questions contained in a letter he received three weeks ago. 

Officials say the DOJ white paper contains some, but not all, of the administration's legal opinions about when it could kill an American citizen, or how an American is designated an imminent threat.

“Americans should definitely be concerned about these developments,” Patrick Krey, president of Catholic Attorneys for Life and Liberty (CALL), told LifeSiteNews.com. “Public officials in France recently discussed investigating citizens who hold views contrary to liberal social policy as exhibiting a dangerous 'religious pathology.' It will only be a matter of time before similar investigations get underway in this nation.”

“As each day passes,” Krey told LifeSiteNews, “it becomes more and more likely that those who express traditional Christian values will become targets of an emerging police state.”

The pro-life movement had a similar debate about whether the government could permanently detain pro-life "terrorists" under the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 (NDAA). “The law is only as good as those who are sworn to uphold it,” wrote Dana Cody of Life Legal Defense Foundation, one of those who believed at present NDAA was not a concern. "And we will keep watching."

The Obama administration insists it has done nothing wrong in detaining, or killing, those who threaten the United States, regardless of citizenship.

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On Tuesday, Attorney General Eric Holder said the Obama administration's use of drone attacks against Americans "is consistent with federal and international law."

At a press conference Tuesday afternoon, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said, "These strikes are legal, they are ethical, and they are wise." 

Some on the other side of the aisle agree.

Bush administration UN Ambassador John Bolton, who is associated with the neoconservative wing of the Republican Party, said the “Constitution I think is very clear” that the president's powers “are not judicially reviewable” and should be deployed by the executive branch alone, “as the Framers [of the Constitution] intended.”

But others disagree strongly with Holder and Bolton – and the leadership of both political parties.

“The problem is that to accept this position, you have to put complete trust in the competence, wisdom, and ethics of the president, his underlings, and their successors,” wrote Jacob Sullum of Reason magazine. “You have to believe they are properly defining and inerrantly identifying people who pose an imminent (or quasi-imminent) threat to national security and eliminating that threat through the only feasible means, which involves blowing people up from a distance.”

“If mere mortals deserved that kind of faith, we would not need a Fifth Amendment, or the rest of the Constitution,” he concluded.

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Lisa Bourne

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Cardinal Dolan: Debate on denying Communion to pro-abortion pols ‘in the past’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne

As America heads into its 2014 midterm elections, a leading U.S. prelate says the nation’s bishops believe debate over whether to deny Communion to pro-abortion Catholic politicians is “in the past.”

The Church’s Code of Canon Law states in Canon 915 that those “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.” Leading Vatican officials, including Pope Benedict XVI himself, have said this canon ought to be applied in the case of pro-abortion Catholic politicians. However, prelates in the West have widely ignored it, and some have openly disagreed.

John Allen, Jr. of the new website Crux, launched as a Catholic initiative under the auspices of the Boston Globe, asked New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan about the issue earlier this month.

“In a way, I like to think it’s an issue that served us well in forcing us to do a serious examination of conscience about how we can best teach our people about their political responsibilities,” the cardinal responded, “but by now that inflammatory issue is in the past.”

“I don’t hear too many bishops saying it’s something that we need to debate nationally, or that we have to decide collegially,” he continued. “I think most bishops have said, ‘We trust individual bishops in individual cases.’ Most don’t think it’s something for which we have to go to the mat.”

Cardinal Dolan expressed personal disinterest in upholding Canon 915 publicly in 2010 when he told an Albany TV station he was not in favor of denying Communion to pro-abortion politicians. He said at the time that he preferred “to follow the lead of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, who said it was better to try to persuade them than to impose sanctions.”

However, in 2004 Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who became Pope Benedict XVI the following year, wrote the U.S. Bishops a letter stating that a Catholic politician who would vote for "permissive abortion and euthanasia laws" after being duly instructed and warned, "must" be denied Communion. 

Cardinal Ratzinger sent the document to the U.S. Bishops in 2004 to help inform their debate on the issue. However, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, then-chair of the USCCB Task Force on Catholic Bishops and Catholic Politicians, who received the letter, withheld the full text from the bishops, and used it instead to suggest ambiguity on the issue from the Vatican.

A couple of weeks after Cardinal McCarrick’s June 2004 address to the USCCB, the letter from Cardinal Ratzinger was leaked to well-known Vatican reporter Sandro Magister, who published the full document. Cardinal Ratzinger’s office later confirmed the leaked document as authentic.

Since the debate in 2004, numerous U.S. prelates have openly opposed denying Communion to pro-abortion Catholic politicians.

In 2008, Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley suggested the Church had yet to formally pronounce on the issue, and that until it does, “I don’t think we’re going to be denying Communion to the people.”

In 2009, Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington D.C. in 2009 said that upholding of Canon 915 would turn the Eucharist into a political “weapon,” refusing to employ the law in the case of abortion supporter Rep. Nancy Pelosi.

Cardinal Roger Mahoney, archbishop emeritus of Los Angeles, said in a 2009 newspaper interview that pro-abortion politicians should be granted communion because Jesus Christ gave Holy Communion to Judas Iscariot.

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However, one of the Church’s leading proponents of the practice, U.S. Cardinal Raymond Burke, who is prefect of the Vatican’s Apostolic Signatura, insists that denying Communion is not a punishment.

“The Church’s discipline from the time of Saint Paul has admonished those who obstinately persevere in manifest grave sin not to present themselves for Holy Communion,” he said at LifeSiteNews’ first annual Rome Life Forum in Vatican City in early May. "The discipline is not a punishment but the recognition of the objective condition of the soul of the person involved in such sin."  

Only days earlier, Cardinal Francis Arinze, former prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, told LifeSiteNews that he has no patience for politicians who say that they are “personally” opposed to abortion, but are unwilling to “impose” their views on others.

On the question of Communion, he said, “Do you really need a cardinal from the Vatican to answer that?”

Cardinal Christian Tumi, archbishop emeritus of Douala, told LifeSiteNews around the same time that ministers of Holy Communion are “bound not to” give the Eucharist to Catholic politicians who support abortion.

Pro-life organizations across the world have said they share the pastoral concern for pro-abortion politicians. Fifty-two pro-life leaders from 16 nations at the recent Rome Life Forum called on the bishops of the Catholic Church to honor Canon 915 and withhold Communion from pro-abortion politicians as an act of love and mercy.

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‘His bones are basically like paper’: Parents refuse to abort baby with rare condition

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By Kirsten Anderson

At just 11 weeks old, little Layton Diven is not like other babies. Every time his parents pick him up or cuddle him, there is a chance they will break his bones. In fact, Layton has already suffered more than 20 fractures in his short life – beginning at the moment of his birth.

Layton has Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI), a rare disease that makes his bones brittle and prone to breakage. There are several types of OI, and Layton’s type, OI Type III, is the most severe type found among infants. Most babies born with the disease, like Layton, are born with multiple fractures, especially along the rib cage. Many struggle to breathe or swallow. The incurable disease is progressive, so it will get worse as he gets older.

Layton was diagnosed with OI in the womb, but abortion wasn’t an option for his parents, Chad and Angela Diven, who considered their baby a gift from God, no matter his condition.

“We weren't going to have an abortion, so he was born with the disease,” Angela Diven told KSLA. “God chose me for him, to be his mom, so I have to take that huge responsibility and do what's best for him.”

That responsibility comes with a heavy price. Layton requires 24-hour care, but both Angela and Chad have full-time jobs. He can’t go to regular daycare, because it’s not safe for him.

“You can't just pick him up like a normal baby,” Diven said. “You can't dress him like a normal child; his bones are basically like paper. He can't go to daycare because of his condition. He's medically fragile, and a daycare can't handle him."

Childcare costs are just the beginning, though – the treatments Layton will need throughout his life are expensive and may not be covered by insurance.

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Layton is currently receiving pamidronate IV therapy, which will help to strengthen his bones. But in order to be able to stand or walk, he will need metal rods implanted in his legs – an operation that will cost the Divens $80,000. The OI specialist coordinating Layton’s care is in Omaha, Nebraska, while the Divens live in Louisiana. As he grows, Layton will also require special equipment, such as a wheelchair, along with extensive physical therapy.

Despite the hardships they knew would come, the Divens stepped out in faith to bring Layton into the world. Now, they are reaching out to the internet for help to shoulder the financial burdens that came with their baby blessing. The family has set up both a GoFundMe and a Facebook page called “Lifting Up Layton Diven,” where people can receive updates on Layton’s condition and contribute to the cost of his care.

To donate to baby Layton’s medical trust fund, click here.

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John-Henry Westen John-Henry Westen Follow John-Henry

Sources confirm Cardinal Burke will be removed. But will he attend the Synod?

John-Henry Westen John-Henry Westen Follow John-Henry
By John-Henry Westen

Sources in Rome have confirmed to LifeSiteNews that Cardinal Raymond Burke, the head of the Vatican’s highest court, known as the Apostolic Signatura, is to be removed from his post as head of the Vatican dicastery and given a non-curial assignment as patron of the Order of Malta.

The timing of the move is key since Cardinal Burke is currently on the list to attend October’s Extraordinary Synod on the Family. He is attending in his capacity as head of one of the dicasteries of the Roman Curia, so if he is removed prior to the Synod it could mean he would not be able to attend.

Burke has been one of the key defenders in the lead-up to the Synod of the Church's traditional practice of withholding Communion from Catholics who are divorced and civilly remarried.

Most of the Catholic world first learned of the shocking development through Vatican reporter Sandro Magister, whose post ‘Exile to Malta for Cardinal Burke’ went out late last night.

If Burke’s removal from the Signatura is confirmed, said Magister, the cardinal “would not be promoted - as some are fantasizing in the blogosphere - to the difficult but prestigious see of Chicago, but rather demoted to the pompous - but ecclesiastically very modest - title of ‘cardinal patron’ of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, replacing the current head, Paolo Sardi, who recently turned 80.”

At 66, Cardinal Burke is still in his Episcopal prime.

The prominent traditional Catholic blog Rorate Caeli goes as far as to say, “It would be the greatest humiliation of a Curial Cardinal in living memory, truly unprecedented in modern times: considering the reasonably young age of the Cardinal, such a move would be, in terms of the modern Church, nothing short than a complete degradation and a clear punishment.”

On Tuesday, American traditionalist priest-blogger Fr. John Zuhlsdorf also hinted he had heard the move was underway. “I’ve been biting the inside of my mouth for a while now,” he wrote. “The optimist in me was saying that the official announcement would not be made until after the Synod of Bishops, or at least the beginning of the Synod. Or at all.”

“It’s not good news,” he added.

Both Magister and Zuhlsdorf predicted that the controversial move would unleash a wave of simultaneous jubilation from dissident Catholics and criticism from faithful Catholics. The decision to remove Cardinal Burke from his position on the Congregation for Bishops last December caused a public outpouring of concern and dismay from Catholic and pro-life leaders across the globe.

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Both men speculated on the reasons for the ouster. 

Magister pointed out that Burke is the latest in a line of ‘Ratzingerian’ prelates to undergo the axe.

“In his first months as bishop of Rome, pope Bergoglio immediately provided for the transfer to lower-ranking positions of three prominent curial figures: Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, Archbishop Guido Pozzo, and Bishop Giuseppe Sciacca, considered for their theological and liturgical sensibilities among the most ‘Ratzingerian’ of the Roman curia,” said Magister.

He added: “Another whose fate appears to be sealed is the Spanish archbishop of Opus Dei Celso Morga Iruzubieta.”

Fr. Zuhlsdorf observed that Pope Francis may also be shrinking the Curial offices and thus reducing the number of Cardinals needed to fill those posts. He adds however, “It would be naïve in the extreme to think that there are lacking near Francis’s elbows those who have been sharpening their knives for Card. Burke and for anyone else associated closely with Pope Benedict.” 

“This is millennial, clerical blood sport.”

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