Constitutional experts: pro-life ‘terrorists’ could be permanently detained without trial under law
WASHINGTON, D.C., January 3, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Constitutional experts warn a new law that allows the president to permanently detain U.S. citizens without trial could be used against pro-life activists, who have already been defined as potential terrorists in documents by some government agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security.
“This law can apply to pro-lifers, yes,” said John W. Whitehead, a constitutional attorney and founder of The Rutherford Institute. Whitehead told LifeSiteNews.com the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (NDAA) “would allow the military to show up at your door if you’re a ‘potential terrorist,’ and put you in military detention where seeing a lawyer is difficult.”
The NDAA, which President Barack Obama signed on December 31, allows the president to hold enemy combatants in military detention facilities without trial until the end of hostilities, if the person “substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners.” The law allows the president to determine which groups may be considered terrorists without judicial or congressional oversight, although Secretary of Defense is required to “regularly brief” Congress about “covered persons.”
Sen. Carl Levin, D-MI, said the Obama administration specifically asked senators for the power to permanently detain American citizens without trial and to “remove the language which says that U.S. citizens and lawful residents would not be subject to this section.”
Although Section 1022 states, “The requirement to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to citizens of the United States,” many contend the law allows detention as an option for Americans captured abroad. Glenn Greenwald of Salon summarized, “For foreign nationals accused of being members of Al Qaeda, military detention is mandatory; for U.S. citizens, it is optional.”
Dana Cody, president and executive director of Life Legal Defense Foundation, said pro-life activists “already are classified as domestic terrorists on some FBI lists.” She said that on one occasion the manager of a Kansas City, Kansas, abortion clinic slammed her client, Mary Ann Sause, to the ground and told the peaceful pro-life demonstrator he was photographing her license plate so he could report her to the FBI.
Cody, who told LifeSiteNews.com her organization is currently studying the NDAA, added that the law states “enemy territory is anywhere.” The Senate rejected an amendment from Dianne Feinstein limiting permanent detention to those captured “abroad.”
“If it’s within the discretion of the government under the National Defense Authorization Act, of course it will be used by the government to intimidate and silence pro-life people, especially those who are in the public forum,” Cody said.
In his signing statement, President Obama wrote, “I want to clarify that my Administration will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens. Indeed, I believe that doing so would break with our most important traditions and values as a Nation.” [sic.]
“The signing statement means nothing,” Whitehead said. “The signing statement is a political thing he hoped would settle the fears of the ACLU. If you give the president the power to come get you, he’s going to do it if he needs to, or if the corporations funding him say you are a potential terrorist.”
Whitehead said one of his clients, street preacher Michael Marcavage, has become the target of an FBI terrorist investigation. Whitehead wrote a letter to FBI director Robert Mueller asking why Marcavage is being investigated for preaching the Gospel. The FBI has not responded.
Under this administration, the Department of Homeland Security has listed pro-life organizations as potential domestic terrorists and held joint training sessions with the FBI to monitor pro-life websites.
An April 2009 DHS report entitled “Rightwing [sic.] Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment,” identified as likely terrorists “groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration,” or who would be “antagonistic toward the new presidential administration and its perceived stance on a range of issues.” Such groups, the report concluded, “are the most dangerous domestic terrorism threat in the United States.” The DHS later pulled the report.
However, last August DHS and FBI agents attended a terrorism training seminar hosted by Planned Parenthood, the National Abortion Federation, and the Feminist Majority Foundation that equated free speech and distributing literature with violence. An 84-page resource guide listed three pages of potential extremist websites including Priests for Life, National Right to Life, the American Life League, Concerned Women for America, Human Life International, the American Center for Law and Justice, and the Christian Broadcasting Network.
In 1994-6, the Clinton administration’s Justice Department subpoenaed longtime pro-life activists in hopes of uncovering a terrorist conspiracy to kill abortionists. The Violence Against Abortion Providers Conspiracy (VAAPCON) program compiled a vast database of information on anti-abortion groups and individuals, including the National Right to Life Committee, the late John Cardinal O’Connor of New York, the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, Concerned Women for America, the Christian Coalition, Feminists for Life, and the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops, which condemned the secret database.
Whitehead warns the NDAA is “a threat to anybody causing trouble – that means exercising your rights.”