Andy Moore, with the bullhorn that inspired a federal investigation.
WASHINGTON, D.C., July 17, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – The federal government appears to be making a concerted effort to to gain intelligence on the pro-life movement, according to some of the movement’s most prominent leaders.
Jill Stanek has revealed that on July 13, FBI agents Conrad Rodriguez and William Sivley paid a visit to her son-in-law, Andy Moore, reportedly pressuring him to expose the inner workings of the right-to-life movement and making veiled threats to separate him from his wife and family through imprisonment or deportation.
The feds questioned Moore after the Southwest Women’s Surgery Center, a Dallas abortion clinic, complained that Moore used a bullhorn on one occasion during a peaceful protest. Upon learning this violated a local noise ordinance, Moore stopped using the bullhorn.
The abortion mill also claimed Moore was “too aggressive” and had trespassed on its property – something Moore denies and which he says the clinic made no attempt to prove.
Stanek wrote that the agents – who said their department also investigates hate crimes such as those committed by white supremacists – asked “inappropriate questions clearly aimed at intimidating Andy, while also launching into a fishing expedition about me.” Agents reportedly asked her son-in-law whether Stanek had inspired his activism, whether she trained him, and if he got his ideas from her.
They also asked, “What affiliations do you have including church groups?”
Stanek said the agents were most interested in getting him to name other pro-lifers who he believes are overly “abrasive or aggressive.”
Moore, who hails from New Zealand and is not a U.S. citizen, could be deported if successfully prosecuted. FBI agents reportedly told him, “You wouldn’t want to be apart from your wife and newborn.”
Stanek questioned why the FBI was involved in the first place, since, “the charges rose to the level of nada to begin with, certainly not above local law enforcement’s pay grade.”
Others in the pro-life movement have received similar visits and probing questions.
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Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, told LifesiteNews.com that during the Clinton-era Violence Against Abortion Providers Conspiracy (VAAPCON) program, federal agents harassed pro-lifers in an attempt to uncover a conspiracy to kill abortionists. “Our mail was rifled through. Our phone lines were tapped. We were followed. I have an FBI file,” Newman told LifeSiteNews. “At the end of the day, they could not find any instance of conspiracy to commit violence against abortion providers. If anything we saw the exact opposite: there’s a conspiracy to commit violence against pro-lifers. That’s never talked about.”
Under Obama, he said the pressure is beginning again.
“I think it’s a lot more subversive with the advent of…warrantless wiretapping of our phones, and our cell phones can be cloned so easily,” he said.
Newman said a source has given him reason to believe the Obama administration is engaging in surveillance of pro-life leaders and organizations.
“It would not be a stretch to believe that every single pro-life leader has his unique ID code for their cell phone tapped into a government computer, and they know where we are and who we’re talking to at every moment,” Newman told LifeSiteNews.
Newman is perplexed why Operation Rescue’s 25 years of non-violent protest landed them as targets of an investigation. “We’re in the process of doing a Freedom of Information Act [request] to get this information directly from them, and we’ll be following that up with possible litigation,” he said.
“The Obama administration is essentially engaging in a witch hunt,” wrote Life Legal Defense Foundation Senior Staff Counsel Allison Aranda. “From the moment the new administration took office, the DOJ has been targeting peaceful pro-life sidewalk counselors.”
In February U.S. District Judge Kenneth Ryskamp dismissed a federal lawsuit against Mary Susan Pine for violating the FACE Act, ruling, “The Court is at a loss as to why the Government chose to prosecute this particular case in the first place…The Court can only wonder whether this action was the product of a concerted effort between the Government” and the local abortion clinic.
“It’s not everyday that a federal judge accuses the Justice Department of a full-blown conspiracy,” Pine’s counsel, Harry Mihet, told LifeSiteNews.com.
A spate of federal studies have painted pro-life, pro-family leaders as potential “domestic terrorism” threats.
The most recent, “Hot Spots of Terrorism and Other Crimes in the United States, 1970 to 2008” written by Gary LaFree and Bianca Bersani, concluded that organizations dedicated to a single issue – such as “anti-abortion groups” – posed the most enduring threat to American safety and well-being.
An April 2009 DHS report on “Rightwing [sic.] Extremism” 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 DHS later pulled the report.
Yet DHS and FBI agents subsequently attended a terrorism training seminar on alleged pro-life terrorism, hosted by Planned Parenthood, the National Abortion Federation, and the Feminist Majority Foundation. After equating free speech with violence, organizers distributed a resource guide listing three pages of purportedly extremist websites such as Priests for Life, the American Center for Law and Justice, and the Christian Broadcasting Network.
Civil libertarians, constitutionalists, and those who defend the unborn have also expressed concern that the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) could be used to permanently detain pro-lifers, if the president deems them a terrorist threat. A federal judge suspended the implementation of NDAA in May.
The organizations the feds targeted in the most recent sweep say they will not be deterred by the pressure.
“We will continue to pursue peaceful, non-violent intervention on behalf of the pre-born,” Newman said. “We will continue to investigate these abortionists who are providing substandard care to their patients and exposing them when they botch their abortions.”
He said, while he was disappointed by the administration’s behavior, he had expected a pro-abortion backlash.
“This is nothing new when you consider how this particular administration operates,” Newman told LifeSiteNews. “All you have to do is look at the patterns of history. Despots and tyrants oppress their foes.”