Wisconsin pro-life groups illegally investigated by the government and by police

posted at 6:04 pm on February 10, 2010 by Cassy Fiano

Last year, there was a firestorm over Janet Napolitano’s right wing terrorist list. This list included war veterans and pro-lifers. Once the list was leaked, conservatives were understandably outraged, and the Obama administration tried to cover it up immediately.

However, it looks like there might have been some truth to that list. A pro-life group in Wisconsin was recently investigated by police and the government for literally no reason at all.

The Department of Homeland Security admitted today that it improperly conducted a threat assessment on pro-life and pro-abortion groups in Wisconsin. The assessment came before an expected rally last year in response to the University of Wisconsin Hospital board decided to allow abortions.

In February 2009, pro-life advocates planned to protest the hospital’s decision to open up a new Madison Surgery Center doing abortions.

The Associated Press reported today that the department said in a memo that it “destroyed all of the copies of the assessment after an internal review found it violated intelligence gathering guidelines about ‘protest groups which posed no threat to homeland security.’”

AP indicated the assessment was reportedly only shared with the director of Wisconsin’s intelligence-sharing center and local police in Middleton, Wisconsin, the site of the rally.

Today, a pro-life organization in Wisconsin informed LifeNews.com of its concerns.

In response to an open records request by the Alliance Defense Fund and Pro-Life Wisconsin, the Middleton Police Department and the Wisconsin Department of Justice, along with the Department of Homeland Security all refused on February 4 to release copies of the threat assessment.

Pro-Life Wisconsin officials told LifeNews.com that the assessment was “inappropriately shared” and should never have targeted pro-life groups.

“The majority of Americans identify themselves as pro-life, and the Middleton Police Department has shown they are out of touch with this peaceful majority,” said Peggy Hamill, state director of the pro-life group. “Pro-lifers are not a minority of the population, nor are they second-class citizens. We refuse to let our First Amendment rights be silenced.”

A few months later in 2009, the Department of Homeland Security’s Office for Civil Rights concluded the investigation was an improper use of department resources.

The conclusion said the department inappropriately directed against activities protected by the First Amendment, in which law enforcement inappropriately engaged in “the collection, retention and dissemination of U.S. person information regarding protest groups which posed no threat to homeland security and… violated [DHS] Guidelines.”

Hamill said DHS destroyed its copies of the report, but the Middleton Police Department retained its copy.

In January 2010 the Alliance Defense Fund, on behalf of Wisconsin pro-life advocates, asked the Middleton Police Department for a copy of the report pursuant to Wisconsin’s open records laws.

The Middleton Police Department refused to disclose the report and further said that the DOJ similarly refused to authorize disclosure of the report, despite the fact that DHS had already determined that the report was an improper investigation of freedom of speech activities.

“This move by DHS illustrates the Obama administration’s goal of silencing pro-lifers. It is disturbing that a local police department has apparently tapped into the security apparatus of the federal government to potentially obstruct free speech,” Hamill concluded.

“Last year, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano unjustly included pro-lifers in a report on domestic terrorism, and here we see her words in action,” she said.

I don’t suppose we’ll be seeing the ACLU standing up to fight this one, will we?

I’m curious. Why exactly would the government feel the need to investigate a rally? Just because it’s pro-life? I know, I know — DHS “apologized”. All that really means is that they’re sorry someone complained and the news got out about it. If no one ever acknowledged that this was wrong and illegal, do you honestly think there ever would have been an apology issued? Even more disturbing is that the local police department won’t release their copy of this report to let us know just why, exactly, this pro-life group was deemed a threat. Was it simply because they were pro-life? It sure does look that way.

All throughout Bush’s presidency, liberals protested him on a seemingly daily basis. They burned him in effigy, they fantasized about assassination, and they said over and over again that dissent was the strongest form of patriotism. Protesting, they said, is an important civil right. But now the tables have turned and we have a liberal extremist, pro-abortion president in office. Dissent is no longer tolerated, and protesting? If you’re on the wrong side of the issue, that’s not allowed, either.

Unfortunately for Obama, I don’t think this will stop pro-lifers, though. They’re some of the most incredible people around. Regardless of how much they get smeared and slandered, regardless of the potential cost, they keep on fighting for the sanctity of human life. They don’t do it for profit or gain, and they do it even if it means the government will try to silence them. Obama’s DHS tried to pick a fight, and they really should have known better. When you actually have morals and are willing to fight for what you believe in, a little bullying won’t be enough to scare you away.

Cross-posted from Cassy’s blog. Stop by for more original commentary or follow her on Twitter!

This post was promoted from GreenRoom to HotAir.com.
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Comment pages: 1 2

They’re not releasing the report because it will point directly at the person who authorized or incited the investigation in the first place. Someone needs to get a freedom of information request in ASAP an in tandem a court order making it illegal to destroy that one and only copy! Anyone out there have the juice to make it happen…I wonder how far up the “Chain-of-Command” this could lead!

RedLizard64 on February 10, 2010 at 9:44 PM

I suspect the report may leak out somehow. What a shame.

seven on February 10, 2010 at 10:42 PM

I am shocked, shocked I tell you, that Janet N. would do something illegal and unneeded.
/sarc off

riverrat10k on February 11, 2010 at 8:20 AM

This needs to grow legs. The next senator that has the stones to stand up and be heard should demand Janet Nepolitano’s head! Holder, beware.

kens on February 11, 2010 at 8:24 AM

I’m going to help out here. I did this for a living before I retired and this is what I wrote. I contacted my ex-partner and he had his input (which was both funny and accurate). Sometimes it is a conspiracy, sometimes it is just dumb cops thinking they are doing it right, but aren’t. Here are my posts-

http://truthandcommonsense.com/2010/02/10/this-is-disturbing-but-expected-the-left-misuses-the-intel-units-of-police-departments-to-spy-on-conservatives/

http://truthandcommonsense.com/2010/02/11/revisiting-the-wisconsindhs-pro-life-investigation-my-ex-partner-doesnt-see-conspiracy-just-typical-stupid-cops/

My partner’s take may be more accurate- and funnier. He believes it is quite possible their Intel unit was profiling everyone, on both sides of the political spectrum, because they could and most police officers, unless experts in the law, don’t realize you just cannot look into everyone just because you can. It was a hard lesson to learn, some of us never quite got it. We had one sergeant, a nice guy, but duller than a knife made of putty who could never grasp that having the power to see into every corner of a person or organization’s activities (and believe me you have NO idea what we could see) meant you could just go and wander around doing it. Worse, our bosses didn’t really get the whole federal/constitutional violations issue either.

If there is a conspiracy, it started, as usual, when they realized they screwed up and tried to cover it up. That is where my friend’s take became so funny. He’s right. Been there, done that.

Oh, and BTW if the laws are the same in Wisconsin and so is the computer system, that reports exists. It will be stored forever on the computer server and the backups. Anything emailed, typed, or generated is backed up somewhere.

They may have destroyed the hard copies, but it is still there.

archer52 on February 11, 2010 at 8:27 AM

29 hours to Mirandize James O’Keefe, 50 minutes to Mirandize the panty bomber.

Dumb cops? I think not.

Just a coincidence, nothing to see here. Crazy tin foil hat teabaggers.

/

Angry Dumbo on February 11, 2010 at 10:56 AM

No one (except a few people) knew it was being conducted, so no one’s First Amendment rights were violated.
Jimbo3 on February 10, 2010 at 6:14 PM

How about Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable surveillance?
Chris_Balsz on February 10, 2010 at 6:41 PM

Are you sh!tting me? So, if you don’t realize that someone is violating any of your Rights enumerated in the Constitution then it’s not a violation? I hope you’re not a lawyer.

Sultry Beauty on February 11, 2010 at 2:39 PM

The Fourth Amendment applies to searches and seizures. This was neither.

Jimbo3 on February 15, 2010 at 5:00 PM

Comment pages: 1 2