Obama Administration Admits It Wrongly Tracked Abortion Groups in Wisconsin
by Steven Ertelt
February 8, 2010
Madison, WI (LifeNews.com) — 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.
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