Napolitano Defends Putting Pro-Life Advocates in Terrorism Report, Backlash Starts

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 20, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Napolitano Defends Putting Pro-Life Advocates in Terrorism Report, Backlash Starts

by Steven Ertelt Editor
April 20
, 2009

Washington, DC ( — In a Sunday interview, the head of the Department of Homeland Security defended including pro-life advocates in a new report the agency produced saying "opponents of abortion" are likely to engage in extremism or terrorism.

The report has caused a significant backlash with some calling for firing DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano.

In an interview with CNN’s "State of the Union" on Sunday, host John King questioned Napolitano on the line in the report saying possible threats could come from "groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion."

King asked Napolitano whether the department has active investigations on "anti-abortion groups" concerning potential extremism or terrorism and the Obama cabinet official declined to answer.

She said she would not comment on the activities of the department and claimed that pro-life groups have a "history" of such actions.

Napolitano said that, although "people have different points of view about abortion" and that the Obama administration values free speech rights, some pro-life advocates cause her agency concern.

"On the other hand, at the very edge of the [abortion] debate, at the very edge are the extremist groups that have committed violent crimes," said Napolitano. "They’ve committed bombings and the like."

"And that is where you cross from constitutionally protected free speech, freedom of assembly, all the rights we cherish, into homeland security and law enforcement. When is that right not being exercised, it’s being abused," she added.

Napolitano refused to give any concrete examples of pro-life groups that may cause her agency to include them in a report to police on terrorism, claiming the total number of groups overall on all potential domestic issues were "far too numerous to mention."

Napolitano’s comments appear to be a reversal of her initial position backtracking from the report. The Obama official defended the report Thursday, but said the section including pro-life advocates should not have been included.

"If there’s one part of that report I would rewrite, in the word-smithing, Washington-ese that goes on after the fact, it would be that footnote," Napolitano said Thursday on Fox News.

The report sparked outrage within the pro-life community and the Thomas More Law Center, a pro-life law firm, is suing Napolitano over it.

Richard More, one of the leaders of the legal group, told, the report is "a diatribe against those who oppose the policies of the Obama administration."

"It is a declaration of war against the American people and our constitution" and a "prelude" to "hate speech laws targeting Christian churches and others who oppose abortion."

And now has received emails from several groups, some of them pro-life, calling on Obama to fire Napolitano from her position on his cabinet.

Obama "must immediately fire Janet Napolitano," one email said.

"He cannot allow her to resign. He cannot simply demand that she apologize to the American people. And he most certainly cannot allow her to stay on the job," it added.

Jay Sekulow, the head of the American Center for Law and Justice, another pro-life law firm, told that including pro-life Americans as potential terrorists is an "outrageous characterization."

"This characterization is not only offensive to millions of Americans who hold constitutionally-protected views opposing abortion – but also raises serious concerns about the political agenda of an agency with a mandate to protect America," he said.

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