Rachel Maddow: Right-Wing Terrorism Must Be Stopped
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RACHEL MADDOW: Another anti-abortion extremist group, Operation Save America, also put out a statement celebrating George Tiller‘s murder today, saying, quote, “He is now vowing before Jesus and confessing that Jesus is right and that he, George Tiller, was wrong.”
If you go to the Web site of the Army of God, you will find hagiographic websites for anti-abortion terrorist movement heroes, like Paul Hill and Eric Rudolph and Shelly Shannon. You can actually scroll through pages and pages of mug shots and descriptions of bombings and shootings and murders and attempted murders—all praising the perpetrators, and even suggesting ways to get away with the same types of crimes that these people committed but you could do it without getting caught.
On their front page today—there‘s Dr. George Tiller, just murdered, under the caption, “The lives of innocent babies scheduled to be murdered by George Tiller are spared by the action of American hero, Scott Roeder.”
There‘s an anti-abortion terrorist movement in the United States that operates relatively openly. They advocate and their members commit acts of violence, including murder, against Americans who are not breaking the law, who are engaged in protected legal activity on American soil.
These acts of violence are politically motivated. They are designed to change American policies and to terrorize Americans. They have succeed in making providing abortion services to American women so dangerous, so intimidating that there are only a handful of doctors in the entire country who provide late-term abortions—as Dr. Tiller did—abortions late in pregnancy.
In other words, this terrorism is working. Violence as a political strategy is working to make abortions so unsafe for doctors that they are unwilling to bear the risk of performing it so women can‘t actually get one regardless of whether or not it‘s legal. It‘s the same outcome as if abortion had been outlawed. They‘re winning.
What‘s the strategy to stop them?
Joining us now is Jonathan Turley, professor of constitutional law at George Washington University.
Professor Turley, thanks for joining us tonight.
JONATHAN TURLEY, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR: Hi, Rachel.
MADDOW: I‘m making these observations politically just as a citizen, but I wanted to ask you tonight if it‘s legally appropriate, legally useful, to approach this problem as terrorism?
TURLEY: Well, in some cases, it is. You know, some of these past cases have elements of terrorism. Rudolph is a good example of that—although, you know, he was not just anti-abortion, he was anti-homosexual. He was sort of at war with the world. And that makes this definition a little more difficult.
Some of us, particularly on the civil libertarian side, are uncomfortable with using the terrorism label because, you know, the Bush administration expanded this definition to the breaking point. I testified not long ago in Congress of how the Bush administration would classify what were rudimentary criminal cases as terrorism cases and use these laws against them.
The problem we have, as you know, is to deal with lone actors like this. I don‘t believe that the man who killed Dr. Tiller was a classic terrorist. I think that he was a murderer. He assassinated him.
But I don‘t see the elements of an organized terrorist plot. And in many ways, he‘s the most dangerous thing that we face.
I think the Clinton administration got this right when they really saw the danger as the McVeigh type—this lone actor who goes out there, who may be fueled by rhetoric, but who‘s acting alone. In this case, it looks like he targeted this very doctor who had been demonized by many.