Gosnell’s crimes not uncommon: Column
But the killers are not who you think. They’re moms.
The facts that emerged from the Kermit Gosnell murder trial are unspeakably gruesome. Witnesses said the abortionist took fetuses born alive and killed them by slicing through their spinal cords with a pair of scissors. On Monday, jurors found him guilty of murder. Now we’re left to ask: How could this happen?
COLUMN: Time to ask Obama about Gosnell
COLUMN: How to prevent another Gosnell
COLUMN: Abortion stigma created Gosnell
One possible answer is that Gosnell might be particularly depraved. On his own, he came up with the idea that murdering a fetus near the moment of birth was morally permissible, at least if the mother asked him to do it. That’s comforting. It lets us console ourselves with the thought that such brutality is a fluke and not likely to be repeated.
But that’s probably not the right answer. While murder rates for almost every group in society have plummeted in recent decades, there’s one group where murder rates have doubled, according to CDC and National Center for Health Statistics data — babies less than a year old.
Product of culture
That’s why a much less comfortable answer is probably closer to the truth: Gosnell’s actions are readily explainable by a culture that embraces, and in some quarters celebrates, abortion as a constitutional right. Gosnell made his living by performing legal abortions, many of them late in the pregnancy. Is it really all that surprising that he might not have seen a significant moral difference in performing the abortion a few inches inside the birth canal rather than somewhere outside?
The law can be a potent moral teacher, which is a good thing. Laws against slavery and discrimination have helped reduce prejudice. Laws requiring accommodations for people with disabilities have helped them gain visibility and greater acceptance in society. Many people on both sides of the gay marriage debate argue their position in terms of the important teaching power of the law.
It would be naive to think that our abortion laws do not carry a similar teaching power. Our abortion system undeniably treats small, dependent human fetuses in the womb as only conditionally valued. They are to be loved, protected and welcomed if wanted by their mothers, but can be killed and discarded if unwanted.
To be sure, the law attempts to impose a line: Once a baby is born, he is a person to be protected, even if unwanted. But this line is in some sense arbitrary. It is odd to think that the exact same human being is a protected person in one place (outside the womb) but was essentially property moments earlier in another place (inside the womb).
It could be that the teaching power of abortion law is eroding more than the moral sense of doctors. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, infant homicide is shockingly common. Its most recent 2002 report suggests that the day a person is born is, by far, the most likely day for them to be killed.
Although more recent statistics concerning day-of-birth homicides are unavailable, a look at homicide rates during the first year of life suggests that infant homicides have become considerably more common since Roe v Wade constitutionalized the right to abortion. According to the Child Trends Databank using data from the CDC and the NCHS, children less than a year old are roughly twice as likely to be victims of homicide today as in 1970 (a few years before Roe). In 1970, there were 4.3 homicides for every 100,000 children under age one. The rate peaked at 9.2 in 2000 and was at 7.9 in 2010.
For babies killed just after birth, the CDC report suggests Gosnell-style abortions are not the big threat: Mothers are, most frequently adolescents with a history of mental illness. After the first week, the killers are most often male caretakers, often unrelated to the baby. Perhaps both groups learned the lessons of our abortion laws a bit too well.
Though this possibility does not excuse doctors or parents who kill a child, it does help explain how some would end up with the idea that doing so was permissible. And while it may be more comfortable to ignore the similarity between the fetuses Gosnell legally “aborted” and those he illegally “murdered,” at least Planned Parenthood recognizes that there is little difference. This is presumably why Planned Parenthoodopposes legislation protecting children born during failed abortions, out of fear that if those babies are protected, the similar babies we allow to be killed inside the womb might have to be protected, too.
A far better choice exists. As a society, we could agree that there really is little difference between killing a being inside and outside the womb. We should admit that our system of abortion law is dehumanizing. The better course is to protect even small voiceless human beings from more powerful people who would rather see them dead, whether that killing happens inside or outside the womb.
Mark L. Rienzi is an associate professor of constitutional law at Catholic University of America.
In addition to its own editorials, USA TODAY publishes diverse opinions from outside writers, including our Board of Contributors.
Was Benghazi a Kidnapping Plot That Went Wrong?
The details of the September 11 attack on the Consulate in Benghazi continue to come in, raising even more difficult questions than we had before. Here are the facts as we now know them:
At 9:40 pm on the night of September 11, the Consulate was attacked by heavily armed terrorists. A security agent at the Benghazi compound heard “loud noises” coming from the front gate and “gunfire and an explosion.” The camera on the main gate recorded a large group of armed men, pouring into the Consulate compound. An alarm went out and Washington was alerted.
Former Navy SEAL Tyrone Woods, who had been on an assignment in Benghazi and was at the CIA annex about a mile from the Consulate, heard the gunfire and requested permission to go to their aid. The request was summarily rejected and Woods was told to “stand down”.
Meanwhile, in Washington, a crisis meeting was rapidly convened in the White House. Video was being transmitted from both the Consulate and the drones overhead as the situation unfolded, so the assembled senior personnel were receiving real-time intelligence as the night progressed. Among those in attendance, according to my source, were Leon Panetta (Secretary of Defense), General Martin Dempsey (Head, Joint Chiefs of Staff0, Valerie Jarrett (Senior Advisor to the President), Eric Holder (Attorney General, DOJ), James Clapper (Director, National Intelligence) and David Petraeus (Director, CIA) and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The President was reported to have attended by telephone.
At 10:30, as the reports were coming in and the situation at the Consulate was clearly deteriorating rapidly, Woods again requested military support and again was rebuffed and told to stand down. By this time the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Secretary of State had all been advised of the situation. Two drones, flying above the compound, were continuing to send back live videos of the attacks, while Ambassador Chris Stevens, trapped in the so-called safety area of the Consulate, was suffocating from the heavy fumes from diesel fuel-fed flames that were engulfing the building.
Woods ignored the second order to stand down and, taking several other men with him, drove to the Consulate which was now in flames. They first searched for Ambassador Stevens, but could not find him. They then evacuated those remaining at the consulate, and also removed the body of Sean Smith, who had been with the Ambassador and was killed in the initial attack. They could not find Stevens and had to give up the search when it became too dangerous to remain.
They returned to the Annex at about midnight. On the way, their car was attacked, and although their tires were blown out and they ended up driving on the metal rims of their wheels, they made it back to the relative safety of the Annex. But at midnight, the Annex itself came under attack, and a third desperate call was made for air support. He specifically requested back-up support from an AC 130 Specter Gunship, commonly used by US Special Operations forces to provide support to Special Operations teams on the ground when they are involved in intense firefights. According to our sources, the request was denied by Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Woods then went up to the roof of the Annex, armed with a machine gun. He was killed by a mortar shell, as he fired off his final rounds at the terrorists.
On October 25, as the amount of verified information about what really happened began to become significant, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta attributed the denials as necessary because, he said, the military leaders did not have adequate intelligence information. “We felt very strongly that we could not put forces at risk in that situation” with so little “real-time information about what’s taking place.”
What would it have taken to end the fire fight before four Americans were murdered that night? Lt. General Thomas McInerny, in a FoxNews interview on October 25th, said that even two F-16s flying low over the city of Benghazi would have been enough to scare the attackers into flight and could have saved American lives that night at little risk to themselves. (FoxNews has been a leader in the media in doggedly going after the truth about what happened in Benghazi. Read more here.
Moreover, Woods had put laser beads on the terrorists and they could have been identified by incoming air support, but none ever came.
What Does the White House Say?
The White House is conspicuously silent on nearly everything connected to Benghazi, but the questions remain.
Prior to September 11, why were so many requests for heightened security turned down, despite the clearly deteriorating security situation? (Two recent attacks on the Consulate itself, and summer attacks on the Red Cross and the British Ambassador were on record. The British and the red Cross had left Benghazi, and the America flag was the only foreign delegation flag left flying in the city.)
Why, upon refusing to continue providing security for the Consulate, did the State Department hire a little known Welsh security company who subcontracted to local Libyans armed with only billy clubs and flashlights? (In fact, the ‘leader’ of this team was a former English teacher who had never handled a gun in his life!)
On the night of September 11, why were three desperate requests for military support refused out of hand, even when the life of the Ambassador was clearly at stake?
Why was not even an overflight ordered?
And following the event, why did the administration refuse to acknowledge that this was a terrorist attack?
Why was the story of a spontaneous demonstration and a little known video blamed for the violence when it is now clear that everyone at the top knew what really happened? (According to e-mails acquired by one of our sources, the White House not only knew within 2 hours that this was a terrorist attack, they knew that Ansar al-Shariah had carried on the attacks.)
What Was This Really About?
The theories abound, but the most interesting, and the one that makes the most sense, given the newly uncovered information, came across my desk a week ago. I did not publish it then because I was, at the time, unable to corroborate it, although it came from an impeccable source who attributed his information to senior people in several agencies in Washington and elsewhere. At first the story seemed a bizarre explanation for what was then unexplainable – the obvious coverup of the facts of the Benghazi attacks, the apparent inability of the administration to get its story straight, and the failure of the State Department to protect the US mission in Libya. But as more and more facts continue to emerge, this story begins to be the only one that makes sense.
The story is about a plot allegedly hatched by the administration to kidnap Ambassador Stevens and then use the negotiations that would lead to his release to enhance the administration’s image in the US and make the President a hero right before the elections. Crazy, right? Except that as the pieces of the story continue to come out, the pieces seem to fit together and the explanation begins to make sense.
It explains, for example, why the President was so relaxed during the attacks and seemed so sure of the outcome that it was reported that he went to bed early that night.
It explains why the requests for support were turned down, thinking that any interference could spoil the plot. It explains why the administration had to scramble afterward to find a story that could explain the attacks in such a way as to distance themselves from the story.
It explains why there was such a rush to arrest the hapless maker of a low budget, little seen video which insults Mohammed. (He is still languishing in jail, more a political prisoner than an unwitting inspiration to global jihad.)
It explains why this story was maintained by a host of senior administration officials, who paraded the story around for nearly two weeks, even though it is clear that they knew the truth within two hours of the beginning of the assault of the Consulate.
According to this version of what happened that night, the attacks were planned and carried out by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) lead elements of Ansar al Shariah, a group that is also linked to al Qaeda. But jihad makes strange bedfellows, and the alliances between jihadi groups is still largely a mystery to the Western mind, which likes to pigeon-hole things in rigid identities. Relations in the jihadi world are as frequently based on expedience and mutual advantage than they are on ideology.
A connection is therefore being made between the Benghazi attack and Iran’s nuclear ambition. Not so strange. Iran has its fingers in much of the chaos now going on throughout the Middle East.
The plan, as it was reported to us, was that the Ambassador was to be kidnapped and that the Iranians would then arrange for his release in a negotiation that would lead to a new deal with Iran on their nuclear program. A deal would be reached, the Ambassador would be free and none the worse for wear, and the President would be a hero going into the November 6 election.
It all sounds pretty cynical, maybe too cynical to be true? Maybe. But politics is a cynical business and this race is one of the nastiest in American history. Eventually, the real story will come out. I doubt that it will be a pretty one.
Ilana Freedman is Editor of GerardDirect.com She has been an intelligence analyst in the private sector for over twenty five years. She can be reached at email@example.com
Senator slams administration on Benghazi, IRS, AP phone tap scandals
Paul Joseph Watson
May 14, 2013
Senator Rand Paul responded to the barrage of scandals to hit the Obama administration, from Benghazi, to the IRS targeting conservatives, to the Justice Department spying on Associated Press reporters, by accusing President Obama of being “drunk on power.”
Scoffing at an upcoming House Committee on Ways & Means inquiry into how the IRS targeted those who mentioned the Constitution, the bill of rights, or even making “America a better place to live,” Kentucky Senator Paul said he would introduce a resolution today calling for the IRS agents involved to be fired for abusing their power in targeting people for their political activities.
“The President says he’s going to do something if they’re guilty, well it sounds like there’s already been an investigation and no one’s been fired,” Paul told Fox News’ Sean Hannity. “I’m afraid he’s going to do about as much as he did after Benghazi,” he added, noting that those involved in the botched security operation still work for the State Department.
Accusing Obama of engaging in “faux outrage” over the IRS scandal, Paul said the President was “using the power of his government to investigate his enemies, he’s tapping the phones of the press, and it turns out last year he signed legislation that allows him to detain an American without a trial and send them to Guantanamo Bay.”
“This sounds like a President somewhat drunk on power, not cautious about how he uses power,” added Paul.
The Senator also responded to criticism over his claim that Obama is working “anti-American globalists plot[ting] against our Constitution,” a quote that was characterized by the Washington Post as “black helicopter stuff.”
“The one thing they can’t get away from is that there is a UN Small Arms Treaty, we’re not making it up, President Obama has sounded and acted in the UN as if he’s supportive, it is moving forward and we are trying to drum up support and publicity for people to say look we do not want to have Americans obey rules of the United Nations, it goes against our sovereignty, it goes against our Constitution,” said Paul, adding that he would continue to push the issue.
With the White House already reeling from its complicity in the Benghazi cover-up and the IRS controversy, it emerged last night that the so-called “most transparent administration” in history had, via the US Department of Justice, “secretly obtained two months of telephone records of reporters and editors for The Associated Press in what the news cooperative’s top executive called a “massive and unprecedented intrusion” into how news organizations gather the news.”
Although the government refuses to divulge why it sought the records, which included 20 separate telephone lines assigned to AP and its journalists in April and May of 2012, speculation suggests the move was a reprisal against a May 7, 2012 AP story which disclosed details of a CIA operation in Yemen to disrupt an airliner bomb plot, a story which was initially delayed at the request of government officials.
“There can be no possible justification for such an overbroad collection of the telephone communications of The Associated Press and its reporters,” said AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt in a letter to Attorney General Holder. “These records potentially reveal communications with confidential sources across all of the newsgathering activities undertaken by the AP during a two-month period, provide a road map to AP’s newsgathering operations, and disclose information about AP’s activities and operations that the government has no conceivable right to know. We regard this action by the Department of Justice as a serious interference with AP’s constitutional rights to gather and report the news.”
After the Justice Department responded by claiming it valued “the freedom of the press” and was “always careful and deliberative” in its actions, House Oversight Committee chairman Darrell Issa reacted by remarking, “This is obviously disturbing. Coming within a week of revelations that the White House lied to the American people about the Benghazi attacks and the IRS targeted conservative Americans for their political beliefs, Americans should take notice that top Obama Administration officials increasingly see themselves as above the law and emboldened by the belief that they don’t have to answer to anyone. I will work with my fellow House Chairmen on an appropriate response to Obama Administration officials.”
As his Justice Department faces bipartisan outrage for searching phone records of Associated Press reporters and editors, Attorney Gen. Eric Holder says he is not sure how many times such information has been seized by government investigators in the four years he’s led Justice.
During an interview with NPR’s Carrie Johnson on Tuesday, Holder was asked how often his department has obtained such records of journalists’ work.
“I’m not sure how many of those cases … I have actually signed off on,” Holder said. “I take them very seriously. I know that I have refused to sign a few [and] pushed a few back for modifications.”
On Morning Edition, Carrie added that Holder declined to say whether there will be a review of the Justice Department’s policy on searches of reporters’ records.
The Washington Examiner, quoting retired Four-Star Admiral James Lyons, writes: “the attack on the American Consulate in Benghazi…was the result of a bungled abduction attempt…the first stage of an international prisoner exchange…that would have ensured the release of Omar Abdel Rahman, the ‘Blind Sheik’…