Magazine article Insight on the News

FBI Database Monitors Catholic Bishops, Pro-Life Groups

Magazine article Insight on the News

FBI Database Monitors Catholic Bishops, Pro-Life Groups

Article excerpt

It has been rumored for years, but dismissed as nutty conspiracy theory, that the federal government has been assembling an extensive database on pro-life organizations under the auspices of tracking potential criminals involved with "domestic terrorism." The Justice Department has admitted such a federal task force exists but has denied it tracks innocent civilians or groups.

Then how to explain newly obtained internal Justice Department documents that lay out justification for "intrusive investigative activity" by the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the U.S. Postal Inspection and U.S. Marshals services and other federal law-enforcement agencies to compile dossiers on groups as divergent as the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, the National Rifle Association and the Women's Coalition for Life?

News alert! has obtained hundreds of pages on this secret project called VAAPCON, an acronym for Violence Against Abortion Providers Conspiracy, sometimes just shortened to VAAP. These never-before-seen records detail not just suspected criminal activities by some factions of the antiabortion or pro-life movements, but also the political activities, biographies and lobbying efforts by some of the most well-known -- and law-abiding groups -- in the country.

Consider this VAAPCON entry called "Profiles of Pro-Life Groups ... NOT PARTICIPATING IN DIRECT ACTION." It lists the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, Americans United for Life, Feminists for Life, Women's Coalition for Life, American Life League, the Christian Coalition and Concerned Women for America.

In one of the documents dating back to 1994 or early 1995, an entry concerns the Catholic bishops' group: "Led by [the late] Cardinal John O'Connor, the Conference is considered by many to be the broadest, best organized and most powerful of the pro-life groups. The Conference is primarily engaged in education and provides information and technical assistance to pro-life offices in the 189 dioceses and 18,000 parishes across the United States. They strongly condemned the shooting of [Wichita, Kan.] Dr. [George] Tiller, saying that `there is no room in the pro-life movement for violence.' They oppose the Clinic Access bill now pending in Congress." (This reference apparently was to the 1994 Freedom of Access to Clinics law.)

Then there's this entry on the Women's Coalition for Life: They "describe themselves as both pro-feminist and pro-life. It's an umbrella organization of approximately 1.8 million members, linking 15 existing grass-roots groups led by women opposed to abortion. …

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