By now, you’ve probably heard about this segment on Thursday’s NBC Evening News:
Brian Williams asked Sarah Palin if “an abortion clinic bomber [is] a terrorist under this definition” and she answered, “Now others who would to engage in harming innocent Americans or facilities, I don’t know if you’re gonna use the word ‘terrorist’ there, but it’s unacceptable, and it would not be condoned of course on our watch.”
As others have noted, it’s disturbing that after 7 murders, 17 attempted murders, 41 bombings, 175 acts of arson and hundreds of cases of death threats, stalking, assault, and break-ins, Palin doesn’t think it’s appropriate to use the T-word.
But what has been mostly overlooked is the fact that the comments by Palin, a self-described “hardcore pro-lifer,” run contrary to the longstanding position of American law enforcement.
For instance, the FBI has long considered acts of violence by radical anti-abortion activists to be domestic terrorism. In its 2002-2005 Terrorism in the United States report, Eric Rudolph – the man responsible for two abortion clinic bombings, the Olympic Park bombing, multiple deaths and serious injuries to many more – is described as falling into the “FBI’s ‘lone offender’ category of terrorist for those who engage in terrorist activities free from organizational guidance.”
The FBI defines domestic terrorism, logically enough, as “the unlawful use, or threatened use, of force or violence by a group or individual based and operating entirely within the United States or its territories without foreign direction committed against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.” In other words, Palin is out of step with the FBI.
But don’t expect John McCain to set his running mate straight on the issue. He opposed the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act – a crucial anti-domestic terrorism bill which led to a considerable reduction in violence – when it came before him in the Senate, so he too is willing to pander to the far right on this issue.