- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sister act

Nuns are common sights at abortion clinics — praying or counseling women to keep their babies. But Lifesite reported last week on one Dominican sister on the other side of the rope, acting as a volunteer escort at an Illinois clinic.

“Local pro-life activists say that they recognized the escort at the ACU Health Center as Sr. Donna Quinn, a nun outspokenly in favor of legalized abortion, after seeing her photo in a Chicago Tribune article. ‘I’ve called her Sister several times, and she never responded,’ local pro-lifer John Bray told LifeSiteNews.com (LSN). ‘But it’s her,’” Lifesite’s Kathleen Gilbert wrote at the site.

The article also quoted Amy Keane, who has prayed outside clinics for more than a decade and said Sister Quinn has acted as escort for “six years, at least,” describing one day when Sister Quinn yelled at pro-lifers.

Sister Quinn “was so angry, and burst out very loudly so everyone could hear: ‘Look at these men, telling these women what to do with their bodies!’” Ms. Keane said. “She was so angry that it really took all of us aback.”

Lifesite could not reach Sister Quinn but got reactions from her prioress and a spokeswoman for the National Coalition of American Nuns — both of whom defended the volunteering.

“We respect women, and believe that they make moral decision[s], and so we respect their decisions,” said NCAN spokeswoman Sister Beth Rindler, who confirmed that Sister Quinn belongs to the group.

Sister Patricia Mulcahey of the Sinsinawa Dominican community told Lifesite via e-mail that Sister Quinn sees her volunteer activity as “accompanying women who are verbally abused by protestors. Her stance is that if the protestors were not abusive, she would not be there.”

He only had a 2.0

Liberal blogs were up in arms on the weekend about reports that Chicago prosecutors have issued subpoenas for some Northwestern University students involved in an activist project against the death penalty. The Cook County state’s attorney’s office wants the students’ grades, the class’s grading criteria and syllabus, the students’ expense reports and their e-mail messages.

The pseudonymous “bmaz” at the Firedoglake legal site Empty Wheel called it “a new chapter in heavy-handedness … ‘Fishing expedition’ would be far too kind of a term. The only visible purpose of the play by the prosecutors here is intimidation and instillation of a deep chill in the work of the Medill Innocence Project.”

Bmaz cited a New York Times report that “among the issues the prosecutors need to understand better, a spokeswoman said, is whether students believed they would receive better grades if witnesses they interviewed provided evidence to exonerate” convicted killer Anthony McKinney, whose case is being reviewed.

Retired Judge H. Lee Sarokin joined in at the Huffington Post, calling the prosecutors’ actions “a flagrant attempt to intimidate the Medill Innocence Project” that “deserves the Gestapo label.” He also noted that the stated reason of looking into the motives of an investigator is … well, irrelevant and legally impractical.

“So I take it that would mean that every time a detective obtained incriminating evidence, his entire background could be examined in order to determine his motives when interviewing a witness; whether he had received or expected a raise or a promotion; and if so whether he needed money; how much his debt was; what he was paying for rent and alimony, etc. In other words, the scope of the investigation would be extended to the motives of the investigator rather than the witness being investigated and interrogated,” he wrote.

Northwestern officials are resisting the subpoena. Illinois has a reporter-shield law, though Chicago prosecutors likely will deny its applicability in the case of the journalism school project.

But conservative uberblogger Instapundit — aka Glenn Reynolds — had another reaction. He printed a letter from reader Kristen Pecoraro: “A key line that leaped out at me from your link to the Times story on prosecutors looking at journalism students’ grades was this: ‘Every time the government starts attacking the messenger as opposed to the message, it can have a chilling effect,’ said Barry C. Scheck, a pioneer of the Innocence Project in New York. Fox News, anyone?”

Mr. Reynolds dryly added: “Hey, it’s the Chicago Way. But the parallel is pretty striking — if you don’t like what they’re reporting, why, then, they’re not really journalists!”

ACORN fail

Conservative blogger Patrick Frey (nom de blog: Patterico, of Patterico’s Pontifications) is a regular and highly critical reader of his hometown Los Angeles Times. But there was something strangely gratifying about a post over the weekend that reproduced a letter Mr. Frey had sent Times editorial-page editor Nicholas Goldberg concerning a guest column on the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now.

That gratification was in the letter’s … thoroughness. The word count was significantly longer than this entire column and included links to nine videos at YouTube.com, five transcripts and other evidence. “This e-mail will be a little long, because I’m showing my work,” Mr. Frey wrote. It’s worth noting here because Mr. Frey directly attacks two points often made by ACORN apologists.

“A recent op-ed in your paper defending ACORN makes at least two factual misstatements: 1) that ACORN staff offered to help shield an underage prostitution ring at only two offices, and 2) that no voter fraudulently registered to vote by ACORN had ever actually cast a ballot. Furthermore, your paper failed to disclose that the author of the op-ed, Peter Dreier, has been a (presumably paid) consultant for ACORN in the past … something that might help explain how he botched the facts so badly,” Mr. Frey wrote.

The five (not two) videos of ACORN office visits showed employees advising James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles, posing as a pimp and prostitute involved in trafficking underage Salvadoran girls. Some of the advice included, “Honesty is not going to get you the house” (Brooklyn); find a name for the business besides “prostitution” (Brooklyn), such as a “group home” (San Bernardino, Calif.); lie low by underdeclaring income, which shouldn’t be hard because prostitution is a cash business (San Bernardino); and smuggle the Salvadoran girls via Tijuana, Mexico, where the ACORN worker had “a lot of contacts” (San Diego).

Mr. Frey also noted Mr. Dreier’s claim that “not a single person who signed a phony name on a registration form ever actually voted. What occurred was voter registration fraud, not voter fraud.”

“You might think that the extraordinarily sweeping nature of that statement would raise a red flag. Can he really know that no person voted after being fraudulently registered by ACORN? And in fact, it is not so,” Mr. Frey wrote, linking to an American Spectator article by Matthew Vadum.

“Darnell Nash of Cleveland, Ohio, was registered to vote by ACORN nine times for last year’s election. Nash cast a fraudulent ballot and was convicted of vote fraud and voter registration fraud. He’s currently serving a six-month prison term,” Mr. Vadum wrote.

Then the capper: “As Dreier’s online bio states … [he] has worked as a consultant for a variety of foundations and government agencies, including … ACORN. … This was not disclosed in the L.A. Times piece, which says only the following about Dreier: ‘Peter Dreier is a professor of politics at Occidental College. His study of media coverage of ACORN can be found here.’ The paper should have disclosed Dreier’s consulting work for ACORN. Don’t you agree?”

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