Governor needs to own up to militia report

Monday, March 30, 2009 | 6:00 a.m. CDT

On March 20, reporters broke the astonishing news that a report from the Missouri Department of Public Safety was distributed to law enforcement officials across our state that depicted Christians, anti-abortionists, advocates for protecting our borders and supporters of certain political candidates as potential “threats” to public safety.

The report was developed by the Missouri Information Analysis Center (MIAC) and entitled, “The Modern Militia Movement.”

The report's title conjures up images of commando renegades in remote outposts in secluded, mountainous terrain. Although this “Modern Militia” report did touch on such radical ideologies, the groups purported to be “threats” were supporters of such political candidates as Bob Barr and Ron Paul.

There are certainly individual extremists in many religious and political groups (both conservative and liberal), but Gov. Jay Nixon and Director of Public Safety John Britt have created a dangerous precedent of profiling lawful citizens as threats to public safety simply based on their political or religious beliefs.

On Tuesday, Gov. Nixon and Director Britt said they stood by the content of the report, though both said they hadn’t read it. Then, on Wednesday, Col. Jim Keathley of the Missouri State Highway Patrol issued a statement saying the review process for future MIAC memos would be changed.

Shame on Gov. Nixon and Director Britt for making a noble public servant and iconic law enforcement leader like my friend Col. Keathley take the fall for THEIR bureaucratic and political failures.

Col. Keathley, the men and women of the Missouri State Highway Patrol and law enforcement officials across this state put their lives on the line each and every day to keep our communities safe. We should honor these everyday heroes for their sacrifices and never allow them to be used in a political ploy.

By Thursday, as conservatives across this state made their voices heard, Gov. Nixon decided to pass the blame to the previous administration. This is unacceptable.

I am calling for Gov. Nixon to place Director Britt on administrative leave pending a full investigation and accounting of acts of profiling under his supervision at MIAC.

All Missourians should rest assured that we are protected by the freedoms of our constitution and should never have to fear being monitored by their government based upon their race, place of birth, political beliefs or spiritual convictions. Unfortunately, that confidence was shaken by the governor.

Gov. Nixon remains ultimately responsible for his administration. Gov. Nixon should fully answer and apologize for what has been allowed to occur on his watch.

Peter D. Kinder is the lieutenant governor of the state of Missouri.

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