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Open letter to readers: Today and tomorrow

By Lynda Waddington | 11.17.11

Wednesday was a difficult day for The American Independent News Network, which is the larger entity that operates The Iowa Independent. Our chief executive and founder announced two of our sister sites would close and their content would be moved to The American Independent.

ACS lockout continues; plan emerges to repeal sugar protections

By Virginia Chamlee | 11.15.11

A recently introduced bill could have far-reaching impact on the U.S. sugar industry, including American Crystal Sugar, a farmer-owned cooperative that locked out 1,300 Midwest workers on Aug. 1.

Cain campaign: Farmers know more about regulations than EPA

By Andrew Duffelmeyer | 11.15.11

The chairman for Herman Cain’s Iowa effort says the campaign “relied more on the word of farmers than Washington regulators” in deciding to run an ad containing claims the Environmental Protection Agency says are false.

Mathis wins, Democrats maintain Senate control

Liz Mathis
By Lynda Waddington | 11.08.11

The Iowa Senate will remain under the control of a slim 26-25 Democratic majority when it reconvenes in January 2012.

Press Release

PR: Nation should work to address veterans’ challenges

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

BRUCE BRALEY RELEASE — As US involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan ends, it’s more important than ever that our nation works to address the challenges faced by the men and women who fought there.

PR: Honoring veterans, help in hiring

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

CHUCK GRASSLEY RELEASE — A difficult job market is challenging the soldiers, sailors and airmen who have protected America’s interests by serving in the Armed Forces.

PR: In honor of America’s veterans

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

TOM LATHAM RELEASE — No one has done more to secure the freedom enjoyed by every single American than our veterans and those currently serving in the armed services.

PR: Honoring and supporting our nation’s veterans

By Press Release Reprints | 11.11.11

DAVE LOEBSACK RELEASE — Veterans Day is an opportunity to reflect on the service of generations of veterans and to honor the sacrifices they and their families have made so that we may live in peace and freedom here at home.

Des Moines man hopes to free alleged Tiller assassin with ‘necessity defense’

By Jason Hancock | 08.14.09 | 1:18 pm

A Des Moines anti-abortion activist has had repeated contact with the man accused of killing Kansas doctor George Tiller in May, and is even working on a legal strategy for him that he believes will result in acquittal.

Scott Roeder (mugshot)

Scott Roeder (mugshot)

Dave Leach publishes a newsletter called “Prayer & Action News,” which advocates the doctrine of justifiable homicide in the case of abortion doctors. The man accused of murdering Tiller, Scott Roeder, was a contributor to the publication.

In an interview with The Iowa Independent, Leach said he has spoken with Roeder several times since his arrest, including twice on Thursday to discuss legal strategy. Despite the fact that Leach is not an attorney, he has prepared a legal brief he believes will get Roeder acquitted, and “Scott is willing to go along,” he said.

Leach sent a copy of the brief to Roeder’s attorney but has not gotten a response.

Leach has proposed that Roeder stipulate that the facts alleged in the criminal complaint against him are true in order to focus the case on the so-called “necessity defense.” Roeder is accused of shooting Tiller in the foyer of his Wichita church on May 31 in order to stop him from performing abortions.

The hope is that refusing to contest the facts of the case will leave no other option to the judge but to let the jury hear argument regarding whether Roeder was forced to commit murder in order to stop an “unlawful harm,” meaning abortion.

“In probably all previous cases, the dog-and-pony show proceeded, the prosecutor bringing in his witnesses to prove what nobody seriously contests,” Leach said. “That way there is an appearance of a right to trial by jury. The jury gets to weigh the facts, which the defendant does not contest. But I have proposed to Scott that he stipulate to the alleged facts, making the dog-and-pony show irrelevant to any additional information the jury needs to make its determination, and dramatically isolating the necessity defense as the sole contested issue of the case.”

In the past, judges have thrown out “necessity defense” arguments regarding crimes committed to stop abortion because abortion is legal, and therefore protected by the law.

“Legally protecting a harm does not render it harmless,” Leach said. “The necessity defense requires reasonable people to judge whether a harm is in fact harmless, regardless of how courts or lawmakers feel about it.”

If the decision is given over to a jury, Roeder will go free, he said.

Margaret Raymond, a law professor at the University of Iowa who previously practiced as a criminal defense attorney, has not read Leach’s legal brief but said the likelihood that a judge will allow a jury to hear an argument of “necessity defense” in a case like this is quite small.

“Typically, you don’t get to use that defense in murder cases,” she said. “The problem with a necessity defense in this case is that it is hard to say that something that the law permits is an act that must be prohibited at the cost of death.”

Juries are only permitted to hear claims that fit within legal parameters. If the law permits the claim, the facts surrounding the claim would go to the jury to decide.

“The jury doesn’t get to hear a claim that isn’t legally plausible,” Raymond said. “If there is no legal basis for the claim, then it cannot go to the jury. Juries are not supposed to decide things outside of the law. They get to decide fact within the law.”

The necessity defense, in general terms, says that it is OK to commit a crime in order to avoid a much greater harm, she said. For instance, a person with a suspended drivers license could drive a person to the hospital if it meant saving their life.

“The question would be whether the necessity defense would permit somebody to claim that something that is legally protected created a necessity to justify homicide,” Raymond said, adding: “My guess is that this is not going to be a strong defense. The irony is that the first thing he is asking him to do in order to use a necessity defense is admit he committed the crime. That is not necessarily something a criminal defendant wants some third party going around announcing.”

Even if the judge allows this defense to go forward, Roeder may still go to prison, Leach said. But he believes it would set a legal precedent allowing those who block the entrances of abortion clinics and “perhaps even building burners” to use that defense in the future, Leach said.

“I, personally, would prefer a bloodless way to stop bloody abortion. But it isn’t up to me,” he said, adding: “So I suppose the correct answer would be, yes, lovers of abortion have great reason to fear that they will suffer the same violence they have voted to inflict upon 50 million American unborn. But not from me.”

Leach is not the only anti-abortion activist to contact Roeder in prison. The Wichita Eagle reports that he has been visited by “a who’s who of anti-abortion militants,” a fact that has worried abortion-rights advocates.

Fear of a possible conspiracy to commit more acts of violence against abortion providers has led to a federal investigation, and the FBI has questioned several of Roeder’s visitors. Leach said the FBI has not contacted him.

He has been in contact with other anti-abortion activists around the country to share his legal brief, Leach said. So far, only Regina Dinwiddie, a Kansas City anti-abortion activist who made headlines in 1995 when she was ordered by a federal judge to stop using a bullhorn within 500 feet of any abortion clinic, has given him feedback.

This is not Leach’s first brush with the spotlight. Following Tiller’s assassination, Leach was prominently featured by national news media due to his previous ties with Roeder.

In the mid-1990s, Leach’s association with the accused killer of a Florida abortion doctor helped persuade U.S. marshals to guard the Planned Parenthood clinic in Des Moines.

In the January 1996 issue, Leach published the Army of God manual, which advocates the killing of the providers of abortion and contains bomb-making instructions. Because of this, he was fired from his job as a writer for an Ankeny newspaper.

In 2002, he tried to air videotape of patients entering a local Planned Parenthood clinic on public-access cable TV. Mediacom Communications Corp. decided it would not allow him to air the footage.

Follow Jason Hancock on Twitter


  • DanicaD1988

    “I, personally, would prefer a bloodless way to stop bloody abortion. But it isn’t up to me,” he said, adding: “So I suppose the correct answer would be, yes, lovers of abortion have great reason to fear that they will suffer the same violence they have voted to inflict upon 50 million American unborn. But not from me.”

    Does anyone really LOVE abortion?

    • davidrydholm

      I'm sure no one loves abortion. But a lot of people don't dislike it enough to say that people who don't want to be parents should not be engaging in sex. Sex without the consequence of unwillingly becoming a parent is so important to such people, and the killing of a preborn child so little a problem to them, that they are completely unwilling to say that people who do not wish to be parents should not be having sex. For them, better to have sex if one wishes, and take the risk, because in their view if taking that risk results ultimately in the killing of a preborn child, to them that's still preferable to the alternative of actually refraining from sex.

  • Kansan

    How is advocating the assassinations of obstetricians, their staff and escorts, any different than crying “fire!” in a crowded theater?

    Leach and his ilk, such as the Army of God's “Rev.” Don Spitz, have consorted with the likes of Paul Hill, mentioned int his story. Hill attended the trial of women's clinic arsonist Shelly Shannon, for her shooting of Dr. George Tiller years ago, then returned to Florida to murder the unarmed 74-year-old, retired Air Force Colonel escorting a doctor to a clinic, and emptied his pump shotgun magazine into the colonel's 68-year-old wife. He then reloaded and slaughtered the doctor.

    These fanatics have little respect for anyone whom they construe to be going against their personal religious beliefs. John Salvi killed two receptionists at a Boston clinic. Eric Rudolph blew up a policeman and blinded a nurse in Georgia, after bombing the Atlanta Olympics can causing two more deaths.

    By Leach's reasoning, if I personally believed that a conspiracy to kill a provider should be punishable by death, I believed he was in a conspiracy with Spitz and Roeder, and I believed I had the right to carry out such an execution, I would be perfectly justified in taking the law into my own hands and killing Leach, would I not? I could also be justified, using Biblical precepts, in killing prostitutes and adulteresses and could keep slaves.

    We are, however, a nation of laws. I think Leach is putting himself perilously close to getting three hots and a flop at Hotel Fed.

  • wwjd247365

    The Supreme Court's Dred Scott decision said that African Americans (i.e. that isn't what they called them back then to their own discredit) were nothing more than chattel and see what that caused and their decision was legal. So much for Laws that are highly discriminatory and what is more discrimnatory than the slaughter of the most innocent form of human life which is in the mother's womb. (i.e. Psalms 139:13-16. If only the unborn aborted baby could go to court then things would be different!

    • RegularJoe

      The problem with your position is that you assume we all subscribe to your particular mythology…one that also calls upon women to remain apart from the rest of us when they are 'unclean' – menstruating. It calls upon us to reject pork – in Iowa, not likely. It calls upon us to reject divorce in all but a very rare circumstance. There's a whole list of rather interesting things your mythos expects us to simply accept, without question.
      Well, what if I don't? What if I believe differently than you? What if I believe as our nation's founders did?

      • wwjd247365

        All Scripture is Spiritually Discerned and comes with being accountable to
        God whether one likes it or not. Even your “Free Will” is God Given! When
        one is “Born Again” Spiritually, they get the gift of the “Holy Spirit” and
        one of the functions of the Holy Spirit is to help one interpret Scripture
        the way God intended. Without the Holy Spirit's guidance when reading
        Scripture, Scripture will just contradict itself. All these terms and
        doctrines can be found at and
        http://www.gotquestions.organd at many other web sites. Just make sure that
        God is guiding, it is your
        eternity too!

        • RegularJoe

          Your response had nothing to do with my questions. You don't specify what particular “Scripture” you ramble about, which version, which interpretation, in which language it's written in. Perhaps thinking critically about the subject matter may help you to frame a response that is relevant to the question instead of some emotional, illogical, nonsensical rant about your invisible friend and her many manifestations. Try again.

  • RegularJoe

    So….when I look at this crazy bastard and know in my soul (bcause God speaks to me) that he's a threat to our Life, Liberty, & Pursuit of Happiness….does that mean I can cap his ass and it's all good? I mean, “Thou Shalt Not Murder” was pretty clear, I thought…and even the heathen atheists I know seem to be opposed to murder, but if Crazy Davie says that sick fuck Scott “Brain Rot” Roeder did the right thing, then maybe it's time for Annie to get her gun.
    (or, perhaps the stupid bastard doesn't realize that since we amended our state constitution recently, he can now vote and use the ballot instead of the bullet to effect change)
    Some people's kids…..

  • AcknowledgeHimN2010

    Is it now fanatical to ask that a jury of reasonable people, judging by reasonable standards, hear the only contested issue of a case, so that a man may have a right to trial BY JURY?

    If the lawyer commenting on my brief ever gets around to reading it, I would love to know what she thinks of it then. Meanwhile, I would consider it a risk to my reputation to comment publicly on a brief I hadn't read!

    Pro 18:13 He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.

    The comments she made are the same expectations I would have had, before this brief came together in my mind. I would love to know what Jason told her about it, as a basis for the reaction that she had. It surprises me that if she understood the strategy of stipulating to the alleged facts in order to isolate the sole contested issue, that she would still so cavalierly dismiss any hope of the judge being forced to give the jury SOMETHING to weigh. Just because it has been denied 100,000 times before doesn't necessarily predict what will happen this time, since in no previous case that I know of, and certainly not in the few cases so high profile that strong arguments could not be swept under the rug, have prolife defendants stipulated to the facts in order to isolate the contested issue.

  • davidrydholm

    Enough with all this useless wrangling, I say. Abortionist shooters should agree to shoot abortionists; their opponents should agree to put abortionist shooters in prison or to death if the shooter can be apprehended. The idea that there is any common ground from which these two groups can reason with each other is wrong. There isn't any. Just shoot each other and be done with it.

  • AcknowledgeHimN2010

    Funny. Seriously, the failure of Americans to reason with one another is not inability, but disinterest. Fortunately, turbulence has the capacity to knock the reason-substitutes out from under us and drag open our minds. That’s the one way Barack Obama may actually save America.

    • davidrydholm

      I'll believe it when I see it. People may change their viewpoints, but I'm virtually certain that if they do, for 98-99% of those who do in fact change position, it will not be because they were persuaded by a soundly reasoned argument. As for foaming-at-the-mouth rants ala Regular Joe (does he need a laxative to stay regular?), what do I know? It's crap, but someone might be convinced by crap.

      I suppose if a reasoned argument persuades one person in a thousand, that's still one who wasn't persuaded before. It just seems a bit like trying to keep a lawn trimmed with a pair of scissors, though. For every person who is convinced by a sound argument, there may be twenty at the same time who go the other way for any number of reasons.

      I guess what bothers me about debate in general is that it presupposes that humans arrive at their beliefs rationally, and that is wrong. They don't. They just don't.

  • AcknowledgeHimN2010

    What? God's critics have left us this comment stream to ourselves? OK, to your spirit of unbelief: If Truth did not turn you toward God and against abortion, what did? Do you think no soul but yours can be cut by the Sword of Truth?

    Was God wasting His breath when He said: Mark 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. 17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; 18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

    Do you hold up signs showing the evidence of what abortion does to babies to no effect?

    We don't have to guess how fruitful our seed will be, if we prepare it well: He tells us plainly, in Luke 8:5-18. It will be fruitful enough to support ourselves today and still have enough left over to keep planting tomorrow.

    I didn't say everybody loves to reason 100% of the time, did I? Just as ground doesn't nurture seeds 100% of the time. But this is the time to have hope! This is a time of national turbulence! Turbulence causes people to scramble for sure footing for their souls amid the sinking sands around them.

  • davidrydholm

    You should use the Reply button. I almost did not see your post.

    Actually, I got distracted from my original point, which was that there is no basis for the two parties to reason together, because each is beginning from a different foundational assumed premise. In order to reason together, there must be a shared foundational premise, and in the case of the question of whether abortion ought to be legal, the actual literal bort *foundational* premise is, “Abortion ought to be legal”! So obviously, there is no shared foundational premise. That was my original point, I apologize for being unclear.

    As for what originally “turned me toward God and against abortion” it was revelation, not any reasoned argument. And holding a picture is not a reasoned argument. Jesus indeed commanded to preach the gospel to every creature, but why did Paul feel it necessary to point out that the preaching need be “not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power”? Everyone seems to think that his or her own preaching is not “with words of human wisdom,” and that that particular caveat is for others, but they themselves are not violating it. OK, fine; you believe that you are preaching in the power of the cross, in trying to get some judge somewhere to allow a defense of necessity. Far be it from me to doubt it. The day of judgment will show the worth of each person's work. Until then, I stand corrected and apologize. Sincerely, what do I know?

    As a secondary matter though: in my long experience, generally, arguments, whether sound or not, in most cases only serve to assure (rightly or wrongly) those who already agree with the one presenting the argument that his or her conclusion is the correct one. Reasoning almost never persuades anyone to change conclusions.

    Thirdly, I almost never see any sound argument. For example, someone could have shot the previous U. S. president (Bush) and claimed the necessity defense — it was necessary to save the lives of soldiers in Iraq. That person could probably find nearly identical ground to that you suggest be taken by Mr. Roeder's defense.

    Fourthly, no one cares about the necessity defense unless it conduces to the result that he or she wishes. Even were the logic of claiming the necessity defense in Mr. Roeder's case thoroughly sound, it would not matter in the slightest to any but a tiny few; almost no one cares about what is or is not logically sound. Almost no one cares. If you are trusting in the power of divine providence, that's good. But if you think that sound logic has any power *in and of itself*, you are wrong. It doesn't. In fact there is some reason to believe that God would be more likely to put his blessing on the words of a ten year old child, rather than the carefully crafted arguments of those who think that such careful crafting will result in persuading more people.

  • RegularJoe

    Your response had nothing to do with my questions. You don't specify what particular “Scripture” you ramble about, which version, which interpretation, in which language it's written in. Perhaps thinking critically about the subject matter may help you to frame a response that is relevant to the question instead of some emotional, illogical, nonsensical rant about your invisible friend and her many manifestations. Try again.

  • RegularJoe

    Your response had nothing to do with my questions. You don't specify what particular “Scripture” you ramble about, which version, which interpretation, in which language it's written in. Perhaps thinking critically about the subject matter may help you to frame a response that is relevant to the question instead of some emotional, illogical, nonsensical rant about your invisible friend and her many manifestations. Try again.

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