Update on the marketing of baby body parts
Baby parts marketing: 20/20 and the House Hearing
In response to information released by Life Dynamics, on March 8, 2000, the ABC News program 20/20 aired a segment about the marketing of baby parts from children killed during abortions. On the following day there was a Congressional hearing on the same issue. The following are our observations about these two events.
After we first met with a producer from the ABC program 20/20, many in the pro-life movement warned us that you can't trust the media and that no major media outlet will ever do a story which is fair to our movement.
Of course, we have been involved in the pro-life battle long enough to know that this is undeniably true. However, the 20/20 story is about as close as the pro-life movement is going to get to a story which condemns even one aspect of the abortion industry's daily atrocities. By focusing on and condemning those who profit from the sale of baby body parts, 20/20 turned a national spotlight on this barbaric practice. The story may not have been all that we wanted, and 20/20's focus on the money trail is like pointing out that smoke from the ovens at Auschwitz violated Germany's Clean Air Act. But the bottom line is that millions of Americans who could have never dreamed that there are people in this country who traffic in the bodies of children killed by abortion, were stunned and horrified by what they saw in their living rooms that night. At Life Dynamics, the effort to bring this issue to the public is only just beginning and we believe that this was a great starting point.
Having said that, 20/20 was negligent in several aspects of this story which would have otherwise moved the American people from shock to outrage. For example:
An interesting aspect of this phenomenon is that each time 20/20 mentioned the issue of "businessmen" getting into the trafficking of baby parts, there was this not-so-subtle suggestion that to be a businessman is, by its nature, evil. This is, of course, a recurring theme throughout the American left of which the media-ABC included-is an integral part. In this case, this bias caused 20/20 to overlook the fact that the greatest scandal of the baby body parts trafficking is not just that people are profiting from it, but that it even exists in a society that claims to be civilized. If a bunch of socialists or non-profit sleaze were aborting children, chopping them up, then selling them and donating the proceeds to their favorite left-wing cause, the babies would be just as dead and just as dismembered. Apparently, the media just doesn't get it: it's not about bucks, it's about babies.
- When the issue of baby parts was being discussed, the visual on the screen was a petri dish containing a pea-sized fragment of unidentifiable white tissue. We are sympathetic to the explanation offered by the ABC producer who told us after the show that the network could not broadcast footage of dismembered babies, baggies full of tiny human eyes or any other accurate footage of the "commodity" being sold by the baby parts merchants. But this should have been stated during the program or in the banter which follows each story. Showing scientists poking at slivers of flesh in a petri dish through a microscope was deceptive and it dehumanizes this debate.
- Hearing Planned Parenthood President Gloria Feldt's pious condemnation of the baby parts traders was sickening. It was like hearing the president of Phillip Morris condemn smoking. 20/20 was completely irresponsible in not making the viewer aware that all of the wrongdoing described in this broadcast occurred at Planned Parenthood facilities, and that Planned Parenthood is responsible for the national network that supports the trafficking of baby body parts. Ms. Feldt clearly wanted to disguise this in her interview and 20/20, by its silence, went right along with her. The result is that the viewer was left with the false impression that Planned Parenthood was outraged at these practices rather than a participant in them.
- The narrator constantly referred to the people involved in the trafficking of baby parts as "businessmen" - instead of by some more accurate description which would identify them as being part of the abortion industry. This was done despite the fact that we provided documentation to 20/20 proving that all the people involved had links with both Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation. It was clear that 20/20 wanted the viewer to perceive that this was not something that occurred within the abortion industry, but that some evil profit-driven outsiders had infiltrated and taken advantage of the abortion industry. It was as if 20/20 was trying to portray the abortion industry as an unwitting victim of the baby parts business.
- There was never any mention of the researchers, pharmaceutical companies and universities who buy baby parts. It was like a story about the evils of prostitution that concentrated solely on the women involved and never the customers. The reality is that if baby parts are being marketed, that means there are not only sellers, but buyers as well. For 20/20 to target one and ignore the other was unfair and deceptive.
The Congressional Hearing
Unlike the 20/20 situation, there was little to celebrate here. Congressional hearings are about three things: politics, media coverage and more politics. The Republicans on the committee demonstrated that the only thing they knew less about than the marketing of baby parts was how to conduct a successful hearing. To say it was a train wreck is an understatement. This was, however, not unanticipated. Weeks before the hearing took place, those of us at Life Dynamics were convinced it was a disaster waiting to happen. In fact, about fifteen minutes before the hearing began, the president of Life Dynamics, Mark Crutcher, gave an interview to Greta Kreuz, a reporter for the Washington, DC, area affiliate of ABC Television, in which he emphatically made that very point.
The responsibility of organizing the hearing was given to three lawyers on the House Commerce Committee's Republican staff, Marc Wheat, Brent Delmonte, and Mark Paoletta. Almost from the start, we could see that the hearing was doomed, mainly because these three individuals embraced some utterly disastrous philosophies.
First, due to their self-serving obsession with beating the Senate to hearings, speed, not quality, was their guiding principle. Early in our relationship with them, it became apparent that their insatiable desire to have a political victory over the pro-lifers in the Senate was going to come back to haunt us all. On several occasions we complained that their willingness to put their political agenda ahead of the pro-life cause was jeopardizing the hearing. However, each time we expressed this concern they assured us that the hearing would be a good one, while at the same time making it abundantly clear that the primary objective was to be first.
Another problem was that there was little if any commitment by these staffers to ensure that the House members who would be conducting the hearing were informed, educated, or engaged. Despite the fact that Life Dynamics had spent almost three years investigating and researching this issue, and arguably knows more about it than anyone else in the country, our repeated offers to come to Washington-at our expense-and train Committee members and staff were inexplicably ignored.
As time went on, we began to get the uneasy feeling that the Committee's staff had not developed a game plan. It was also becoming increasingly apparent that, for them, this was not an opportunity to advance the pro-life cause but an opportunity to advance political careers. Evidence of that was seen a few weeks prior to the hearing when we learned that somewhere in the bowels of the Commerce Committee, the decision had been made that radical pro-abortion Congressman Fred Upton (R-Michigan) was going to chair the hearing. Obviously, this was totally unacceptable. We were not naive enough to think that some pro-abort is going to conduct an honest hearing into whether the abortion industry is trafficking in dead baby parts. We suspected that a cover-up was in the making.
If a cover-up was underway, we had no way of knowing whether the Committee staff was oblivious to it or involved in it. In either event, our attitude was that if someone was going to sabotage the hearing, they were going to have to do it without the help of Life Dynamics. We informed the Commerce Committee staff that we would not provide any further data or assistance as long as the hearing was assigned to a sub-committee chaired by a pro-abort. As we had done many times in the past, we again pointed out that our only goal was to educate the American people about this barbaric practice, and toward that end we would rather have no hearing at all than a bad one. A few days later, the hearing was reassigned to a sub-committee chaired by semi-pro-lifer Michael Bilirakis (R-Florida) and we resumed the flow of information.
We provided them with orders for baby parts, price lists for baby parts, brochures and advertising materials for baby parts, internal abortion industry financial records related to the sale of baby parts, abortion clinic protocols for the harvesting of baby parts, and much more. Then we spent hours and hours going over each of these documents with them to make certain they understood their significance.
Moreover, we repeatedly warned them that using our abortion industry infiltrator, Dean Alberty, as the centerpiece of the hearing was courting disaster. We were constantly trying to make them understand that the hearing must focus on the documentation and not Alberty. On several occasions, we pointed out that Alberty had two major things going against him. First, he remains pro-choice, and to embrace that position requires a certain level of intellectual dishonesty. Second, he's a spy and by their nature spies are disloyal. Our suggestion was that they relate to Alberty in the same way we always had. From day one, we simply considered him a kind of bird-dog. He might point us in a particular direction, but we didn't rely on anything he told us until, and unless, we had documentation or independent verification. For over two years, we never made public any of the things Alberty told us, and only did so after we acquired a substantial body of documentation to back it up.
Again, our warning was that if they tried to make their case on what Alberty might do or say, rather than on the documentation, the hearing could blow up in their faces. We sensed at the time, and the hearing would later prove, that this warning was falling on deaf ears. They were so committed to this idea of making Alberty the focal point of the hearing, they blew-off issuing subpoenas for other witnesses who could support his testimony. These guys displayed a kind of underlying arrogance that apparently rendered them incapable of even considering the possibility that they were headed in the wrong direction. To our dismay and frustration, almost every discussion we had with them was a one-way conversation. It was always made crystal clear that our only role was to tell them about every detail of our investigation, then quietly fade into the background and not pester them with questions or advice.
As the date for the hearing approached, we learned that three Republicans, Bilirakis, Upton, and Jim Greenwood of Pennsylvania had joined with Committee Democrats in calling for a closed hearing. They intended to bar both the media and members of the public from being admitted. At this point, the possibility that there was an organized cover-up underway seemed quite plausible. When the media began to circulate stories that the Committee was contemplating secret hearings, it became obvious that doing so was going to be a public relations nightmare. With that, the Democrats withdrew their request.
While this part of the cover-up was being sunk, another was about to surface. In the days immediately preceding that hearing, witnesses who were scheduled to testify reported that they began receiving intimidating phone calls from lawyers associated with the targets of the investigation and one of the leading Committee Democrats.
When this was reported to the Committee Republican staff, they were incensed at this obvious attempt at witness tampering. Despite the fact that an attorney for the Republican staff made calls to the offending parties and warned them to stop, the calls continued. The last one was made the day before the hearing began. Republican members of the Committee were steamed and vowed to begin the hearing with questions about witness tampering and obstruction of justice.
Within the first few minutes of the hearing, it became obvious that we were right to suspect that the pro-life Republicans had no plan. They didn't. Unfortunately, the same couldn't be said about the pro-aborts. They immediately launched into a vicious and well-designed personal attack against Alberty. Throughout the afternoon and into the night, he was badgered, bullied and beaten without mercy by the Democrats. The inquisition conducted by Anna Eshoo (D-California) and Diana DeGette (D-Colorado) was more ranting and raving than information gathering.
With the exception of Representatives Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma), Barbara Cubin (R-Wyoming), Charles Norwood (R-Georgia), Nathan Deal (R-Georgia) and Ed Bryant (R-Tennessee), the Republicans either sat on their hands or joined in the feeding frenzy. One of the most savage attacks was by Fred Upton - the very same Congressman that the Committee staff had originally wanted to chair the hearing. Meanwhile, shell-shocked Commerce Committee staffers were frozen in place with absolutely no idea what to do next.
One of the oddest aspects of the hearing was that we knew more about the investigation into this issue than anyone else, yet were not called to testify. In fact, even when it was clear to every person in the room that the hearing was spinning out of control, and even though we were sitting in the second row of the audience, we were never asked for our input or advise.
The Republicans surrendered moments after the opening gavel was sounded, and it is simply undeniable that this was due to the arrogance and incompetence of the House Commerce Committee staff. Because they completely failed to prepare their members, they allowed them to be blind sided by issues that we told them were coming and which were easily manageable.
On the other side of the aisle, the Democrats totally dominated the hearing. They got Alberty to admit that he had embellished details of the story he told Life Dynamics, but never gave him an opportunity to say exactly what he had embellished. They skillfully directed the hearing away from questions about the illegal marketing of baby parts, and instead spent the entire hearing intimidating Alberty. Their plan was so well executed that pro-life Republicans on the Committee never mentioned witness tampering, never introduced one single document provided by Life Dynamics, and most bizarre of all, never discussed the marketing of baby parts. You heard right: a Congressional hearing that was specifically created to examine the marketing of baby parts, lasted all day and well into the night and never discussed the marketing of baby parts.
For those of us at Life Dynamics, these developments were especially frustrating. After almost three years of blood, sweat and tears, we had to sit through this sham hearing as the distortions, innuendo, and outright lies of the Democrats were left unchallenged by these befuddled Republicans and their confused staff. Worst of all, a pro-life opportunity of immense potential was squandered for no legitimate reason whatsoever.
Today, the House is saying that there will be additional hearings and the Senate is also planning to take up the issue. Unless both have learned from the bitter experience of March 9th, our hope is that they not bother. Like we said before, no hearing at all is much better than a bad hearing.
Following the 20/20 broadcast and the House hearings, representatives of the abortion industry have made many false, misleading and outlandish claims related to the issues raised during these events. We have addressed a few of the ones we know about.
1) Dean Alberty was paid $20,000 by Life Dynamics for the "Kelly" interview.
FACT: At the hearing, Alberty testified under oath that he was actually paid only $400 to compensate him for the time he spent traveling to Texas, conducting the interview, and returning home. The $20,000 figure being deceptively thrown about by the abortion industry represents the entire amount paid to Alberty over a two-and-one-half-year period of time. (The actual amount was $21,426.04) Less than half of this money was compensation. Alberty's personal earnings from Life Dynamics, from the beginning of this project until its end, averaged less than $310 per month. The majority of the money paid to him was reimbursement for actual expenses he incurred while attending abortion industry conferences and seminars on our behalf. This included airline tickets, hotels, food, registration fees, association dues, tapes and books, etc.
2) Alberty has now accused Life Dynamics of altering the "Kelly" interview.
FACT: Alberty did no such thing. He had never seen the tape until being shown it by attorneys representing the Anatomic Gift Foundation almost a year after it was recorded. Alberty stated that since he did not remember the entire interview, he couldn't state for sure whether Life Dynamics altered it or not. This means that, at most, he agreed to was that it was possible Life Dynamics may have altered some of his answers. In reality, Life Dynamics has released the raw unedited footage of the original interview showing that absolutely no such alterations occurred.
3) Alberty has recanted his testimony in the "Kelly" interview.
FACT: Again, Alberty did no such thing. He only admitted that he had no personal knowledge of, and could not prove that some of the things he told Life Dynamics were true.
However, almost all the allegations he said he could no longer stand behind with certainty were actually proven by documentation provided by Life Dynamics. For example, on the "Kelly" tape Alberty claimed to know that his employer was profiting from the marketing of baby parts. When pressed by the pro-aborts at the hearing, he admitted that he had no personal knowledge or proof of this and had, therefore, lied to Life Dynamics. He did not "recant" as some have claimed and say that his employer was not profiting from the marketing of baby parts.
Of course, Life Dynamics has provided written documentation showing that his employer was indeed profiting from the marketing of baby parts. Although Alberty's admission that he lied to Life Dynamics clearly undermines his credibility, the documentation we supplied to the Committee proves that his assertion was correct whether he had personal knowledge of it or not.
The above is a typical example of what the abortion industry is claiming to be a recantation. In no case was it a matter of Alberty saying that something he told us wasn't true. What he admitted was that there were instances in which he told us certain things were true, when the reality was that he had no personal knowledge or proof they were true. An analogy would be a situation in which the body of a murder victim has been found and someone steps forward to say they witnessed the crime. If it is later determined that this person didn't really witness the murder, it is still true that a murder was committed. Moreover, if details given by this discredited witness are supported by other evidence, the authorities would probably conclude that what this person is saying may have validity, even if he lied about actually seeing the crime. One thing is for certain: if details given by this witness are indeed supported by other evidence, be assured that the people investigating this crime will not ignore what he is saying simply because he lied about having personally witnessed it.
That is, however, precisely what the abortion industry wants the American people to do regarding Alberty and the marketing of baby parts. Since the hearing, their strategy has been to try and make people believe that because Alberty misled Life Dynamics about having personally witnessed certain aspects of the baby parts marketing scandal, then the marketing of baby parts is not occurring. Of course, they know this isn't true. They are apparently hoping that because Alberty lied to us, they can get away with lying to the public.
The truth is that in each circumstance where Alberty admitted that he lied to Life Dynamics, the allegation he was making can be supported through other witnesses, evidence or documentation. It should also be noted that Alberty stood firm behind other claims he had previously made. For example, even under a brutal assault by Committee pro-aborts, he never wavered in his statement that living children who had survived their abortions - including the twins he described in the "Kelly" interview-were sometimes brought to him to be chopped up for parts.
4) The documents being used to support the claim that baby parts are being marketed were stolen by burglars working for Life Dynamics.
FACT: Life Dynamics has never participated in, nor caused anyone else to participate in, a burglary or any other criminal activity. Every single document in question was provided to Life Dynamics by Alberty and other whistle-blowers employed in the abortion industry.
5) Miles Jones, the baby parts broker featured in the 20/20 piece, is in reality an actor hired by Life Dynamics to appear in the 20/20 broadcast.
FACT: This assertion is so outrageous it's difficult to respond to. To suggest that Life Dynamics would be stupid enough to try such a stunt, or that ABC News would be stupid enough to fall for it, or that the US Congress would be stupid enough to issue a subpoena for someone who didn't exist, or that the Federal Marshals Office would be stupid enough to report that they had served a subpoena to someone who didn't exist, is absolutely preposterous.
6) House Commerce Committee staffers say that the hearing failed partially because Life Dynamics didn't turn over all the documents it promised to them.
FACT: This is absolute nonsense. Considering the fact that Life Dynamics had been trying to get this hearing since the day this project began, what possible reason would we have for holding back information? The reality is, in fact, quite the opposite. Not only did we turn over every thing we had, but we also spent dozens of hours going over these documents with Committee staffers. And since they never actually used any of our documents in the hearing, how credible is this bizarre self-serving claim they didn't have enough of them? This is obviously nothing more than a panic-driven attempt by these people to cover-up their own incompetence.