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Saturday, May 05, 2007

Wiley Drake and The Google

Frederick Clarkson of Talk2Action has responded to Wiley Drake's denial with a thoughtful and timely post.

Like last time, I will post snippets below but read Clarkson's entire article before responding...

What public figures do when they get caught doing or saying something controversial is endlessly interesting. Sometimes they puff on a big cigar and blow smoke in your face. Sometimes they try to nuance their way out of it. Sometimes they toss out a series of evasions, red herrings and other distractions. Sometimes they just lie. This brings us to the strange case of Rev. Wiley Drake, a national vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). It was recently reported and widely blogged that he had signed onto a Declaration of Support for the confessed assassin of an abortion provider; and that the endorsement is featured on the web site of a domestic terror organization, the Army of God.

Rev. Drake has issued a denial via at least two of his SBC political allies, Wade Burleson and Art Rogers, who are now calling for apologies all around. But they will have to forgive us if we first apply some healthy reporter's skepticism to Drake's much-ballyhooed denial.

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But before we do, let's briefly review what he is responding to: Intelligence Report, the quarterly magazine of the Southern Poverty Law Center, a leading civil rights and anti-hate organization, published an article detailing Drake's support for the assassination of Dr. Barnett Slepian, an abortion provider; by James Kopp, a prominent antiabortion activist. The text of the magazine is also available on the SPLC web site. Intelligence Report is authoritative, legally vetted, and its readership includes civil rights advocates, attorneys, police and other law enforcement officers charged with enforcing civil rights and anti-hate laws. (I know a bit about this since since I happen to have written for Intelligence Report about the Army of God and anti-abortion violence; but not the article about Drake.) The magazine reported that Drake is very publicly signed onto an outrageous Declaration of Support for James Kopp which is posted on the web site of the Army of God; a national network comprising convicted felons and those who advocate murder, bombings, arson and other crimes.

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Indeed, the "Declaration of Support for James Kopp" has been on the AOG web site since at least July 20, 2003, according to the web archive, Way Back Machine. And as my Talk to Action colleague Moiv pointed out: "Drake knows how to Google." After a little Googling of her own, she learned that Drake once berated someone for not Googling to get "background" information about him, and said a bit about what that person would find if he did Google Drake.

So, for all these years, a man active in public life, and often in the news, and who knows how to Google himself -- allows this easy-to-find but horrifically controversial use of his name that he now says is a "lie"? It doesn't seem likely, does it?

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Third, Drake's claim to have never heard of James Kopp is very difficult to believe. Drake has been active in anti-abortion politics for many years, as well as being very involved in public life. Kopp was a long-time activist in Operation Rescue and the Lambs of Christ before his career as a world famous assassin. By the time he was named as a suspect in the Slepian murder; and after being put on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list (along with Osama Bin Laden); after being captured in France; extradicted; and tried once for murder and a second time for FACE violations; and his American AOG accomplices who helped him on the lam were also tried and convicted -- he is certainly one of the most famous, or infamous depending on your point of view, pro-life activists in American history. It seems to me, it would be almost impossible for anyone involved in abortion politics to have not heard of Kopp. It also seems highly improbable that no one would have sought to discuss with Drake the support he ostensibly expresses for Kopp on the AOG web site. And for that matter, if Drake had Google himself, (which it appears that he did) he would probably have learned about Kopp.
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ME: Just read the entire article.

On other blogs, I have stated my skepticism as to whether Drake had ever heard of James Kopp. After reading Clarkson, let's go back to the original award-winning article written by Brian Kaylor. Drake didn't exactly have a firm grasp on the truth back then. He lied.

So pardon me while I remain skeptical of Wiley Drake's latest denial.

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12 Comments:

Blogger Art said...

Aaron,

I am not a "political ally" of Wiley Drake. I did not know him before last year and only spoken with him a handful of times. If it surprises you for me to say that after having his cell phone, you should know that he is pretty liberal with it. He just posted it on my blog for the world to see.

I got his cell phone number and asked him about it.

I respect the SPLC's reputation and I am interested in hearing from them. At this point they have alleged they knew it was Wiley, and Wiley has called anyone saying that a liar. (Isn't that right?)

It seems that the onus is on them to prove him wrong. They aren't answering calls or returning calls, though.

Even if they posted a statement from someone who says they confirmed it with Wiley, that would be something.

My call for apologies was more to those in the SBC blogosphere who assumed this to be true without calling Wiley and asking him.

To date, no one has publicly claimed that they did, other than Wade and I. You know what he told us.

8:57 PM

 
Blogger Big Daddy Weave said...

Art,

I too am interested in hearing from the SPLC. Their piece speaks for itself. And I do grant you the first line of your comment.

However, allow me to take a line from the Burleson playbook:

I stand by the "theme" of Mr. Clarkson's post.

With all that has been mentioned by Clarkson and Kaylor - my integrity demands a little skepticism when dealing with the Rev. Wiley Drake.

10:20 PM

 
Blogger Streak said...

BDW, it appears that you closed comments for a couple of posts on this topic? Absolutely your prerogative, of course, but I was curious if you wanted to share why?

8:08 AM

 
Blogger Big Daddy Weave said...

I can open the rest later. I've got a final on Monday, and the temptation to keep checking for comments on all three posts was great and takes too much of my time.

9:46 AM

 
Blogger Bart Barber said...

Aaron,

First, let me preface my comments by saying that nobody ever considered me Wiley Drake's ally in any sense. I have blogged comparing Drake to Caligula's horse. I offer that just for context for my remarks.

Affirming an online declaration is not an action requiring a Notary Public. To see one's name there is not to know for certain that the person himself actually put it there.

For this very reason, either Intelligence Report or Ethics Daily should have bothered to ask Drake whether the signature was his. They would not have been required to pull the story no matter his answer—they merely could have added to the story: "Drake denies placing his name on the list; however, Intelligence Report has good evidence that…" Or, before outcry for his resignation, Drake might have acknowledged the signature as his own. Either way, responsible journalism requires some attempt to confirm such an important fact upon which the entire story rests.

If this accusation had been leveled against Frank Page, I would not have believed it. I readily believed it about Drake because, if he is anything, he is audacious. Although I acknowledge the very human temptation to lie when caught in a tight spot, one must also acknowledge that Wiley Drake is just the kind of person, if he has actually signed the declaration, to say, "Yeah, I signed it. What of it!?" Psychoanalysis of the vagaries of Wiley Drake could support any position on the questions at hand.

If we are now in a "he said, they said" position, then we are in that position due to the recklessness of the folks over at Intelligence Report. They credentials, impressive as they might be, are no more formidable than those of the New York Times, yet consider the case of Jayson Blair. Even really good reporters and organs of the press sometimes make very foolish mistakes. Drake is human, but so are they.

I would like very much to hear from Bob Allen and from the folks over at Intelligence Report.

11:46 AM

 
Blogger Streak said...

bdw, I completely understand. good luck in your final.

12:08 PM

 
Blogger Tim Rogers said...

Brother Aaron,

If the latest comment by Bob Allen is supposed to help clarify that Drake is not truthful, it doesn't fill the bill.

Blessings,
Tim

2:16 PM

 
Blogger Bart Barber said...

Aaron,

Do they actually have people working at Intelligence Report (if they do, apparently the people don't have telephones). Do you think you could manage to be in contact with a real-live person over there. I would really like to know whether they contacted Drake before publishing the story.

7:43 AM

 
Blogger Big Daddy Weave said...

I think the Intelligence Project is just a department of SPLC.

But, let me send a personal email and see if I can get a name/number.

I notice the Intelligence Project and SPLC lists the same telephone number.

10:56 AM

 
Blogger D.R. said...

Aaron,

Now that your final is over are you going to re-instate the comments in the previous posts on Drake so we can continue that conversation about whether we need to ask more questions before calling for Drake's resignation? Also, was your source that Drake had been contacted not from the SPLC? Couldn't you just confirm to Bart that indeed you knew Drake had been contacted?

These are some questions I think we should ask before moving on in this discussion. And I promise I won't jump to conclusions until you answer them.

2:52 PM

 
Blogger Big Daddy Weave said...

D.R.

I sent an email to my friend (that I mentioned on the other comment thread). I know what I was told though not who told my friend. But obviously recent events require that I ask for some more info.

I leave Thursday to attend a wedding in Atlanta. Maybe I'll get a response by tomorrow. If not, I hope to have more of an answer when I return on Monday.

7:51 PM

 
Blogger Bart Barber said...

Thanks, Aaron.

6:44 AM

 

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