Will the Feds Call George Tiller’s Murder Terrorism?

There have been two ring wing terrorism incidents in less than two weeks: the murder of women's health care provider George Tiller and yesterday's shooting at the Holocaust museum by a neo-Nazi activist. There are reasons to consider these acts of terrorism. Lindsay Beyerstein on whether Tiller's assassin will be charged with terrorism, in the Huffington Post:

The Oklahoma City bombers were investigated by the FBI and tried under a 1994 federal anti-terrorism statute, and that was before the PATRIOT ACT, which presumably makes it even easier to prosecute terrorism as a federal crime today.

Tiller's murder was terrorism by any reasonable definition of the term. It was a politically-motivated act of conspicuous brutality, designed to suppress abortions through fear. The feds will probably stop short of investigating Tiller's murder as a terrorist attack. That designation would unleash vast federal powers to investigate large swathes of the radical anti-choice movement and hold accountable anyone who gives them the slightest aid and comfort. The feds are simply not prepared for the political fallout that would ensue if, say, Operation Rescue were officially designated as a terrorist organization.

But Tiller's assassination seems to be working as an intimidation tactic. On Tuesday, Dr. Tiller's family announced that his clinic, one of only three facilities of its kind in the country, will close its doors forever. Tracy Clark-Flory writes in Salon that the terrorist got exactly what he wanted:

A lesson in the effectiveness of terrorism: Dr. George Tiller's Kansas clinic is closing permanently,according to his family's lawyers. In a statement Tuesday, the family said: “We are proud of the service and courage shown by our husband and father and know that women's healthcare needs have been met because of his dedication and service.” They will continue to honor his memory “through private charitable activities” — in other words, the type of activism that is less likely to get a person killed.

Of course, the intimidation won't stop at a single act.