by David Phinney
Saturday August 8th 2020

Insider

Archives

U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson “Soft” on Clinic Bombers

The U.S. judge who renewed the top secret court order demanding that Verizon provide information on all calls in its system to the National Security Agency “on an ongoing daily basis” was appointed to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court on May 4, 2006. His term ended just days after signing the order on May 18, 2013.

U.S. Judge Roger Vinson’s seven-year term on the FISC panel fits perfectly within the period that Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., claims that the sweeping vacuuming of telephone records has been taking place.

We don’t know if Vinson’s signature is on the controversial court orders for the past seven years, but he did preside over a controversial 1985 case involving the bombings of abortion clinics in 1985 — and was accused of being soft on terrorism.

The trial involved two young men convicted of bombing three Florida abortion clinics on Christmas Day. During the trial, the bombers claimed religious convictions. Found guilty, Vinson sentenced the two to 10 years in prison, although they faced up to 65 years. Vinson’s ruling triggered outrage. Patricia Law Jones, president of the local National Organization of Women, said the sentence sent a message that “if you want to be a terrorist, come to the northern district of Florida.”

President Ronald Reagan appointed Vinson to the Northern District Federal Court of Florida in 1983. During his 1983 Senate confirmation hearing, Vinson stated that drugs were “the most serious overall crime problem facing this country,’ and therefore he “would favor maximum sentences in those cases.”

Vinson’s stand on maximum sentences for terrorist bombers of abortion clinics appears to be more lenient.

Serving on the northern Florida bench makes Vinson, a Navy vet, neighbor to the U.S. Central Command headquartered in Tampa. CentCom’s theater of operations includes countries in the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia — most notably Afghanistan and Iraq. Chief Justice John Roberts, a Republican, appointed Vinson to FISC.

Share