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Threats vs. lawmakers rise in response to health debate

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Threats vs. lawmakers rise in response to health debate

Threats against lawmakers have risen threefold in recent months, The Washington Post reports.

Lawmakers reported 42 threats in the first three months of this year, compared with 15 in last three months of 2009, said Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance W. Gainer, who had information about threats involving both chambers." Gainer said the threats ranged from "very vulgar to serious" and included death threats.

"Nearly all of the recent threats appear to come from opponents of the health-care overhaul," said Gainer, who also served four years as chief of the U.S. Capitol Police. And, he said, there have been "significantly more" threats against House members than against senators. Some members are reacting to the threats by canceling public events, but most haven't altered their routines, The Washington Post reports (Horwitz and Pershing, 4/9).

The Associated Press: A man has been charged in San Francisco with making dozens of threatening calls to the home of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and to her husband's office. A man arrested near Yakima, Wash., has been charged with leaving threatening messages at the office of Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. In Philadelphia, a man has been charged with threatening in a YouTube video to kill Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., and his family" (4/9).

The Christian Science Monitor: The man accused of threatening Pelosi will undergo a mental evaluation.

"On Thursday, a judge ordered that (Gregory) Giusti be evaluated to determine whether he is mentally fit to be released to a halfway house pending a trial, according to The Associated Press. . . . In an interview with ABC7 TV in San Francisco, Giusti's mother said her son had associated with people who held 'radical' views. But, she added, her son has long coped with mental problems, and that he was not capable of actually carrying out the threats" (Farrell, 4/8).

Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent news service. It is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health-care-policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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