The last of the imprisoned SHAC 7, Kevin Kjonaas, has been released from prison to a halfway house, having served nearly five years in a federal prison.
The SHAC7 are 6 activists and a corporation, Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty USA Inc., that were found guilty of multiple federal felonies for their alleged role in campaigning to close down the notorious animal testing lab, Huntingdon Life Sciences. They were never accused of actually smashing windows, liberating animals or even attending demonstrations, but rather reporting on and encouraging others to engage in legal demonstrations and supporting the ideology of direct action.
It has been almost 4 years and 9 months since Kevin went into prison. And after this many years I still have a hard time explaining what exactly he did, to get himself there. . When I tell people my boyfriend is in prison, I get some interesting looks at times. I, usually, then, just say it was basically protest related, in a sound bite, the government said they were part of a campaign to close an animal testing facility, and although they were never accused of doing anything illegal themselves, the prosecution's case said that they inspired others, by their website, newsletters, and speeches, to engage in illegal action.
Why a lengthy letter? Since it defies common sense that speech expressing encouragement and approval of actions that are nonviolent and, ordinarily, not necessarily even regarded as crimes in this society can not only be labeled "terrorism", but prosecuted as such, or how within days of an FBI deputy director stating that animal rights activists, particularly SHAC, were following the law - not breaking it, 7 SHAC members could be arrested, some background is necessary. The point of this letter is to convey some of that background.
The areas covered will include:
1. the legal history protecting speech now criminalized by dubious
2. the documented nature of the abusive and inhumane activities
which the SHAC protesters sought to halt
3. the pernicious, scientifically dubious and often legally
unnecessary intended purposes for which those activities were carried-out
4. the economic and political clout of the customers of the
enterprise conducting those activities
5. how this economic and political clout conspired to successfully target
environmental and animal-related activities under the umbrella "terrorism" in monumentally sweeping legislation
6. how this legislation was passed in a most egregious abuse of
the legislative process using a "back door" (i.e. under "suspended rules" when only 5
congressmen were on the House floor voting)
7. the disproportionate and extraordinary law-enforcement
resources that have been brought to bear to investigate non-violent activists to the detriment of the investigation of many other urgent concerns which have devastated our economy and society
8. the single-mindedness with which non-violent animal-rights and
ecology-related activists have been labeled terrorists while violent acts by extremist groups (e.g.white supremacists, neo-nazis, "Christian" militias, anti-abortion activists) have not been labeled as terrorism
So, here goes...
The prosecution took nine days(?) to present their case against Kevin and the Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) defendants. Corporate executives detailed what they had experienced because of their business relationship with Huntingdon. Prosecutors had them read aloud page after page of printouts from the SHAC public website, including action alerts, protest write-ups and anonymous communiqués. Although none of the defendants were accused of any of the crimes posted on the site, the government hoped to convince the jury that by identifying targets, posting personal information and unabashedly supporting illegal actions, they were part of a conspiracy.
On January 6, 2009, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia heard arguments in the case. U.S. attorney Glenn J. Moramarco spoke candidly about the government's motivations, acknowledging that "this case was never fought on the basis of what actually happened, by and large....This case was fought on the battleground of 'should we be held responsible for what other people are doing.'" As an example, he discussed a radio interview in which Lauren Gazzola said SHAC supports home demonstrations and property destruction. Moramarco said that such a statement of her political beliefs and her personal views was "tantamount to a confession." Jude Fisher, a justice appointed by GW Bush, verbatim response was, "so what." He was the only justice to argue in partial, for the defendants. [Potter, P. 230]
When the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals made their ruling, the court ruled that it did not matter that the defendants did not break the law; they were part of a conspiracy through their speech. In the case of Josh Harper (one of the defendants in Kevin's and the SHAC 7 case), the court said his two public speeches were constitutionally protected: "Harper's personal conduct does not cross the line of illegality; to punish him simply on the basis of his political speeches would run afoul of the constitution." However, the court ruled that he was guilty of conspiring to violate the Animal Enterprise Protection Act because of his public support of direct action, combined with his involvement in researching Huntingdon and organizing protests. [Potter, P. 230-231]
Historically, conspiracy charges have been used against political activists when the government cannot make anything else stick. The Chicago Seven, for instance, were on trial for conspiracy to riot and disrupt the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. In 1968 Dr. Benjamin Spock, the baby doctor, was convicted of conspiracy to "counsel, aid, and abet resistance" to the draft because he spoke out against the war. Evidence used against him included public speeches and news footage. The alleged SHAC conspiracy was even more amorphous, conflating not just words and actions, but a national organization and an entire underground
For two of the defendants, Darius Fullmer and Andy Stepanian, their only charge is conspiracy to violate the Animal Enterprise Protection Act. Fullmer sent emails about protests and helped research corporate targets online. Stepanian took part in protests, and one witness testified that he instructed protesters where to stand in order to comply with police.
[Potter, P. 98]
The ruling by the 3rd court of appeals in the SHAC case, departed from a long and unusually winding road concerning the first amendment in the Unites States. The courts ruling is reminiscent of the Schenck V. US ("you cant yell fire in a crowded theatre," ) which had nothing to with yelling fire in a crowded theatre, and dealt with political dissent, giving the first amendment its first real test. Charles Schenck was a leader of the socialist party and was protesting against the draft. Schenck was arrested while handing out pamphlets against the draft. He felt it was against his right of not being sent to forced labor.
He was arrested because he broke the Espionage Act of 1917. This allowed no talking badly or giving away information about our military. Schenck was convicted and thrown in jail. He appealed to the Supreme Court. He felt he was protected by the 1st Amendment and therefore the Espionage Act would be unconstitutional.
On March 3rd, 1919, the case was decided. It was the first time the rights of the 1st amendment were limited. In writing for the court Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., held the conviction of espionage. He stated that the first amendment did not protect speech encouraging insubordination, since, "when a nation is at war many things that might be said in time of peace are such a hindrance to its effort that their utterance will not be endured so long as men fight, and that no court could regard them as protected by any constitutional right." In other words, the court held, the circumstances of wartime permit greater restrictions on free speech than would be allowable during peace time. In the opinion's most famous passage Justice Holmes sets out the "Clear and Present Danger" test:
"The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing panic. The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that congress has a right to prevent."
In 1919, it really was a crime to hand out anti war pamphlets. The court ruled that you would be arrested and charged under the espionage act. It was ruled by the court that during times of war we as citizens can not be insubordinate to the war effort. Shencks insubordinations, in the court's mind, created a clear and present danger, equivalent to that of shouting fire in a crowed theatre.
Radical and heated political rhetoric, would be banned under clear and present danger until it was challenged in 1969. Charles Brandenburg, a KKK member, held a public speech, to which he invited the media. Brandenburg was charged with making a speech in which many klan members spoke and one of the speeches called for "revengeance [SIC]," against niggers, jews, and those who supported them. The Supreme Court made their decision on June 9th, 1969, and adopted the "incitement to imminent lawless action" standard a test even more speech protective than, 'clear and present danger." The case held that the government cannot punish inflammatory speech unless it is directed to inciting and likely to incite imminent lawless action.
The Brandenburg standard holds that even the most controversial and inflammatory speech is protected as long as it [is] not likely to incite "imminent and lawless action." According to attorneys, this is the first time a court has ruled that the written word--disseminated to a wide audience and focused on past conduct--has been construed as promoting, or resulting in, imminent and lawless action. [potter, p ?]
In 1966 in segregated Mississippi, an NAACP field organizer named Charles Evers helped organize a boycott of white-owned businesses. Store-watchers monitored who shopped there. They printed their names in the newspaper and read them aloud at churches. Violating the boycott had serious repercussions: people had been beaten, others had bullets fired through their windows. It was in this climate that Evers warned, "If we catch any of you going in any of them racist stores, we're gonna break your damn neck." NAACP v. Clairborne Hardware Co. was strikingly similar to the SHAC case in that it involved political hyperbole, personalized targeting, and a campaign with both legal and illegal elements. In 1982, the Supreme Court ruled that Evers's speech was protected by the Constitution. [Potter, P. 106]
On August 27th, 1966 while attending a protest and discussing police brutality,
eighteen-year-old Robert Watts stated, "I have already received my draft classification as 1-A and I have got to report for my physical this Monday coming. I am not going. If they ever make me carry a rifle the first man I want to get in my sights is [the president of the United States] L.B.J." A federal statute makes it a crime to "knowingly and willfully" threaten the life of the President. Watts was arrested, tried, and convicted in federal court for violating this statute. Watts argued the statement "did not constitute a 'threat' within the language of the statute." The Supreme Court took the case without hearing arguments, and ruled in a 7-2 decision in his favor. In their ruling, they ruled that, "the language of the political arena is often vituperative, abusive, and inexact." His speech according to the court was tantamount to political hyperbole.
The irony of it all is that the SHAC defendants' speech was relatively tame comparatively. They did not call for:
*the breaking of ones neck if they crossed a picket line (constitutionally protected by the supreme court)
* revengeance[SIC] of a political minority (constitutionally protected by the supreme court)
* or if they had a rifle, to set their sights on the president (constitutionally protected by the supreme court)
Not only was the SHAC 7 case mild in comparison in the broader political hyperbole of other protest groups, their speech was tame in comparison to those in the animal protection/ welfare / rights movement. On September 12th, 2007, the Minneapolis City Council was having a hearing as to whether or not they would ban circuses in the city (in part because of the welfare of the animals). City Council member Ralph Remington addressed an employee from Ringling Brothers Circus, Tom Albert. Remington was holding a bull hook (a large sharp object very similar to a pix axe, used to hit elephants in order to make them learn tricks). Remington stated to Albert, "this is a bull hook, If I slung that instrument into your side, would that be okay? Would you like to feel that?"
Vanik Thapar, India's top tiger naturalist appeared on CBS 60 minutes in November 2006, to discuss the issue of tiger poaching. The poaching problem had become so great that he told viewers that they needed to be defended by force. "In some cases you have to give shoot on sight orders. Well you have poachers who carry guns. If you see them, you have to shoot at them. You can shoot and say arrest them. It's like a war. Because people are out there to loot and plunder. They will kill if you don't kill."
Another CBS 60 Minutes program featured, yet again, controversial, over-the-top, statements in the name of animal rights. Jerry Vlasak, retired vivisector, and current heart trauma surgeon, talked about his transition from using dogs in research himself, to actively working to stop those that do. Vlasak justified his most noted quote, "And I don't think you you'd have to kill assassinate too many vivisectors before you would see a marked decrease in the amount of vivisection going on. And I think for 5 lives, 10 lives, 15 human lives, we could save a million, 2 million, 10 million non-human animals."
Vlasak, described what would be done to vivisectors, and Karl Buechner, of the hardcore (think heavy metal meets punk rock) band Earth Crisis basically described how it would be done. In Deliverance, Buechner sings:
"When education and peaceful protest can't bring their [animal] liberation the strategy for their rescue changes into militant intervention. Every action has an impact. Every life saved is a victory. The truth known by the caring few who wage guerilla warfare to end this atrocity. Severed locks, doors wrenched from hinges, the animals deliverance from torment and captivity. Vivisectors dragged into the street and shot as flames engulf the laboratory."
In Wrath of Sanity:
"The quest for their [animal] freedom won't cease until it's won. Reconcile your sins or your blood will have to run. You have no respect for life. Violence you can understand. Your turn to feel the pain. Retribution, from my hand!...A bullet for every demon. Only your blood can cleanse you of your sin. Your actions proved that you value profit over others lives. Images of your mutilated victims as I line you in my sight. The wrath of sanity unleashed. Justice on Judgement Night."
In The Order That Shall Be:
A future for species once pushed towards extinction. Animal murderers, violators of the innocent must die for their crimes. Driven by avarice, this world is a fucking nightmare. Blackened skies, deforestation, poisoned seas. This civilization's price isn't worth the fee. Perpetrators of this madness, your right to live is gone. Your burning bodies shall light the path to a glorious new dawn. If warnings go unheeded and pleas for mercy are ignored, our alternative to militant resistance is a half life in a dead world."
In addition to one of the defendants stating on a Seattle radio station, that she supported individuals going into Huntingdon Life Sciences (the contract testing lab, at the center of the campaign) and taking out animals (that got a "so what" from one of the judges hearing the case) the government also presented the individuals with count 29 of the indictment. In the indictment against the SHAC 7, count 29 read, "On or about October 21, 2002, the SHAC Website posted an announcement relating to signs that were posted in and around the Princeton, New Jersey area, which referred to CA [Carol Auletta, an HLS employee] as "deluded and deranged" and listed her home address and telephone number."
What the prosecution failed to mention, was this article was a repost from a local Princeton online News Station. This article was not written by animal rights activists. So what the prosecution says here is it is illegal for SHAC to FURTHER post the information of an HLS employee. It is important because this is public information being posted, not private
information being posted.
An op-ed in July on 2007 from an individual who had their home address put on an animal rights website, stated that the FBI confirmed that this was already public information posted on another website--this information wasn't secret -- however according to the indictment, it was one of the offensives they committed. Regardless of whether that information was public or not, Jane Mayer from the New York Post wrote a scathing article on the Koch brothers in August of 2010. In that article she included one of their home addresses. So you have the prosecution system here saying that it is not okay for animal rights activists to repost home addresses, but it is okay for others to do the same thing when it is not animal rights related.
You have the website targetofopportunity.com 'taking aim at the hatred of the left wing.' Under "enemy targets" you get the hit list. Andy Stepanian of the SHAC 7 is on there along with his old
home address. Much more heated rhetoric than the rhetoric animal rights activists used, and not criminal here because of the the politics here.
Here is the major point, you cannot treat anyone differently in the judicial system because of their political beliefs. In 1992 the supreme court ruled in RAV v. City of St. Paul, that," the
government can not regulate the first amendment based on the governments disagreement with the message." One can easily argue, that the government, particularly the prosecution, has treated the messengers differently, because of their message.
One might argue that this different or special treatment by special agents (as the FBI are often referred), is in part because of the money connected to all of this. Animal Rights activists here were going after the worlds second largest Contract Research Organization (CRO). A CRO is where pesticide/fungicide companies, agriculture companies, industrial chemical companies, and whoever wants something tested on animals, but do not have the ability to do it themselves, go to get their products tested on animals. These products are NOT required to be tested on animals. The FDA require that food and drugs be tested on animals* Roughly 80 percent
of the testing done at HLS is not required to be tested on animals. HLS has done tests for some of the worlds largest pharmaceutical companies. And tests there are a complete sham. With animals sharing 1.16 percent of human disease, you can always find an animal that will safely pass any test. Even anthrax in small amounts will not effect chimpanzees.
*(with some petition, objection, and argument, Tom's of Maine
successfully bypassed this law)
Some of those who have used HLS are: GSK, Novartis, Bayer, Pfizer & Roche, and some of the drugs they have released onto the market has had disastrous results. Just because the FDA requires new pharmaceutical drugs to be tested on animals does not mean that they will give accurate results to humans. Listed below are known HLS customers who's "safely passed" animal tests failed to predict they would have disastrous results in humans. Some of these drugs could have possibly been tested at HLS.
Accutane - (or Roaccutane) - 240 suicides - (Hoffman-La Roche)
Approved by FDA in 1982. Information on Accutane shows that a 1998 FDA memo recommended "active consideration of removal of Accutane from the market" and the FDA felt the company had not used good faith in making sure women had the information on Accutane regarding birth defects. The drug agency has counted over 160 Accutane birth defects. Many
believe the number of Accutane birth defects counted by the FDA is extremely low, especially considering doctors are not required to report Accutane linked pregnancies. At a recent FDA advisory committee meeting, Public Citizen director described Accutane birth defects, saying about 25 percent of babies born to mothers taking Accutane have serious birth defects and 50 percent are mentally disabled.
Baycol - (cerivastatin, or Lipobay) at least 100 deaths - (Bayer)
Bayer AG, Germany's third-largest drug maker, disclosed that as many as 100 deaths have been linked to Baycol. Baycol was first approved by the FDA in 1997. Bayer Pharmaceutical Division is voluntarily withdrawing Baycol (cerivastatin) from the U.S. market because of reports of sometimes fatal rhabdomyolysis, a severe muscle adverse reaction from this cholesterol-lowering (lipid-lowering) product. The FDA agrees with and supports this decision. Bayer AG has agreed to pay $1.08 billion to settle 2,825 Baycol lawsuits out of court.
Chioquinol - 30,000 blinded - many deaths - (Ciba-Geigy [who merged
with Sandoz to become part of Novartis]) Clioquinol was banned in Japan in 1970 and then removed from the world market in 1982. Users taking this drug developed a new disease called Subacute myelo-optic neuropathy (SMON). On August 3, 1978, the Tokyo District Courtruled that the cause of SMON is Clioquinol. Its manufacturer, Ciba-Geigy, has publicly stated that "Medical products manufactured and sold by us have been responsible for the occurrence of [SMON] in Japan, we extend our apologies." SMON is an iatrogenicdisease of the nervous
systemleading to a disablingparalysis, blindnessand even death. Its was largely an epidemic in Japan during the 1960s, affecting an estimated 30,000 people. In Japan, SMON victims filed over 5,000 lawsuits against the company. By 1981, Ciba Geigy had paid out over $490 million to Japanese SMON victims.
Isoprenalinebeta 2 inhalers (isoproterenol inhalers, Marked in different names, first sold by Allen & Hanburys as Salbutamol under the brand Ventolin )- varying reports, some set the number as high as 3,500 deaths from patients taking this inhaler during the 1960s in England and Wales. ( http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1316/is_n3_v27/ai_16615975/pg_5/
Opren - 61 deaths, 3,000 seriously injured - (Eli Lilly)
Introduced by Eli Lilly in 1980 and withdrawn in August 1982
Posicor - 143 deaths in (Roche)
On June 8, 1998, Roche Labs announced they were withdrawing Posicor from the market. At least 143 deaths as a result of patients taking Posicor with the majority of deaths due to heart arrhythmias
Prozac - 1,100 suicide attempts - (Eli Lilly) In a two-year period following the first lawsuit in mid 1990, more than 100 lawsuits were filed against Eli Lilly, seeking almost $ 1, 000,000,000 in damages by families of people who had committed suicide while on Prozac.
Redux (dexfenfluramine, commonly known as "Fen Phen") and Pondimin (fenfluramine)- 123 deaths in America (American Home Products owned by Wyeth and then bought out by Pfizer)
On January 3, 2002, a national settlement, valued at $3.75 billion, of the thousands of lawsuits brought against American Home Products to recover for injuries from taking the now-banned prescription drugs Pondimin (fenfluramine) or Redux (dexfenfluramine), both of which
were manufactured by American Home Products, received final judicial approval.
To date, the FDA has received reports of 123 deaths related to Fen Phen use.
A major trial lawyer went to seek damages from American
Home Products, for the distributor of fenfluramine (Pondimin) and dexfenfluramine
Estimates of total liability ran as high as $14 billion. As of February 2005, Wyeth was still in negotiations with injured parties, offering settlements of $5,000 to $200,000 to some
of those who had sued, and stating they might offer more to those who were most seriously injured. The FDA first approved Redux in 1996; it is no longer on the market.
Duract - 68 deaths (Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories)
Approved in July 1997; removed from the market in June 1998
Propulsid 429 deaths (Janssen Pharmaceutica) -Janssen faced over
5,500 liability suits in the United States over its heartburn
medicine. Propulsid had been approved by the FDA in tablet form in
1993; on March 23, 2000, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
announced that Janssen Pharmaceutica would halt its marketing of
Propulsid in the United States by July 14, 2000.In September, 2001, a
Claiborne County Circuit Court jury awarded $10 million to several
plaintiffs, sueing as a result of the drug.
Rezulin (troglitazone) - 63 deaths attributed to the drug (Parke-Davis produced by Warner Lambert)
The diabetes drug was manufactured by Warner-Lambert to treat type-2 diabetes, which led to at least 90 cases of Rezulin liver failures, including 63 deaths. Approved in 1997; pulled from the market in March 2000
Tanderil & Tandacote (contained compound oxyphenbutazone) 1182
deaths (Ciba-Geigy, a subsidiary of Novartis) Ciba-Geigy withdrew Tanderil from market worldwide in 1985
It is not surprising. In 1997 when Michelle Rokke worked at HLS, she witnessed glaring scientific failures. The scientific background of one of her fellow workers, was that they worked at McDonalds. While observing a scientists perform a shody scientific procedure, Michelle asked if he was suppose to perform it that way and his response was, "No, not suppose to, never saw it, never did it, cant prove it." (Page 67 of Michelle Rokke's diary found on <http://www.shac.net/>www.shac.net)
During another test, another scientists acknowledged the poor results of animal based testing. While standing over a primate, after administering a chemical substance to the animals neck, the scientist states to Michelle's hidden camera (unknown to him at the time) and I quote, "you might as well wipe your ass with that data." (video found on shac.net and transcripts on Michelle Rokke's diary at shac.net) Another HLS employee admits to Michelle, "All of the studies are so screwed up all the time because no one cares. No one cares if stuff gets done right and there's always problems. I feel so sorry for all of the animals. How would you like to be locked in a cage all of the time with nothing to do?" (p.58 of Michelle Rokke's diary found on (http://www.shac.net)
An article by Ken Serrano in the Home New Tribune Online in Nov 2007 revealed more problems for HLS. He reported that a worker was fired for refusing to falsify data, and was now suing the company.
Huntingdon Life Science director Dr. Ralph Heywood, stated to Animal Toxicity Studies, quote, "the best guess for the correlation of adverse reactions in man and animal toxicity data is somewhere between five and twenty-five percent," (Vivisection Absurd, 2006,
WWW). Translation, animal research when applied to humans has up to a 95% failure rate.
Former FDA head Commissioner Lester M. Crawford, acknowledged this high failure rate of animal research in his own words with a slight variation of the failure percentage. "8% of pharmaceutical drugs that pass through animal research methods, make it to Phase 1 and 2 clinical trials," he told a pharmaceutical conference in Italy in 2004 (PeTA, 2006, WWW). Or
another way to put it, animal research, as cited the head of the federal agency that requires it, has a 92 percent failure rate. I'm sure that we would never pass a student in a high school science class who is getting what would be an F- - -, not to mention, would we pass them onto college, with honors, and give them thousands of dollars in grant money. Every year the National Institute of Health, gives millions of dollars in research to these so called scientists.
Science has been about predictability. Always has, always will be. Take this for example. On anti-cancer drugs, here is the dismal record of vivisection: Despite screening over half a million compounds as anticancer agents on laboratory animals between 1970-1985, only 80 compounds (EIGHTY OUT OF HALF A MILLION) moved into clinical trials on humans. Of these, a mere 24
had any anti-cancer activity and only 12 appeared to have a "substantial clinical role" (Fadali, 1996, page 25). Let's look at this again. Half a million compounds known as anti-cancer
agents in animals are then tried as clinical trials on humans, 24 work. This study shows animal research to have a 99.99 percent failure rate when applied to humans. Animal research is not about solid predictability, and therefore should not be considered a solid scientific procedure.
Here are more examples of how different substances work differently, on different species. Morphine sedates humans, but stimulates cats; aspirin causes birth defects in rats and
mice but not in people; thalidomide works the other way around; penicillin is highly toxic to guinea pigs and hamsters; the common industrial chemical benzene causes leukemia in man but not mice; insulin produces deformities in laboratory animals but not in people; nitrophenol causes cataracts in humans, ducks and chicks but not other laboratory animals; serotonin, a naturally occurring chemical in the body, raises the blood pressure in dogs but reduces it in
cats; and doses of aspirin used in human therapeutics actually poison cats whilst having no effect on the treatment of fever in horses (Sharp, 1988, page72). Dr. Richard Klausner (a National Institutes of Health director) stated to the LA Times quote: "The history of cancer research has been a history of curing cancer in the mouse. We have cured mice of cancer for decades, and it simply did not work in humans." (Los Angeles Times, 2006, WWW).
What can work for animals, doesn't work for humans. In 1965, Ciba Geigy, estimated that of every 20 chemical compounds found safe therapeutically effective in animal tests, only one ever
becomes a prescription drug (Vivisection Absurd, 2006, WWW).
This makes sense. Our bodies are different. This is basic. A dog could drink from a puddle on the
street and not get sick if you or I did that we would get violently ill. Just as I wouldn't study feline leukemia in elephants, or ovarian cysts by artificially creating them in men we shouldn't
be looking at uniquely human ailments, crudely reproduced in non-human models that generally if ever at all suffer from such conditions.
Modern science has evolved so much that we now understand and should be treating disease on a molecular level. These molecular differences between species, between human
and animals, can lead to a huge variation in what diseases we are pre-disposed to, and how to treat them. Trying to extrapolate treatments from those genetically different, can, has, does, and will continue to lead to lethal consequences.
The animal model paradigm may have been useful a couple hundred years ago (perhaps not even then). Galen, considered to be the prince of vivisection extrapolated his findings from monkey, pig and goat to humans and concluded that blood flows from the right side of our heart to the left side through an opening in the wall that separates them. Wrong, false, not true.
The septum (intervening wall) in the human heart is intact. Blood must journey to our lungs to be aerated first before returning to the left side of the heart which then pumps it to every station: brain, liver, limb, bowels, everywhere, not missing tongue or heart. His
erroneous conclusions misled the Western world for 11 centuries. Imagine that: 11 centuries wandering on the wrong road (Fadali, 1996, page 11-12). Galen was also believed that the formation of pus, post surgical operations, was an essential part of the healing process;
wrong, an error that greatly retarded the progress of surgery (Sharpe, 1988, page 145).
Crazy, it sure is. But what is more crazy is how animal researchers test for serious mental illnesses. Animal models of anxiety are created by subjecting animals to unpleasant conditions such as electric shocks or by dosing them with chemicals known to produce anxiety in people and presumed to do so in animals. Development of new major tranquillizers, to treat serious
mental illness such as schizophrenia, mania, dementia and personality and behavior disorders, does not depend on animal models of the actual disease because these do not exist. Instead, drug development depends on animal models of the side-effects of already known drugs!
The idea is based on the assumption that specific side-effects often parallel a drug's useful effects. So if the test drug produces the same side-effects as already established medicines, it is presumed to have the same beneficial effects (Sharpe, 1988, page 211).
More than half (actually two thirds) of the award receiptients of the Nobel Prize for Physiology (since the inception of the award in 1901) has been given to non animal based experiments.
Many animal researchers point to the polio vaccine as a way to support animal experimentation; the truth is more complicated. The most important advance in the development of a polio vaccine came in 1949 when Enders, Weller and Robbins showed that the polio virus
could be grown in human tissue. They were awarded the Nobel Prize for this discovery. Despite this breakthrough, Salk and Sabin who are usually credited with the polio vaccines continued their reliance on traditional animal models and the use of monkey tissues.
[American Anti-Vivisection Society]
Sabin himself made an impressive argument against vivisection when he testified to the House Committee on Veterans Affairs in 1984 saying, work on prevention [of polio] was delayed by an erroneous conception of the nature of the human disease, based on misleading experimental models [of polio] in monkeys. By the experimenter's admission, using monkeys in his experiment was an impediment to finding a cure. [American Anti-Vivisection Society]
In the book, "Targeted: the anatomy of an animal rights attack" two pro animal researchers tell other researchers how to deal with an animal rights attack at a University. The researchers Lorenz Otto Lutherer (a researcher at the department of physiology at Texas Tech University) and Margaret Sheffield Simon, tell other researchers how to deal with a debate, when debating
animal research and the science behind it. rehearse three to five main points that can be made and repeated; and take the high moral ground, understanding that the debate will hinge upon emotional issues and not upon science. [Lutherer & Simon, P. 94]
Read again, understand that the debate will hinge upon emotional issues and not upon science.
Dr. Charles Mayo, one of the founders of the world renowned Mayo Clinic, one of America's most skilled and highly respected surgeons, a surgeon's surgeon, stated, quote, "I abhor
vivisection. It should at least be curbed. Better it should be abolished. I know of no achievement through vivisection no scientific discovery that could not have been obtained without such
barbarism and cruelty. The whole thing is EVIL," (Fadali, 1996, preface).
To me this is why I feel strongly about this subject. As Dr. Charles Mayo stated, it is evil. It causes pain, suffering, distress, and torture on sentient animal beings. It is important to stress that animals are sentient beings. The justification for using African Americans in gruesome experiments was because they were thought of (or lied about) as being non-sentient
beings. Racist Dr. Mosely wrote in his book, Treatise on Tropical Disease quote:
"Negroes are void of sensibility to a surprising degree. They are not subject to nervous disease. They sleep sound in every disease, nor does any mental disturbance ever keep them awake. They bear chirurgical operations much better than white peole, and what would be the cause of
unsupportable pain to a white man, a Negro would almost disregard." Unquote (Spiegel, 1996, page 65).
Any pet guardian (owner) will know that animals are sentient beings. They live in a give-love need-love relationship. Animal researchers try to explain to the public that animals are devoid of pain to justify their experiments.
It took years for abolitionists to convince society that black people were sentient beings, they could suffer from both emotional and physical pain, and therefore was unjust to perpetuate that pain and violence on them, and was unethical to use them for our benefit.
The same applies to animals. Elephants will weep when a loved one dies. They will bury their dead and visit the grave site for years. In the wild, sport hunters randomly shoot
the mates of waterfowl, some of whom pair for life. Often the surviving mate dies of starvation while mourning. Rats will sing to their partner after making love; and mourn the loss of their partner, sometimes being so emotionally weak that they will die. They will also laugh if you tickle them. Prairie Dogs utter different warning noises showing that they can count the number of predators entering a field, proof of a language in which we can distinguish 300 different calls. Jeffrey Masson cites the case of a parrot that unquestionably disproves the accepted belief that these birds can only repeat, devoid of context, remembered phrases. Left by his trainer at a
veterinarian's office the parrot pleaded, "Come here. I love you. I'm sorry. I want to go back," (PeTA, 2006, WWW) (Spiegel, 1996, page 27).
A common justification given for the continued use of animals in research is they are so like us. Yet at the same time, researchers claim we are able to test on animals because they are not like us (Rosebraugh, 1998, page 28).
Regardless of whether HLS produced the best scientific results, the manner in which they did it was unfathomably cruel.
Even industry insiders agreed that what they saw inside of HLS was disturbing. I remember I was able to walk into a talk at a pharmaceutical conference in Washington DC. Another anti-HLS activist walked in and disrupted the talk by shouting anti-HLS slogans. As a result of that the speaker at the time (Mary Hanley head of the Society of Quality Assurance) stated that what she saw at HLS was disturbing. This was a Society of Quality Assurance Conference. That
says a lot. And who wouldn't be disturbed by what went on inside of HLS.
Michelle Rockke, a PeTA employee, who got a job at the lab documented some of the most horrific events inside of a lab. She wore a hidden camera in the lining of her glasses and recorded and documented egregious acts of animal cruelty at HLS.
The HLS vet (Terry Kusnir) complaining how she did not want to attend a meeting on minimizing pain in animals and she knew others did not want to as well, so she would keep the meeting short. Terry said animals would never see animals in joy at lab. (P.15)
Dogs having heads slammed in doors (P.19)
Michelle witnessed a live animal being cut with a scissor until the animal was dead (p 23 & p 28) An animal was killed by their head being crushed when the cage door was shut on them. (p30) HLS employee was worried about other HLS employees throwing dogs against the wall (p.34) HLS will do contracts with customers that will NOT allow euthanasia for suffering animals (P.34) Technicians brag about diverting Quality Assurances attention while they were there for short periods. (P36)
HLS employees joked about primates dying in the extra colony, because the vet not knowing about bacteria or cleaning the cage in one year. (p. 37)
HLS employees talking about how they would love to yank out animals
teeth with pliers. (p. 38)
HLS employee joking about HLS being a circus with their gross
HLS employees laughs at a dog having brain damage due to another
workers incompetence. (p 46)
Primates being caged in research for years (p. 47)
Dogs locked in a 2 foot cage for a year (p. 56)
HLS worker acknowledges they are not compassionate enough (p. 57)
Some of the dogs have about an hour of human contact a day. (p. 63)
HLS will kill control dogs (dogs given an empty capsule). Michelle
asked them to not kill one of them, they looked at her and laughed.
HLS undertakes a P & G study that calls for no euthanasia for
suffering primates. (p. 65)
To prevent dogs from struggling during ECGs, HLS uses an (often
rusty) alligator metal clip. (p. 27)
HLS employee yelling at another HLS employee who was gentle with the
animals and told him to hurry things up. (p. 32)
An HLS employees at a primate (with his thumbs over the monkeys
throat), stop it before I bite your face. (p. 67, and because this is
HLS, it did not just happen once, different incident reported as well
on page 98)
Many HLS employees joked about monkeys dying of lung-shots (if a
naso-gastric tube is improperly placed in the animals trachea and
lung instead of their esophagus and stomach, the animal receives the
test material in the lung and dies within minutes). If you kill an
animal this way at HLS, your in the platinum club (a club that had a
list of names of all employees that were in it). An HLS employee
tells Michelle he had the most kills (on primates). He had also
killed a dog this way. Has had also broke a primates arm and the
primate had to be euthanized. (P. 67)
Someone broke a primates tail from improperly handling it, so the
primates tail had to be amputated. They had to do a total of four
different tail operations (because of their technical failures) and
it wasn't healing properly and the stitches kept coming out. (p 75)
An HLS employee complained that she had seen injuries on every single
primate in one room, from broken tails, to nearly-severed fingers,
all caused from people handling them improperly during tests and
procedures. (p. 75)
Employee talks about how she broke a primates leg (when trying to
catch the primate for testing). She had seen tails (YES MULTIPLE)
lying on the ground from people puling out primates tails (p. 75)
Four primates went without water for a week. (P. 75)
HLS employee operates on a primate with a dull razor. He began
hacking away at the arm, but his razor was so dull he took several
swipes to remove a chunk of flesh, the size of a lemon. The primate
was still very much alive during the procedure. Meanwhile another HLS
employee spells out his initials on the table with the primates
blood. (P 85)
HLS employee told Michelle that, A true scientist really has no need
for GLP [Good Laboratory Practices] because they're interested in
science and dont need documentation. (p. 89)
HLS employee told Michelle Huntingdon is using outdated practices
that have been around since the 60s and its time to move forward and
progress (p. 89)
Michelle saw an HLS employee lift up a sick dog by the back skin and
shake her. (p. 91)
A rack of mice and rats died after being put through the cage washer.
Some rats died after people forgetting about them and forgetting to
feed them. A whole room of rats were killed once, because the worker
that killed them thought they said, to go kill them. (p. 91)
HLS employee got mad at a dog. He took his anger out on the dog by
grabbing his face and twisting his head. (p. 97)
HLS employee smiled when he learned he had to kill a dog. (p. 97)
HLS gives no post surgical analgesics even to animals in pain. (p.
HLS employee slaps a monkey and says, he is a bad monkey. He needs to
be spanked. (p. 102)
HLS employee grabs a pig by legs and swings the pig out of the cage.
He has also grabbed pigs by hind legs and dragged them across the
floor on their face. (p. 102)
Rats are bleed by inserting a glass pipelette deep into their eyes,
hitting a vein and then they are held upside down to collect blood.
This was one of several undercover investigations into HLS. Happening at the same time on in England, Zoe Broughton was doing an undercover investigation at HLS' main facility in Huntingdon England. What she recorded was young beagle dogs being hit in the face and
violently shaken. Workers mocking sex acts with these young dogs. Dogs lying in pools
of their own fecal matter and pools of their own blood, waiting to die. When these images hit the airways in her documentary, "It's a Dog's Life," HLS" share price hit as low as the workers blow
to the dog they hit in the face.
HLS and their pharmaceutical conglomerate counterparts are literally, not figuratively getting away with murder. Whether it be animals or humans. When your have enough power to get away with murder, you're going to have enough power to get away with a lot of other things
that you want. Your wallets have to be pretty fat to pull this off.
According to the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics, pharmaceutical companies spent $900 million on lobbying between 1998 and 2005, more than any other industry. This would equate to $128 million a year. During the same period, they donated $89.9 million to federal candidates and political parties, giving approximately three times as much to Republicans as to Democrats. According to the Center for Public Integrity, the top twenty pharmaceutical companies and their two trade groups, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) and Biotechnology Industry Organization, lobbied on at least 1,600 pieces of
legislation between 1998 and 2004. According, the pharmaceutical industry they spent approximately $182 million on Federal lobbying. The industry has 1,274 registered lobbyists in Washington D.C, or just basically 3 lobbyists for every congressional representative.
In 2006, PACs representing the agribusiness industry gave $20 million to members of Congress, and the pharmaceutical industry gave $11.5 million. By comparison, the Humane Society's Humane USA PAC gave $123,000, and all environmental PACs combined gave about $514,000.
Lobbyists from these industries have lengthy legislative agendas of which the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act is but one small part, but their political influence is clear. In 2006, the Humane Society spent about $90,000, and Pfizer alone spent $11.8 million [Potter, P.165-166]
Compare these numbers to other large industries and their political wallets. In the 2006 election cycle, oil and gas companies contributed over $19 million to political campaigns. 82% of that money went to Republican candidates, while the remaining 18% went to Democrats.
It is estimated that the United States tobacco lobby spends an average of $106,415 each day legislature meets. In 2010 this would equate to $20,325,265.
The ten largest defense contractors in the nation spent more than $27
million lobbying the federal government in the last quarter of 2009,
according to a review of recently-filed lobbying records. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/01/21/top-defense-contractors-s_n_431542.html)
Top Contributors during 2009-2010 were National Rifle Association
$1,333,660, Safari Club International $364,624, Gun Owners of America
$143,955, Ohio Gun Collectors Association $18,000, National Shooting
Sports Foundation $7,900, and National Association for Gun Rights
Looking at the numbers further you have the pharmaceutical industry spending roughly $128 million a year on lobbying efforts. The tobacco industry spent $20 million. The oil & gas industry
spent $19 million. Defense contractors spent $27 million. In other words, the pharmaceutical lobby spent almost double the amount of the tobacco industry, oil & gas industry, & defense contractors combined.
One of the powerful players in terms of passing new laws is The American Legislative Exchange Council that was founded in 1973 by Paul Weyrich a conservative activist who famously coined the term "moral Majority" for Jerry Falwell in order to take his culture war to statehouses. Over time the mission of the organization changed. The focus shifted from winning cultural
hot-button issues like abortion to advancing a legislative agenda palatable to corporate benefactors. ALEC evolved into an efficient, well-funded and little-known conservative powerhouse. According to an expose by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Defenders of
Wildlife, ALEC became a Trojan horse used to roll a corporate agenda through statehouse gates undetected. More than one-third of all state lawmakers are ALEC members. In return, lawmakers pay dues, but not enough to even litter the bottom of ALEC's coffers. Dues from
state legislative members are a token amount of the overall operating budget, contributing about 2 percent of total revenue in 2000. About 97.9 percent of ALEC's $5.69 million in total revenue that year came from corporations and charitable foundations. Corporations including Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds, Amoco, Chevron, Shell and Texaco pay nearly all of ALEC's expenses. The more they pay, the more power they have. Basic membership is $7,000 per year. Joining
at increasingly elite levels the Washington Club, Madison Club, or Jefferson Club costs up to $50,000.
This is the heart of the Trojan horse. Power in ALEC does not come from political acumen, it comes from brute financial force. Corporations buy their way onto one of ALEC's specialized task forces. There, "legislators welcome their private-sector counterparts to the table as equals," according to one ALEC publication. Actually, the corporate counterparts are more than
equal. They have veto power. No bill is released from a task force without their approval. The result of such an arrangement are predictable. The task force on criminal justice, for example, has been con-chaired by a representative of Corrections Corporation of America, the nation's largest operator of private prisons. In 1996, ALEC issued model legislation to deregulate utility markets: the legislation was pushed by Koch Industries and Enron. [Potter, P.125-126]
Of the 1,600 pieces of legislation that the pharmaceutical industry lobbied on during 1998 and 2004, one was particularly important for the industry to stop radical protest campaigns against them the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act. But to get what they wanted in 2006 took many years to get to.
In 1989, Representative Vin Weber (R-MN) started the animal caucus (dubbed the "Animal Welfare Caucus") to support the legitimate use of animals. Bills specifically directed against persons committing break-ins in research and agricultural facilities were introduced in 1989. The
Animal Research Facilities Protection Act sponsored by Senator Howell Heflin (D-Ala.) passed in the Senate, but the companion legislation in the House, the Farm Animals and Research Facilities Protection Act introduced by Representative Charles Stenholm (D-Tex.), failed to get
out of committee prior to adjournment. [Lutherer & Simon, P. 149-150.]
During this same time in 1989 a coordinated campaign dubbed "Animal Research Action Plan," was starting to be waged by the American Medical Association. It's campaign focused on ideology, claiming that animal rights activists must be shown to be "anti-science" and "a threat to the public's freedom of choice." The association said the public must be aware of the threats activists pose to human advancement, and advocated labeling them militants and terrorists. [Potter, P. 244]
In 1990, Congress held a hearing in which law enforcement and industry groups called for a new federal law to target animal rights attacks. The bill should have slipped through, greased by the spate of arsons and the sympathetic White House of George H.W. Bush. Instead, the proposal was challenged by an unlikely source: Bush's own Justice Department. It may be difficult, post-9/11, to fathom the government declining new terrorism powers. For the U.S. deputy assistant attorney general at the time, though, it was a traditional, conservative defense of
limited government. "Despite our sympathy to the aims of some of these bills," Paul L. Maloney said, "the [Justice] Department cannot endorse the creation of new federal criminal legislation, which, in our view, could add nothing to the prosecution of these types of offenses." [Potter, P. 121]
Both bills, The Animal Research Facilities Protection Act in the senate (?), and the Farm Animals and Research Facilities Protection Act in the house(?) were reintroduced and passed, and the conference committee version was signed into law as the Animal Enterprise Protection Act in August 1992. [Lutherer & Simon, P. 149-150.]
In 2000, a mink raider pled guilty to violations of the animal enterprise protection act. It would not be until 2005 until another mink raider would plead guilty to violating the animal enterprise protection act. The pair committed their crimes in 1997.
It is interesting that, during this time period, even after the pair's crimes, the animal rights movement was not a pressing issue to the FBI. FBI Director Louis Freeh told European newspapers in 1998 that crimes by the ALF, ELF, and Earth First were not even on his radar screen. [Potter, P. 56]
With the rate of two convictions between 1992 and 2005, its hard to say that passage of the Animal Enterprise Protection Act was a pressing issue. As many animal rights activists would argue, it was more about an industry front passed law designed to scare activists away from legitimate protest and freedom of expression, and have a chilling effect on the movement. It would not be out of historical texts to argue that the industry tried to kill off a movement.
For decades, the cultural threat of communism was perceived to be so perilous that it had to be
confronted anywhere it surfaced. In a 1947 FBI memo, the government warned that this might include the classic Christmas movie "It's a Wonderful Life." The film's archetypal villain was old man Potter, a banker. Its director, Frank Capra, was reported by the FBI to have "associated with left-wing groups and, on one other occasion to have made a picture which was decidedly socialist in nature "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington."" [Potter, P. 242]
In 1948, twelve board members of the Communist Party were indicted not for attempting to overthrow the government, but much as with the SHAC defendants for conspiring
to advocate those ideas. [Potter, P. 134]
To create a chilling effect on the communist movement a law was introduced and passed that required anyone receiving "communist political propaganda" through the post office to authorize the delivery of each piece of mail. This legislation did not only say it was illegal to send or receive communist literature. It just said you had to sign for it. But that has the same effect, does it not? Only the truly fearless or clueless would voluntarily add their name to a list of people who received communist propaganda during the Cold War. So people didn't do it. The Supreme Court struck down the law. Justice William O. Douglas wrote in Lamont v. Postmaster General: "The regime of this Act is at war with the "uninhibited, robust, and wide-open" debate and discussion that are contemplated by the First Amendment." Douglas called this a "deterrent effect," and it would later become the legal concept known as a "chilling effect." The law was unconstitutional not because it banned subversive speech but because it chilled it, turning the free flow of ideas into a crystallized mass, silent and cold. [Potter, P. 135]
During this time period laws like this did create a chilling effect on those sympathetic to communism and the communist movement. The House Un-American Activities Committee
released a report in 1950 that labeled the [National Lawyers] [G]uild "The Legal Bulwark of the Communist Party." These government attacks took a heavy tool, and by the 1950s the organization had lost about four-fifths of its membership. [Potter, P. 172]
Much as communism was a cultural threat in the 1950s, the concept of animal rights is a cultural threat to todays lawmakers and industry representatives. In his influential position paper on the Animal Enterprise Protection Act, animal experimenter Edward J. Walsh advocated the law's expansion to respond not solely to threats of violence, but to threats to a way of life. He argued that even simple acts such as choosing to not wear fur, eat meat or attend rodeos "quietly, but effectively, promote the dissolution of our culture." [Potter, P. 246]
In the late 1990s and early 2000s
animal activists in the UK were targeting animal testing in ways new
and different than in the past. They were targeting the breeders of
animals to be used for vivisection. They not only protested against
the sites themselves, and engaged in illegal tactics like breaking
into these places, but they engaged in new tactics that included
tertiary targeting. Going after anyone connected to the breeding
facilities. They went to the marketplaces where the owners shopped
and got them banned from grocery stores. Executives not only had
protests outside of their businesses, but their neighbors were also
informed of what they did, in order to use them as leverage to
convince them to stop doing what they were doing.
These new developments in tactics
proved to be very effective. Several breeders closed up shop:
Consort Beagle Breeders, Hillgrove Cat Farm, Shamrock Monkeys, and
Organizers from these campaigns set
their sights on HLS in November of 1999. Stop Huntingdon Animal
Cruelty (SHAC) was formed.
This latest development of diversity
of tactics, primarily focusing on tertiary targeting shook up
Washington. The AEPA dealt with how to handle animal rights
activists that went beyond traditional protest at facilities, but did
not include dealing with legitimate protest against tertiary targets. Even
considered legal in the eyes of most in the general
public, including the Massachusetts supreme court, tertiary targeting
to those in Washington was something they wanted to get done with.
According to a 2000 FBI memorandum, FBI officials met and talked
about what they would do if the SHAC problem came to the United
States, and came to conclusions as to what they would do to put an
end to it all.
Industry insiders were well aware of
the treat, and looked at their chalk boards as to what to do next.
It would almost be like the American Medical Association, �Animal
Research Action Plan,� campaign on 1989, where they wanted to sway
public opinion into believing that animal activists, by nature, were
militants and terrorists. It would be hard as two years previously
the FBI director had told newspapers animal activists were not even
on his radar.
Industry insiders took advantage of
September 11th, hysteria, by using this as a means to
label animal activists as terrorists, and create a further chilling
effect on the movement.
On the day the Twin Towers fell, Don
Young, a U.S. Representative from Alaska, told the Anchorage Daily
News the attacks might have been the work of the ALF [Animal
Liberation Front] or ELF
[Earth Liberation Front]. �I�m not
sure they�re that dedicated, but eco-terrorists--which are really
based in Seattle�there�s a strong possibility that could be one
of the groups,� he said. [Potter, P. 124]
In October 2001, U.S. Representative Scott McInnis and other
Republicans sent a letter to the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, National
Wildlife Federation, Earth justice, World Wildlife Fund, League of
Conservation Voters and Natural Resources Defense Council. "As
our Nation begins the recovery and healing process following the
tragedy of Sept. 11, we believe it is critical for Americans of every
background and political stripe to disavow terrorism in all its forms
and manifestations," the letter said. The organizations were
told that they must publicly denounce the ALF, ELF and similar
groups, which have committed sabotage "no less deplorable"
than the World Trade Center attacks. They were given a deadline, and
it was implied in press statements that if they declined they would
be investigated. The leaders of the national environmental movement
all pledged their loyalty oaths. [Potter, P. 191.]
In 2003, Ron Arnold who claims to have
pioneered the use of the term�eco-terrorism,� was hired as an
expert consultant by the University of Arkansas Terrorism Research
Center. The project was funded by a grant from the National
Institute of Justice, the research arm of the Justice Department.
Arnold�who has told the New York Times, �we want to destroy
environmentalists by taking away their money and their members��was
paid by the government to advise law enforcement on the terrorist
threat he helped fabricate. [Potter, P. 61]
In 2003, the Justice Department�s
Office of the Inspector General audited the FBI and provided
recommendations for improving its terrorism investigations. The
audit raised multiple concerns with the bureau�s treatment of
animal rights and environmental activists as terrorists. Foremost
among them were communications problems within the FBI, and the
quality of terrorism intelligence sent by the bureau to state and
local law enforcement. The audit revealed that the FBI�s weekly
Intelligence Bulletins and Quarterly Terrorist Threat Assessments
often focused on political activists. The inspector general
recommended that the FBI�s intelligence updates focus on �domestic
terrorist activities aimed at creating mass casualties or destroying
critical infrastructure, rather than information on social protests
and domestic radicals� criminal activities.�
More important, the audit warned that
the FBI�s focus on animal rights and environmental activists placed
public safety at risk. In one of its six recommendations, the
inspector general�s office advised the FBI to stop investigating
animal rights and environmental activists as terrorists and to shift
these cases to the FBI�s criminal division. The FBI�s definition
of domestic terrorism has become too broad, the report said: �A
more focused definition may allow the FBI to more effectively target
its counterterrorism resources.�
The FBI refused. Steven C. McGraw of
the FBI�s inspection division responded in a letter to the
inspector general that these groups have �caused considerable
damage to the U.S. economy� and that the Joint Terrorism Task
Forces are the best way to investigate them. Although the inspector
general�s office does not have the power to override such refusals,
the office wrote back and reiterated its concerns: �we believe that
the FBI�s priority mission to prevent high-consequence terrorist
acts would be enhanced if the Counterterrorism Division did not have
to spend time and resources on lower-threat activities by social
There have been some indications that
federal law enforcement�s focus on political activists has had
consequences. An investigation by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer,
relying on former FBI officials, revealed that the bureau knew of
pervasive fraud in the mortgage industry and its potential for
national and international economic crises. However, the bureau did
not have the resources to investigate. After September 11th,
about 2,400 FBI agents were reassigned and highly skilled white
collar crime investigators were shifted to domestic terrorism
Juxtapose this with the fact that of
these 2,400 agents investigating white collar crimes (which could
have possibly lead to the prevention of the 2008 financial meltdown),
several of these agents went on to investigate this �more
important� lead instead. In a 2006 bulletin to federal, state and
local law enforcement agencies, the Department of Homeland Security
warned about eco-terrorism like �flyer [sic] distribution� and
�tying up company phone lines.� [Potter, P. 240]
(flyer drop in Oakland)
�We knew we had a broader problem,
but you�ve got a Justice Department and the administration saying
you need to concentrate on domestic intelligence and
counterterrorism,� a retired high ranking FBI official told the
paper. �It wasn�t very popular to ask for resources for
anything. It was dead on arrival.�
Homeland security operations have been
similarly criticized within Washington. In 2005, U.S. Representative
Bennie G. Thompson, who is the ranking member on the House Committee
on Homeland Security, issued a report with six other committee
members criticizing the department for focusing on �eco-terrorism�
while not addressing the threat of right-wing terrorists. �If DHS�
long-term planning documents do not consider these and other risks
posed by right-wing domestic terrorists,� the report said, �then
lower-level agents working to fight these groups may not be receiving
enough budgetary, policy or administrative support from their
superiors. This means possible threats to our homeland could go
undetected.� [Potter, P. 236-238]
The pharmaceutical band still played
on, an they still marched on, touting animal rights activists as the
number one domestic threat in this country.
The pharmaceutical industry had their
first big break at passing a new law on May 18, 2004. This would be
one of several hearings into weather or not congress should pass new
laws making legitimate protest campaigns illegal. John E. Lewis,
assistant deputy director for the FBI was called by the Senate
Committee on the Judiciary to speak on a hearing dubbed, �Animal
Rights: Activism vs. Criminality�
His statement would seem quite contrary
to what those would wanted this new law pass hear. He stated, �While
some ALF activities have involved direct actions covered by this
statute, such as animal releases at mink farms, the activities of
SHAC generally fall outside the scope of the AET statute. In fact,
SHAC members are typically quite conversant in the elements of the
federal statute and appear to engage in conduct that, while criminal
(such as trespassing, vandalism or other property damage), would not
result in a significant, particularly federal, prosecution. �
It may not have been what the
pharmaceutical representatives wanted to hear. A deputy director for
the FBI stating that animal rights activists, particularly SHAC, were
following the law - not breaking it.
Ironically within days of this
statement, 7 SHAC activists were arrested in this country and charged
with breaking the law that the FBI deputy director said days
beforehand, they were not breaking.
At one of the first hearings of the
SHAC 7 case, the defense immediately brought up this fact, that even
a deputy director of the FBI said the individuals charged with the
crime were not breaking the law. Charles McKenna, the prosecutor,
stood dumb faced, and stumbled over his words, �Well I tried to
call Washington, but they never returned my calls.�
The next time congress would meet would
be almost a year later, on May 18th, 2005. The Senate�s
Committee on Environment and Public Works would specifically examine
the Earth Liberation Front �ELF� and the Animal Liberation Front
After this, it would be yet another
year until congress would meet on the AETA, this time meeting on May
23, 2006. The House Judiciary subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and
Homeland Security would hear about the AETA.
Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) expressed concerns about the hearing.
Refusing to attend, he submitted a statement in which he first
expressed approval that the hearing's original title, "The
Threat of Animal and Eco-Terrorism," had been abandoned. Leahy
wrote: "Most Americans would not consider the harassment of
animal testing facilities to be terrorism, any more than they would
consider anti-globalization protestors or anti-war protestors or
women's health activist to be terrorists�I think that most
Americans would rather that we address more urgent concerns that
really do pose a serious threat to this country and to the world."
Senator Leahy also noted that although he had suggested to Chairman
Hatch to include an additional witness at the hearing who would
balance out the proceedings with a different perspective on the
issue, Chairman Hatch declined to do so. Some senators submitted
statements that countered the testimony of those seeking increased
restrictions on animal activism.
Then-Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) stated; " I do not want people
to think that the threat from these organizations is equivalent to
other crimes faced by Americans every day. According to the FBI,
there were over 7,400 hate crimes committed in 2003--half of which
were racially motivated�.The FBI reports 450 pending environmental
crimes cases involving worker endangerment or threats to public
health or the environment�.So, while I appreciate the Chairman's
interest in these fringe groups, I urge the Committee to focus its
attention on larger environmental threats, such as the dangerously
high blood-lead levels in hundreds of thousands of children."
This is the same Obama who also comapired the ALF, with other
liberationists such as Denmark Vesey, Frederick Douglass, and Harriet
Tubman. In his book, Audacity of Hope, Obama writes, �slaves
and former slaves, men like Denmark Vesey, and Frederick Douglass and
women like Harriet Tubman who recognized power would concede nothing
without a fight. It was the wild-eyed prophecies of John Brown, his
willingness to spill blood and not just words on behalf of his
visions, that helped force the issue of a nation half slave and half
free. I'm reminded that deliberation and the constitutional order may
sometimes be the luxury of the powerful, and that is has sometimes
been the cronks (?), the zealots, the prophets, the agitators, and
the unreasonable--in other words, the absolutists--that have fought
for a new order. Knowing this, I can't summarily dismiss those
possessed of similar certainty today--the anti abortion activist who
pickets my town hall meeting or the animal rights activist who raids
a laboratory--no matter how deeply I disagree with their views. I am
robbed even of the certainty of uncertainty--for sometimes absolute
truths may well be absolute. �[Barack Obama Audacity of Hope,
Senator James Jeffords (I-VT) similary attempted to put the
accusations of terrorism into proper perspective: "ELF and ALF
may threaten dozens of people each year, but an incident at a
chemical, nuclear or wastewater facility would threaten tens of
He questioned why the Senate's Committee on Environment and Public
Works was examining the issue of animal rights terrorism when it
lacks jurisdiction over law enforcement. Jeffords also expressed his
disappointment that Representative Bennie Thompson (D-MS) had not
been permitted to testify, even though Thompson was on the House
Committee on Homeland Security.
Notably less than a month prior to this hearing, Thompson authored a
report entitled, "10 Years After the Oklahoma City Bombing, the
Department of Homeland Security Must Do More to Fight Right-Wing
Terrorists," in which he criticized the Department of Homeland
Security for focusing its counterterrorism efforts on "left-wing"
domestic groups, such as the ALF, "which promote nonviolence
toward human life" and not "right-wing" domestic
groups, such as white supremacists and neo-Nazis.
Perhaps the most vocal opponent of animal enterprise terrorism laws
at the hearing was Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ): "The
Oklahoma City bombing killed 168 people. The attacks of 9/11 killed
3,000. Since 1993, there have been at least five fatal attacks on
doctors who performed legal abortions [now there have been 6]. Eric
Ruldolph recently pleaded quietly to placing a bomb in a public area
during the Olympic Games in 1996, as well as bombing a Birmingham
women's clinic and a gay nightclub. All of these cases involved the
loss of human life. To date, not a single incident of so-called
environmental terrorism has killed anyone�.Let us not allow
ourselves to be blinded to the more serious threats posed by those
who have taken innocent lives." Lautenberg also warned against
assuming guilt by association; the act of one individual should not
lead to accusations of terrorism for an entire organization. Timothy
McVeigh, he said, belonged to the National Rifle Association: "that
doesn't make the NRA a terrorist group." Lumping legitimate
activists with terrorists is dangerous, he argued, in that it
"minimize[s] the very real threats against our society."
In a written statement, Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX)
expressed concerns echoing those set forth by the lone AETA-opposing
witness, Potter: namely, that the AETA would criminalize acts
protected by the Constitution.
[Bobby] Scott�a prominent figure in
the Congressional Black Caucus, a go-to guy in the House on civil
rights and civil liberties issues�acknowledges that this
�terrorism� law could target nonviolent civil disobedience.
�There are some who conscientiously believe that it is their duty
to peacefully protest the operation of animal enterprises to the
extent of engaging in civil disobedience,� he says. �If a
group�s intention were to stage a sit-in or lie-down or to block
traffic to a targeted facility, they certainly run the risk of arrest
for whatever traffic, trespass or other laws they may be breaking.
But they should not be held more accountable for business losses due
to causes such as delivery trucks being delayed any more than a
boycott or protest against any other business.
�To violate the provision of the
bill, one must travel or otherwise engage in interstate activity with
the intent to cause damage or loss to an animal enterprise. While
the losses of profits, lab experiments or other intangible losses are
included, it must be proved that such losses were specifically
intended for the law to be applied.�
In other words, those who
conscientiously believe that it is their duty to peacefully protest
through civil disobedience could be labeled terrorists, but only if
they intend to hurt corporate profits. [Potter, P.166-167]
At the last hearing on the AETA on May
23, 2006, Bill Delahunt, a Democrat from Massachusetts, asks to make
a final comment. All of the crimes that were mentioned by the
witnesses today, are already crimes under state law. Redundant
statutes burden the federal government and shift power from the
states, Delahunt says. Federal resources are limited. He says
industry groups should instead lobby state officials, because they
could address these crimes more efficiently and quickly than their
federal counterparts. [�]
One letter of support [for the AETA
bill] is from Mark Bibi, general counsel for Huntingdon. He says
SHAC�s campaign has been �enormously successful,� and new
legislation is needed because the group�s model poses a continued
threat to other corporate interests. �The risks posed by SHAC and
its ilk should not be underestimated,� Bibi says. �Imagine the
impact if SHAC tactics were used by those opposed to various other
industries from defense, to mining, to oil, to timber, to who knows
what else.� [Potter, P. 139]
One of the co-sponsors of the AETA
bill, Randall �Duke� Cunningham, resigned from the House a year
earlier after pleading guilty to accepting at least $2.4 million in
corporate bribes. [Potter, P. 160]
The National Association for Biomedical
Research (NABR) purchased a full-page ad in Roll Call. The paper
covers Capitol Hill and is read daily by Congressional staff. The ad
featured a black-and-white photograph of a vandalized office. On the
wall, in bright red spray-paint-style lettering, it said �Your home
is next.� At the bottom of the page, it said �SUPPORT THE ANIMAL
ENTERPROSE TERRORISM ACT.�[�]
The coalition created to pass the AETA
into law had a lot of money. On of the things they were a little
skimpy on was security, and an anonymous source has leaked many of
the group�s internal documents, which reveal a carefully
orchestrated campaign to label activists as terrorists by spreading
NABR�s bio medical coalition internal
talking points are written with startling candor. They reveal these
groups� description of what they see as the true threat of the
animal rights movement. Activists are dangerous not because of
violence, or the potential for violence. �These tactics have been
very successful,� the talking points say, in �damaging the
financial footing of corporations involved in animal enterprise.�
The argument about labeling non-violent activists is still there.
The state department and the UN would challenge this rhetoric in
2004. Both the State Department's and the UN Security Council
Resolution 1566 (2004), which helps codify international law
concerning acts of terrorism, do not include violence against
property. To say that activists that break into labs, steal animals,
destroy the equipment used in the experiments, are terrorists, now
goes against what these governmental agencies is a real terrorist.
(P. 12)( Punishing Protest--Government Tactics That Suppress Free
Speech, by Heidi Boghosia and the National Lawyers Guild. 2007
National Lawyers Guild)
Even with this coordinated campaign by
multinational corporations and industry leaders, the Animal
Enterprise Protection Coalition knows it still does not have the
votes it needs in order to pass the AETA. Two of the coalition�s
internal lobbying documents are political scorecards. They have rows
for every member of Congress, and columns for support of the Animal
Enterprise Terrorism Act: �Yes,� �Leaning Yes,� �Leaning
No� and �No.� According to the scorecards, only four of one
hundred senators support the legislation. That explains why the
Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act was rushed through the Senate, on the
last business day before Congressional recess for the elections, with
no discussion or debate. As a result, it passed by �unanimous
On the House side, support is equally
scarce. According to the scorecard, only 27 of the 435 members of
the House�6 percent�support the legislation. One should treat
that tally conservatively. Most of the rows and columns on the
scorecard are blank, and only solid �yes� votes are marked.
Lobbyists were clearly erring on the side of caution, which is
normal, and only tabulating the most solid votes. That being said,
even if the number of supporters is eight times higher than the
coalition has recorded, the legislation will fail on the House floor.
[Potter, P. 162]
It does seem that those who were a yes for this law were more of a
yes for financial reasons. Representative Stenholm has tirelessly
pushed for the Farm Animals and Research Facilities Protection Act
and then its amended version, the AEPA. Throughout his congressional
career, the US agricultural industry--which includes animal
agriculture--gave Stenholm more than $2.5 million in donations. Of
this amount, from 1998 on, the agricultural services/products
industry contributed $666,795; the crop production and basic
processing industry contributed $786,460; and the following
industries contributed a total of $1,106,008: food and beverage, food
processing and sales, egg, dairy, poultry, and live stock. Stenholm's
top two contributors were the American Farm Bureau and the National
Cattlemen's Beef Association. The Dairy Farmers of America and the
United Egg Association also were among Stenholm's top ten
contributors. Restriction pressure from animal protection groups is
just what these donors wanted.
Other sponsors of the AEPA had financial ties with animal industries.
Representative Thomas Ewing (R-IL) enjoyed campaign contributions
from political action committees such as the American Meat Institute,
Dairy Farmers of America, Inc., Milk Industry Foundation, and the
National Cattlemen's Beef Association; the late Representative
Herbert Bateman (R-VA) had over $100,000 in personal investments in
Smithfield Foods, the world's largest producer and processor of pork;
and Representative Dave Camp (R-MI) owned more than $750,000 worth of
stock in pharmaceutical companies that profited from animal
vivisection, namely, Abbot Laboratories, Dow Chemical, Johnson &
Johnson, Pfizer, Inc., Schering-Plough Corp., and Wyeth. The Houses
Committee on the Judiciary held hearings on the AETA on 2006. The
chairman was Representative James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) who had deep
financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry. In 2006, Sensenbrenner
owned significant stocks and bonds in various pharmaceutical giants,
such as Abbot Laboratories, Inc., (over $500,000), Pfizer (over
$600,000), and Merck & Co. ($1.3 million). Altogether $2.4
million in one time Huntingdon Life Sciences customers.
It is 2:46 p.m. on November 13th,
2006, and lawmakers who spent the morning grandstanding about causing
trouble are back in their offices, or at events related to Dr. King�s
memorial. Only five lawmakers have gathered here on the House floor. They
barreling through a string of bills, assembly-line style,
as part of an obscure procedure called �suspension of the rules.� Members of
Congress have busy schedules, and this procedure lets
them, as the Congressional Research Service says, �act
expeditiously on relatively non-controversial legislation.� Each
bill gets forty minutes of debate, then an up-or-down vote, then a
push out the door.
It�s usually so uneventful that many
members of Congress don�t bother attending. Representative Sheila
Jackson Lee made an appearance to praise the Houston Dynamo, �who
are now the 2006 Major League Soccer Cup champions, as they won it
just yesterday in front of thousands of soccer fans at Pizza Hut
Park.� A few minutes earlier Representative Mike Castle urged his
colleagues to rename a bridge in Delaware after the man who created
the Roth IRA.
The next bill does not cheer sports
teams or rename bridges. Representative James Sensenbrenner hopes to
use this quick-and-dirty procedure for the Animal Enterprise
Terrorism Act. [Potter, P. 164-165]
[R]epresentative Dennis Kucinich of
Ohio speak[s] against the legislation.[�]
They [(Sensenbrenner & Kucinich)]
go back and forth briefly about the purpose of the bill, and
Sensenbrenner says it is needed to combat tertiary targeting.
Kucinich says lawmakers could more effectively fight extremists by
addressing the extreme cruelty that motivates activists. �I just
think that you have got to be very careful about painting everyone
with the broad brush of terrorism who might have a legitimate
objection to a type of research or treatment of animals that is not
humane,� Kucinich says. �this bill is written in such a way as
to have a chilling effect on the exercise of people�s First
Amendment rights.� [Potter, P. 169]
After 40 minutes of debate the bill
effecting thousands of animal rights activists goes to vote with 5
congressional representatives. The bill passes.
Two days later November 15th,
2006, legislation honoring the St. Louis Cardinals for winning the
World Series comes to the House floor under the suspension of the
rules. More members of Congress attend and make comments about
baseball than were in the room for the terrorism legislation at the
start of the week. To record where members of Congress stand on this
issue, Representative Virginia Foxx wants a tally of the vote, a move
not made for the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act.
�Mr. Speaker,� she says, �on
that I demand the yeas and nays.� There were 395 yeas, no nays,
and only 37 members not voting.
Representative Charlie Norwood, a
Republican from Georgia�Dr. King�s home state�could not make it
to the terrorism vote or the baseball vote. To let the American
people know he was not shirking his democratic responsibilities, he
submits a �personal explanation� to the congressional record on
December 5th. �Mr. Speaker, on roll call No. 523, H.
Res. 1078, congratulating the St. Louis Cardinals on winning the 2006
World Series, had I been present, I would have voted �yes��.
[Potter, P. 173-174]
On November 27th (?), 2006,
then president Bush signs into law the Animal Enterprise Terrorsim
Later, student activists in Massachusetts protested the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act outside the office of their U.S. Representative, James McGovern. They demanded answers, and they got some; the headline in the local paper summed it up: "Animal protesters get results." After meeting with McGovern's staff in his office that afternoon, protesters were given a statement from the congressman stating that he does not support the law, he would have voted against it if he had known about
a vote, and he would advocate for repeal. Outside McGovern's office, a young woman held a cardboard sign that read, "you can't scare the green out of me." [Potter, P. 178]
The injustice of the AETA's viewpoint discrimination is not lost on even those who oppose the activities of animal activists. Mike German, a former FBI agent, after going undercover to investigate a domestic terrorist hate group, had this perspective on the unfair result of the application of such a law: "[T]o create a law that protects one particular industry smacks of undue influence and seems
to selectively target individuals with one particular political ideology for prosecution. Why does an 'animal enterprise' deserve more legal protection than another business? Why protect a butcher but not a baker?" [ quote in Muzzling a movement]
After being wrongfully convicted in their case in the SHAC 7 trial, Kevin Kjonaas, Jake Conroy, & Lauren Gazzola looked at 23 & ½ years if the judge sentenced
them to the max. [I]n comparison, the average sentence is about twenty-one years for murder, eight and a half years for sex offenses and six and a half years for arson. [Potter, P. 151]
With the signing of the AETA occurring 11 days after the Kevin, Jake, Lauren, Josh, & Darius turned themselves in, they were so closely associated with the implications of the new law, the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act and the dreaded
word that went along with it, "Terrorism." Imagine this, animal rights activists being charged with terrorism, for not harming anyone, yet the government did not seek the terrorism enhancement in the case of Zacarias Moussaoui, convicted of conspiracy in connection to the September 11th attacks.
In the pacific Northwest, a self-avowed white supremacist named Jacob Albert Laskey threw swastika-etched rocks through the windows of a Eugene synagogue while members were inside. Among the many charges against him, Laskey also solicited help in murdering a potential witness and called in a bomb threat to a federal courthouse in order to disrupt a grand jury. While he awaited sentencing, Laskey sent a letter to Resistance Magazine advocating for execution cells to break into homes and kill their
targets in front of wives and children. He advocated using "shoot and scoot" tactics to kill political officials as they returned home from work, because the televised funerals would amplify the message. Soliciting a bomb threat against the federal courthouse is listed as a federal crime of terrorism, and Laskey admittedly
intended to influence the government, but prosecutors never sought the terrorism enhancement. [Potter, P. 186]
Eric Rudolph, whose string of fatal bombings included abortion
providers and a gay nightclub, did not face terrorism charges.
Environmental activists charged with property crimes, however, are
being given "terrorism enhancements" in increasing numbers.
(P. 21)( Punishing Protest--Government Tactics That Supress Free
Speech, by Heidi Boghosia and the National Lawyers Guild. 2007
National Lawyers Guild
Joseph Stack flew a plane into an IRS building, killing himself and an IRS manager. Members of the self-proclaimed Christian militia Hutaree were arrested for allegedly
plotting to assassinate federal, state and local police officers in hopes of sparking an antigovernment revolution. An anti-abortion activist murdered Dr. George Tiller. A white supremacist opened fire at the Holocaust museum, killing one person before killing himself. In government statements, legal proceedings and press reports, the word terrorism has been conspicuously absent from any discussion of
these crimes. [Potter, P. 236-238]
Demetrius "Van" Crocker, a former member of the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement,
was found quilty in 2006 of attempting to purchase sarin nerve gas and C-4 explosives as part of a plan to blow up government buildings with a "dirty bomb." Crocker had also made a version of Zyklon B, the gas used in Nazi concentration camps.
A hero of anti-abortion extremists, Clayton Waagner, proclaimed he was on a mission from God to murder clinic employees. He stole cars, stockpiled weapons, gathered home addresses, broke out of prison when he was arrested and, when recaptured, admitted mailing more than 550 letters in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks that contained white powder and notes that read, "You have been exposed to anthrax. We are going to kill all of you." Waagner was associated with the Army of God, and in 2003 he was found guilty of more than fifty federal charges including threatening to use a weapon of mass destruction. William J. Krar, a white supremacist from Texas, pleaded guilty in 2003 to possessing a weapon of mass destruction. Police found a sodium-cyanide bomb powerful enough to kill everyone in a 30,000-square foot building thousands of people along with nine machine guns, more than sixty pipe bombs, remote-control explosive devices and some 100,000 rounds of ammunition.
The FBI consistently downplays, and even omits, crimes like these when discussing terrorism. Instead of acknowledging them, the bureau says that in the three years following 9/11, every act of domestic terrorism, except for one, was the work of animal rights and environmental activists. In that time period alone, the National Abortion Federation tracked hundreds of attacks by anti-abortion extremists: twenty-four assaults, eight arsons, seven attempted bombings/arsons, 240 acts of vandalism, forty-eight bomb threats, twenty-four anthrax threats, and twenty-four death threats. From 1977 to 2009, anti-abortion activists committed eight murders. None of these crimes are recorded by the FBI as acts of domestic terrorism. [Potter, P. 45-46]
Its not just "terrorism" or non-terrorism that is different in the legal world for different political parties.
Take for example what others have said and done, and gotten away with, that an animal rights activist saying or doing would not get away with.
An activist, David "Gypsy" Chain was killed by a threatening logger. On September 17, 1998, a video of the scene showed A.E. Ammons, saying if the activists did not move he would "make sure I got a tree coming this way." Then he did just that. The local district attorney refused to press charges against the logger. [Potter, P.84, A Good Forest for Dying by Patrick Beach, Doubleday 2004,
Former Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin posted Gabrielle Giffords name on her website under cross hairs. Representative Giffords was eventually shot in the face.
As Judy Gumbo Albert, a founding member of the Yippies, said of the 1971 Weather Underground bombing of the Capitol building, "We didn't do it, but we dug it." SHAC posted disclaimers on the website saying the group did not engage in illegal activity, but supported those who did. [Potter, P. 96]
Greg Schumacher [owner of Schumacher Fur's in Portland, with 112 years of business] put signs in his window threatening violence. One read: "ALL PROTESTERS SHOULD BE!
*BEATEN* STRANGLED*SKINNED ALIVE*ANALLY ELECTROCUTED," the fate suffered by the animals that became his coats. [Potter, P. 179]
Al Gore, one of the most respected and mainstream faces of the
environmental movement, has called for lawbreaking, saying, "I
can't understand why there aren't rings of young people blocking
bulldozers." [Potter, P. 192]
After wall street brought on the financial meltdown of 2008, and the
public learned that bankers bonuses were being paid with taxpayer
money, many were very upset, and very vocal about how they felt. A
March 9th (?) 2009 NYT brings to issue, what anti-bankers
could get away with that animal rights activists would be arrested on
federal terrorism charges if they tried the same thing. "Populist
rage over 168 million in bonuses being paid to employees of A.I.G.
many of whom were responsible for insuring the credit default swaps
and overvaluing derivatives. U.S. Senators and Congressional reps.
Are demanding to name and shame these exec's. In testimony before
congress A.I.G. CEO Edward Libby said he would give them the names
but requested Congress keep them under seal because death threats
have been pouring in and the employees are afraid for their lives.
With the same indignant rage as fomented during the French
Revolution, A.I.G. employees are being threatened to being strung up
with piano wire and violence is even being directed towards their
families and children. Some groups are even organizing protest bus
tours to the homes of key exec's. Rep Barney Frank, made cognizant
of these threats, offered little sympathy and pursued this "name
and shame" pandering policy and stated to the effect, tough
Now does that make him complicit in a conspiracy under the federal
stalking statute, by aiding and knowingly putting person(s) in
reasonable belief of a threat to their lives of safety?
CNBC's Jim Cramer ranting on his program "Mad Money" that "we
should hound them in the supermarket, we should hound them in the
ballpark, we should hound them everywhere they are."
--Book, "Too Big to Fail", by Andrew Ross Sarkin, Page 532
Its more than just protecting one industry and not protecting another. Take for example the disproportionate sentenced an NON-activist got for a crime of property destruction towards an animal enterprise. The owner of a pet shop burned down a pet shop (an animal enterprise) and spray painted "No more exploitation of animals" in black spray paint outside the front door. He was not an activist and his motivations here were not to put the entity out of business (which an activist may have that motivation for doing the same crime), but his motivations were not activism-related and were for financial reasons( he wanted to get money by insurance fraud). He got a 2 year, 9 month sentence, one of the accomplice got 2 years 5 months, and the other got 30 days (to be fair he was a minor at the time and usually smaller sentences are given to minors).
Now compare that to sentences of animal rights and environmental rights activists who ALSO attacked an animal enterprise or planned to engage in property destruction. Consider the past couple of cases. Eric McDavid 20 years, who planned to attack a dam; Marie Mason, who destroyed a gmo research center got a 22 year sentence. Nathan Block and Joyanna L. Zacher were indicted, arrested, and were originally looking at facing life plus 1,115 years in prison for their roles in two separate actions of property destruction. . Daniel McGowan was looking at life plus 335 years, for two separate actions of non violent property destruction for targeting an office of a lumber company, and a tree farm that was believed to be testing genetically engineered trees.
Tamara Meridith of Canyonville was arrested on 35 counts of first degree arson. The motivation was "overtime." Meredith was only convicted on two counts; the evidence was "circumstantial", which apparently doesn't carry the weight in Roseburg that it does in Circuit Court in Eugene. After putting 600 firefighters at risk of injury and death, and costing tax payers a few hundred thousand dollars a day (not including the damages to the forest), Ms. Meredith was sentenced to three years (
Since the SHAC 7 conviction there has been some challenges to the AETA and similar like it. On February 19 and 20, 2009, the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force arrested four California animal rights activists, the first arrests under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act. There had been a wide range of both legal and illegal tactics against animal experimentation at University of California campuses, including the destruction of university vans.
Nathan Pope, Adriana Stumpo, Joseph Buddenberg and Maryam Khajavi were not arrested in relation to these crimes, however. Much like the SHAC defendants, they were not accused of any property destruction or violence. According to the indictment, the defendants allegedly chanted loudly at home demonstrations (including "murderer leave town, terrorist leave town"), and used the Internet to research public information about animal experimenters. They also allegedly wore bandannas at protests, which is an increasingly common response to FBI harassment and photography, and wrote slogans on the public sidewalk using children's sidewalk chalk.
Individually, these acts all clearly fall outside the scope of criminal behavior. Combined, however, prosecutors argued, chanting, researching, wearing masks and chalking slogans amounted to a campaign that instilled fear in those protested. In the lead-up to trial, the government revealed some information about the extent of government surveillance, including the use of DNA testing. At a time when states say they do not have money for the expensive testing in death penalty cases testing that has exonerated innocent people on death row the government has acknowledged using DNA testing on protesters' bandannas.
In July 2010, a U.S. District Court threw out the indictment because the government did not clearly explain what, exactly, the protesters had done. The Center for Constitutional Rights and attorney Matthew Strugar had argued that the charges should be dropped because they seemed to involve First Amendment-protected activity, and that in order to make that argument the defendants' speech must be clearly identified. Judge Ronald M. Whyte agreed, saying that the government had not answered basic questions about the defendants' alleged conduct and the activists had the right to know specifically what they did that could be considered a crime. "This is particularly important," he said, "where the species of behavior in question spans a wide spectrum from criminal conduct to constitutionally protected political protest." [Potter, P. 232-233]
In Minneapolis, two animal rights activists were arrest, charged, and convicted for holding signs, chanting, and making comments about animal abuse at a fur store
(Ribnick's Fur). The activists directed their comments at individuals, consisting of shrieking and yelling through a closed window and stating that they knew where Ribnick and his mother lived and they knew his license plate number, the court ruled this did not constitute fighting words. The court overturned their conviction and
ruled, "No reasonable jury could have found that any of appellants' statements constituted fighting words as that phrase has been defined." (
Well, there you have it. My attempt at presenting the context,
background, and effects of the passage of a patently unconstitutional
law intended to intimidate and silence the animal rights movement,
the first use of which was to try and make the SHAC 7 defendants an
example to all would-be protesters against animal abuse. The
battlegound has, of course, since moved to the states where, as of
this spring, legislatures in three states (Florida, Iowa and
Minnesota) had recently introduced bills to criminalize taking photos
and videos of animals being mistreated on factory farms while doing
absolutely nothing to stop the widespread animal abuse that these
undercover investigators document. Fortunately, these efforts are
beginning to meet some resistance from a public deservedly suspicious
about the consequences for their food safety that this lack of
transparency would signal. Hopefully this attempt at overreach by
agribusiness interests may awaken the public and add energy to the
attempt to repeal the AETA.
As Kevin will be getting out, it looks like Congressman Dennis
Kucinich might be introducing a bill asking for the repeal of the
AETA. From the Equal Justice Alliance:
Just a quick update on what's happening with a bill to repeal AETA.
We're working closely with Congressman Kucinich's staff who are
reviewing the repeal bill we've drafted and our position paper.
Unfortunately, Kucinich will be losing his district in Nov. 2012 because of the census. I expect that he will be introducing the bill in the Fall. Once he does, we will need to have in place a network to communicate quickly with everyone and when to contact Congress to co-sponsor the bill.
To be successful in repealing AETA, we need a large and efficient
network; therefore, we just set up a Facebook page. It would be great
if you would go on the Equal Justice Alliance Facebook page and "like"
us and get your friends and family to "like" us, too. Also, we are
now on Twitter -- our handle is: @The_EJA.
The following books are worth checking out.
Many of the quotes and information I got for this little essay I wrote
came from these books:
Beyond Bullets: The Suppression of Dissent in the United States by Jules Boykoff
Muzzling a Movement: The Effects of Anti-Terrorism Law, Money, and Politics on Animal Activism by Dara Lovitz Greeen is the New Red: An Insider's Account of a Social Movement Under Siege by Will Potter
In the mean time, join me in welcoming
He will be at Volunteers of America
(aka a half way house), until he is released to go home.
You can write to him there if you want:
2825 E. Lake Street
Minneapolis, MN 55406
There will be an unofficial release
party on September 24th, and his official release party on
October 31st. All are invited to come.
Also watch the following trailer for a documentary coming out soon about
August 30th, 1963
"We must mark him now...as the most dangerous Negro of the future in this nation from the standpoint of national security."--FBI Assistant Director William Sullivan on M.L. King
September 28th, 2004
"There's been no other movement that has brought as much violence and
destruction and vandalism."--FBI Deputy Assistant Director John E. Lewis
on Animal Rights.
Thursday, August 04, 2011
The last of the imprisoned SHAC 7, Kevin Kjonaas, has been released from prison to a halfway house, having served nearly five years in a federal prison.