In a meaningful turn of events, witnesses before the House Sub-Committee on Forests and Forest Health claimed that the terrorists are truly among us - and even in our refrigerators!
Among the groups of people singled out as "terrorists" or "terrorist supporting" included ice-cream makers Ben & Jerry's Inc. as well as several public interest organizations ranging from the well-known Ford Foundation to the highly-visible and controversial People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Though the primary questioning before the Sub-Committee was slated to be directed toward former ELF spokeperson Craig Rosenbaugh, representatives of several multi-national corporations were on hand and offered testimony of their own in which they made clear their belief that various groups advocating "domestic terrorism" [in the form of non-violent direct action against corporate property] are bieng financed by and share "interlocking executive boards" with various progressive companies and organizations throughout the North American continent.
The hearings opened much as was expected with the primary witness, Craig Rosenbaugh, who was present under Congressional subpoena, invoking his Fifth Admendment rights as granted under the Consititution of the United States. The chair of the sub-committee openly taunted Mr. Rosenbaugh's legal strategy and flatly informed him and his legal counsel that the sub-committee would likely reconvene for the purpose of charging him formally with Contempt of Congress. The hearing took on an almost absurd tone at one point when one of Mr. Rosenbaugh's inquisitors alluded to the recent Enron hearings and former CEO Kenneth Lay's continual invocation of the Fifth Admendment. As was pointed out at a press-conference following the hearing today, though, no similar sub-committee meeting is expected to be convened for the purpose of charging Mr. Lay with Contempt.
The remainder of the hearing did little to dispel the sense of absurdity as verbal jousting broke out between the chair of the sub-committee and individual members who took exception to the characterization of specific organizations, among them Mother Against Drunk Driving and the Turner Foundation, as "tax-exempt terrorist-financers" and a female Federal Forest Service employee was chastised before the sub-committee for making what some Representatives from timber states called "unfounded allegations" of harrasment by employees of timber companies who opposed enforcement of Federal environmental regulations. When other Forest Service employees suggested that some timber companies engage in "timber theft", several of the Representatives on the sub-committee reacted belligerently and suggested that the Forest Service was falsifying data and that any "cutting oustide the bounds of authorized timber sales" was due to ongoing attempts to destroy beetle infestations.
One of many solidarity events took place today in Portland, OR. The purpose of this was to voice our opposition to the blatant disregard that the "Subcommitee on Eco-terrorism" is showing for all non-corporate interests.
What happened in the hearing today is not suprising given the context in which we live right now. It may be shocking to those who cling to the notion that we live in a representative system, but it is becoming harder and harder not to see the ruthless face our government tries to hide behind its mask of propaganda.
It is obvious that our government will not listen to us. The fact that they are trying to marginalize such main-stream organizations as Ben and Jerry's points to the totalitarian power they feel they have over the people. So, if we are going to strive for social and environmental justice, the question changes from "what are THEY going to do" to "what are WE going to do". Apathy is not neutral at this point. It is collusion with the largest terrorist organization in the world: the U.S corporate-military complex