corporate press on the ELF and SUVs
short but interesting story on abcnews.com about the ELF and SUVs...
"SUVs Under Attack
Ads Call Them Vehicles for Terror; Environmentalists Firebomb Them"
By Dean Schabner for ABC News
Jan. 10 — Who's the bigger terrorist, the guy who lights a firebomb under SUVs in an auto dealer's lot, or the guy who drives one home?
Sport utility vehicles, the gas-guzzling titans of the road that have dominated auto sales in recent years, have recently become the target of firebomb attacks in at least two states by a group the FBI refers to as domestic terrorists.
At the same time, in a pair of new television ads, a nonprofit group called the Detroit Project links driving a sport utility vehicle with more money being put in the hands of terrorists. The ad campaign comes on the heels of another anti-SUV campaign mounted by the Evangelical Environmental Network that asked, "What would Jesus drive?"
"This campaign is not designed to demonize SUV drivers," said columnist Arianna Huffington, who came up with the idea for the Detroit Project commercials and announced that the two ads were coming in an essay in October. "We want to encourage customers to connect the dots and make socially responsible consumer choices."
The column referred to remarks by Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham that "reducing our nation's dependence on imported oil is crucial to our national energy security," and cited a CIA report that Iraq uses the money it receives from oil sales — money that, according to U.N. sanctions, is supposed to be used for food and medicine — to finance Saddam Hussein's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs.
Huffington said she had received 5,000 e-mails by the next morning from people offering to help pay for the campaign.
'I Helped Hijack an Airplane'
The ads, written and directed by Scott Burns, who worked on the Got Milk? campaign, are patterned after the antidrug ads that connect white, middle-class marijuana users with drug-related violence and terrorism.
Video: Watch the SUV Ad Campaign
One of the ads begins with a child's voice saying, "This is George. This is the gas that George bought for his SUV." It proceeds step by step from an image of a man filling up the tank of his SUV with gasoline to images of Islamic terrorists, ending with the child saying, "And these are the terrorists who get money from those countries every time George fills up his SUV."
The ad, which shows a map of the Middle East, with Saudi Arabia and Iraq highlighted, ends with the words, "Oil money supports some terrible things. What kind of mileage does your SUV get?"
The other ad features people sitting in SUVs saying things such as, "I gassed 40,000 Kurds," "I helped hijack an airplane," and "I helped blow up a nightclub." It ends with their voices saying in unison, "We did it all by driving to work in our SUVs."
Though the ads are not scheduled to begin airing until Sunday, they have already generated controversy. ABC affiliates in Los Angeles and New York, along with KCBS in Los Angeles and WDIV, the NBC affiliate in Detroit, have said they will not run them.
A More Radical Approach
Huffington said she wants people to think about more fuel-efficient alternatives to the gas-guzzling SUVs, many of which get less than 10 miles per gallon. Instead, she encourages people to drive hybrid vehicles that get around 50 miles per gallon.
"The moment of truth for me came when I was taking my kids to school one morning and I saw a massive SUV with five flags," she said. "And I thought to myself, 'You know what, it would have been much more patriotic to dump the thing rather than have five flags on it.' And that applied to me, too. And that was November 2001. I gave up my SUV."
Huffington and her group may not want to demonize SUV owners, but that has not been a problem for the members of the Earth Liberation Front. Members of the loose radical environmentalist group have recently expanded their targets from luxury housing developments and lumber companies, which had borne the brunt of the group's assaults since it began activity in the mid-1990s, to include auto dealers selling the massive vehicles.
ELF is believed to be behind the firebombing of more than 30 SUVs, mostly in auto dealerships, in Virginia last summer and fall. No one was hurt in any of the fires, though some of the attacks occurred in driveways in residential neighborhoods.
'Pathological Decadence' Answered With Violence
The most recent attack came early on New Year's Day, when jugs of gasoline were ignited under three new SUVs ready to be sold at the at Bob Ferrando Ford Lincoln Mercury auto dealership in suburban Erie, Pa., causing an estimated $100,000 worth of damage to the vehicles. The group took credit for the attack on its Web site in a statement that connects the desire for such vehicles with world poverty and the destruction of the environment.
"Western civilization, with it's [sic] throw away [sic] conveniences, it's [sic] status symbols and it's [sic] unfathomable hoards of financial wealth, is unsustainable, and comes at a price. It's [sic] pathological decadence, fueled by brutality and oceans of bloodshed, is quickly devouring all life and undermining the very life support systems we all need to survive," the statement says.
"There is a direct relationship between our irresponsible over-consumption and lust for luxury products, and the poverty and destruction of other people and the Natural world. By refusing to acknowledge this simple fact, supporting this paradigm with our excessive lifestyles and failing to offer direct resistance, we make ourselves accomplices in the greatest crime ever committed," it continues.
In the statement, ELF also accused the "mainstream environmental movement" of failing to have any real effect on protecting the environment, and said that the group had no belief that "the legal system of the state" will take any steps to protect the environment, as long as there are commercial interests opposed to that goal.
"Therefore, the E.L.F. will continue to fight to remove the profit motive from the killing of the natural environment, and to draw attention to that which is deliberately concealed from them by the forces that control our lives and destroy our homes," the statement says.
The FBI, which has long considered ELF a domestic terrorist group, recently added a member of the group, Michael Scarpitti, also known as Tre Arrow, to its most-wanted list.
Scarpitti, who is accused of a pair of arsons in Oregon, including the fire at a sand and gravel pit in Portland that did an estimated $200,000 worth of damage, is the first suspected member of ELF to make the FBI's list.
It would be difficult to argue that SUVs, with their excess carbon dioxide emissions, are not worse for the environment than other vehicles, or that, unless they are made to be drastically more fuel-efficient, increase American reliance on petroleum.
But less clear is whether if the United States imports more oil from the Middle East, it is also funneling more money to terrorists.
While Huffington cites sources who seem to support her arguments, other experts do not share that view.
"There is no reason to make the nonsensical argument that an increase in oil consumption leads either directly or indirectly to an increase in funding for terrorism," said Fawaz Gerges, a professor of international affairs and Middle Eastern studies at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, N.Y.
Osama bin Laden, for instance, has been able to fund much of his al Qaeda operation from his own massive fortune, said Gerges. That money has been supplemented by money raised by groups masquerading as Arab or Islamic charities and from legitimate businesses operated by supporters of terrorism, he added.
While Gerges is critical of Saudi Arabia for its support of the Islamist movement and its lack of cooperation with the U.S. investigation of charities suspected of operating as front groups for terrorist financing, he said the Saudi royal family would be committing "political suicide" if it funded terrorist groups such as al Qaeda, which are set on overthrowing the Saudi government.
"I think what some people are trying to do by linking Saudi Arabia to the finance of terrorism is rubbish," he concluded.
Vahan Zanoyan, president of PFC Energy, an energy advisory firm in Washington, D.C., said he believed the connection between increased oil consumption in the United States and funding for terrorism was convoluted and indirect at best, but that does not mean Americans shouldn't be thinking more seriously about the mileage their vehicles get.
SOURCE URL: http://abcnews.go.com/sections/us/DailyNews/suv_terror030110.html
"I think we should conserve energy more, but not because of this argument," he said. "The United States is a very inefficient country in terms of energy consumption."
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