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Activists of all stripes take notice! The government is coming after activists...

And I don't want to see any more crap about how there are more important things to worry about than animals in labs (as was the response to the posting about the 7 SHAC arrests a few days ago). You activists who could give a shit about the torture and suffering of innocent creatures better take notice and speak up now, because if this goes through, you're next.
ZNet | Terror War

Animal Rights Arrests

by Will Potter; May 27, 2004

The Bush administration sent a calculated message to grassroots political activists this week: The War on Terrorism has come home.

FBI agents rounded up seven American political activists from across the country Wednesday morning, and the U.S. Attorney's Office in New Jersey held a press conference trumpeting that "terrorists" have been indicted.

That's right: "Terrorists." The activists have been charged with violating the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act of 1992, which at the time garnered little public attention except from the corporations who lobbied for it. Their crime, according to the indictment, is "conspiring" to shut down Huntingdon Life Sciences, a company that tests products on animals and has been exposed multiple times for violating animal welfare laws.

The terrorism charges could mean a maximum of three years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The activists also face additional charges of interstate stalking and three counts of conspiracy to engage in interstate stalking: Each count could mean up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Since September 11, the T-word has been tossed around by law enforcement and politicians with more and more ease. Grassroots environmental and animal activists, and even national organizations like Greenpeace, have been called "eco-terrorists" by the corporations and politicians they oppose. The arrests on Wednesday, though, mark the official opening of a new domestic front in the War on Terrorism.

Bush's War on Terrorism is no longer limited to Al Qaeda or Osama Bin Laden. It's not limited to Afghanistan or Iraq (or Syria, or Iran, or whichever country is next). And it's not limited to the animal rights movement, or even the campaign against Huntingdon Life Sciences. The rounding up of activists on Wednesday should set off alarms heard by every social movement in the United States: This "war" is about protecting corporate and political interests under the guise of fighting terrorism.

To use a non-animal rights analogy, these activists are the canaries in the mine. They are part of a relatively new, isolated social movement, and therefore more vulnerable to attacks on civil liberties. But what happens to them now will happen to other movements soon enough.

The activists arrested are part of a group called Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty, an international organization aimed solely at closing the controversial lab. The group uses home demonstrations, phone and email blockades, and plenty of smart-ass, aggressive rhetoric to pressure companies to cut ties with the lab. It has worked. The lab has been brought near bankruptcy, after international corporations like Marsh Inc. have pulled out their investments.

To most, this is effective-- albeit controversial-- organizing. According to the indictment, though, it's "terrorism" because the activists aim to cause "physical disruption to the functioning of HLS, an animal enterprise, and intentionally damage and cause the loss of property used by HLS."

That's like saying the Montgomery bus boycott, a catalyst of the civil rights movement, was terrorism because it aimed to "intentionally damage and cause the loss of property" of the bus company.

It seems the biggest act of "terrorism" by the group is a website. Members of the group are outspoken supporters of illegal direct action like civil disobedience, rescuing animals from labs, and vandalism. Whenever actions-legal or not-take place against the lab, the group puts it on the website. The activists are not accused of taking part in any of these crimes.

Such news postings are so threatening, apparently, that the indictment doesn't even name the corporations that have been targeted. They are only identified by single letters, like "S. Inc." or "M. Corp."

"Because of the nature of the campaign against these companies, we didn't want to subject them further to the tactics of SHAC," said Michael Drewniak, spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's Office in New jersey, in an interview.

Some of the wealthiest corporations on the planet, and the U.S. Attorney's Office must protect them from a bunch of protesters. This is what the War on Terrorism has become: The Bush administration can't find real terrorists abroad, yet it spends law enforcement time and resources protecting corporations from political activists.

The lawsuit is so outlandish that some activists, who asked that they not be identified, said they don't think it is intended to win. Instead, they see it as an important political move in the War on Terror. In a hearing before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee just last week, a U.S. Attorney said the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act needed to go further to successfully be used against Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty. If this lawsuit fails, the Justice Department can say, "We told you so."

So, these activists face a double-edged sword. If they lose, they go to prison, and are labeled "terrorists" for the rest of their lives. If they win, it could be fodder for an even harsher political crackdown.

Their only chance is for activists of all social movements-- regardless of their political views-- to support them, and oppose the assault on basic civil liberties. Otherwise, in Bush's America, we could all be terrorists.

Will Potter is a freelance reporter in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Chicago Tribune, Dallas Morning News, and Chronicle of Higher Education, and closely follows how the War on Terrorism affects civil liberties.
"could all be" ?!? we're ALREADY "terrorists" 01.Jun.2004 01:24

enemy combatant

you're either WITH us or AGAINST us.

(and to all you pseudo-Democrat-One-Party-Corporatist Kerry boosters reading this: just wait 'till you see what your Homeland Skull & Bones Security-USA Patriot boy does if he 'wins' the 'election' in November.)

Support How? 01.Jun.2004 06:16

Dandelion

I read about this somewhere recently, and saw the possible repercussions immediatelly. To say "scary" is an understatement. It seems the primary "offense" these people were involved in was actually the use of electronic civil dis. which is a tactic that several other movements have applied to their causes as well.

Anyone remember the "virtual sit in" at the white house last year, and how it shut the internet, and phone systems of the entire building down for an entire day?

I think the use of the "T" word to describe animal, and environmental groups is a sign of the government's frustration at their inability to infiltrate, catch, and "bring to justice" groups like ELF, and ALF. So they are left with their only other option which is to burn at the stake if you will, any and all people they catch that could be in anyway linked to a radical enviro group.

So here is my question. I can run around all I want screaming "this is what the government did, be pissed, be upset, this is a violation!" and some activists will listen, as will some non-activists. But I do not feel that it does enough? I know very little about this case, nor do the other readers. We need more information about what is going on in order to start a solidarity campaign.

Could someone involved in this case in whatever way please give us more information? Maybe make a flier, or something that details the case?

thanks

Kroeker is still croaking 01.Jun.2004 09:35

in PDX

just wait and see what the city of roses has coming in the form of crackdowns. if for some reason that you don't know but kroeky is now in liberia appointed by the sec gen of the un kofi annan. to make my point kroeker is a professional at training paramilitary outfits and many have seen the outcome of this but we haven't seen anything yet. wait till you start seeing human targets and human casualties over here then we will really get to see a crackdown. as the cauldron of global politics boils over activists are looking to resort to more desperate measures to engage in the political theatre to the point of targeting people. the outcome of this is not going to be pretty (not that there is a pretty outcome either way) but is helping the establishment with the declaration of martial law a very good idea with the amount of control they have over public opinion?

"in PDX" is 01.Jun.2004 09:59

right

about what's in the future for PDX for guy's like Sery, McCollister, King, et al are Kroeker Boys...the
kind of sorry bastards that would just as soon kill you as look at you...paramilitary nutcases!

Indy--consider making this a lead 01.Jun.2004 12:04

x

story--people need to know what's coming down.

Speak up now 01.Jun.2004 12:27

or forever hold your peace

 http://counterpunch.com/cassel05292004.html

News: Ashcroft, snoops and gag orders - The secrets of surveillance (30 May 04)

ELAINE CASSEL
CounterPunch

Everyone knows by now (or should) that the Patriot Act allows the FBI to conduct surveillance on Internet and email usage. Using so-called National Security Letters (NSLs), the FBI directs Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to provide passwords and identifying information that will allow the government to target people who are plotting terrorism or who are otherwise potentially dangerous to national security. I am sure that many of you reading this (and I, likely) have the government in our computers.

The same mechanism of NSLs is used to obtain information from librarians, health care providers, and business records of individuals and entities. The party from whom the government demands information is forbidden from telling the client that the FBI is being provided information. And the target of the investigation won't know about it until or if he or she is arrested for crime or detained without a charge (say, as a material witness).

Until now, we did not know much about how the government goes about this procedure. Now we do. Thanks to a suit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in New York in behalf of an unnamed ISP. The government has tried mightily to keep the entire suit under seal, but the federal judge has allowed the ACLU to release some information about the case.

Following is a report on the case, with some interesting heretofore unknown details. Never has the ACLU needed your financial support more. Clearly, it is the only thing standing between us and our fascist government. Read the briefs and supporting documents in the case.

"The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) yesterday released more information about the heavily censored legal challenge it is bringing against the government's use of a controversial provision of the USA PATRIOT Act that allows the FBI to obtain from businesses sensitive personal information about their clients. Among the documents unsealed today is a declaration by the ACLU's anonymous client in the case, the president and sole employee of an unnamed Internet Service Provider (ISP), referred to only as "John Doe." John Doe is prohibited by law from revealing his identity to the public, even as he confronts the federal government over the very section of the Patriot Act that forces him to remain anonymous.

In his statement, Doe explains that his business provides access to the Internet, email accounts and space on the Web where people can post their own sites or store electronic files. He says some of his clients "are individuals and political associations that engage in controversial political speech," and that some "communicate anonymously or pseudonymously," which allows them "to discuss embarrassing, sensitive or controversial subjects without fear of retaliation or reprisal."

Doe and the ACLU are asking the court to deem unconstitutional the government's use of National Security Letters (NSLs), which allow FBI agents to demand, with no judicial oversight, personal information about clients of Internet Service Providers.

"I believe that the government may be abusing its power by targeting people with unpopular views," Doe writes. "I am challenging the constitutionality of the NSL provision in an effort to protect all of my clients' interests."

In a memorandum to the court, the ACLU wrote that the statute allowing the broad use of National Security Letters gives the FBI "unchecked authority" to require businesses to reveal "a broad array of sensitive information, including information about the First Amendment activities of ordinary Americans who are not suspected of any wrongdoing."

The memorandum continues: "The statute does not require the FBI to seek judicial authorization before demanding the disclosure of sensitive information, and it does not specify any means by which a person served with an NSL can challenge the NSLs validity before complying with it. In other words, the FBI issues NSLs without judicial oversight of any kind."

ACLU lawyers and their client are also disputing a section of the law that prohibits an entity that receives a National Security Letter request for information from telling anyone about the request. Ironically, this gag order is the same rule that prohibits the ACLU and John Doe from talking about many aspects of their case.

The ACLU challenge of the National Security Letters and the gag rule has been wrapped in secrecy since it was filed in early April this year. The civil liberties organization has been locked in constant disagreements with the government over how much can be revealed about the case. The group was not even allowed to announce the existence of the suit for over two weeks, and even after negotiating the right to publicize the case, has been subject to numerous restrictions on the kinds of information it can disclose.

Numerous words, sentences and entire sections of the documents related to the suit, which are posted on the group's website, remain blacked out.

Assistant Attorney General for Legal Policy Daniel Bryant defended the gag order last week at a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing, saying it prevents people from interrupting terrorism investigations. But critics say the secrecy rule is designed to keep the public in the dark about the government's invasion into people's constitutionally protected privacy.

"It is particularly troubling," writes ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero in a statement to the court, "that while the ACLU ... [has] been gagged from discussing the NSL power, President Bush and representatives of the FBI and Justice Department are engaged in a public campaign in support of the Patriot Act. The gag provision silences those who are most likely to oppose the Patriot Act. [We] believe we have the right to inform the public of a great deal of the information the gag is suppressing."

In filings with the court, Both Romero and Doe described the self-censorship they had been forced to engage in when asked by others about the National Security Letters in general or the case in particular.

"The government has now prohibited the disclosure of my name and my company's name in connection with the case," said Doe. "They have provided no further clarification about what I can and cannot say." He says that he has found it difficult to have normal conversations. "[I] used to discuss topics related to politics and current events, but now I feel wary when I communicate ... I have steered clear of numerous topics of conversation as I am afraid.... The gag has put me in a very compromising situation, as I do not want to be dishonest in my communications [words blacked out] but also do not want to violate the gag."

Romero said that not only is the gag order affecting how he and other staff at the ACLU can talk about the case, but it is having an impact on the broader activities of the organization, which has been actively engaged in educating and organizing against the Patriot Act since the law's inception in late 2001.

"[T]he scope of the gag in this case, and the refusal of the government to clarify what is prohibited, is intolerable," he writes. "The gag has severely disrupted our ordinary course of business... More importantly, the public and even members of Congress are denied non-sensitive information essential to public and legislative debate that is at the heart of democratic self-governance."

Elaine Cassel practices law in Virginia and the District of Columbia, teachers law and psychology, and follows the Bush regime's dismantling of the Constitution at Civil Liberties Watch . Her book, The War on Civil Liberties: How Bush and Ashcroft Have Dismantled the Bill of Rights, will be published by Lawrence Hill this summer.

who would approve of a website advocating violence against abortion clinics? 01.Jun.2004 14:02

CaptainPlanet

So, the SHAC website carries content that advocates for violence? And news about illegal actions are posted to the website? This is exactly what was happening with the website which was advocating for killing abortion providers, I don't think many people here were opposed to the legal action which shut down the website and prosecuted the people who operated it (I don't remember all the details). It's common sense that you wouldn't advocate for violence on your website if you don't want attention from The Law.

common, but false, analogy 01.Jun.2004 14:33

reading a little closer

The SHAC website has never advocated violence or killing. Anti-abortionist websites have and do. There has never been anyone killed by animal rights activists; they are perfectly effective with non-violent tactics. Anti-abortionists have killed people, several times. So the comparison is patently ridiculous (though I'm sure we'll continue to hear it for years to come).

When civil disobedience (legal civil disobedience at that, sending black faxes is not illegal) becomes prosecutable as terrorism we should all weep for the loss of freedoms that provided for the truly great moments of history in this country. 40 years ago Martin Luther King was labeled a communist. Today he would be labeled a terrorist.

Actually, "CaptainNoNothing," 01.Jun.2004 15:11

nope

the anti-abortionists were allowed to eventually put the website back up, because it was protected as free speech.
 http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/1250939.stm
 http://crime.about.com/library/weekly/aa032901a.htm
However, the government is going after environmentalists and animal activists and (insert yourself next) in a new way, calling those who disagree with the government and business interests terrorists and limiting their rights like no other groups'. Read the article again for more info. These groups are being treated differently, and singled out. It's like the supreme court in the 2000 election, in which they passed their ruling and put in the clause that it applied ONLY TO THIS CASE. The government is now limiting certain activists' rights in ways that they are not limiting others, at the whim of the government. (And, the anti-abortion analogy is completely erroneous regardless, as the previous poster explained. Note that the anti-abortionists were explicitly encouraging violence, and deaths occurred; nothing like that has happened with animal rights).

Do you dislike the way that animals are treated in labs (I'm sure you don't see a problem, CaptainNoNothing); do you dislike the volume of chemicals being pumped into the environment or the decimation of the old growth forests?; do you dislike our mideast policy?; do you dislike our new pre-emptive strike policy?; do you want to join a peace group? Etc. Speak up now or forever hold your peace.

terrorism as cover story... 01.Jun.2004 15:46

this thing here

>Using so-called National Security Letters (NSLs), the FBI directs Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to provide passwords and identifying information that will allow the government to target people who are plotting terrorism or who are otherwise potentially dangerous to national security.<

this is the cover story.

there have been many reports of the PATRIOT Act being used in common criminal cases, cases which have absolutely nothing to do with terrorism or national security.

it is plainly obvious that law enforcement at both the national and state level has been given a green light by the PATRIOT Act, the justice dept., and 9-11, to go after ANYONE, anyone whether terrorist, common criminal, or those who have expressed strong dissent, using laws which are supposedly only for "terrorism". in fact, it would not surprise me at all to learn that law enforcement has a green light to go after anyone it so chooses, for any arbitrary random reason it wants.

i have said this before, but legislation like the PATRIOT Act should be seen for what it is: a massive re-write of u.s. criminal law, giving the government the ability to bypass any and all rights which have protected both the innocent and the accused in times passed. it has NOTHING, NOTHING at all to do with terrorism or national security. the very fact that prosecutors and law enforcement have used the PATRIOT Act to prosecute common criminal cases gives the lie to this bullshit cover story.

as would be expected, 9-11 in the hands of the bush admin., and like minded authorities throughout our country, has simply become a perfect excuse for the implementation of an increasingly authoritarian, right wing brand of "command and control" over society. it is BULLSHIT, BULLSHIT that any american should have to lose the slightest, smallest degree of their rights in order to prosecute terrorism. i refuse to listen to the argument that it was osama who passed the PATRIOT Act, and not the u.s. government. WE scored an own goal on ourselves. might as well say to osama that he won. he managed to get us to fuck up our own country. because the bush admin. was only too glad to...

Jerk 02.Jun.2004 11:59

Bob Woodward

Elaine Cassell. Can't wait till these terrorists jump all over your fat ass!

Another Jerk 02.Jun.2004 12:58

Bob

Hope this idiot enjoys his freedoms, because he may be one of the first to be hit by the terrorists. You people don't know how bad this is going to get. You won't have any freedoms, you will be dead.