In May 2005, then FBI Deputy Assistant Director for Counterterrorism, John Lewis, told a Senate panel that ecoterrorism is "one of today's most serious domestic terrorism threats," the 2001 USA Patriot Act creating the crime of "domestic terrorism," broadening the definition to apply to US citizens as well as aliens - henceforth, the Bureau dividing the crime into two categories, international and domestic, the latter changing dramatically in the past decade.
Then FBI's Domestic Terrorism Section Chief, James Jarboe, said two organizations are principally responsible: the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) and Animal Liberation Front (ALF), committing over 600 criminal acts since 1996, causing over $43 million in damage. Lewis cited over 1,100 acts since 1976, resulting in about $110 million in damages, and on June 30, 2008, the FBI used the same figure for over 2,000 crimes since 1979 - against "international corporations, lumber companies, animal testing facilities, genetic research firms," and other companies harming the environment or animals, defining the crime as follows:
"the use or threatened use of violence of a criminal nature against innocent victims or property by an environmentally-oriented, subnational group for environmental-political reasons, or aimed at an audience beyond the target, often of a symbolic nature."
The FBI calls ELF and ALF 'loosely-organized movements whose adherents engage in crimes like arson, fire bombings, vandalism, intimidation, assaults, (and) stalking, etc."
On their web sites, ELF says its "mission is to defend and protect the Earth for future generations by means of direct action," nonviolent civil disobedience it calls "the moral road," adhering to Hippocrates' dictum, to "do no harm."
ALF defines animal rights as "the philosophy of allowing nonhuman animals to have the basic rights that all sentient beings desire: freedom to live a natural life, free from human exploitation, unnecessary pain and suffering, and premature death."
Direct action qualifies anyone for membership. No formal organizational structure exists.
Through surveillance, harassment, and infiltration, the FBI pursues suspects, "taking advantage of the 2006 revision to the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (ACTA)," a law the Center for Constitutional Rights calls:
"unconstitutionally vague and overbroad in violation of the First and Fifth Amendments....because it criminalizes protected speech that causes an animal enterprise to lose profits or goodwill, and (uses) undefined terms," requiring guesswork to define their meaning and scope. "Neither the AETA's overbreath nor its vagueness can be cured by the statute's rules of construction." Only rescinding the law can do it.
On November 27, 2006, AETA amended the 1992 Animal Enterprise Protection Act, making it harsher by criminalizing First Amendment activities advocating for animal rights, including peaceful protests, leafleting, undercover investigations, whistleblowing and boycotts.
The law exempts "lawful public, governmental or business reaction to the disclosure of information about an animal enterprise," applying it only to economic disruption claims, not damage, and makes it hard distinguishing between the two. It also:
Other provisions make it a federal crime to travel in interstate commerce or use the mails to harass, intimidate, criminally trespass, damage or, in any way, interfere with animal enterprise operations, as well as potentially risk bodily harm or death to anyone, or conspire to do so.
The term may first have been used in 2002, referring to legal and extralegal government actions against animal liberation and environmental activists. The Spirit of Freedom support network defines it as "tactics the government and (enforcement agencies use) to attack ELF/ALF" activists and anyone supporting them.
Will Potter's Green Is The New Red.com calls it exploiting terrorism "to push a political and corporate agenda," specifically "how animal rights and environmental advocates are being branded 'eco-terrorists,' " for their socially responsible civil disobedience in defense of animal rights and environmental conservation and preservation.
Like the 1917 - 1920 and McCarthy era Red Scares, "Green Scare (operates) on three levels: legal, legislative, (and) extra-legal....scare-mongering (to) instill fear, chill dissent," and protect corporate profits, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) saying:
"Attacks against corporations by animal rights extremists and eco-terrorists are costly to the targeted company and, over time, can undermine confidence in the economy."
A leaked State Department presentation to corporations said:
"Although incidents related to terrorism are most likely to make the front-page news, animal rights extremism is what's most likely to affect your day-to-day business operations."
Green Scare also refers to the 2005 arrests, indictments and convictions from the FBI's Operation Backfire (OB) against environmental and animal rights activists, charging them with damaging property, conspiracy, arson, and using destructive devices.
OB was the Agency's code name for its ten-year domestic "war on terrorism," against dissent. It resulted in 17 Pacific Northwest arson indictments using flawed and suspect evidence from an admitted heroin-addicted/ serial arsonist, culminating in the largest ever roundup of alleged environmental and animal rights activists, charged with various acts of vandalism, some defendants testifying against others for leniency, others striking plea bargains, sentences ranging from three years, one month to 13 years with most defendants punished by Terrorism Enhancements (TEs) - used when the DOJ decides a crime aimed to influence or coerce government policy, denying justice for political expediency.
More information about Marie Mason, including current updates, can be accessed at freemarie.org.
A 48-year old mother of two, she became activist as a writer, Earth First! organizer, and free herbal healthcare collective volunteer. Also, a Cincinnati, OH school extended care assistant where FBI agents arrested her on March 10, 2008, charging her with two charges of arson:
Burning MSU's Agriculture Hall "was a significant act," bound to bring recrimination, former ELF press officer, Craig Rosebraugh, saying in his memoir, "Burning Rage of a Dying Planet: Speaking for the Earth Liberation Front:"
"Not only was the damage quite significant....but this was the first time arson had been used to further the cause against genetic engineering (GE) in the US. Furthermore, it was the first time the ELF had taken credit for any GE-related action."
Dispelling predictable media distortion, ELF said Washington and agribusiness giants like Monsanto funded MSU's research, using it to contaminate farmland with GMO crops, known to harm humans and animals that consume them.
"A long-time environmental, animal rights and social justice organizer, Mason had previously experienced government repression when anti-ELF actions occurred in her community," making her vulnerable to future criminalization for her outspokenness against destructive genetic engineering and forestry practices.
A February 5, 2009 DOJ press release headlined, "Michigan State University Eco-Terrorist Sentenced in Arson Case," saying:
Chief US District Court Judge Paul L. Maloney sentenced Mason to 21 years, 10 months in federal prison for the twin arsons (the longest Green Scare sentence), and "ordered (her) to pay over $4 million in restitution to MSU and to victims of other similar acts of arson in Eastern Michigan and Southern Indiana in which she participated between 1999 and 2003."
After completing her sentence, she was also ordered to remain "on supervised release for life....," the DOJ saying she "and her criminal associates had sought to destroy or disrupt federally funded research that was being conducted into genetic modification of crops for the purpose of feeding Third World populations."
In fact, they and Western ones are fed these foods unwittingly, vast amounts of US acreage alone contaminated with corn, soy and other GMO crops, unsafe and unfit to eat, removing them is a humanitarian act deserving praise, not prosecution.
Mason (#04672-061) is at:
Federal Correctional Institution
PO Box 1731
Waseca, MN 56093
An update follows below about her solitary confinement, before which she described her prison life, saying:
"We are awakened at 6:00am by lights and loudspeakers to get ready for work at 7:00 or 7:30am jobs. My job doesn't start until 10am scrubbing pots and pans in the kitchen."
"Still, I have to be up, bed made military style, and present for census count. I usually shower, dress for work in my green part ranger uniform....and write or read or do laundry until my work call."
It's "physically hard (water's boiling, soap and steel wool rip up fingernails and fingers), pots are huge and heavy and hundreds of pans to carry, clean, and carry again. My crew is a three or four woman team....and we work using English and Spanish...."
"After work, I go to the recreation center and try to do two miles a day or more of brisk walking on the fenced-in track and bike three miles."
She was also able to "socialize, watch a movie, read, or do hobby crafts." After 10PM, lights go out, "but we're allowed to play cards, talk, or watch TV until 11:30pm in the television rooms."
On weekends, they could sleep until 7AM and wear sweats all day. She said her relationship with other prisoners was friendly, doing a lot for others who reciprocate. Most know why she's there. "Generally, they think it's a bum rap that I got so much time."
Being a vegan, Mason's had trouble receiving a proper diet as prison authorities aren't accommodative. Until recently, however, she got by with commissary privileges, beans and rice, and around the edges with a baked potato, non-dairy salad dressings, and other occasional vegan foods, though selections had been thin - now denied according to an April 13, 2010 letter to friends and supporters, saying:
"Marie's requests for an adequate vegan died are still being denied by (prison) officials....despite the Federal Bureau of Prisons having a policy ensuring (one) for inmates."
It asked supporters to write letters to the Bureau of Prisons director and regional head, asking them to have her facility follow policy.
On July 7, her web site headlined, "Marie is being held in Solitary Confinement! Please send letters of support," saying:
According to her family, Mason's been in solitary confinement since July 1, in a small, windowless cell, allowed outside in a small cage less than an hour daily. Though able to receive letters from friends, family and supporters, she's denied outside contact and email privileges, permited one phone call a week, and has no access to the commissary or her property.
No further information explains why or for how long, except she's been reclassified, perhaps before transfer to harsher confinement, possibly at one of two federal prison Communication Management Units (CMUs), primarily for (bogusly designated "high-security risk") Muslims in a demeaning, unpleasant environment in which inmates get fewer rights than general population prisoners, with regard to:
Updates on Mason's status and treatment will be posted on her web site.
On July 13, the Civil Liberties Defense Center reported that the San Jose, CA US District Court threw out the the AETA prosecution of four animal rights activists, the so-called AETA 4 - Joseph Buddenberg, Maryam Khajavi, Nathan Pope and Adriana Stumpo, accused of "animal enterprise terrorism" for picketing and distributing leaflets about animal experimenters, constitutionally protected speech under the First Amendment.
The court dismissed the indictment for failing to explain the alleged crimes "with sufficient specificity to meet the requirements of the Fifth Amendment (and) Fed. R. Crim.P. 7(c)(1)." The motion was granted "without prejudice," meaning prosecutors may re-indict with an amended bill of particulars, more clearly presenting the charges. However, the decision is "a victory for activists everywhere!"
Listen to Lendman's cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.
Mr. Lendman's stories are republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.
Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.
Baltimore News Network, Inc., sponsor of this web site, is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed in stories posted on this web site are the authors' own.This story was published on July 17, 2010.