It should come as no shock that the U.S. government has perfected the art of deception while simultaneously criminalizing dissent. The agenda is clear: it intends to protect those with wealth and power, and will do so by any means necessary. The past year alone has revealed a campaign which includes: warrantless wiretapping; Presidential “signing statements” contradicting laws passed by Congress; and secretive “declassification” of information with intent to harm high-level dissenters. In short, Free Radio Olympia explains that those in power whose interests revolve around short-term profits at the expense of the long-term health of the planet and the majority of its inhabitants, are not to be hindered.

The Green Scare and “Operation Backfire”
A recent example is the “Green Scare”—a modern-day witch hunt of environmentalists reminiscent of the McCarthy-era “Red Scare”. December 7th, 2005, marked the beginning of the largest roundup of environmental and animal rights activists in U.S. history. The FBI sting centered on incidents of sabotage allegedly committed by the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) and the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) primarily in the Pacific Northwest—Eugene, Olympia, Seattle—and extending to Colorado and California. Two Olympia activists have been arrested. Unfortunately, this is only the beginning of the campaign’s impact on the Olympia community. The nation-wide sweep of arrests, or “Operation Backfire,” is part of an FBI campaign against environmentalists who engage in a variety of tactics—including property destruction—as a means to defend wild lands, animals, and the integrity of the earth’s delicate balance. But here’s the clincher: they’ve been dubbed “terrorists”. In his campaign send-off, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales issued a January 2006 televised statement announcing a sweeping 65-count indictment which included conspiracy charges and declared “eco-terrorism” as “the number one domestic terrorist threat”.

Section 802 of The Patriot Act
The term ‘domestic terrorism’ was used to describe the deadly Oklahoma City bombing. After the introduction of the Patriot Act, the term was redefined as: “activities that involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State; appear to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population, to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion, or to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping…”

According to ACLU spokeswoman, Catherine Hazouri, the organization believes, “the current definition of terrorism is too broad. It sweeps up people who have no intent to harm human life, and this criminalizes dissent.” Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center adds, “What’s happened over the last few years is that both the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security have said that ‘eco-terrorism’ is the number one domestic terrorist threat facing the United States. And in my opinion, that’s simply ludicrous.”

An April 13, 2006, “Office of Intelligence and Analysis, Homeland Security Assessment Bulletin” cuts to the heart of the agency’s reasoning for labeling eco-activists as terrorists: “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.”

The Bulletin goes on to advise corporations about the potential “attacks” they can expect to encounter—citing actions allegedly inflicted by the recently-targeted group, Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC): “Inundating a company’s computer server with email, causing it to crash (estimated damage: $1.25 million); using an auto-dialer to overwhelm the telephone services of an investment firm—which prevented customers from calling; an email harassment campaign which demanded that a firm sell its shares of HLS stock (the company lost $1.4 million from the sale); jamming phone lines with repeated calls to prevent it from doing business with potential customers.”

The Ruckus Society teaches a variety of civil disobedience skills, and founder John Sellers, has this to say about the Green Scare: “The fact that the FBI and the Attorney General… can stand there with straight faces and say that the radical fringe of the environmental movement is the number one domestic threat to our national security is just outrageous. The founding fathers were very clear in writing that the duty of a citizen in an unjust society is to refuse to cooperate with the injustice.”

Traditionally, the people of the United States have cherished their right to dissent. As historian Howard Zinn notes, when the patriots of 1773 felt unfairly treated by the ruling British government, they rebelled. The most famous example of early American sabotage was the Boston Tea Party. Early direct actions include: the Stamp Act protests of 1765, numerous acts of civil disobedience by slaves and abolitionists, strikes and sit-ins—all violated private property laws, but won rights for colonists, workers, and African Americans which we consider “basic human rights” today. Despite this honorable tradition, today’s Patriot Act distorts the freedom that our patriot ancestors fought for.

Threat Level: GREEN
Crafting the Eco-Terrorist Myth
The Homeland Security “Citizen Advisory System” conveniently distills the nation’s “terrorist threat level” into a color-coded system, not dissimilar from weather-report icons. The “lowest risk” point on the scale is aptly colored: green. Environmentalists couldn’t agree more. In fact, they see themselves more as caped crusaders—selflessly risking life and limb to protect the planet and its inhabitants.

In 1989, a multi-year FBI COINTELPRO sting—complete with paid agent provocateurs and costing over $2 million—entrapped four Earth First!ers, and framed the perceived leader of EF!, Dave Foreman. Ilse Asplund speaks about the Arizona action, for which she was arrested and imprisoned: “I was involved in trying, very actively, to stop uranium mining and development on the San Francisco peaks—which is a mountain that is held sacred to twelve indigenous tribes that live in the area. One of the actions that we did was cut down some power lines to the Canyon Uranium Mine, which is situated at Red Butte—land that is sacred to the Havasupai and is essential to their creation story and the enactment of their ceremonies.

“Our legal system has a very hard time dealing with land as anything other than as a commodity, to be transferred into wealth to put in the pockets of certain individuals. And many people pay dearly for that transfer of natural resources and wealth. I felt that it was extremely important to make a statement that there are values in the land that support and nourish us that are above and beyond the rights of commodification.”

Rather than threatening human life, the Arizona 5 were motivated by a human, as well as environmental threat. Dozens of Navajo people in Arizona have died prematurely of mining-related diseases, and passed on genetic defects after the first wave of uranium mining on their reservation in the late 1950s. “You look around the reservation and see so many elderly people who are crippled and can barely breathe,” said Robert Stewart, Sr. of Tuba City, a Navajo who worked for five years in a mine in the mid- to late 1950s. “This pretty much devastated much of a generation.”

Today’s ELF and ALF strongly advocate “equality, social justice and compassion for all life.” An equal respect for life is expressed in the Earth First! Journal’s definition of monkeywrenching: “nonviolent resistance to the destruction of natural diversity and wilderness. It is never directed against human beings or other forms of life. It is aimed at inanimate machines and tools that are destroying life. Care is always taken to minimize any possible threat to people, including the monkey wrenchers themselves.”

However, the competitive “man vs. nature” mythology appears quite rooted in the industry viewpoint. A February 2006 article entitled “Who Will Defend Industry Against Eco-Terrorism” which appears in none other than Capitalism Magazine, provides a glimpse. Author and resident fellow of the Ayn Rand Institute, Onkar Ghate asserts, “Environmental terrorism is a consistent expression of environmentalism’s worship of wilderness. By making the preservation of untouched nature the ideal, environmentalism necessarily makes man, who survives by exploiting nature, the enemy.”

Ghate believes, “the ideology of environmentalism is not concerned with improving man’s life on earth. If it were, it would not oppose but champion industrial progress—luxury homes, dams, highways, bioengineering, food irradiation, etc.—and the individuals who create it.” He goes on to warn: “If we value our lives, we must never make common cause with environmentalism, no matter how appealing a particular environmentalist project may seem. We must fight not only against particular environmental terrorists but also against the ideology that inspires them. But even more important, we must fight for rational values: man’s life and industrial civilization.”

Government Response to Comparable Crimes
Environmentalists as “number one” in the domestic terrorism lineup flies in the face of unsolved, and in many cases, uninvestigated crimes that better fit under the moniker of terrorism—including 7400 hate crimes, and 450 (corporate) environmental crimes threatening workers, public health, or the environment. Sabotage/vandalism crimes committed without political motivation receive far shorter sentences. And those with political motivation from the right wing side of the spectrum somehow escape the limelight.

According to Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, “In the last 10 years or so, we have seen on the order of 60 major domestic terrorist plots coming from the radical right… aimed at… in many cases, mass murder… of human beings. One of these plots—a plot to blow up a natural gas refinery by some Klansmen in Texas in 1997—would have resulted in… the deaths of some 30,000 people. The kind of fringes of the animal rights and environmental movements, on the other hand, while they engaged in arson and those kinds of acts, have killed… no one. I think what the Patriot Act has the effect of doing is taking things like arson, which might have been punished by a few years in prison, and raised them to the level of bonafide international terrorism. That’s a bit of a frightening development.” Here you can find more about Washington state radio stations online.

Meanwhile, Michael Fortier, who was convicted for his involvement in planning the Oklahoma City bombing which killed 168 people, was released from jail on January 20, 2006—coincidentally occurring the same day as several Green Scare arrests. Fortier served 10 years. In contrast, the government is threatening the environmentalists with extraordinary sentences ranging from 30 years to life plus 335 years.

Where Unchecked Power is Headed
In post 9-11 America, questioning official policy is considered suspicious activity—even those “working within the system”. Victims of warrantless spying include Quaker meetings, Code Pink, and Greenpeace, to name a few. The Legal Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, Bob Goodman illustrates how broad the government’s scope of dissent-quashing spreads: “There’s a Quaker meeting in Florida, for example, which was infiltrated and spied upon by the FBI and the Department of Defense. These are the Quakers, and the reason they were targeted was because they went around to high schools and talked against military recruitment. But even if we don’t agree with that, this is activity that is traditionally a part of robust free speech in the United States.”

Goodman talks about the ramifications of the government’s re-definition of ‘domestic terrorism’: “The legal definition of terrorism is clear. It is the use of illegal mechanisms—mechanisms that are criminal under American law—in order to affect public policy. This is a very disturbing turn in American jurisprudence… because it says that people who, for example, engage in trespass, in a sit-in, when they’re told to leave a lunch counter, or sitting in a nuclear facility—that because they’re attempting to change public policy, are guilty of the crime of terrorism. Under this definition, Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King and many other great people—great Americans—would have been guilty of terrorism. And that’s absurd.”

“…[T]o call it terrorism means that you’re importing this idea… into the notion of domestic political protest. So that people who are protesting now become, not political protesters (and if they commit a crime, they need to be charged with a crime, and convicted of it if that’s the evidence), now they’re terrorists. This means that now we can loosen all the constitutional guarantees… in order to go after these political protesters.”

“…[O]nce there are ‘terrorists’ inside the United States, why can’t they be tortured? Under what circumstances will that be acceptable? And once someone is defined as a ‘terrorist’, or attempting to help a ‘terrorist’, it’s a short step, if a step at all, to being an ‘enemy combatant’—which means indefinite detention—which means there’s nothing to prevent them from dumping these people in Guantanamo so that there are no trials at all. That is the direction which this government is moving. And it’s terrifying.”

Grand Jury 101
Grand juries were originally formed to create a filter to stop unjustified felony cases at an early stage. Unlike a trial jury, which decides whether a suspect is guilty, a grand jury merely decides whether there’s probable cause to prosecute. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, it all went very wrong.

Grand juries actually function as modern-day inquisitions, and can include the following: detention and interrogation without probable cause; suspension of 1st, 4th, 5th (through forced immunity), and 6th amendments of the Bill of Rights; a defense attorney’s presence is forbidden; no judge is present; and the jury is not screened for bias. Those subpoenaed to testify are pressured under threat of imprisonment for the duration of the grand jury (usually a maximum of 18 months) if they decline. Any line of questioning can be pursued—regardless of its relevance to the indictment. Grand juries are used by prosecutors to cast a wide net into an entire community—gathering names, contact information, associations, personal history, romantic interests—in short, anything that can be used against activists and their community.

A common association with the word “indictment” is “guilty”. The Oxford American Dictionary’s two definitions explain why: “Indictment (n)—(1) a formal charge or accusation of a serious crime; (2) something which illustrates that a system or situation is bad and deserves to be condemned.” Thus, a contradiction exists within the word itself—one who is indicted is both “accused” and “guilty”. Thus, the vilification of a grand jury indictment, in effect, denies the accused their right to a presumption of innocence until a trial.

Resist the Grand Jury: It works!
In a September 2004 law enforcement analysis, authors Randy Borum of the University of South Florida and Chuck Tilby of the Eugene, OR Police Department admit: “Although Grand Jury investigations are routinely successful against criminals, they have been less successful against activists and ‘true believers.’ The criminal is generally motivated solely by his or her own self-interest, whereas activists are often more concerned with their beliefs and the effects their actions may have on others and on the movement more generally.”

Former Black Panthers Ray Boudreaux, John Bowman, Richard Brown, Hank Jones, and Harold Taylor, were subpoenaed to the SF Grand Jury in October 2005, but refused to cooperate. In an attempt to coerce testimony, the government then imprisoned the five in Bay Area jails for the life of the Grand Jury. However, they all remained strong, resistant, and non-cooperative throughout, and all were released the next month.

What Can We Do?
(Your Rights: Use ‘Em or Lose ‘Em)
For starters, we can follow the Department of Homeland Security’s Security Advice to Corporations—simply substituting the word “community” for “corporate or company” and “recycling” for “trash”:

  1. Encrypt outgoing electronic communication and attachments.
  2. Implement a process to periodically change users’ computer passwords.
  3. Install firewalls and continuously test systems to ensure hackers do not penetrate systems.
  4. Install locks on all doors, filing cabinets and overhead storage areas.
  5. Protect corporate rosters to prevent extremists from acquiring personal information such as organization structure, employee names, positions, phone numbers, email addresses, and home addresses.
  6. Never discuss proprietary information with anyone without a need to know. Suspicious inquiries should be reported immediately. Inquiries may appear innocent at first, but gradually become more detailed.
  7. Protect itineraries, vacation dates, locations, and reservations when traveling, targeting can occur at any time and in areas outside the work place and residence.
  8. Always shred documents rather than throwing them in the trash. Seemingly innocuous information can be used to answer questions or fill information gaps that could later be used to target a company or employee.

What to do if the FBI Knocks on Your Door…
…to “just ask a few questions”

  • Remember the magic words: “I am going to remain silent. I would like to see a lawyer”. If your memory is prone to failure, attorney and anti-nuclear activist, Katya Komisaruk, recommends tattooing this mantra on a visible body part.
  • Take notes: time & date of visit; any information you have (name; physical descriptions; car make, model, color, license plate); anything about how the conversation went. Take their business card, if offered.

…with a Subpeona

  • You are not required to open your door for anyone. The server is legally required to hand it to you, or can throw it at your feet if you are in the same room.

…if they ask to search your home, car or belongings

  • Ask for a Search Warrant and ensure it explicitly matches their search. If they do not have a warrant or there is a mistake on it, say: “I do not consent to a search.”
  • If they have a legitimate Search Warrant, you are required to cooperate, but still have the right to remain silent (remember the tattoo).