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The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act : New, Improved, and ACLU Approved

Author(s): Steve Best

Journal: International Journal of Inclusive Democracy
ISSN 1753-240X

Volume: 3;
Issue: 3;
Start page: 4;
Date: 2007;
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Keywords: animal enterprise terrorism act | animal rights | terrorism | civil rights | patriot act | earth liberation front | ELF

“Global terrorism means traditional civil liberty arguments are not so much wrong as just made for another age.” Tony Blair, August 2006.In the wake of 9/11, the US has entered a neo-McCarthyist period rooted in witch-hunts and political persecution. The evil Other of Communism has been superseded by the new threat of Terrorism, as embodied by militant Islamic jihadists who have declared a holy war against the West. In addition to the “foreign terrorist” menace whose frightful powers shocked the world on 9/11, the US corporate-state complex identified a growing “domestic terrorist” danger that, it believes, emerges from radical environmental and animal rights activists, and, ultimately, includes anti-patriotism and dissent of any kind.In the dark days of post-9/11, in that poisoned and paranoid atmosphere that fertilized the metastasizing police state created by Cheney-Bush, and amidst shifting political grounds spawning new political forces, the Red Scare of communism has morphed into the “Green Scare” of “ecoterrorism.” The repressive powers of the FBI, CIA, and sundry other police forces are unleashed not against the “communist,” but rather against the animal right and environmental activist.[1] Indeed, in a nightmare replay of the 1950s, activists of all kinds today are surveilled, hassled, threatened, jailed, and stripped of their rights (such as they tenuously have been and remain in corporate-dominated US society). As before, the state conjures up dangerous enemies in our midst and instills fear in the public so that people willingly forfeit liberties for an alleged security, thus facilitating the construction of a garrison society shrouded in secrecy, surveillance, and centralized power.The dreadful days of COINTELPRO have returned with a vengeance. Between 1956 and 1971, the FBI operated a secret counter-intelligence program (COINTELPRO) whose purpose was to infiltrate, disrupt, and neutralize social justice movements and protest groups by any means necessary; their hard-ball tactics included phone taps, frame-ups, violence, and assassination.[2] Despite the condemnation of FBI and CIA policies in the Church Committee Report in 1976, these rogue agencies continued their war against dissent and it escalated dramatically after 9/11.Hour by hour, day by day, our First and Forth Amendment rights (among others) are hemorrhaging and bleeding away into the sinkhole of the military-corporate-state tyranny. The issue goes beyond Republicans vs. Democrats, as the latter hardly distinguished themselves on civil liberties since 9/11; Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), for instance, co-sponsored the ominous Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (discussed below).[3] Given they are no less beholden to military and corporate powers than Republicans, we can expect little improvement from Democrats in the future, even if they control the executive and legislative branches of government.Indeed, in the post-9/11 era there has been a sea-change in political culture. In the age of terror Western states – the US and UK in particular – inculcate fear in the public of constant threats to their safety posed by Islamic jihadists, and exploit tensions to create an authoritarian society where people are neither secure nor free.[4] As evident most clearly in the UK and US state reaction to the growing influence of the animal liberation movement, dissent of any kind is now branded as “terrorist,” and thus is stigmatized and criminalized. A profound case in point of the current assault on civil liberties is how the corporate-state complex pushed through new laws to criminalize a broad range of animal rights protest activities, such as resulted in the imprisonment of the “SHAC 7” activists. Unfortunately, human rights organizations – who do not understand or sympathize with animal rights in principle – have missed the broad significance of the new draconian laws unleashed by the state against “ecoterrorism.”
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