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# 20 Terror Act Against Animal Activists

Sources:
Vermont Journal of Environmental Law, March 9, 2007
Title: “The AETA is Invidiously Detrimental to the Animal Rights Movement (and Unconstitutional as Well)”
Authors: David Hoch and Odette Wilkens

http://www.vjel.org/editorials/2007S/Hoch.Wilkens.Editorial.htm

Green is the New Red, November 14, 2006
Title: “US House Passes Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act With Little Discussion or Dissent”
Author: Will Potter
http://www.greenisthenewred.com/blog/2006/11/13/aeta-passes-house-recap/

Earth First! Journal, November, 2006
Title: “22 Years for Free-Speech Advocates”
Author: Budgerigar

Student Researcher: Sverre Tysl
Faculty Evaluator: Scott Suneson, MA

The term “terrorism” has been dangerously expanded to include acts that interfere, or promote interference, with the operations of animal enterprises. The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA), signed into law on November 27, 2006, broadens punishment present under the Animal Enterprises Protection Act (AEPA) of 1992. One hundred and sixty groups, including the National Lawyers’ Guild, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the League of Humane Voters, Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine, and the New York City Bar Association, oppose this Act on grounds that its terminology is dangerously vague and poses a major conflict to the US Constitution.
The broad definition of an “animal enterprise,” for example, may encompass most US businesses: “any enterprise that uses or sells animals or animal products.” The phrase “loss of any real or personal property,” is elastic enough to include loss of projected profit. Concerns deepen as protections against “interference” extend to any “person or entity having a connection to, relationship with, or transactions with an animal enterprise.”
A letter from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to Congress dated March 6, 2006, “on behalf of hundreds of thousands of activists and members and fifty-three affiliates nationwide,” explains their opposition to AETA based on the concern that First Amendment activities such as demonstrations, leafleting, undercover investigations, and boycotts may be punishable as acts of terror under the overly vague and open-ended law.
The ACLU letter maintains, “Lawful and peaceful protests that, for example, urge a consumer boycott of a company that does not use humane procedures, could be the target of this provision because they ‘disrupt’ the company’s business. This overbroad provision might also apply to a whistleblower whose intentions are to stop harmful or illegal activities by the animal enterprise. The bill will effectively chill and deter Americans from exercising their First Amendment rights to advocate for reforms in the treatment of animals.”
Author Will Potter argues that the harsher amendments that AETA brings to its predecessor, AEPA, are hardly necessary, as AEPA was successfully used to disproportionately prosecute the SHAC 7—six animal rights activists organized to expose the illegal and inhumane operations of Huntingdon Life Sciences—for “animal enterprise terrorism.” Budgerigar of Earth First! recounts that three of the defendants were charged under AEPA in September of 2006 with interstate stalking and conspiracy to commit interstate stalking for organizing demonstrations and running a website that published names and addresses of those involved in the vivisection industry. The group was collectively sentenced to twenty-two years in prison. “The supreme irony of this case,” notes Budgerigar, “rests in the fact that these activists were convicted of conspiracy to damage the profits of an animal enterprise, but not of actually damaging it. Even so, the ever-so-honorable judge ordered the defendants to pay a total of $1,000,001 in restitution fees.”
Yet Congress deemed that AEPA was not a serious enough tool for going after animal rights “extremists.” David Hoch and Odette Wilkens of Equal Justice Alliance ask, “How did this bill [AETA] pass the House?”
Hoch and Wilkens explain that in spite of the fact that one hundred and sixty groups opposed its passage, the House Judiciary Committee placed AETA on the suspension calendar, under which process bills that are non-controversial can be passed by voice vote. The vote on the bill was then held hours earlier than scheduled, with what appears to have been only six (out of 435) Congresspersons present. Five voted for the bill, and Dennis Kucinich, who said that “[t]his bill will have a real and chilling effect on people’s constitutionally protected rights,” voted against it. Kucinich went on to say, “My concern about this bill is that it does nothing to address the real issue of animal protection but, instead targets those advocating animal rights.”
Budgerigar concludes, “The message could not be more clear: run an effective activist campaign, and you will be vilified, criminalized, and imprisoned.”

UPDATE BY DAVID HOCH AND ODETTE WILKENS
The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA), whose recent passage received virtually no media coverage, will chill the first amendment rights of animal advocates and serve as a template for future limitations on the free speech of all activists. The Act subjects anyone who (1) uses interstate commerce, (2) with the intent to damage or interfere with an “animal enterprise” or with any person or entity associated with an animal enterprise, and (3) causes any economic damage or corporate profit loss or bodily injury or fear of bodily injury, or (4) conspires or attempts to do any of the foregoing, to prosecution for “animal enterprise terrorism.”
AETA expands the Animal Enterprise Protection Act (AEPA), under which six animal activists were convicted and imprisoned for publicly advocating animal protection activities. The new law requires less serious conduct than the “physical disruption to…an animal enterprise” called for in AEPA, provides stiffer penalties for economic damage and subjects violators who cause no economic damage, bodily harm or fear of serious bodily harm, to as much as one year in prison, while also serving as a predicate for wiretapping.
AETA serves animal enterprises wishing to brand animal activists as criminals and treating dissent as terrorism, and indicates a trend toward treating dissent as terrorism, as evidenced by the Justice Department’s current attempt to increase sentences up to twenty years through the application of a concept called “terrorism enhancement.”
AETA violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments by proscribing formerly protected modes of expression and invidiously discriminating against animal activists through the imposition of harsher sanctions than those applied to similar or even more serious crimes under the 2005 federal sentencing guidelines. The Act is also unconstitutionally vague, due to the indecipherable ambiguity of statutory terms such as “interfere with” or “profit loss.” That vagueness extends to declared exemptions for lawful boycotts and peaceful protests, which could involve the same conduct that would subject one to prosecution under AETA. A lawful boycott is, by definition, the intent to interfere with and cause economic damage to some enterprise.
Furthermore, an animal enterprise need not be acting lawfully to be protected under the Act. Illegal animal enterprise is not an affirmative defense for activities such as whistle-blowing or undercover investigations into animal cruelty, labor conditions, or environmental violations.
To pass AETA, the House invoked a technicality that allows non-controversial bills to be approved by a voice vote, and then voted when only six members were present, although the bill was highly controversial, with approximately one hundred sixty organizations opposing its passage. The Act is unjust, oppressive, and unconstitutional and the honorable thing would be for Congress to repeal it, but without public knowledge and pressure that is unlikely. Therefore, a more prudent strategy would be to increase public awareness until a critical mass convinces Congress to rescind the Act.
To learn more about AETA or become involved in the effort to repeal it, visit the Equal Justice Alliance website at http://noaeta.org/index.htm.
UPDATE BY WILL POTTER
Shortly after passage of the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, the Fur Commission USA distributed an announcement to supporters proclaiming “Mission Accomplished!” Corporations have been eager to appropriate much of the “War on Terrorism” rhetoric against activists, but this was an interesting PR choice. Bush stood on the USS Abraham Lincoln in front of a banner proclaiming “Mission Accomplished” in 2003, only to be dogged by that hubris months, and now years, later.
It looks like corporations may be haunted by similar ghosts in this domestic front of the “War on Terrorism.” Not only has the legislation not deterred illegal activity by underground activists, it may have actually added fuel to their fire. On January 5, 2007, the Animal Liberation Front—considered by the FBI to be the “number one domestic terrorist threat”—distributed an anonymous communiqué related to vandalism at the home of a University of Utah animal researcher. It concluded: “PS. To all the vivisectors we have yet to visit: don’t bask in your recent legislative victory for too long. This new animal enterprise law means NOTHING. —ALF”
It wasn’t an isolated incident. Just two days after the president signed the law, another communiqué claimed credit for vandalizing the windows of a pharmaceutical company, and underground activists signed it: “Dedicated to the SHAC 7!” (The SHAC 7 are a group of activists convicted under the original legislation. They were never accused of anything like breaking windows: they “conspired” to violate the law by running a website and vocally supporting both legal and illegal tactics against companies doing business with a controversial lab).
If the purpose of AETA is to go after underground activists, that mission is far from accomplished. And if the purpose of AETA is to go after “the above ground,” activists are organizing to challenge that mission as well. Just a few weeks after the legislation passed, student activists protested outside the offices of US Rep. James P. McGovern in Massachusetts, naming and shaming him for not being present for a vote. McGovern’s staff quickly stated publicly that he does not support the law, he would have voted against it if he had known about a vote, and he would advocate for repeal.
And then there were dozens of community events around the world to raise awareness about labeling activists as “ecoterrorists,” from South Africa to Greece to Minneapolis, MN.
“Mission Accomplished”? Ahem.
To be clear, in some ways the mission of the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act has been accomplished: it has instilled a level of fear in mainstream, above-ground, legal activists that they may one day be hit with the T-word in this ever-expanding “War on Terrorism.”
But through my reporting I’ve found that an interesting thing happens when people learn about this “Green Scare” and the corporate and political interests behind it: that fear easily turns to rage. More than 140 comments have been posted on the article I wrote about the legislation passing the House. Some of them express fear and a bit of hopelessness. Many share the tenor of “Jersey” who wrote: “do they really think everyone is going to crawl into the woodwork and stand for this?”
Since the law passed, I have been speaking regularly in public forums like the New York City Bar Association, Yale Law School, activist conferences, and with both mainstream and alternative press, and I’ve been able to see that phenomenon over and over again: questioning and investigating the legislation, and the money behind it, demystifies the law. It declaws it.
That knowledge is what ultimately worked against Senator Joseph McCarthy, succeeding where the “loyalty oaths” and the “naming names” failed. It can work now, too. If reporters do their jobs, and expose these issues to the general public, people can stop being afraid and start being pissed.
For more information, please visit http://www.GreenIsTheNewRed.com.

  • Ellyn Kepley March 11, 2011

    That’s great, I not at any time thought beside Nostradamus in the OR

  • S. Riley January 10, 2012

    Re: The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA)

     

    The
    expansive and vague definitions of “Terrorism” that permeate  “AETA” are similar in the passed National
    Defense Authorization ACT of 2012 (NDAA). Some
    observers believe NDAA included the vague term “Belligerent” in the manner it
    did, so U.S. Government would have authority granted by Congress to Indefinitely
    Detain large numbers of Americans not involved in terrorism. Under NDAA, U.S. Government can deem
    anyone a “Belligerent” for Indefinite Detention: the vague term “Belligerent”
    could apply to Americans exercising 1st Amendment Rights—speaking
    out for or against any issue including animal rights; or protesting any entity
    of U.S. Government or its coalition partners.

    Currently there are a number
    of Multi-State Recall Petitions of Congressman that voted for The
    National Defense Authorization ACT of 2012.

    The passed
    (Defense Authorization Act of 2012) appears more threatening to Americans than
    (Hitler’s FASCIST 1933 Discriminatory LAWS)
    that suspended provisions in the Reich Constitution that Protected German
    Citizens’ Civil Liberties? For example—Note below that Hitler’s 1933
    DISCRIMINATORY LAWS (stated time limits) German Citizens could be incarcerated
    for Serious Disturbance of the Peace, Provoking Public Unrest, Rioting; Acts
    that threatened National Security. In contrast Senators John McCain and Carl
    Levin’s National Defense Authorization Act of 2012—mandates holding Americans’
    (Indefinitely) in Military Custody for being a mere “Belligerent.” Some observers believe NDAA included the vague term “Belligerent” in the
    manner it did, so U.S. Government would have authority granted by Congress to Indefinitely Detain large
    numbers of Americans not involved in
    terrorism. It if foreseeable U.S. Government will threaten Americans with
    Indefinite Detention that refuse to act as informants.

    Under the
    passed National Defense Authorization, could some Americans be (Retroactively) subject to
    Indefinite U.S. Military or Prison Detention without charges or right to an attorney or trial? Consider
    that most American activists don’t know what other activists and groups they
    networked or associated did in the past—perhaps illegal. Both the National
    Authorization Act of 2012 and USA Patriot Act are expansive and vague—what constitutes (1) a terrorist act, (2) supporting
    or aiding terrorists; (3) when someone is a “Combatant” or (4) “a Belligerent.”
    For example, Americans advocating, attending or supporting a meeting or protest
    demonstration against a U.S. Government Agency; Policy or U.S. Military
    Action—could be charged with (1) (2) (3) and (4) under NDAA and the Patriot
    Act.

    History
    Repeats Itself: When other
    countries passed Police State Laws like The Defense Authorization Act of 2012,
    Citizens increasingly abstained from politically speaking out; visiting
    activist websites or writing comments that might be deemed inappropriate by the
    Police State Government, e.g. cause someone to lose their job; be investigated;
    disappeared, and or detained in Police/Military Custody. Some writers might be
    dead-meat under NDAA. It appears
    that “Americans” who write on the Internet or verbally express an opinion
    against any entity of U.S. Government or its coalition partners—may under the Patriot Act or The Defense Authorization
    Act—be deemed by U.S. Government (someone likely to engage in, support or provoke
    violent acts or threaten National Security—to order an American writer’s indefinite military or
    prison detention.

    Is NDAA Retroactive? Can U.S. Government invoke
    provisions of NDAA or the Patriot Act to assert a U.S. Citizen’s past or current writings (protected by the 1st Amendment) have
    supported or aided terrorists; provoked combatants or belligerents as a premise
    to order an author’s Indefinite Detention? The Defense Authorization Act of 2012 did more than Chill Free Speech—it
    may FREEZE IT!

    It should be
    expected that indefinitely detained U.S. Citizens not involved
    in terrorism or hostile activities, not given Miranda Warnings when
    interrogated or allowed legal counsel; will also be prosecuted for
    non-terrorist (ordinary crimes) because of their (alleged admissions) while held in Indefinite
    Detention. See below: Hitler’s 1933 Fascist Laws that might appear mild in
    several respects when set side by side with the National Authorization Act of
    2012.

    1933. ROBL. I 83.  

    GERMANY Preliminary Compilation of
    Selected Laws, Decrees, and Regulations:  

    DISCRIMINATORY LAWS:

     

    DECREE OF THE REICH
    PRESIDENT FOR THE PROTECTION OF THE PEOPLE AND STATE

     

    Note: Based on translations by State Department, National
    Socialism, 1942 PP. 215-17, and Pollak, J.K., and Heneman, H.J., The Hitler
    Decrees, (1934), pp. 10-11.7

     

    In virtue of Section 48 (2) of the German Constitution,
    the following is decreed as a defensive measure against Communist acts of
    Violence, endangering the state:

     

    Section 1

    Sections 114, 115, 117, 118,
    123, 124, and 153 of the Constitution of the German Reich are suspended until
    further notice.
    Thus, restrictions on personal liberty, on the right of free expression of
    opinion, including freedom of the press, on the right of assembly and the right
    of association, and violations of the privacy of postal, telegraphic, and
    telephonic communications, and warrants for house-searches, orders for
    confiscations as well as restrictions on property, are also permissible beyond
    the legal limits otherwise prescribed.

     

    Section 2

    If in a state the measures necessary for the restoration of public
    security and order are not taken, the Reich Government may temporarily take
    over the powers of the highest state authority.

     

    Section 4

    Whoever provokes, or appeals for or incites to the
    disobedience of the orders given out by the supreme state authorities or the
    authorities subject to then for the execution of this decree, or the orders
    given by the Reich Government according to Section 2, is punishable—insofar as
    the deed, is not covered by the decree with more severe punishment and with
    imprisonment of not less that one month, or with a fine from 150 up to 15,000
    Reich marks.

     

    Who ever endangers human life by violating Section 1, is to
    be punished by sentence to a penitentiary, under mitigating circumstances with
    imprisonment of not less than six months and, when violation causes the death
    of a person, with death, under mitigating circumstances with a penitentiary
    sentence of not less that two years. In addition the sentence my include
    confiscation of property.

     

    Whoever provokes an inciter to or act contrary to public
    welfare is to be punished with a penitentiary sentence, under mitigating
    circumstances, with imprisonment of not less than three months.

     

    Section 5

    The crimes which under the Criminal Code are punishable
    with penitentiary for life are to be punished with death: i.e., in Sections 81
    (high treason), 229 (poisoning), 306 (arson), 311 (explosion), 312 (floods),
    315, paragraph 2 (damage to railroad properties, 324 (general poisoning).

    Insofar as a more severe punishment has not been previously
    provided for, the following are punishable with death or with life imprisonment
    or with imprisonment not to exceed 15 years:

     

    1.            Anyone who undertakes to kill the Reich President or a
    member or a commissioner of the Reich Government or of a state government, or
    provokes to such a killing, or agrees to commit it, or accepts such an offer,
    or conspires with another for such a murder;

    2.            Anyone who under Section 115 (2) of the Criminal Code
    (serious rioting) or of Section 125 (2) of the Criminal Code (serious
    disturbance of the peace) commits the act with arms or cooperates consciously
    and intentionally with an armed person;

    3.            Anyone who commits a kidnapping under Section 239 of the
    Criminal with the intention of making use of the kidnapped person as a hostage
    in the political struggle.

    Section 6

     

    This decree enters in force on the day of its
    promulgation.

     

    Reich President

    Reich Chancellor

    Reich Minister of the
    Interior                                                                             
    Reich Minister of Justice

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