‘Eco-terrorism’: Motive matters
Seattle Times reporter Hal Bernton had an excellent story on "eco-terrorism" in Sunday’s edition. Most of it will be familiar to readers of my obsessive blogging on the subject, but a couple of tidbits were new (to me).
In making its 2003 recommendations, the FBI Office of Inspector General said that funneling those cases from the counterterrorism to the criminal investigative division would free up more terrorism investigators to pursue threats such as those posed by Islamic fundamentalists.
The FBI has rejected that suggestion, saying the investigations are best handled by counterterrorism agents, since the groups are often organized like terrorist cells.
That sound plausible to you? Defining a crime as terrorism and sending counterterrorism agents to investigate because the criminals have no hierarchy? Wouldn’t it make more sense to train FBI criminal investigators how to deal with new kinds of criminal organizations?
And then there’s this:
… the vast majority of attacks on abortion clinics, including those that have killed at least six people since 1993, are not classified by the FBI as terrorism.
Hm. And this:
Among the domestic-terrorism incidents included in the FBI database, individuals with ties to white-supremacist and other anti-government groups killed six people and injured more than 135 people since 1996.
During the past decade, the Justice Department has uncovered numerous right-wing plots to assassinate police officers, judges, politicians and civil-rights figures, as well as to amass missiles, explosives and chemical weapons, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Report.
That isn’t terrorism?
And finally, I have to say something about this:
"Terrorism is terrorism — no matter what the motive," declared FBI director Robert Mueller …
What’s the difference between burning trucks for kicks and burning trucks as an "eco-terrorist"? The motive. What’s the difference between burning down an abortion clinic (crime) and burning down an animal-testing lab (terrorism)? The motive. Of course the motive matters — that’s how terrorism is defined.
"Eco-terrorists" are being specially targeted precisely because of their motives. Mueller doth protest too much.