Check out these letters to the editor in the Toronto Star. The first one is from the head of the U.S. Humane Society:
The Star allowed the so-called "Center for Consumer Freedom" to cross the line when the group falsely accused the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) of supporting "the eco-terror problem." The suggestion that the HSUS supports any illegal action, or that it has ties to eco-terror groups which it has repeatedly denounced, is patently untrue and outrageous.
The HSUS has repeatedly and publicly criticized individuals and groups who resort to intimidation, vandalism, or violence in the name of supposedly protecting animals. We believe harassment, violence and other illegal tactics are wholly unacceptable and inconsistent with a core ethic of promoting compassion and respect.
This is exactly what CCF wants: For this to be the subject of conversation. It doesn't matter if the allegations against HSUS are absurd. It doesn't matter how convincingly HSUS demonstrates their absurdity. The point is that HSUS's "connection to terrorism" is now a "debate." And as any good mainstream media reporter knows, every debate has two sides, even if one side is full of shit. You can expect to see "he-said she-said" stories on this issue pop up more and more often in mainstream media outlets.
The more the public sees mainstream groups tied to terrorism, the more those groups can expect to be marginalized. It's all going according to plan.
Here's a story that should help every environmental and animal-rights activist sleep a little easier.
Kevin Kjonaas was just convicted. What was his crime? Setting up a website -- a website with details on companies that support animal testing, and some raucous message boards where some dumb things were said.
So much material. So little time. So many complicated issues. So little expertise.
How about a big fat linky post!
Treehugger has a fantastic interview with Hunter Lovins, long-time champion of sustainability, now president of Natural Capitalism Solutions, Inc. She talks about her current international work, focusing on Afghanistan. I particularly like this exchange, which is relevant to our discussion of poverty earlier:
Do you believe that economic development can go hand in hand with sustainable development?
Yes, and this is a critical point. We know how to meet people's needs for energy, for water, for housing, for sanitation, and for transportation, with much more sustainable technologies than are traditionally brought by development agencies.
Most of what is called development around the world is really donor nation dollars hiring donor nation contractors to deliver last century's technologies, in such a way that the jobs and the economic benefit go right back to the originating donor country.
And when the dollars, the contractors, and the programs leave, the people in Afghanistan, or Africa, or wherever the so-called "development" is being done, are no better off than they were. If anything, they're worse off: perhaps building a massive coal plant for which they've taken foreign debt; or put in some piece of infrastructure that they don't really know how to run, that isn't creating local jobs, and isn't meeting local needs. And, everybody's wasted a lot of money and time. We can do a lot better than that.
Speaking of fantastic interviews with Lovinses, don't miss Discover's short but action-packed interview with Amory Lovins. Just about everything the dude says is quote-worthy, but I think this is my favorite:
If I could do just one thing to solve our energy problems, I would allow energy to compete fairly at honest prices regardless of which kind it is, what technology it uses, how big it is, or who owns it. If we did that, we wouldn't have an oil problem, a climate problem, or a nuclear proliferation problem. Those are all artifacts of public policies that have distorted the market into buying things it wouldn't otherwise have bought because they were turkeys.
So much wisdom in so few words.
The CS Monitor's Brad Knickerbocker has a competent backgrounder on the recently arrested "eco-terrorists." There's not a whole lot new in it, particularly about ELF, which is what I'd most like to see some solid reporting on. He does point out that activists in this extremist community (centered in the Northwest, principally around Eugene, Ore.) deny that the feds have the right people, but I suppose that's to be expected.
This passage, however, jumped out at me:
This is not a particularly new subject, but: When exactly does an informant cross the line into entrapment? As readers of my obsessive "eco-terror" blogging know, the big indictment brought recently against 11 people crucially turned on participants that were "persuaded" to act as informants. A closer look at an ongoing case in California that […]
What is terrorism?
I've been skeptical about the talk of "eco-terrorism" because, to me, a crucial ingredient of anything worthy of the term is deliberate targeting of civilians for injury or death. Since the alleged "eco-terrorists" explicitly aim to avoid any harm to a human being, "terrorist" seems a misnomer.
But am I right about this? Is there a commonly accepted definition of "terrorism"?
I suspect the DOJ has one in mind, given Gonzalez's very specific language in his press conference: The perps "worked together with extensive planning to influence the conduct of government and private businesses through the use of coordinated force, violence, sabotage, intimidation, and coercion."
The Wikipedia page on the definition of terrorism is instructive:
Why are the DOJ, FBI, and ATF making so much noise about "eco-terrorism"?
FBI deputy assistant John Lewis said, "The No. 1 domestic terrorism threat is the eco-terrorism, animal-rights movement."
Put aside for a moment the conspicuous running together of two different movements. By no reasonable metric would eco-terrorism and animal-rights direct action combined be judged the premiere domestic threat of our times. The number of lives taken and property damaged by organized crime swamps anything done by the ELF, even if we accept every claim made on its behalf. Drugs, prostitution, smuggling, piracy -- all kill more and damage more property. Hell, white collar crime makes the $23-million-over-10-years attributed to "eco-terrorism" look like a laughable rounding error.
In terms of lives and lucre, there are manifold forms of crime under the FBI's jurisdiction that do more damage. Other than its status as "terrorism," as determined on the sole authority of the executive branch, what marks "eco-terrorism" worthy of the enormous time and resources being devoted to it?
Especially since, as we were all recently reminded, Osama bin Laden is still very much alive, and radical Islamic terror has already done more than $23 million in damage -- in one day, you might recall.
The cynical among us might suggest that it is to the executive branch's great benefit at the moment to be seen securing high-profile victories over terrorism, however defined or identified. It is also to this administration's advantage to associate environmentalism -- a source of vocal and embarrassing bi-partisan and international criticism -- with violence and extremism. If the ELF didn't exist, the Bush administration would have to invent it.
So say the cynics. Dirty, no-good cynics!
I would hope it goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway: I do not condone the acts of the ALF or, to the extent it's extant, the ELF. Arson is a crime and should be prosecuted. Flooding, vandalism -- not cool. Graffiti, well, it's a menace.
To deem one's cause more worthy than a living, breathing human being is the ultimate in jackassery. As yet, ELF has not gone there.
But destroying people's stuff is also jackassery. A distinctly lower-order form of jackassery, but jackassery nonetheless. Only a jackass indulges in jackassery.
And let's face it. Somebody's going to get hurt. The more the feds inadvertently (?) publicize ELF, the more ELF will attract attention and self-proclaimed membership. Eventually it will attract a crank who will injure or kill someone. My sympathy for that crank is nil and I'm all for throwing the book at him.
My concern is not whether "eco-terrorism" should be morally or legally condoned -- it obviously shouldn't. My concern is whether it is particularly significant, in terms of threats to the health and welfare of Americans. It seems to me the Bush administration is using it quite crassly, for political purposes, in a manner all out of proportion to the real danger it poses.
[U.S. Attorney Karin] Immergut said a pledge by the defendants to never reveal each other's identities to law-enforcement officials made the investigation more difficult. But investigators persuaded some alleged participants to act as informants, providing details of the crimes.
[40-year-old Arizona bookstore owner William C.] Rodgers, who also was identified by federal prosecutors as the mastermind of the 1998 arson at Vail, Colo., but was not charged in connection with that crime, committed suicide last month in an Arizona jail.
From the indictment, Rodgers appeared to be a key figure in the cell, allegedly involved in many of the most high-profile crimes.