U.S. Government Hunts Eco-defenders

Secret Grand Jury investigations have led to indictments of 12

 
The Federal Bureau of Investigation issued a 65-count indictment on January 20, 2006 alleging that 12 people were involved in Earth Liberation Front (ELF) and Animal Liberation Front (ALF) activities in the United States spanning five years from 1996 to 2001. As a result of the Grand Jury investigation in Eugene, Oregon, the suspects have been charged in 17 arson and sabotage attacks on federal and private facilities in five states. No one was harmed in any of the incidents. Ongoing grand juries in San Diego and San Francisco are also targeting environmentalists and animal rights defenders.

The nation-wide sweep of arrests, dubbed “Operation Backfire”, has been declared by the FBI as a major hit to environmentalists and animal rights activists who engage in destruction of property as a means to defend wilderness and lives of animals. However, many suspect that the string of arrests falls in line with decades-long FBI covert intelligence operations aimed at disrupting and discrediting political movements. Part of COINTELPRO and other intelligence agendas, the FBI has been engaged in domestic surveillance activities and have been falsely targeting political activists since the 1960s.

Background: Portland: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | | Indybay: 1 | 2 | 3 | | NYC: 1 | | Arizona

Support Sites: www.supportdaniel.org | www.supportchelsea.org | www.freedarren.org | friends of suzanne | www.supportkevintubbs.org

Brian Glick writes in his book titled, War at Home, “Government harassment of U.S. political activists clearly exists today, violating our fundamental democratic rights and creating a climate of fear and distrust which undermines our efforts to challenge official policy. Similar attacks on social justice movements came to light during the 1960s. Only years later did we learn that these had been merely the visible tip of an iceberg. Largely hidden at the time was a vast government program to neutralize domestic political opposition through ‘covert action’ (political repression carried out secretly or under the guise of legitimate law enforcement).” In 2002, a federal jury found the FBI and the Oakland Police guilty of violating Judi Bari and Daryl Cherney's first amendment rights by framing them as terrorists following an assassination attempt made on Bari and Cherney in order to discredit Earth First!

Operation Backfire was announced as the Bush Administration currently attempts to defend its domestic spying program, in which many from both sides of the political spectrum have alleged unconstitutional. Many cases involved in the indictment came just before the statute of limitations was due to expire. Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, FBI Director Robert Mueller, and ATF Director Carl Truscott claim that “eco-terrorism” is the number one domestic terrorism threat in the U.S. “Terrorism” is defined in the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (28 CFR Section 0.85) as “…unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.”

Gonzales said at a recent news conference, “Investigating and preventing animal rights and environmental extremism is one of the FBI’s highest domestic priorities.” According to Carl Truscott, director of the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the FBI claims to have at least 188 open investigations of crimes claimed by the ELF and ALF. The only evidence declared in the 83 page indictment comes from the testimony of five "confidential sources." Two individuals have been publicly identified as FBI informants, Jacob Ferguson and Stanislas “Jack” Meyerhoff, the latter who has been indicted. FBI's indictments are taking some of the heat off the Bureau after a recent 60-Minute episode exposed the FBI’s failure to apprehend anyone in ELF and ALF actions.

The vast majority of mainstream American media outlets have regurgitated the government’s language, reporting a one-sided story that fails to expose crimes committed against the environment by the government and corporations, and to explain the motivation and passion of environmental or animal rights’ defenders. Like the government institutions and corporations targeted in the actions, the mainstream media presents the capitalist-perspective, only reporting property damage, but no other facts of the actions.

Of the individuals in custody, almost all have publicly proclaimed innocence. Some have very openly stated that they have no affiliation with the ELF or any like organization. Those facing charges include:

• Daniel McGowan, an environmental and social justice activist from New York. Daniel has been an active member of the community, working on diverse projects such as the demonstrations against the Republican National Convention, Really Really Free Markets, and supporting political prisoners such as Jeff "Free" Luers and others. Daniel was a graduate student earning a Master's degree in acupuncture and working at Women's Law, a nonprofit group that helps women in domestic abuse situations navigate the legal system. See: www.supportdaniel.org

• Chelsea Dan Gerlach, a peaceful environmentalist who has lived almost her entire her life in Oregon. At the time of her arrest she worked as a talented DJ in demand in the Portland area. As Chelsea's sister states, "The person we know and love is incapable of such acts and we have absolutely no reason to believe in her criminal involvement in these cases." See: www.supportchelsea.org

• Darren Todd Thurston, a well-known Canadian activist who is deeply concerned about his ability to receive fair treatment as a Canadian being held on US soil. See: www.freedarren.org

• Jonathan Paul, a firefighter and long-time environmental and animal rights activist who helped co-found America's Whale Alliance and Ocean Defense International.

• Suzanne Savoie, an environmental activist who has been helping to organize campaigns to stop the Bald Lick timber sale and protect the Counderoy Mountain roadless area on Oregon's Black Mountain. Suzanne's support group can be reached via friendsofsuzannesavoie@yahoo.com

• Kevin Tubbs has been described as a uniquely gentle, loving person who is uncommonly generous to friends and strangers alike. See www.supportkevintubbs.org

• Joseph Dibee: Joseph is not currently in custody.

• Josephine Overaker: Josephine is not currently in custody.

• Rebecca Rubin: Rebecca is not currently in custody.

• Sarah Kendall Harvey, from Arizona is currently out on bail. She has requested that she receive no prisoner support.

• Stanislas Meyerhoff, who according to the Associated Press is now cooperating with the authorities as a snitch.

• Bill Rodgers remains an un-indicted co-conspirator after dying in custody through an apparent suicide on the Winter Solstice. Bill was a well known Arizona community activist who ran the Catalyst info-shop out of his home.

In a separate investigation in Sacramento, California, three individuals were arrested on January 16, 2006, on charges of conspiring to damage or destroy certain property by explosive or fire. The government reported that a paid confidential source also had a role in the arrests.

In Arizona, Earth First! activist and former ALF member Rod Coronado was recently convicted of “conspiracy to interfere or injure a federal official (or his property)” for his involvement in an action trying to stop the Arizona Game and Fish Department from killing mountain lions on public lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service. He is facing 7 years in prison for spreading mountain lion urine and setting off one snare. Assistant prosecution attorney Bev Anderson said after the trial "I know he wasn't tried here for being a violent anarchist. This trial wasn't about Rod Coronado being a terrorist, but he is one."

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Inaccuracy in lead story

ATF Office of Public Affairs 24.Jan.2006 16:15

Dear Sir/Madam:
We want to point out an inaccuracy in the lead story posted on your website. In the 5th paragraph, the story inaccurately attributes to the FBI a statement made by our director and incorrectly paraphrases what our director said. The paragraph should read:

Gonzales said at a recent news conference, “Investigating and preventing animal rights and environmental extremism is one of the FBI’s highest domestic priorities.” According to Carl Truscott, director of the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, there are 188 open investigations of crimes claimed by the ELF and ALF, dating to 1987. Twenty-five to 30 of those cases, Truscott added, are being actively being pursued -- about half of them in the Pacific Northwest, California and Utah. The only evidence declared in the 83 page indictment comes from the testimony of five "confidential sources." Two individuals have been publicly identified as FBI informants, Jacob Ferguson and Stanislas “Jack” Meyerhoff, the latter who has been indicted. FBI's indictments are taking some of the heat off the Bureau after a recent 60-Minute episode exposed the FBI’s failure to apprehend anyone in ELF and ALF actions.

Please correct and repost the story. Thank you.

Andrew L. Lluberes
Office of Public Affairs
U.S. Department of Justice
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms
and Explosives (ATF)
Washington, D.C. 20226
202-927-8500
202-927-8112 (fax)
 andrew.lluberes@atf.gov

Watching Rove bait the press with eco- activists' lives

kirk james murphy, m.d. 24.Jan.2006 18:14


Watching Rove bait the press with eco- activists' lives

January 20, 2006

This morning Congressional Democrats had scheduled
"unofficial" hearings into the Preznit's illegal and impeachable
warrantless wiretap program as well as the Preznit's delusions of
unfettered executive power.

The hearings were broadcast live on CSPAN and on my
local Pacifica affiliate, for which I am grateful.
The hearings may as well have been held on a raft off Vanuatu.

The Preznit's personal lawyer Alberto "tortureman" Gonzales put
on his Attorney General's costume to grab the spotlight with the
"eco-terror" investigation press conference. The Rovians in the DOJ
artfully scheduled the Torturer General's press conference for just
before the start of the wiretap hearings.

The White House's dog and pony show worked. It totally bounced
even a mention of the unofficial hearings off the noon hourly news summaries at NPR and
at least one of the commercial broadcast networks (and possibly two, but
I was losing track of the streams). Neither the NYT nor LA Times
front web pages even mention the hearings for the evening news feed
tonight.

And why should the out-of-towners care when the locals can't be
bothered? Heck, at noon PDT the Washington Post's website didn't
even mention the hearings even as Pacifica broadcast them. What the hell, it's only a
story about a collision of constitutional powers - maybe a bit of
yawner in a hometown where the local industry is er....fighting about
power.

Until recently, my home town was Santa Monica...half way between Malibu
and Beverly Hills. In those communities, the media are the local industry. That's why
the White House's little show this morning would bring a
smile to the southern California PR men and car dealers who carried
Nixon and Reagan to the White House and stayed on to wreak havoc.
Those guys - cause that's what they were, affluent males - they knew
how to spin.

And they would be smiling to hear that Rove's feint is the third story on the BBC
news at 9 PM PDT, but today's wiretap hearings didn't rate a mention. They would be
laughing to see that Rove - after dropping out of the public eye because of that pesky
Fitzgerald and those annoying rumors of felony indicments - used Gonzales, Mueller, and
the other suits as the backdrop for the rollout of Karl Rove, Crimefighter.

While the Torturer General and the FBI Director were reading their scripts, Rove was
settling down for a luncheon address with the Republican National Committee. Rove "vowed
to make the war on terrorism a central campaign issue". (Don't take my word for it - the
Post covered Rove the day he spoke, in a piece entitled "Rove: GOP to Use Terror As
Campaign Issue".)

So if this were all just a trifle in Variety, the political pros
could stand back and admire Rove's slight of hand. The morning would bring a cute
industry header "Prez' Fire pics bump House Dems' shticks - ratings up". The corporate
news greyhound could keep pounding down the track after that killer leak -
keep running after the source, don't bite the feeding hands (not the
manicured ones). Elsewhere the public could watch the dog and pony
show "Look honey - new arrests: elections must be coming"; and the
threat levels could begin their biannual migration to scarlet.

But this isn't a sidebar (well, 'ceptin whatever 'freshments the Preznit has
stashed away about the ranch or the White House).

This is the world in which the emotionally labile cognitively impaired
Oedipally* enmeshed resident of the Oval Office asserts that anyone
anywhere can be abducted, kidnapped, tortured, imprisoned and killed
at his whim. This decade, the justification for limitless power is terrorism.

[Prior boogeymen have included: Communists in Eurasia;
Gangs (without power suits, articles of incorporation, and lobbyists); Drugs (well some drugs);
Communists Near Our Southern Borders (hordes of revolutionaries plot
to bore southern Texans to death with readings of Das Kapital)].

This is the world in which the delusional ideology of infinite economic growth
has obscured the finite realities of physics and biology - well, almost obscured.

Even the most anthropocentric have started to notice the profound
increases in the incidence of malignancies, reproductive disorders,
and developmental and neurological disorders ... all proving that
nature bats last, and that poisoned earth sky and water leads to
poisoned food, sperm, eggs, and babies. Poisons, acids, and the waste
heat of human industry have altered the composition of the skies and
oceans, imperiling all life. Species and whole eco-systems are
perishing.

And this is the living world which eco-activists all over the planet
protect when they put their bodies, health and lives at risk in the
forests and seas and so many other places. The eco-activists - and
the values and perspectives they understand - threaten the delusion of
infinite growth. The eco-activists and their view - my view - of a
finite living world is a great threat to a fantasy held dear by
economic ideologues.

The eco-activists are not a threat to any living thing.

The delusion of infinite economic growth and the ecological destruction
inherent in that fallacy really do threaten every living being on this
planet.

Today I heard the unctuous Torturer General proclaim that illegal
deeds must be punished, regardless of the motives behind them.

The Torturer General did not announce he will be seeking an independent
counsel to investigate his boss for ordering illegal wiretaps and
torture, much less for the homicides resulting from that torture. He
didn't mention indicting those his boss appointed to conspire with
industry to allow more poisons to be spilled upon the public.

Today I did hear the Torturer General announce a whole mess of charges
of property destruction bundled up under the rubric "eco-terrorism".
Well, another triumph for the PR guys - here "eco-terrorism" started
out life as a slogan from a flack for timber and mining interests, and
now it's all dressed up and hobnobbing with a member of the Cabinet
and the directors of FBI and the BATF.

I never knew a timber flack's slogan could be stretched to obscure a
whole White House full of impeachable offences. Karl Rove obviously
knew better, hence the shut out on the airwaves this morning.

But I do know some of this nation's long sordid history of tarring
non-violent activists whose clear vision saw through to the lies of
power and whose strong voices compelled attention to the crimes they
saw. I do know that those who oppose economic power by advocating the
protection of human health or living beings have been met with false
charges of violence and conspiracy for the past centuries. In the last two decades,
forest activists have been falsely charged with bombings and other crimes - and some of
those responsible for the false charges were themselves found responsible in civil court.

So I think of my innocent friend sitting in jail on false charges
and I think of all the other innocent eco-defenders the Administration used this morning
to divert us from impeachable offences and international human rights crimes.

And I look forward to the day when the breaking story is about
the indictments of Bush Cheney Ashcroft Gonzales Woo et al - in the
Hague.

Most of all, I look forward to the day that the accused
eco-activists are acquitted.

But between now and the impeachment/war crimes trials, I expect
to see more show arrests, more sudden "terrorist" announcements during awkward
hearings, and more ecocide.

I hope to see more and more support for the direct action
environmental community. I hope that support will come from the
direct action community's "natural allies" among those who love the
living world and the creatures dwelling in it.

I also hope to see support for accused eco-activists from the larger
progressive communities...and perhaps even from those who may have
different views on economic or social issues, but who share concern
about profound abuse of police powers to suppress legitimate activity.

Because today, after decades of saying that one imperiled creature or
another is the "canary in the coal mine", the non-violent direct
action environmental community has become the new canary.

(OK - a brave wild and free canary briefly joining the earth pillagers in hope
of lifting up their eyes from the path of ecocide.)

Put it this way: today the non-violent direct action community
sits astride the canary's perch in the Constitution mine.

The Northwest eco-activist community has been credited as one factor
in the success of the efforts of civil society to oppose corporate
rule during the 1999 WTO protests. For this reason and others, I
believe the same repressive legal tools turned against eco-activists
today will be used against civil society activists in the months to
come. As killing in Iraq continues and more Bush crimes are revealed,
the need for excuses for the wiretapping and distractions from the war
will only grow.

I hope those concerned about abuse of executive and police
power under Bush will join those concerned for the living world and
support the eco-activists accused today and earlier, as well as
those already convicted and/or imprisoned and those who will be
subpoenaed, harassed, arrested and indicted in the months to come.

And I hope the PR guys are watching from their own cells when Karl,
Shrub, and the rest of the torturers are doing the perp walk in the
Hague. As for the rest of us - especially the accused eco-activists -
I hope we'll be outside and free, enjoying the air and sky on the earth
so many love, cherish, and seek to protect.







[* Nope, not a Freudian here.....but even a broken clock is right twice a
day]

More information...

Anonymous 24.Jan.2006 22:17

Regarding this paragraph in the article:

"In a separate investigation in Sacramento, California, three individuals were arrested on January 16, 2006, on charges of conspiring to damage or destroy certain property by explosive or fire. The government reported that a paid confidential source ALSO HAD A ROLE IN THE ARRESTS." (emphasis mine)

The government has now reported that the confidential source, an approximately 20-year-old woman, received around $75,000 over 2 years while infiltrating the small group. The government has also revealed that the FBI rented a house in California where the activists allegedly plotted the illegal activity, and provided money for the purchase of bomb-making materials.

The Real Terrorists Here

anonymous 25.Jan.2006 00:01

Operation Backfire. I expect it to.
It appears it's the FBI who should be on trial here.

hey ATF

anon 25.Jan.2006 19:10

to the ATF,

Your disgusting political views are not welcome on Indymedia. Dont post on here. Your attempt to blackmail the Left will not work. All you people want to do is wreck activists lives. It's very obvious you want to control the U.S. population with an iron fist. I hope someday it is you people who are the ones in handcuffs being put on trial for crimes against humanity and the Earth. Theres plenty of people trying to make that happen so watch out. Your PR office and the rest of your organization can go to hell.

let me guess

yactivist 25.Jan.2006 21:05

I'm 100% sure the jury will be full of cops when these unfortunate eco-defenders are put on trial.

Thanks For Being The Media

marco 25.Jan.2006 22:14

My Dearest Andrew L. Lluberes,
Can I call you Andy?

Thanks for helping.
You've just made a page 1 correction by being the very
first to reply like that. Essentially you've joined our
consensus circle for a moment and worked with us. Looks
good.

And to think, all you'd get from the NYTimes is a yawn
of a page 3 correction. (If that!!!)

Don't hate, the media, be the media. yippie!!!

Where are the perps?

AlsoRising 27.Jan.2006 13:40

I don't get it: why is the Gov't arresting only innocent people? And what is the moral duty of the perpetrators if the innocent are facing harsh punishment?