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Author Archive: "Will Potter"

Why are Eco and Animal Activists the Top Domestic Terrorism Threat?

In my book Green Is the New Red: An Insider's Account of a Social Movement under Siege, I investigate how the animal rights and environmental movements became the government's "number one domestic terrorism threat." This threat was carefully constructed over the years through a coordinated campaign by corporations and politicians. A looming question, though, is why are these activists considered such a threat?

If you listen to the talking points of corporations, industry groups, and politicians, it is because of the property destruction of underground groups like the Animal Liberation Front and Earth Liberation Front. These groups have engaged in serious crimes that have cost corporations millions of dollars in damages and lost profits. Law enforcement has noted that these movements have not harmed a single human being, but they warn about the potential for future violence.

As I became immersed in this issue, though, I came to realize that the perceived threat of ...


Labeling Political Activists as “Terrorists” Puts Everyone at Risk

There are plenty of discussions that need to be had about animal rights and environmental issues and about what tactics are appropriate, but in my lectures and in my book I don't devote much time to them. If there is one take away message from my work, it is that the labeling of activists as "terrorists" affects everyone, regardless of your political beliefs.

The campaigns by corporations and politicians against "eco-terrorists" extend far beyond the social movements targeted, in two primary ways.

First, they waste government resources. In my book I document a laundry list of surveillance operations by the FBI and homeland security, including spying on animal rights activists who were leafleting at a HoneyBaked Ham store and attempting to infiltrate vegan potlucks. When law enforcement is surveilling, harassing, and prosecuting animal rights and environmental activists (and, it should be noted, entrapping Muslim community members), they are not pursuing more serious threats.

The Justice Department's Office of the Inspector General has warned the FBI about this. In a 2003 audit, the Inspector General advised the FBI to stop investigating animal ...


“We Will Never Forget”

When Barack Obama became president, there was reason to believe that he might make a shift away from the "eco-terrorism" priorities of the Bush administration. As a senator, he responded to a 2005 Congressional hearing on eco-terrorism by saying that the threat from environmentalists was dwarfed by that of other groups. There were only 60 eco-terrorism crimes in 2004, he said, but there were, according to the FBI, more than 7,400 hate crimes in 2003.

"In our quest to apprehend these criminals, I hope we are not headed down the path of infringing on the ability of legitimate advocacy organizations to express their opinions and to raise funds in order to do so," Obama said in a letter to the committee. "I do not want Americans to equate groups that advocate violence with mainstream environmental organizations."

However, the labeling of environmentalists and animal rights activists as "domestic terrorists" has continued, and even expanded, under Obama's watch.

For instance, in my book Green Is the New Red: An Insider's Account of a Social Movement under ...


The Real People Being Labeled “Eco-Terrorists”

It's the most powerful word in our language. When someone is labeled a "terrorist," it automatically skews public opinion against them. That's why corporations and politicians have been so eager to appropriate the term for their own interests: It shifts attention away from the issues at hand, demonizes the opposition, and turns individuals into an amorphous threat.

When I decided to write Green Is the New Red: An Insider's Account of a Social Movement under Siege, I knew it would be driven by investigative journalism and political analysis, but it had to be more than that. I set out to tell the personal stories of people who have been labeled "eco-terrorists" and let their individual experiences (and in some places my own) guide the narrative. Through it all, I didn't want to lose sight of the fact that this is not an abstract political discussion: It is about real people.

One such person is Tim DeChristopher. As a University of Utah student, DeChristopher disrupted a Bureau of Land Management auction by offering fake bids on 13 parcels of land for nearly $1.8 million. ...


The “Number One Domestic Terrorism Threat” You’ve Never Heard About

The FBI has grayed out Osama bin Laden on its Most Wanted Terrorists List. Nearly 10 years after September 11, his death is clearly a historic point in the War on Terrorism and one that some have even applauded as a victory for America, for freedom. However, another legacy of September 11 endures. Next to bin Laden's photo on this list of the FBI's top terrorism threats, sandwiched between people who have murdered countless civilians, is a listing for a very different type of "terrorist": an animal rights activist.

Daniel Andreas san Diego is accused of serious, potentially dangerous crimes, including the use of explosives to sabotage two office buildings tied to a controversial animal testing company. But unlike bin Laden and the others on the Most Wanted Terrorists List, these crimes did not harm anyone.

In fact, in the history of both the animal rights and environmental movements, in the history of both mainstream and underground groups, not a single human being has been injured. Not one. Yet the FBI has labeled animal rights activists and environmentalists the "number one domestic terrorism threat." ...


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