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Intro: "The FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force has recommended for many years that animal activists who carry out undercover investigations on farms could be prosecuted as domestic terrorists. New documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by activist Ryan Shapiro show the FBI advising that activists - including Shapiro - who walked onto a farm, videotaped animals there and 'rescued' an animal had violated terrorism statutes."

A Chino, Calif., slaughterhouse worker prods a downer cow with a forklift. Animal rights groups are under attack for using such images as part of their investigations into alleged animal abuse. (photo: AP/Humane Society of the United States)
A Chino, Calif., slaughterhouse worker prods a downer cow with a forklift. Animal rights groups are under attack for using such images as part of their investigations into alleged animal abuse. (photo: AP/Humane Society of the United States)



FBI Tracking Videotapers As Terrorists

By Dean Kuipers, Los Angeles Times

03 January 12

 

he FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force has recommended for many years that animal activists who carry out undercover investigations on farms could be prosecuted as domestic terrorists.

New documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by activist Ryan Shapiro show the FBI advising that activists - including Shapiro - who walked onto a farm, videotaped animals there and "rescued" an animal had violated terrorism statutes.

The documents, which were first published on Will Potter's website, Green Is the New Red, were issued by the Joint Terrorism Task Force in 2003 in response to an article in an animal rights publication in which Shapiro and two other activists (whose names were redacted from the document), openly claimed responsibility for shooting video and taking animals from a farm.

The FBI notes discuss the videotaping, illegal entry and the removal of animals, then concludes with "there is a reasonable indication that [Subject 1] and other members of the [redacted] have violated the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, 18 USC Section 43 (a)."

Curiously, the name of the act seems to be an error; the act was called the Animal Enterprise Protection Act until 2006, when it was largely superseded by an act called the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act. The crime named in the original 1992 act, however, was always called terrorism. The penalties for such a conviction can include terrorism enhancements which can add decades to a sentence.

Later, in 2004, Shapiro and a colleague, Sarahjane Blum, working as a group called Gourmet Cruelty, were prosecuted for a different but similar act in which they walked onto a fois gras farm, videotaped the operation and took a few ducks. They were prosecuted for felony burglary and pleaded to misdemeanor trespassing.

"Sarahjane and I and everyone with Gourmet Cruelty - the undercover investigation and especially the open rescue were acts of civil disobedience," said Shapiro by phone. He is currently a doctoral candidate in the Department of Science, Technology and Society at MIT. "We openly took credit for the things that we were doing in order to expose the horrific cruelty on factory farms and to educate the public about it. So a trespassing charge seemed like a perfectly reasonable price to pay."

"However, it's simply outrageous to consider civil disobedience as terrorism," Shapiro adds. "Civil disobedience is not terrorism. It has a long and proud place in our nation's history, from Martin Luther King to Occupy Wall Street, and the AETA takes that kind of advocacy that we celebrate from the civil rights movement and turns it into a terrorist event."

The FBI declined to comment on the documents, though a public information officer did point out that "the FBI cannot collect or retain information on pure 1st Amendment activities unless the collection is pertinent to a legitimate law enforcement activity." Which would indicate that it is the trespassing and theft of animals that would cause the bureau to open a file. But activists and their attorneys are unsure of this interpretation.

Undercover investigations have been a mainstay of activist work, whistleblower activity and even journalism since before the days of Upton Sinclair and his landmark 1906 work about the meatpacking industry, "The Jungle."

"Some of these investigations don't even break state laws," says Rachel Meerpol, an attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights who is representing Shapiro in a constitutional challenge of the AETA. "It's possible to gain undercover footage lawfully. The way the FBI is interpreting this law would allow for prosecution of completely lawful, valuable advocacy efforts as an act of terrorism. It's an issue of public safety as well as animal cruelty. It's such a waste of time and resources for the FBI to be spending money investigating folks involved in this work."

State legislatures, however, are also getting into the act. Florida, Iowa, Minnesota and New York all tried to pass bills specifically outlawing photographing and videotaping animal enterprises in 2011, but failed. Florida state Sen. Jim Norman has already reintroduced his bill, SB1184, for 2012, which is more of an omnibus bill but still contains the prohibitions against recording farm operations.

Potter, who has looked into these state laws in more detail, points out, "There's no shortage of laws that could be used to prosecute someone who is trespassing or someone who is vandalizing property in the process of an investigation. But these new laws are specifically aimed at mainstream animal rights and environmental groups who investigate abuse, such as the Humane Society, Mercy for Animals and PETA."

 

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+34 # pernsey 2012-01-03 08:00
Wow!! They are really trying to squash any kind accountability for anything and proof of animal cruelty. The only thing I can say is the animals will suffer.

This is stupidity gone to seed!
 
 
+23 # Huck Mucus 2012-01-03 08:42
Why the FBI? Now, with the National Defense Authorization Act signed into law by Obama, the Special Operation Command, Department of Defense, can just roll these animal rights activists up, and there will be no one to question the alleged link to AQ.
 
 
+34 # RMDC 2012-01-03 08:51
We've known all along that the first targets of Obama's new law that permits secret arrests and infinite detention without trial for terrorists would be applied to environmentalis t and animal rights activists.

The statement above that it is outrageous to consider civil disobedience as terrorism is right on the mark. Civil disobedience means that someone has an independent conscience and simply cannot obey laws that are immoral, injust, corrupt, and generally violate one's own conscience.

To call animal rights activists and anyone who engages in civil disobedience a terrorist is the worst of all possible mis-uses of power because it says that everyone must submit to the ethics and morality of those who enforce the laws -- that is, the ethics of industrial agriculture. It does not allow for the right of individual conscience. This is really getting serious.
 
 
+19 # ChickenBoo 2012-01-03 09:05
I agree. This is all about stopping anyone who dares to take the law into their own hands when the corrupt law makers and enforcers won't do what's right.
Animal rights activists are a perfect target since they have already been identified. Watch what's happening to our remaining American Mustangs. Supposedly, these wild horses belong to the American people. Yet the BLM has been allowed for years to capture and abuse them and NO one, not even Madeline Pickens can stop them. I think they just want to flex their new-found muscle...sigh.
quote name="RMDC"]We' ve known all along that the first targets of Obama's new law that permits secret arrests and infinite detention without trial for terrorists would be applied to environmentalis t and animal rights activists.

The statement above that it is outrageous to consider civil disobedience as terrorism is right on the mark. Civil disobedience means that someone has an independent conscience and simply cannot obey laws that are immoral, injust, corrupt, and generally violate one's own conscience.

To call animal rights activists and anyone who engages in civil disobedience a terrorist is the worst of all possible mis-uses of power because it says that everyone must submit to the ethics and morality of those who enforce the laws -- that is, the ethics of industrial agriculture. It does not allow for the right of individual conscience. This is really getting serious.
 
 
+1 # RMDC 2012-01-03 16:42
Chickenboo -- yes, I am very concerned by the wild Mustangs and Burros in the south west. I've seen some and really love them. They are being killed off to make room for cattle. The land is not suitable for cattle. The ranchers only want it because the Bureau of Land Management will pay for the water and all the maintenance and rent the land to them for free.

There are so few wild animals left in the US. We need to protect all of them. I love to see deer or bears, even in the suburbs. It is one of the great pleasures of life. I would resist any law that claims to want to control them.
 
 
-2 # Huck Mucus 2012-01-03 17:54
I'd like to see all domestic animals removed from public land, including the horses and burros (which are just feral livestock). That land is not suitable for them either, having died out in the Pleistocene.

Domestication of species was original sin.
 
 
+3 # Doubter 2012-01-03 14:54
We are ALL "terrorists" now.
This is going to reduce 'waste in government.' Now they won't have to spend money drumming up foreign terrorists. They only need look in the U. S. phone books for an unlimited supply to fill their new jails.
 
 
+31 # rsnfan 2012-01-03 09:03
Some important quotes here before I comment
Mahatma Gandhi: A country or civilization can be judged by the way it treats its animals.

Man has turned Earth into a hell for animals. Arthur Schopenhauer

When a man kills a tiger, it is called a game. When a tiger kills a man then it is called savagery. - unknown

Two things have surprised me: The intelligence of animals and the beastliness of men. – Flora Tristan

When man feels compassion toward all living beings, then he will be noble – Buda

I grew up on a small farm and my dad would beat animals.
I still have an occasional nightmare. And he beat my brothers
I learned later in life.

What are we becoming when people are allowed to harm innocent animals and people? And to punish those who fight to protect the same.

My heart breaks.
 
 
+2 # RMDC 2012-01-03 18:29
rsnfan -- thanks great post. Gandhi's comment is right on the mark.
 
 
+18 # CandH 2012-01-03 09:46
This is the result of the takeover of the corporate class, who are using their power whenever/wherev er for their own greedy/selfish/ brutal/totalita rian means. The FBI in this case is the quintessential "thought crime enforcement arm" of the massive corporate-monie d interests of the factory farm industry. Are there no Constitutional checks-and-bala nces left anywhere in this country now? This law application is outrageous!
 
 
+17 # karenvista 2012-01-03 11:28
How can people whose principles require them to be non-violent be terrorists? It defies logic.
 
 
+3 # Doubter 2012-01-03 15:04
And you didn't even mention the "Citizens United" decision granting person-hood to corporations!
 
 
+15 # ChickenBoo 2012-01-03 10:37
So.....is this why they are maintaining all those concentration camps? So they can "detain" "Domestic Terrorists" indefinitely? Intresting that Monsanto and his ilk are allowed to run rough-shod over organic farmers, but DARE someone speak out against it.....!The ONLY way to fight these bastards is with your checkbook. Do NOT buy anything made by Monsanto. Get you money out of the big banks. Watch every red cent you spend and make sure it isn't going to a corporation that supports animal abuse. Our money is their blood, so I say bleed them to death.
 
 
+12 # karenvista 2012-01-03 11:37
Quoting ChickenBoo:
Do NOT buy anything made by Monsanto.


It's against the law in the United States for food to be labeled GMO (genetically modified) so we're not allowed to know what Monsanto makes.

In Europe it's against the law NOT to label it and it's importation is not encouraged. In fact, many countries don't allow Monsanto to do business within their borders.

The U.S. State Department works as the sales force for Monsanto by threatening or bribing countries to try to get them to allow GMOs. It is a hard sell. Nobody trusts them but the people who are paid to.
 
 
+4 # Jayegilmore 2012-01-03 13:19
1984 and more.
 
 
+1 # RnR 2012-01-03 20:40
I can't express the disgust and contempt I feel for our great and glorious government for enabling this. I also can't wait for the DNC to call me for money :)
 
 
+2 # Tippitc 2012-01-03 20:59
If a processed food has corn or soybeans as an ingredient, it is most likely GMO. Highly processed food is only pseudo-food at best. If the FBI wants to round up domestic terrorists, I suggest they start with the owners and execs of factory farms. They could have themselves a regular "sting" operation
 
 
+1 # Huck Mucus 2012-01-04 07:26
That picture in the article and this thread reminds me of when I used to represent a mega-corp that owned a slaughter house. I penned this during the litigation:

Next!

No longer wild, no longer free
Domestic, you belong to me
But that sparkle in your eye
Makes my ownership a lie

No matter what that we have done
You are still another one
I know this now in empathy
As I watch your tragedy

Up the ally on your way
To where you’re going to die today
The smell of death and anxious fear
Now you fathom what is near

The bellows of the ones before
Who’ve past beyond the cold steel door
Still not sure, you stay in line
Past the gate a false light shines

If it is the worst to be
Time permits you fight or flee
But now the noise and sight to greet
A head-knocked friend slides at your feet

Any chance that it won’t be?
You look around most desperately
Too late, your Sacred Hoop spills on the floor
Down the drain to ever more
 

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