Friday, December 1, 2006
An endemic crackdown on peaceful protest and dissent has continued
with President Bush signing the 'Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act,'.
Under the guise of protecting researchers, scientists and their
staff who conduct experiments and tests on animals, the latest
terror bill seeks to class as "terrorists" those who
seek to protest against such activities.
The bill expands criminal prohibitions against the use of force,
violence, and threats involving animal enterprises and increases
penalties for violations of these prohibitions. The operative
term being "threats", because what an activist may see
as protesting may be construed under the law to be threatening.
The Senate passed the bill by unanimous consent in September,
just prior to the Congressional recess. A similar bill, H.R. 4239,
was approved by the House of Representatives this month.
"It's depressing to know that, just because of our beliefs
involving animals, we are going to be branded terrorists if we
protest," said Lori Nitzel, a Madison attorney and executive
director of Alliance for Animals, a statewide group that pledges
Nitzel wonders if even the kind of leafleting the group did Friday
near a Madison fur store could be construed as illegal. The bill
can impose punishment if an animal enterprise suffers "economic
"We are, in fact, hoping to cause economic damage to the
store," Nitzel said.
One report states that backers of the bill say opponents are
trying to alarm people with wacky what-ifs. Unfortunately with
the government's track record, with any piece of legislation like
this you have to ask "what if?".
Without getting into a debate about animal testing itself, the
real issue of concern here is the term "terrorism".
The push to merge crime and terrorism laws can be no clearer than
in this case.
What happens if down the line terrorism legislation begins to
be combined? Suddenly you end up with a number of animal rights
"terrorists" who can be labeled as enemy combatants
and detained without trial.
The more crimes that become "terrorism", the more people
you can label as terrorists and treat in the same way. Every time
a piece of legislation like this becomes law, the more the Bill
of rights is eroded and free speech is restricted.
"The frightening thing for me is that it heavily criminalizes
civil disobedience, and just for animal rights activists,"
Lori Nitzel says. Nitzel is right, however, there are plenty more
moves afoot to criminalize other forms of civil disobedience.
We have previously documented cases where those who attend antiwar
demonstrations or Quaker meetings have been monitored and placed
on a Pentagon
database as possible threats. Think about that for
a minute, the military is monitoring peaceful US citizens who
do not agree with illegal warfare and placing them on a list
of possible enemies.
We have previously reported multiple times on how the intelligence
and law enforcement agencies have "domestic-terrorism
files" into which peaceful protesters have been
placed. These are not isolated incidents.
The precedent is set, if you protest you go on the subversive
list and you'll be first into the forced labor camps when a city
or two gets nuked.
Of course, we have known for a long time that The renewed and
extended Patriot Act will
target protesters and allow secret services a wider
latitude at public events. Penalties for such violations would
increase from six months to a year in prison.
The Patriot Act as we have exhaustively documented is the key
police state weapon the authorities have in their armory. The
party line often heard from Neo-Cons in their attempts to defend
the Patriot Act either circulate around the contention that the
use of the Patriot Act has never been abused or that it isn't
being used against American citizens. The Legislation's reach
HAS gone beyond terrorism and it IS
actively being used to target American citizens.
The most recent example of a U.S.
citizen being targeted using terror legislation involved
BBC investigative journalist Greg Palast, who was pursued by Homeland
Security and charged with unauthorized filming of a “critical
national security structure,” (an Exxon Oil refinery that
was readily available to anyone with an Internet connection at
Google Maps), under PATRIOT Act legislation. The charge was later
dropped after an activist outcry.
Remember, section 802 is specifically aimed at US citizens and
announces any crime as "domestic terrorism". Citizens
can be held without a trial as "Enemy
Washington Post recently reported "The Bush
administration is developing a parallel legal system in which
terrorism suspects -- U.S. citizens and noncitizens alike -- may
be investigated, jailed, interrogated, tried and punished without
legal protections guaranteed by the ordinary system, lawyers inside
and outside the government say."
Also under the Patriot Act police are authorized to impose "Free
Top legal experts and scholars are nearly unanimous that the
Military Commissions Act, another piece of Constitution shredding
terror legislation, also affects American citizens.
Yale Law Professor Bruce Ackerman states
in the L.A. Times, "The compromise legislation....authorizes
the president to seize American citizens as enemy combatants,
even if they have never left the United States. And once thrown
into military prison, they cannot expect a trial by their peers
or any other of the normal protections of the Bill of Rights."
The endemic movement to kill off free speech has spread to Britain
too. Free Speech Zones were also introduced
in Britain last year, making it illegal to protest
outside parliament. The new draconian laws forbid spontaneous
free speech within a one-kilometre radius of the House of Commons.
Last year the Scotland
Sunday Herald reported that the British Government
was considering just banning protest altogether after a major
terror attack and making it against the law to criticize the government
in a State of emergency.
Both Britain and Australia also have
domestic surveillance databases that gather the information
of anyone who criticizes them or who they consider to be subversive
Everywhere we look the First Amendment is under attack. It seems
that legislation is being passed daily, each bill tearing away
at fundamental rights and condemning another form of protest as
terrorism. It has got to the point for the government where what
is being protested is less of an issue than the act of protest
itself which they clearly see as the real threat