The War on Eco-Terror


Kelly Hearn, a former UPI reporter, notes in an article on Alternet that the FBI is cracking down on eco-terrorism, which is fair enough, but that the federal government and various conservative groups are also pushing to expand the fight to include mainstream environmental groups and regular protestors. I don’t really hold any brief for people who torch SUVs or firebomb McDonalds, but some of this seems ludicrous:

As the FBI works to shut down elusive and decentralized eco-terrorist networks, civil rights groups say agents are going so far as illegally spying on activists. In June, a federal disclosure lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union forced the FBI to admit having collected 2,400 pages of files on Greenpeace, the most vocal critic of the Bush administration’s environmental record, in addition to other groups….

At a June hearing, [Larry Frankel, legislative director of the ACLU] told a Senate committee that under such a law “people who protest outside of an animal research facility and block the entrance to that facility may be considered eco-terrorists. On the other hand, people who protest outside of a weapons-manufacturing plant and block the entrance to that facility will not be subject to enhanced penalties even though they are engaged in essentially similar activities.”

The main problem here seems to be that the Patriot Act’s definition of terrorism—any dangerous activity that “appear to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population or to influence the policy of government by intimidation or coercion”—blurs the line between firebombing and standard protesting. Not to mention the fact that this is all a very transparent attempt to attack environmental groups; one hardly need condone eco-terrorism to point out that this is all extremely slimy.

UPDATE: Dave Roberts of Grist has more on this.

OUR NEW CORRUPTION PROJECT

The more we thought about how MoJo's journalism can have the most impact heading into the 2020 election, the more we realized that so many of today's stories come down to corruption: democracy and the rule of law being undermined by the wealthy and powerful for their own gain.

So we're launching a new Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption. We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We'll publish what we find as a major series in the summer of 2020, including a special issue of our magazine, a dedicated online portal, and video and podcast series so it doesn't get lost in the daily deluge of breaking news.

It's unlike anything we've done before and we've got seed funding to get started, but we're asking readers to help crowdfund this new beat with an additional $500,000 so we can go even bigger. You can read why we're taking this approach and what we want to accomplish in "Corruption Isn't Just Another Scandal. It's the Rot Beneath All of Them," and if you like how it sounds, please help fund it with a tax-deductible donation today.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate