The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act Threatens Activism

by Will Potter on January 25, 2012

in Terrorism Legislation

JuristGuest commentary by Will Potter at Jurist. is an online legal news service that has won many awards for its content, and is quite influential in legal circles. It was described by the ABA Journal as one of “the best Web sites by lawyers, for lawyers.” I was invited to contribute a commentary on the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act.

Here’s an excerpt:

A recent undercover investigation into one of the nation’s largest egg producers, Sparboe Farms, documented hens mangled in cage wire, many with open wounds, and chicks having their beaks burned off by workers. This is just one of many investigations by animal welfare advocates that have exposed standard industry practices, created national dialogue about factory farming and in some cases prompted criminal charges. Newly released FBI documents show that the government is less concerned about these abuses and more concerned about the economic loss caused to businesses. The FBI has also been keeping files on factory farm investigators, and recommends prosecuting them as terrorists.

It may come as a shock to most people to learn of potential terrorism charges for investigators who, at worst, have trespassed or rescued a few injured animals. Yet, this is merely the latest chapter of a long-running campaign. I have documented how corporations created the term “eco-terrorism” in the 1980s and then used public relations campaigns, congressional hearings and ambitious court cases to manufacture what the FBI calls the “number one domestic terrorism threat.”

Perhaps the most dangerous tactic employed by corporations has been the manipulation of post-9/11 fears to enact designer terrorism legislation. Foremost among these new laws is the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA). The act was passed in 2006 at the request of the National Association for Biomedical Research, Fur Commission USA, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Wyeth, United Egg Producers, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and many other corporations and business groups that have a financial stake in silencing animal rights activists.

You can read the full commentary, “Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act Threatens Activism,” at Jurist.


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