Anti-abortion extremists and Christian fundamentalists have resorted to physical violence and assassinations in the name of their cause, but it is not investigated as terrorism. Meanwhile, property destruction and civil disobedience by environmentalists is systematically labeled as such by the FBI, Homeland Security and Justice Department.
I spoke with Matt Harwood of Salon about the glaring contradiction. Here’s an excerpt from his excellent piece:
On Tuesday, 50-year-old Francis Grady pleaded not guilty to trying to burn down a Planned Parenthood in Grand Chute, Wis., on April 1. Earlier this month, however, during his first court appearance, Grady sang a different tune, telling the U.S. district judge he did it because “they’re killing babies there.”
An open and shut case of domestic terrorism for the state, it would seem. But curiously Grady is not facing any domestic terrorism charges, once again raising the question of whether the FBI and U.S. Attorneys’ Offices apply terrorism laws equally when prosecuting ideologically motivated crimes. While Islamists and animal rights and environmental activists regularly spend years behind bars under terrorism sentences, antiabortion criminals are seldom punished as severely. Grady, it would seem, is the latest antiabortion activist accused of a crime that would be harshly punished if, say, he had done it in the name of Allah or Mother Earth….
Journalist Will Potter, the author of “Green Is the New Red,” which explores how the war on terrorism has been used to stifle dissent and label nonviolent civil disobedience as terrorism, says the perfect illustration of this double standard is the case of Eric McDavid. McDavid was labeled an “eco-terrorist” by the FBI and sentenced to nearly 20 years in federal prison in May 2008 after the judge applied a terrorism enhancement to his sentence. McDavid was convicted of conspiring to destroy the Nimbus Dam and other targets with two co-conspirators. His defense attorney, however, argues he was entrapped by an FBI informant that he had developed a crush on.
During the trial, jurors were told that “Anna,” the ringleader of the group McDavid belonged to, was not a government agent, thereby precluding them from considering entrapment a legitimate defense for McDavid. After the trial, two jurors wrote letters to the judge expressing outrage when they learned Anna was indeed a government agent.
“My opinion of the case is that the FBI agents were an ‘embarrassment’ by their lack of knowledge of FBI procedures and the way they handled the investigation, specifically by allowing this case to develop the way it did using Anna and providing all of the essential tools for the group; the cabin, the money, the idea, the books, everything, and by letting Anna ‘string Eric along’ when she should have terminated the relationship clearly with him; that the main witness ‘Anna’ was not a credible witness at all,” wrote juror Diane Bennett. Later on in the same letter, Bennett added, “we would have found that he was entrapped” if the jurors knew Anna was a government agent.
And here are some related articles for further reading on this juxtaposition: