FBI: “Eco-terrorists” Are Bigger Threat Than Osama bin Laden, Hate Crimes, and Attempts to Assassinate Obama

by Will Potter on November 25, 2008

in Government Priorities,Terrorism Scare Mongering

Screenshot of the FBI homepage, with "eco-terrorists" as the top story above Osama bin Laden.Come December 7, it will have been three years since the “Operation Backfire” arrests of Earth Liberation Front members, for a string of arsons and property crimes in the Northwest that caused upwards of $48 million in damages. Those defendants were hit with “terrorism enhancement” penalties for their crimes, which never harmed anyone, and are now in federal prisons as “terrorists.”

Four of the suspects are nowhere to be found, though. And a few days ago the FBI held a press conference and told the press and public, “We need your help.” They’re offering a reward of up to $50,000.

This was the top story on the FBI web page. Take a look at this screen shot (and my stellar photoshopping skills), and check out poor, neglected Osama bin Laden in the bottom right corner. I just wrote a few paragraphs of smart-ass commentary about the FBI’s priorities, but had to delete it. I think the image just speaks for itself. The government has made hunting down “eco-terrorists” the “number one domestic terrorism threat,” while those responsible for the single greatest act of terrorism against the United States have become footnotes of history.

To put this in perspective, the Operation Backfire crimes were 10 years ago, destroyed corporate and government property, and didn’t harm a single human being. The September 11th attacks were 9 years ago, targeted civilian and government offices, and murdered thousands of people. Oh, and Al Qaeda, unlike “The Family” of ELF defendants, is alive and kicking… and put out a new video this month.

Even if you believe that economic sabotage in the name of the environment is “terrorism,” rewards like this simply aren’t effective. The reason–the ONLY reason–the FBI was able to secure the convictions of the Operation Backfire defendants was because the lead arsonist, Jacob Ferguson, agreed to wear a wire and entrap his friends. Ferguson has a history of drug abuse and plenty of personal problems… and as part of the deal he was not only paid by the FBI, but he received probation. That’s right, the #1 domestic terrorist threat… on probation.

If FBI agents are looking to catch more “eco-terrorists,” a better strategy would clearly be to put out a call for drug addict firebugs who’ll do anything to save their own skins.

It has been nearly three years since these ELF arrests and you’d think that the FBI would be easing up, moving on. So why the obsessive focus on a handful of saboteurs? If you believe the rhetoric of the FBI, it’s simple: “These individuals are terrorists,” said Michael B. Ward, deputy Assistant Director of our Counterterrorism Division. “Regardless of their political or social message, their actions were criminal and violated federal laws.”

That’s a boldface lie. The political and social message does matter.

Consider this: Obama’s election has “unleashed a wave of hate crimes” that aren’t the subject of FBI media blitzes. From the Times UK:

Cross burnings, black figures hung from nooses, and schoolchildren chanting “Assassinate Obama” are just some of the incidents that have been documented by police from California to Maine…

Mr Obama has received more threats than any other president-elect, authorities say.

Remember those meth-addict white supremacists who had high-powered rifles and made threats of assassination? Well, that wasn’t a “true threat,” according to the FBI.

And remember the other group of nutjobs who had a plot to decapitate people if Obama won? If this isn’t “political,” as the FBI says, how do we explain, in sharp contrast to the Operation Backfire PR campaign, that the news release about a plot to assassinate the president-elect didn’t even use the word “terrorism”?

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