Humane Society Defends Donation to Eco-Terrorism Witch Hunt

by Will Potter on September 16, 2008

in Activism & Activists' Response,Surveillance

After the recent bombings in California–which the press, industry groups and FBI recklessly rushed to attribute to animal rights activists—I reported that the Humane Society of the United States donated money to the “eco-terrorist” witch hunt. That didn’t sit well with many people, even those who oppose direct action. Now, HSUS’ Wayne Pacelle has come out to not only defend the donation, but endorse California’s version of the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act.

Much of Pacelle’s blog post is standard rhetoric condemning illegal activity. But what truly surprised me is that Pacelle acknowledges that nobody even knows if animal rights activists were involved in the attack.

So, if the perpetrators of the Santa Cruz attacks turn out to be agents hostile to animal protection, it would not surprise me, because this is a tactic that malicious forces have used in the past to discredit many good causes. I’d feel especially good if our reward money helped to catch an infiltrator and exposed this person to the harsh glare of public opinion.

Huh? So let’s get this straight: HSUS gave money to this Green Scare witch hunt and condemned “extremists,” without even knowing if animal activists were involved. But if they were involved, this donation would help oust infiltrators?

Fat chance. HSUS’ actions will never help reveal an infiltrator, in part because the FBI are the ones doing the infiltrating (remember Eric McDavid’s case?). And besides, the damage has been done. The FBI, corporations and even animal groups have blamed this on animal activists, and those parties won’t be coming out and saying, “Oops, we were wrong.” Why? Because, at best, they don’t care that they’re wrong, and, at worst, they know it and are recklessly smearing animal activists anyway.

Pacelle writes as if the actions of HSUS exist in a political vacuum, and completely ignores the larger political climate. It’s bad enough that some groups are remaining silent about all of this “eco-terrorism” rhetoric, but for the largest animal protection organization in the country to come out and support it… that’s another story entirely. It lets law enforcement know that their actions can proceed unchecked and unquestioned by the few groups in the country who are actually paying attention.

The government and corporations have responded to this endorsement accordingly:

  • “Eco-terrorism” legislation. Surprise surprise, corporations used the bombings to rush through “eco-terrorism” legislation called the California Animal Enterprise Protection Act (here’s a critical look at the CA AEPA). And, disturbingly, here’s Pacelle applauding the legislation (in its original, even-more-absurd form, no less).
  • Police raids. FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces have raided a college activist house and an anarchist bookstore. The bookstore, the Longhaul Infoshop, is also a community space, with public computers (14 were seized by the police).
  • Frivolous arrest. One activist, Nathan Pope, who lives in the raided house, was arrested for felony perjury. He is being held in lieu of $100,000 bail. What was Nathan Pope’s crime? Investigators said Knoerl [Pope] checked the ‘no’ box in response to the questions ‘have you applied for a driver’s license or identification card in California or another state/country using a different name within the past 10 years?'” The police acknowledge the arrest was “”unconnected with what we were searching for,” and had nothing to do with the crimes. They still have no suspects in the bombing cases.

It’s clear that HSUS needs to distance itself as much as possible from the firebombing because of the pending factory farming ballot initiative in November. It’s already going to be a dirty fight: the egg industry admits Proposition 2 would be a “major blow”. But guess what: the loyalty oaths and condemnations haven’t protected HSUS from “extremist” and “terrorist” smear campaigns.

The Center for Consumer Freedom is waging a media campaign to wrap up mainstream, national organizations with underground saboteurs. The CCF’s David Martosko writes: “If law-enforcement agencies are serious about attacking the growing problem of animal rights violence, they should start looking for clues inside some of the better known animal-protection charities.” It looks like they should also start investigating the Wu-Tang Clan.

[On a bittersweet note, as this Green Scare continues in California, the California Senate is finally trying to gut Red Scare legislation: under this bill, membership in the communist party would no longer be a fireable offense. Geez. It’s 2008. Kudos to lawmakers for their speedy, principled stand against the Red Scare.]

Wayne Pacelle’s blog doesn’t allow public comments. But he posted a few messagesthat he received, and whaddayouknow, every single one is supportive of HSUS’ donation to the witch hunt.

So I’ll open it up to you all for a more honest discussion: Is HSUS justified in donating money to the “eco-terrorist” witch hunt and supporting legislation against so-called “animal rights extremists,” in hopes of passing this ballot initiative? If not, what should HSUS have done?

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