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Jan 1st, 2012 8:20 AM #1
FBI: Activists Who Videotape Factory Farms Could Be Prosecuted as Terrorists
Just to clear up- nobody has been prosecuted as a terrorist for these activities as of yet. New documents obtained through a FOIA request by animal rights activist Ryan Shapiro show the FBI advising that activists who walked onto a farm, videotaped animals there and “rescued” animals had violated terrorism statutes.
Green Is The New Red:
...The 2003 FBI file details the work of several animal rights activists who used undercover investigation to document repeated animal welfare violations. The FBI special agent who authored the report said they “illegally entered buildings owned by [redacted] Farm… and videotaped conditions of animals.”
The animal activists caused “economic loss” to businesses, the FBI says. And they also openly rescued several animals from the abusive conditions. This was not done covertly in the style of underground groups like the Animal Liberation Front — it was an act of non-violent civil disobedience and, as the FBI agent notes, the activists distributed press releases and conducted media interviews taking responsibility for their actions.
Based on these acts — trespassing in order to photograph and videotape abuses on factory farms — the agent concludes there “is a reasonable indication” that the activists “have violated the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, 18 USC Section 43 (a).”...
The Center for Constitutional Rights link in the story is broken, but this one isn't- a history of the act and of efforts to repeal it.
The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA)
The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) was passed by Congress and signed into law by President George W. Bush on November 27, 2006. The law was pushed through Congress by wealthy biomedical & agri-business industry groups such as the Animal Enterprise Protection Coalition (AEPC), the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF), with bipartisan support from legislators like Senator Dianne Feinstein and Representative James Sensenbrenner. The new law replaced its predecessor, the Animal Enterprise Protection Act (AEPA), which had become law in 1992.
The AEPA was put on the books in 1992 by well-funded industries that exploit animals. Proponents of the AEPA argued that the number of violent attacks committed by so-called animal rights extremists on farming and research facilities was escalating, and that the AEPA was necessary to protect these facilities. They claimed that (1) existing state & federal laws had failed to curtail such acts, and (2) these attacks disrupted vital services relied on by millions of Americans. Despite these assertions, the language of the AEPA swept up constitutionally-protected free speech activities, even though legislators believed they had struck a balance between the right to protest and the need to provide additional criminal penalties for violent acts.
Fast forward to 2006, the proponents of the AETA repeated these same arguments again in support of this new law....
...“Some of these investigations don’t even break state laws,” says Rachel Meerpol, an attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights who is representing Shapiro in a constitutional challenge of the AETA. “It’s possible to gain undercover footage lawfully. The way the FBI is interpreting this law would allow for prosecution of completely lawful, valuable advocacy efforts as an act of terrorism. It’s an issue of public safety as well as animal cruelty. It’s such a waste of time and resources for the FBI to be spending money investigating folks involved in this work.”
State legislatures, however, are also getting into the act. Florida, Iowa, Minnesota and New York all tried to pass bills specifically outlawing photographing and videotaping animal enterprises in 2011, but failed. Florida state Sen. Jim Norman has already reintroduced his bill, SB1184, for 2012, which is more of an omnibus bill but still contains the prohibitions against recording farm operations.
Potter, who has looked into these state laws in more detail, points out, “There’s no shortage of laws that could be used to prosecute someone who is trespassing or someone who is vandalizing property in the process of an investigation. But these new laws are specifically aimed at mainstream animal rights and environmental groups who investigate abuse, such as the Humane Society, Mercy for Animals and PETA.”..."The Alice-in-Wonderland nature of this pronouncement is not lost on me..."
Jan 1st, 2012 9:35 AM #2
Nu... why so surprised? We're all terrorists in the eyes of the law.
Jan 1st, 2012 10:47 AM #3
Here is the actual text of the law. It does not appear filming is breaking this law. However, trespassing is.
SEC. 2. INCLUSION OF ECONOMIC DAMAGE TO ANIMAL ENTERPRISES
AND THREATS OF DEATH AND SERIOUS BODILY INJURY
TO ASSOCIATED PERSONS.
(a) IN GENERAL.—Section 43 of title 18, United States Code,
is amended to read as follows:
‘‘§ 43. Force, violence, and threats involving animal enterprises
‘‘(a) OFFENSE.—Whoever travels in interstate or foreign commerce,
or uses or causes to be used the mail or any facility of
interstate or foreign commerce—
‘‘(1) for the purpose of damaging or interfering with the
operations of an animal enterprise; and
‘‘(2) in connection with such purpose—
‘‘(A) intentionally damages or causes the loss of any
real or personal property (including animals or records)
used by an animal enterprise, or any real or personal
property of a person or entity having a connection to,
relationship with, or transactions with an animal enterprise;
‘‘(B) intentionally places a person in reasonable fear
of the death of, or serious bodily injury to that person,
a member of the immediate family (as defined in section
115) of that person, or a spouse or intimate partner of
that person by a course of conduct involving threats, acts
of vandalism, property damage, criminal trespass, harassment,
or intimidation; or
‘‘(C) conspires or attempts to do so;
shall be punished as provided for in subsection (b).
http://abolishtheaeta.org/web/wp-con...rorism-act.pdf"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it" G. Santayana
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