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patriot act used to arrest environmental activists
December 15, 2005 2:45 PM   Subscribe

Patriot Act used to arrest environmental activists
"Federal marshals arrested six environmental activists in a series of coordinated raids in four states yesterday, Dec. 8, in apparent response to a string of arsons in Oregon and Washington attributed to the Earth Liberation Front (ELF)" ... has the patriot act produced any arrests in the country related to 9-11?
posted by specialk420 (105 comments total)

 
The ELF are not environmental activists. They are nuts.
posted by Eideteker at 2:50 PM on December 15, 2005


Robinson acknowledged that federal authorities employed a provision of the USA Patriot Act to close in on the alleged saboteurs. The law allowed them to obtain search warrants from U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas M. Coffin in Eugene and search in other states for evidence.


so they got a JUDGE (NOT IN SECRET) to give them SEARCH WARRANTS to prosecute a guy for VANDALIZING CAR DEALERSHIPS. this has absolutely nothing to do with what is wrong with the PATRIOT Act.

stupid post.
posted by rxrfrx at 2:51 PM on December 15, 2005


“Daniel McGowan, 31, was arrested in New York City while working at WomensLaw.org, an advocacy organization that provides legal information for victims of domestic violence.”
Jesus! Someone had to stop that psycho.

Seriously, I’m not seeing how 16 counts of indictment for (I presume) arson is aided or hindered by the U.S. Patriot act.

I wouldn’t say it’s a stupid post, ‘cause I’m interested. But what’s the connection? Does it up the sentencing? ‘Cause I’m assuming 16 counts of arson...not a slap on the wrist anyway.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:53 PM on December 15, 2005


ELF is a domestic terrorist organization and were considered so even before 9/11. In the last few years, some radical enviros have even suggested that ELF and its ilk should step up and start killing people who are damaging the earth.
posted by clockworkjoe at 2:55 PM on December 15, 2005


The ELF can bite me. They commit crimes and should be held responsible for their stupid antics that do nothing but alienate not only the people they oppose, but even those that call themselves environmentalists like me.
posted by mathowie at 2:55 PM on December 15, 2005


ELF.
EF!.
ALF.
ALF.
posted by Eideteker at 2:58 PM on December 15, 2005


Somebody should go back in time and stop them before they unleash an epidemic virus that will almost completely wipe out the human race...
posted by billysumday at 2:58 PM on December 15, 2005


Yeah, they're Wikipedia links. I'm just trying to show what 5 minutes of "investigative journalism" (aka google) can turn up. I'm not saying they're guilty of blah blah, but know who you're defending, man.
posted by Eideteker at 2:59 PM on December 15, 2005


While the ELF is biting Matt, I'll be in line right behind him.
posted by JeffK at 3:02 PM on December 15, 2005


Also, because I'm having fun: View all posts tagged with partiot.

Might I suggest additional tags such as reactionism, 1984, and OMG991ISERODINGRFREEDMOS!
posted by Eideteker at 3:03 PM on December 15, 2005


ELF is a domestic terrorist organization and were considered so even before 9/11.

No, they're not. They don't use "terror" against civilian populations - the minute they blow up a bus to protest gasoline, then you can call them that. They strike at established chosen targets that will have a direct effect. That's called "direct action," not terrorism.
posted by iamck at 3:04 PM on December 15, 2005


Free ALF! I mean, ELF!
posted by Rothko at 3:06 PM on December 15, 2005


The ELF can bite me.

uhh... "McGowan totally denies any involvement with arson, and denies membership in the ELF. "

what happened to innocent until proven guilty? does "lackawanna 6" ring a bell? while we're on the subject - has anyone been arrested for helping the 911 terrorists? how many people has saudi arabia extradited for their involvement?

has absolutely nothing to do with what is wrong with the PATRIOT Act

uhh².... "Robinson acknowledged that federal authorities employed a provision of the USA Patriot Act to close in on the alleged saboteurs."
posted by specialk420 at 3:14 PM on December 15, 2005


iamck writes "They don't use 'terror' against civilian populations - the minute they blow up a bus to protest gasoline, then you can call them that. They strike at established chosen targets that will have a direct effect. That's called 'direct action,' not terrorism."

Bullshit.

"Direct Action", my ass.
posted by mr_roboto at 3:17 PM on December 15, 2005


Interesting where US law enforcement chooses to put its resources .... and where it doesn't
posted by specialk420 at 3:21 PM on December 15, 2005


specialk420 writes "while we're on the subject - has anyone been arrested for helping the 911 terrorists?"

I don't see how it's remotely on the subject, but yes.
posted by mr_roboto at 3:21 PM on December 15, 2005


Also, because I'm having fun: View all posts tagged with partiot.

sorry, I fixed that.
posted by jessamyn at 3:21 PM on December 15, 2005


specialk420 writes "Interesting where US law enforcement chooses to put its resources ...."

It's true: investigating arson is a waste of law-enforcement resources.
posted by mr_roboto at 3:21 PM on December 15, 2005


"ELF was considered a domestic terrorist organization before 9/11."

What is disturbing is if people are being denied their rights under the guise of the PATRIOT Act if they have no actual connection to this organization. All we have right now is a recording we're not allowed to hear because it might jeopardize the case.

jessamyn: Thank you.
posted by Eideteker at 3:24 PM on December 15, 2005


Whee, posting without proofreading.

"ELF was considered a domestic terrorist organization before 9/11." Is that better? I'm not saying they're a terrorist organization, but the FBI sure is.
posted by Eideteker at 3:27 PM on December 15, 2005


wow. very intelligent response mr. roboto. i suppose these activists had it coming as well in your opinion.

While the ELF is biting Matt, I'll be in line right behind him.

someday your children will ask both of you why you didn't do more to protect their environment
posted by specialk420 at 3:27 PM on December 15, 2005


someday your children will ask both of you why you didn't do more to protect their environment

God, who would ever want such self-righteous kids?
posted by billysumday at 3:30 PM on December 15, 2005


More from Democracy Now ... and not much anywhere else, save for an AP blurb.

Daniel, of course, is totally innocent. He insists that he is innocent. He has no apology for being the activist that he was.

Sucks about bail.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:34 PM on December 15, 2005


Eideteker, why is Earth First! also on your list? I read over both the Wikipedia page and their own materials, and it looks like the worst thing they've ever done has been tree-spiking, which sucks and hurts people, but they also renounced it and have distanced themselves from the members who did that ... Just curious, as it doesn't seem to be in anywhere near the same category as the others.
posted by kyrademon at 3:35 PM on December 15, 2005


Does this also mean the government is probabally using provisions of the Patriot Act to secretly monitor and possibly arrest members of the Erisian Liberation Front? I hope not.
But given the way law enforcement tends to work, I'd hardly be suprised at such a mixup based soley on similar acronyms.

Maybe some Discordians could flood the Earth Liberation Front channels which are being monitored with enough disinformation to lower the signal ratio to the point where the monitoring becomes worthless...
posted by archae at 3:37 PM on December 15, 2005



I don't see how it's remotely on the subject, but yes.


1 clownie that virtually turned himself in b4 9-11 happened is all you got? is that road you want to go down roboto?

if i was a 911 family member the governments response on the law enforcement level would be infuriating - shit like putting massive federal law enforcement energy into chasing down kids who may or may not have set fire to a hummer dealership just makes it worse.
posted by specialk420 at 3:37 PM on December 15, 2005


kdemon: Sorry for being cleverly mysterious there. If you read the ELF information, it mentions that they are decended from Earth First! I also linked to ALF, who I don't think has ever hurt anyone, except perhaps for a few busted guts.
posted by Eideteker at 3:49 PM on December 15, 2005


specialk420: "someday your children will ask both of you why you didn't do more to protect their environment"

The reason people resent the ELF, and other groups that use extreme measures, at least here (I think), is because they only make things worse. As Matt put it above, they "do nothing but alienate" both environmentalists and those who are destroying it. If the world is going to be changed, it's not going to be through small acts of sabotage or even "demonstration" or "civil disobedience;" it's going to be through education and cooperation. But the ELFs start from the proposition that the situation is hopeless, and then try to see how they can assuage their consciences and have fun while the world burns.

If and when the world gets better, our children will never say to us, "gee, mom and dad, I sure am glad those people burned down those apartment buildings and spray-painted those hummers." They'll say, "gee, mom and dad, I'm glad you got involved, voted for candidates that protected the environment, went to public hearings on it, and educated yourself and others."
posted by koeselitz at 3:56 PM on December 15, 2005


"The law allowed them to obtain search warrants from U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas M. Coffin in Eugene and search in other states for evidence.

so they got a JUDGE (NOT IN SECRET) to give them SEARCH WARRANTS to prosecute a guy for VANDALIZING CAR DEALERSHIPS. this has absolutely nothing to do with what is wrong with the PATRIOT Act."

I disagree with this reply.

There are some details left out that I think should be acknowledged before we decide what was and what was not done in secret.

It is my understanding, that the Patriot Act allows "them" to go to a judge and say "we think if we had a warrant for these people we could stifle terrorism" and the judge can give them the warrant. Note that "we think if we had a warrant for these people we could stifle terrorism" is much different than "we have enough evidence that we need a warrant for these people and here is that evidence laid out, please decide if we can get a warrant based on this evidence or not and let us know". In one case "them" needs to provide evidence to the judge before a warrant can be issued, in the other case no evidence need be provided. That's the problem, that's why this absolutely may have to do with the patriot act.

Can we not assume here that the article would not have said "federal authorities employed a provision of the USA Patriot Act" if the authorities had obtained the warrant thru the traditional means?
posted by chowder at 3:57 PM on December 15, 2005


Wouldn't it be nice if the PATRIOT Act was actually used against terrorism, and not just against politically unpopular left-wing groups?
posted by Rothko at 3:58 PM on December 15, 2005


People who call ELF a terrorist organization are ignorant. ELF carefult avoids harming humans. You just can't say they are terrorists if their is no rational reason to be afraid of them. Maybe all gays who have a** sex in public are terrorists too? No body is actually afraid of ELF, but plenty of christians are afaid of public a** sex.

ELF has often proven its ability to remain covert & generally untouchable; presumably due to the same careful nature which allows them to avoid hurting people. Corporate CEOs & board members are sitting ducks for assassins, by comparison. But ELF really doesn't want to kill anybody.
posted by jeffburdges at 4:00 PM on December 15, 2005


ELF has set three fires in my home town this year...none of the targets had any direct link to environmental causes.
They're nothing but misguided fuckwits, plain and simple.
posted by rocket88 at 4:08 PM on December 15, 2005


ELF only commits arson that "strike[s] at established chosen targets that will have a direct effect. That's called "direct action," not terrorism.

So when the KKK burns a cross on a black person's property they are not commiting terrorism either, right?
posted by Jos Bleau at 4:09 PM on December 15, 2005


Ah, thanks for the clarification chowder. That would be problematic then. Lowering the bar for the cops to tap your phone, search your house, etc. because they say “terrorism” is worrysome.

I had, and still have, similar problems with RICO. It’s a mixed curse tho. Some good arrests occured.

But whatever the case secrecy is an anathema to democracy. Whether the guy is an arsonist or not changes such as this - declaring someone to be part of a terrorist group alters the systemic nature of dealing with them - endanger all our rights.

Not that the guy shouldn’t be in jail, if he’s guilty. But I’m not clear on why traditional means wouldn’t have worked? You can ask for taps in cases of conspiracy (such as conspiring to set a bunch of fires). So what did they end run around?
posted by Smedleyman at 4:11 PM on December 15, 2005


Wouldn't it be nice if the PATRIOT Act was actually used against terrorism, and not just against politically unpopular left-wing groups?

or - "and not just against politically unpopular left-wing groups Arsonists?"

We already have a law enforcement mechanism to deal with arson.
posted by tkchrist at 4:15 PM on December 15, 2005


specialk420 writes "wow. very intelligent response mr. roboto. i suppose these activists had it coming as well in your opinion."

Thank you!

As for the incidents in China, I don't see what one thing has to do with the other. Clearly, I don't think protesters should be killed by riot police. I don't understand why you think I would. I have suggested nothing of the sort here.

I have no opinion on the guilt or innocence of the accused. I do believe, however, that the FBI is right to investigate groups that use violence to further their agenda, no matter how admirable that agenda might be.

specialk420 writes "1 clownie that virtually turned himself in b4 9-11 happened is all you got? is that road you want to go down roboto? "

I still don't see your point here. You asked a (seemingly irrelevant) question, and I gave you an answer. But all right, there's also Mounir Motassadeq, Abdelghani Mzoudi, Ramzi Binalshibh, and Muhammed Al Kahtani, though those cases are all significantly dicier.

But again, what's your point? Are you seriously suggesting that US law enforcement agencies have not put significant resources into investigating the incidents of Sept. 11? Because that contention goes against everything that I've been reading about the issue for the past 4 years. Are you suggesting that law enforcement shouldn't investigate arson? All right; why not? Or, are you arguing that since the accused here are white Americans, the FBI should not concern itself with them: that the real terrorists are foreign Muslims. If so, you're a racist and a fool.

jeffburdges writes "People who call ELF a terrorist organization are ignorant. ELF carefult avoids harming humans. You just can't say they are terrorists if their is no rational reason to be afraid of them. Maybe all gays who have a** sex in public are terrorists too? No body is actually afraid of ELF, but plenty of christians are afaid of public a** sex."

I just wanted to point this out as one of the dumbest things I've ever seen written on this site. Seriously.

Does anyone have any clarification on which provisions of the Patriot Act were used in this investigation? It seems to involve the issuance of a multistate search warrant. More a point of convenience than of secrecy.
posted by mr_roboto at 4:17 PM on December 15, 2005


Taken right from this website:

# The Earth Liberation Front "ELF" is an underground movement with no leadership, membership or official spokesperson. - so it's a headless, armless, legless, bodyless, mouthless organization.
# There is no ELF structure; "it" is non-hierarchical and there is no centralized organization or leadership. - Meaning anyone can do anything they want without fear of reprisal from higher-ups.
# There is no "membership" in the Earth Liberation Front. - This supports the gentleman's claim that he is not a member. But it sets up something else interesting:
# Any individuals who committed arson or any other illegal acts under the ELF name are individuals who choose to do so under the banner of ELF and do so only driven by their personal conscience. - This is called the "Not Me" clause, which disavows anything anyone within the organization (which doesn't exist, remember #1) does. That's handy!

This is also the "careful nature" that allows them to avoid hurting anyone. Can't you see? They didn't do it. Some wacko did it in their name! (Even though there is no "they".)

The logic of it breaks my mind. Please, people who are smarter than me, think for me. Make the bad men stop hurting animals, make the other bad men stop hurting the people who hurt (harm is not limited to bodily harm) animals or who they think hurt animals.

The real issue here is the PATRIOT Act, though. The illogic of the above statements should dissipate any argument over the merits of the so-called ELF. You can't defend them! They are a tenuous ideology that may or may not exist, and is therefore untouchable! Good for them. I'm going to stick to things that actually exist on planet earth and may actually help solve some of the problems here.
posted by Eideteker at 4:26 PM on December 15, 2005


Replace ELF with "atheist", "humanist" or any other politically or culturally unpopular group of unorganized people in the US and your quotes make more sense than you'd like, Eideteker.
posted by Rothko at 4:29 PM on December 15, 2005


...Which still doesn't address the well-known fact that the ELF regularly engages in acts of violent crime. Jeez, Rothko, give it a rest. You don't have to pretend this is some kind of ideological persecution to demonstrate the negative aspects of the PATRIOT Act.
posted by rxrfrx at 4:33 PM on December 15, 2005


Rothko: Duh. Or are you agreeing with me? I don't think the federal government should come after me because they suspect me of being an atheist. They should come after me if they suspect (and have reasonable evidence) that I may be a criminal. As I said, the PATRIOT Act is the real issue here, and whether it was applied in a manner that violates someone's fundamental rights. I don't think there's enough evidence here for me to come to a conclusion, but I look forward to hearing some more.
posted by Eideteker at 4:33 PM on December 15, 2005


"Does anyone have any clarification on which provisions of the Patriot Act were used in this investigation?"

I've spent a little time looking on news.google but in most articles I've found the patriot act is not mentioned. A Washington Post article with the quote "Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Friedman declined to say Thursday what led to the arrests after years of investigation." is the closest I've found.
posted by chowder at 4:38 PM on December 15, 2005


ELF is a domestic terrorist organization and were considered so even before 9/11.


No, they're not. They don't use "terror" against civilian populations - the minute they blow up a bus to protest gasoline, then you can call them that. They strike at established chosen targets that will have a direct effect. That's called "direct action," not terrorism.

Yes, they are. ELF terrorists assault human beings and destroy property, including arson and explosive use. I don't support a lot of what industry does to animals or the environment but Operation Rescue is a terrorist group and I'd be a hypocrite not to say ELF is by the same criteria.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 4:39 PM on December 15, 2005


Violent crime? I thought no one got hurt physically? If you want violent crime, look at abortion doctor snipers or militia bombers.
posted by Rothko at 4:39 PM on December 15, 2005


I mean, let's put this in perspective. Any rational human being knows damn well the PATRIOT Act is getting abused because of who's in charge.
posted by Rothko at 4:41 PM on December 15, 2005


16-COUNT ARSON INDICTMENT, YOU DUMBASS
posted by rxrfrx at 4:42 PM on December 15, 2005


And I disagree. The problem with the PATRIOT Act is that it provides too much power to the government- just about anybody in the position to take advantage of that power is going to abuse it.
posted by rxrfrx at 4:43 PM on December 15, 2005


Shrill rhetoric aside, did someone get shot or blown up, or shrapnel in his or her spine?
posted by Rothko at 4:43 PM on December 15, 2005


p.s. i'm starting to think you won that "ban the troll for a week" contest for good reason
posted by rxrfrx at 4:44 PM on December 15, 2005


jeffburdges: "Maybe all gays who have a** sex in public are terrorists too? No body is actually afraid of ELF, but plenty of christians are afaid of public a** sex."

The similarity runs deep. Both public ass sex and ELF action tend to serve only the participants' desires, and probably won't change the world at all; in fact, no matter what you call them, they'll probably just end up alienating people.

Also, this comment is getting flagged 'fantastic.' I hope you don't mind.

posted by koeselitz at 4:47 PM on December 15, 2005


Oh sure. *rolls eyes*
posted by Rothko at 4:47 PM on December 15, 2005


Please check facts. Note the date. The FBI considered them the #1 domestic terror threat back then. The PATRIOT Act doesn't care two whits what you think of them as. The original commenter spoke incorrectly, or at least, imprecisely. This is about the PATRIOT Act, which means it's a question of what they consider terror. Not you. Not me. Not the consensus on MetaFilter.

Rothko: What about the people out of work because of the arson? What if there was lost pay? Families, kids, etc.? There are other kinds of harm, not limited to those.

Rothko: So why are you debating the merits of an organization that by its own definition doesn't exist? It's stupid, and it's divisive. What we should be doing is working together to oppose the PATRIOT Act.
posted by Eideteker at 4:49 PM on December 15, 2005


Does anyone else see life in prison for a property crime as ridiculous?
posted by 517 at 4:55 PM on December 15, 2005


Eideteker: Is the PATRIOT Act about going after terrorists or not? Because by any reasonable non-FBI, dictionary definition of the word "terrorist", the ELF is not a terrorist organization. They don't blow up people, they don't sit outside doctors' houses with sniper rifles, nor do they plant bombs where people are located.

They are as terrorist as the Mafia, even less so, which is to say they are criminal but don't kill people.

In any case, I think we can have a discussion about the purpose and utility of the PATRIOT Act without invoking the ELF.
posted by Rothko at 4:55 PM on December 15, 2005


517: Actually, longer sentences are more effective deterrents against property crime. Most property crime is instrumental as compared to reactive. Reactive crimes (heat of the moment) are more likely one-time affairs; or rather, increasing the length of a prison sentence has the greatest effect on reducing instrumental crimes.

In the case of reactive crimes, the sentence is more punitive than deterrent.

Maybe that doesn't make sense, but that's what the behavioral science data shows.

Rothko: I can see your point on the RICO vs. PATRIOT point, but I still think organization or no, the main question here is "Are this person's rights being violated?" They can say you're a member of any terrorist group they want; that doesn't make it true. What it does mean is that they can use the PA to bypass due process, and that aggravates me.
posted by Eideteker at 5:03 PM on December 15, 2005


Rothko writes "Is the PATRIOT Act about going after terrorists or not? "

I don't think necessarily so. There are a lot of provisions, and they're not all tied to terrorism....

I think I found a description of the provision in question here:

Before the Patriot Act, law enforcement personnel were required to obtain a search warrant in the district where they intended to conduct a search. However, modern terrorism investigations often span a number of districts, and officers therefore had to obtain multiple warrants in multiple jurisdictions, creating unnecessary delays. The Act provides that warrants can be obtained in any district in which terrorism-related activities occurred, regardless of where they will be executed. This provision does not change the standards governing the availability of a search warrant, but streamlines the search-warrant process.

I'm not a fan of the Patriot Act, but this strikes me as a not-particularly-worrisome provision (though I would welcome a critique). Warrants issued under this provision don't seem to include the scary sneak-and-peak or secret FISA court warrants: these are standard warrants, with traditional protections.
posted by mr_roboto at 5:04 PM on December 15, 2005


Perhaps life sentences for property crimes are more effective because the people that suffer through them are no longer alive to commit crimes at the end of them.

Hurrah for throwing away the key.
posted by 517 at 5:06 PM on December 15, 2005


Eideteker: Then anyone is a terrorist who violates my personal rights. Taking this argument to its logical conclusion, this makes the police terrorists, for example, because they might violate my personal rights by telling me to do something I might not want to do.
posted by Rothko at 5:07 PM on December 15, 2005


Dictionary.com says:

terrorism

The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group [b]against people or property[/b] with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons.

Sorry rothko, but unless the feds have infiltrated Dictionary.com in time for this debate, an organization involved with use of force or violence against property is generally considered to be committing an act of terrorism. Whether arson is violent or forceful is an arguement over semantics.
posted by chowder at 5:09 PM on December 15, 2005


"This provision does not change the standards governing the availability of a search warrant, but streamlines the search-warrant process."

This one doesn't, are we sure there are no other provisions that do?
posted by chowder at 5:10 PM on December 15, 2005


I don't know if the PATRIOT Act qualifies to go after ELF, frankly. There are more serious threats we need to deal with, as a society, than rich people's insured houses getting damaged. I'd prefer my tax dollars going after real terrorists.
posted by Rothko at 5:13 PM on December 15, 2005


"an organization involved with use of force or violence against property is generally considered to be committing an act of terrorism"

I should have been more specific and said,

"an organization involved with use of force or violence against property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons is generally considered to be committing an act of terrorism"

Were those activists not committing their crimes for ideological / political reasons? Random arsonists, not terrorists. ideological / politically motivated, terrorist.
posted by chowder at 5:14 PM on December 15, 2005


Previous related post here. *coughs*

And another here.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:15 PM on December 15, 2005


Rothko: That's exactly the rationale that makes me worry about the PA. Anyone can be singled out as a terrorist. How does one prove one is not a member of an organization that has no members? For someone not able to raise $1 mil bail, I would imagine this would be harder to fight. That's if this is the case.

517: I'm sorry. I don't necessarily agree with it, but you asked how it made sense. Life is a bit excessive, but so are 16 counts of arson. It's at what stage now? Arraignment? Indictment? I don't think that sentencing is anything more than guesswork at this point. Intimidation, possibly. Rhetoric. Tough-on-crime politics. But until an actual trial, I don't give it much creedence.
posted by Eideteker at 5:16 PM on December 15, 2005


"Violence against property"?
posted by Rothko at 5:16 PM on December 15, 2005


"I don't know if the PATRIOT Act qualifies to go after ELF"

I personally do not doubt that the act qualifies to go after ELF. What I do doubt is whether is should qualify to go after ELF in the first place. But we're not discussing what we think it should do, we're discussing reality, unfortunately.
posted by chowder at 5:16 PM on December 15, 2005


What? No Santa's Little ELFs jokes? Gawd - you'd think they were terrorists or something.
posted by Sparx at 5:20 PM on December 15, 2005


"Violence against property"?

We understand your point my friend, you don't believe violence can be committed against non-living objects. Though the current reality is that's how society defines terrorism.
posted by chowder at 5:23 PM on December 15, 2005


chowder writes "This one doesn't, are we sure there are no other provisions that do?"

In fact, I'm sure that other provisions do. The Patriot Act broadened the use of FISA court warrants and sneak-and-peek warrants, both of which are veeeery questionable in their civil liberties implications.

Rothko writes "There are more serious threats we need to deal with, as a society, than rich people's insured houses getting damaged."

There are more serious threats we need to deal with, as a society, than most crimes. That doesn't mean we should stop investigating and prosecuting all crimes but the absolutely most serious. I mean, if I were assaulted and beaten, I would want the police to arrest my attacker, even if he's not a member of Al Qaeda.

And were not just talking about "rich people's houses". Among other targets, these troglodytes are attacking public universities.

"Violence against property"?

Yeah. You seem to think that the word "violence" applies only to acts against people (or animals?). This simply isn't the case. It's not even borderline; we're talking standard dictionary definitions, here. I won't condescend to you by linking to one.
posted by mr_roboto at 5:25 PM on December 15, 2005


Coming tomorrow in the NYT, as per Drudge's tease: Under a presidential order signed in 2002, the NSA has monitored international calls and international e-mail messages of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people inside the United States without warrants...
posted by amberglow at 5:28 PM on December 15, 2005


someday your children will ask both of you why you didn't do more to protect their environment
posted by specialk420 at 3:27 PM PST on December 15


"Sorry, kids, Daddy didn't want to burn down someone's house just because he built it in the mountain foothills. I hope you can forgive me."

Look: I hate the Patriot Act, I hate the Bush adminstration, and I hate the current incarnation of the DoJ. But this is a non-evil use of the expanded powers, and the members of ELF do engage in terroristic activities; they rely on fear and violence to makes their ideology known. To hell with them.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 5:31 PM on December 15, 2005


I think "violence against property" is a bit of an oxymoron, but that has nothing to do with the fact that arson is extremely dangerous to human safety.
posted by rxrfrx at 5:32 PM on December 15, 2005


What ELF is practicing is blackmailing : you either stop using animals or somebody will burn your property , it's tit for tat even if in a brutal, violent and illegal way. Or so it seems so far.

Terrorism and terroristic strategies differ from blackmailing as the victim is often not required to do something, no request is made or if it's made it's a purely ideological request such as "becoming not sinners" ..which isn't the same as requesting money or to stop doing something very specific and possible as using animals in research.

Additionally terrorism can also be used as a political tools in country destabilization , because it affects people directly with a lot more emotive reactions then the one caused by destruction of property ; in such cases I doubt terrorist are going to demand anything...they're just going to be presented as being helped by "wicked" political oppositors.

What ELF is doing remains despicable as it help presenting environmentalists as criminals, nor does that stop experiments on the long term. It's useless and somebody is going to be seriously injuried sooner or later. It doesn't raise awareness of anything and helps government enact antidemocratic and freedom reducing laws.
posted by elpapacito at 6:30 PM on December 15, 2005


With regard to using the new tools (?), of the Patriot Act, this is simply what any agency does; makes use of what they can, as in racketeering regualtions that allowed for grabbing people under that charge, or eavesdropping on cell phones because they are Public (using the air rather than phone lines) etc etc
posted by Postroad at 6:53 PM on December 15, 2005


While I can't quite support the ELF, there is a significant backstory to the US Gov's heavyhanded methods of trying to stifle it.

I used to live in Portland, where Craig Rosebraugh (the public relations person who transmitted info from the Earth Liberation Front to the public) lived & worked. The story of his arrest and subsequent trial(scroll down a bit) is very interesting, as are the recommendations of a military tactician/specialist following the events in this article on leaderless resistance, which includes the following tidbits:

It is unlikely that prosecutions and sentences that appear disproportionate will have a deterrent effect; they may have the reverse effect. Perpetrators of these non-organizations appear to be motivated out of anger, frustration, and (in the case of some Islamic terrorism) humiliation. Instead of using traditional anti-terrorism or anti-crime strategies, a strategy of treating the violence as a public health problem may be more successful.In the past, the U.S. Congress has subpoenaed ELF spokesperson Craig Rosebraugh to testify before the Subcommittee on Forest and Forest Health [104]. This action generated significant backlash throughout the environmental and civil libertarian communities, and resulted in no information being revealed that was not already known. No further subpoenas should be issued: they only serve to radicalize fence-sitters.

The history of the U.S. Gov. using less-than-ethical means to target specific individuals and groups that represent ideological threat is long and grim. I hope the forest (freedom of dissent) doesn't get lost in the trees (bickering about which groups we individually support).
posted by Joseph Gurl at 6:56 PM on December 15, 2005


Justifying the concept of "violence against property" by pointing out that it is in the dictionary is missing the point entirely.
posted by jmgorman at 7:23 PM on December 15, 2005


Does anyone else see life in prison for a property crime as ridiculous?

I'd be surprised if you could find too many people here that would oppose life in prison for Ken Lay, Bernie Ebbers, or the Rigases.
posted by Kwantsar at 7:34 PM on December 15, 2005


I would be opposed to that, Kwantsar, but I'd also be strongly opposed to ELFers getting lesser terms than those guys, who ruined the livelihoods of literally thousands of people, not to mention the economies of several states.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 7:58 PM on December 15, 2005


er...I mean I'd be opposed to ELFers getting LONGER terms than those guys...
posted by Joseph Gurl at 8:01 PM on December 15, 2005


I think it is fair to question whether the governments response to their alleged (relatively minor in the global scheme of things) crimes is excessive and if they are being made examples of (like the lackawana 6) for the governments (and it's friends in industries threatened by the people who want to protect the environment) own anti-environmental purposes, especially in light of its own failings on so many other fronts.

It is fair to question the tactics of those arrested (should they be convicted of their crimes) - but mark my words, your kids will wish you and all americans had had the same passion for protecting the environment that these people have, because boy does the world they are going to inherit from our collective overconsuming asses look like its going to be a real f*ckin mess.
posted by specialk420 at 8:01 PM on December 15, 2005


Previous related post here. *coughs*

And another here.


***cough***
posted by soyjoy at 8:10 PM on December 15, 2005


The time to argue that a crime isn't serious is before your favorite lefty nutjobs commit it, not after.
posted by smackfu at 8:10 PM on December 15, 2005


Serious question: By this definition, was the Weather Underground terrorist?
posted by iamck at 8:17 PM on December 15, 2005


There's also more information here.
posted by goneill at 8:32 PM on December 15, 2005


Was there ever any doubt that this was the true reason for creating the Patriot Act? How do you think they wrote it up so quickly? Mark my words - in the next ten years more Americans will be imprisoned under the Patriot Act than foreigners. They are just starting with the least sympathetic liberals - like Hitler started with the homosexuals. Terrorists are not the threat that Republicans want to exterminate - it's Liberals.
posted by any major dude at 8:55 PM on December 15, 2005


On an interesting side-note the only earth firster i have ever met is a former army ranger/yugoslavia vet - gun toting - uber-redneck who was driven to the extreme by seeing the old growth national forests he grew up in and loved clearcut to the stumps on the public dime.
posted by specialk420 at 9:24 PM on December 15, 2005


My. So very difficult to argue with the positions of self-described "environmentalists", whose reasoned arguments consist of "bite me", and labeling non-milquetoast activist groups "nuts" and "criminals" and, oh my, "terrorists".

~chuckle~

The real criminals, or course, are the corporations and individual capitalists who can afford to greenwash and pay off legislators to draft laws that allow the legal rape of the land. They and theirs create acute, chronic, and immense suffering in our world, all for greed.

Violence? Destruction of life and that which sustains it, all so that we may have Yet Another Indespensible, Sublime....Strip Mall? This isn't outright violence...in which double-thought universe?

Few, save rare groups like ELF, exist to say "enough", and stand up for the voiceless. Frankly, we've had enough of ineffectual, self-described "environmentalists" whose talent really consists solely of compromising with thieves.

You bring your killing bulldozers or your raping logging trucks, or even your garish, stucco, mansion-with-a-view anywhere near what little remains of the sacred wild world....you attempt to bring property or even the concept of property into that magical world....then you'd better expect your property's righteous and justified destruction.

And you should thank ELF for having the courage and principles to somehow refrain from shoving your fucking property straight up your ass.

Earth, first.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 10:23 PM on December 15, 2005


So do you live outdoors, fold_and_mutilate, or what, uh, what's the deal there?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:49 PM on December 15, 2005


You've got to be fucking kidding me. If you think the goddamn Earth Liberation Front has accomplished more than mainstream environmentalism, you're living on another planet.

Those morons accomplish little more than to flesh out the strawman wet dream of the anti-environmental right.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:50 PM on December 15, 2005


Oh fucking please. ELF is nothing more than a group of self-righteous delusional fools who will eventually start attacking people.

In a recent 60 minutes report, an ALF supporter stated that it would be okay if certain people were stopped by any means necessary.

" Asked if Vlasak wants someone to go out there and kill, Vlasak says, “I want people who care about animals to do what's necessary to stop their exploitation, to stop their suffering.”

ELF and ALF are very similar both in philosophy and membership.

Random sproadic and infrequent arsons will not change the system. They're alienating moderates and galvanizing the opposition into a harder stance.

If you believe so strongly that the Earth is turning to shit, take a hint from Ghandi and MLK jr. Fight within the system. They were more successful than the radical enviromental movement has been.
posted by clockworkjoe at 10:51 PM on December 15, 2005


Yeah. You seem to think that the word "violence" applies only to acts against people (or animals?). This simply isn't the case. It's not even borderline; we're talking standard dictionary definitions, here. I won't condescend to you by linking to one.
posted by mr_roboto at 8:25 PM EST on December 15 [!]


I won't condescend to you by suggesting that you seem to think violence against property should be considered a more egregious sin than violence against people, and maybe that's part of the problem in this discussion.
posted by Rothko at 12:39 AM on December 16, 2005


one of these days, someone will be in one of the houses they burn or the vehicles they blow up, and then they will graduate from arson to murder. and then i wonder what excuse will be made to justify their loathsome activities.
posted by TrinityB5 at 1:40 AM on December 16, 2005


Nice strawman!


posted by Rothko at 1:55 AM on December 16, 2005


You bring your killing bulldozers or your raping logging trucks, or even your garish, stucco, mansion-with-a-view anywhere near what little remains of the sacred wild world....you attempt to bring property or even the concept of property into that magical world....then you'd better expect your property's righteous and justified destruction.

And you should thank ELF for having the courage and principles to somehow refrain from shoving your fucking property straight up your ass.


Hey, that reminds me, Osama bin Laden could have hit us a lot harder. Remind me to thank him later for showing so much restraint.

I really used to support much of your arguments, foldy, but I'm frankly just ashamed of the ignorance in your comment. Terrorism isn't defined merely by whether you agree with someone's views or not, nor does a percentage of their opinions having merit and veracity justify acts of terrorism to get them across. There's a difference between understanding action versus condoning it, and if you don't know that then everything you've said here since 9/11 has just been a show.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 4:29 AM on December 16, 2005



posted by melt away at 6:08 AM on December 16, 2005


I won't condescend to you by suggesting that you seem to think violence against property should be considered a more egregious sin than violence against people, and maybe that's part of the problem in this discussion.
posted by Rothko at 12:39 AM PST on December 16


No one said it was "more egregious" or worse, as far as I can tell; what was said is that it's still a violent crime, and one that deserves harsh penalties.

Violence is not the answer to environmental problems; if you honestly disagree, then I don't want to hear a fucking thing about Iraq from you ever again.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 6:16 AM on December 16, 2005


It's not even borderline; we're talking standard dictionary definitions, here.

A caution against using dictionary.com as the be-all and end-all for settling arguments: I checked the definitions of "terrorism" and "terror" in two hardcover dictionaries of some repute, American Heritage and Webster's New World (the official dictionary of the Associated Press) and the language cited above did not occur in either one. While AH did have one rambling definition that could be construed to contain "violence... against... public property" it also qualified that within a struggle of a political agency "to maintain or achieve supremacy." My newer WNW contained nothing about violence against property.

Regardless, this whole conversation is exactly what the people behind this initiative want: Focus on the details of whether given extreme protesters or disobedient individuals are or are not able to be loosely categorized as "terrorists" (hey, aren't kids who tag NY subway cars committing "violence against property?" etc.) rather than the incontrovertible fact that the administration doesn't actually give a rat's ass about such distinctions. It's dissent, not terror, that will be punished.
posted by soyjoy at 7:15 AM on December 16, 2005


If the world is going to be changed, it's not going to be through small acts of sabotage or even "demonstration" or "civil disobedience;"....

Whoa. Don't equate violent action with peaceful action. People are naturally selfish and it's very hard to change that. We are not all going to wake up one day and decide to protect the environment just because it's the right thing to do.

Education is one important part of making the world a better place, but if we relied solely on that tactic, the U.S. would still have legal segregation and women wouldn't be allowed to vote and trade unions would be outlawed and raw sewage would be legally dumped in every river in this country and the list goes on.

For example, the first Earth Day demonstration was held in 1970 after a string of environmental disasters such as massive fish kills from industry pollution and the Cuyahoga River catching fire. The Clean Water Act was passed by Congress in 1972 as a direct response to a massive public outcry against pollution.

I don't agree with ELF's tactics, but I do see some value in such extremist fringe groups -- they make the rest of us treehuggers look so reasonable. And regardless of how you feel about ELF, they have the same right to due process as any other arsonist.

Also, what soyjoy said.
posted by naomi at 7:23 AM on December 16, 2005


fold_and_mutilate wrote:

"And you should thank ELF for having the courage and principles to somehow refrain from shoving your fucking property straight up your ass."

Is this whole post supposed to be satire and I'm just not getting some of the jokes? I hope so because the "magical world" part was hilarious (I'm just picturing bearded hippies in elf costumes prancing around the woods).

That whole tirade reads like Eco-Freak porn. I hope you don't sprain your wrist reading that over and over F&M.

Fuck ELF (not that they even exist).
posted by MikeMc at 7:52 AM on December 16, 2005


REG: Listen, the only people we hate more than the Romans are the fucking Judean People's Front.

P.F.J.: Yeah...

JUDITH: Splitters!

P.F.J.: Splitters!

FRANCIS: And the Judean Popular People's Front!

P.F.J.: Yeah, oh, yeah! Splitters! Splitters!

LORETTA: And the People's Front of Judea!

P.F.J.: Yeah! Splitters! Splitters!

REG: What?

LORETTA: The People's Front of Judea. Splitters!

REG: We're the People's Front of Judea!

LORETTA: Oh, I thought we were the Popular Front?

REG: People's Front! C-huh.

FRANCIS: Whatever happened to the Popular Front, Reg?

REG: He's over there.

P.F.J.: Splitter!
posted by Pollomacho at 8:00 AM on December 16, 2005


The ELF can bite me.

your knees are gonna hurt tomorrow.
posted by jonmc at 9:43 AM on December 16, 2005


Yeah, agreed. The ELF is not cool. I don't support the Patriot Act, but all I know is that everyone I know working for the EPA hates them.
posted by Doorstop at 11:12 PM on December 16, 2005


I'm quite surprised at the level of support and apologism for the ELF in this thread. I think some of you would have more credibility on the important issues if you didn't spend it defending jackasses like the ELF.

Burning shit down doesn't change anything. It just endangers a lot of lives, and generates insurance paperwork.
posted by I Love Tacos at 2:16 AM on December 17, 2005


Serious question: By this definition, was the Weather Underground terrorist?
posted by iamck at 8:17 PM PST on December 15


Under the current definition, including 'violence against property" "ideological motivation" and "for the end of political intimidation/coercion"; yes, they would, more than ELF, even.

And they got off, even though they pulled off much more serious stuff than these kids. They probably wouldn't have been able to escape more serious jail time in today's legal environment.

wikipedia "After the group began dissolving in 1977, many members moved on to other armed terrorist groups and were subsequently arrested and imprisoned. Very few served prison sentences for their time in the Weather Underground; the evidence gathered against them by the FBI's COINTELPRO program was deemed illegally obtained and inadmissible in court. Jennifer Dohrn, Bernardine Dohrn's sister, once claimed that according to documents released under the Freedom of Information Act, the FBI planned at one point to kidnap her son when she gave birth."

I guess the problem now is that the patriot act makes the entire FBI part of CONINTELPO.
posted by eustatic at 10:59 AM on December 17, 2005


*PRO
posted by eustatic at 11:00 AM on December 17, 2005


Three cheers for the brave men and women of ALF, ELF, and SHAC! I can't imagine what kind of fortitude it must take to make anonymous death threats or torch a car in the dead of night, or to dig up someone's grandmother's grave.
posted by darukaru at 1:03 PM on December 17, 2005


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