Welcome Will Potter, and Host Kirk Murphy.

[As a courtesy to our guests, please keep comments to the book. Please take other conversations to a previous thread. - bev]

Green Is the New Red: An Insider’s Account of a Social Movement under Siege

Kirk Murphy, Host:

Will Potter’s Green Is The New Red brings us front line reporting from a sustained war against our basic freedoms. The campaign targets our most fundamental rights – including the freedoms activists relied upon just over a generation ago in their successful struggle for civil rights. The campaign against our elemental rights draws on nearly unlimited public resources, and uses these resources to attack democracy. The campaign follows strategies designed by some of the most destructive and effective servants of corporatist power. The foot soldiers in this campaign go to work with guns on their belts. The campaign’s chief beneficiaries go home from work with salaries that buy penthouses in Manhattan and vacation homes in Vail and the Hamptons. The people who pay for this campaign are you, and I, and every American taxpayer. The campaign is called the Green Scare.

Will Potter’s Green Is The New Red brings together his years of work on these issues and reporting on this campaign against us. That work earned him recognition from Project Censored, as well as an invitation to testify before Congress…and, of course, a visit from the FBI. Will’s work and this book show us how the Green Scare isn’t merely an assault on eco-activists, but an assault upon us all.

Green Is the New Red reads like a novel. He starts by introducing us to Daniel McGowan, a young eco-activist who destroyed genetically engineered crops and later participated in two arsons as part of the Earth Liberation Front. We meet Daniel the day before he will plead guilty to terrorism. We learn of Daniel’s dismay that activist groups such as the Rainforest Action Network and the Ruckus Society wouldn’t speak out against the government labeling him a terrorist. McGowan can understand why they wouldn’t want to publicly support a saboteur, Will tells us, “but can’t they at least say destroying genetically engineered crops is not the same as flying planes into buildings?”

Will goes on to describe how Daniel expected the Federal Bureau of Prisons would support his attorneys’ request he begin his sentence in low-security facilities – after all, Daniel had never been violent. Instead, today Daniel is confined in the BOP’s Communication Management Unit: America’s domestic GITMO. He was returned to the CMU in Terra Haute, Indiana on February 24, 2011 shortly after the documentary film about him If a Tree Falls won editing awards at Sundance. By the time the film was picked up for US distribution, Daniel was locked away from media contact.

No wonder they’re called “Communication Management Units.”

Why is the US Department of Justice locking away non-violent eco-activist prisoners in domestic GITMOS? Why did the US Government spend vast resources on a provocateur named Anna to set up prosecution of Eric McDavid? Eric was her lover, he along with another young man was arrested right after they stepped out of a hardware store with materials for a bomb making plot designed and instigated by the FBI’s paid informant and provocateur, Anna. At a time when we all know corporatist banksters have done trillions of damage to America’s economy and walked free, why was Eric McDavid sentenced to Federal prison for over twenty years on terrorism charges when he hadn’t actually destroyed anything? How did Marie Mason – an eco-activist who actually had carried out property destruction – come to be sentenced to over twenty years in prison on “terror” charges?

How did we get here?

In Green Is the New Red, Will Potter tells the history of how legal advocacy and simple non-violent civil disobedience have all been lumped together with overt property destruction as “terrorism” – and as a priority for the Attorney General and the FBI. From his own experience he tells how simple, legal leafleting on animal rights issues earned him a morning vist from the FBI. He takes us to the ominous May, 2004 press conference where then-Attorney General Ashcroft and FBI Director Mueller proclaim that America is under threat from seven al Qaeda terrorists. The “terrorists” were actually seven animal rights activists targeting Huntingdon Life Sciences – where they had filmed employees punching beagle puppies and dissecting live monkeys. They had not carried out violence. They had coordinated the Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty campaign, where they reported on other people’s actions – including threats of violence. For this, they were ultimately convicted of federal crimes. They were convicted of federal crimes under the Animal Enterprise Protection Act (AEPA) – itself a creation of the corporatists’ far-right American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

Not satisfied with the repression AEPA ensures, ALEC went on to create and push through Congress the Animal Enterprise Terrorist Act. AETA makes the same lunch counter civil disobedience that won the vote for African Americans a federal crime – with a risk of life in prison. To their lasting shame, the ACLU refused to oppose AETA, which only passed Congress on a voice vote without a quorum.

How did we get here? Where are we going?

Today some states all ready make filming police in public a criminal act. Legislation that will criminalize undercover investigations of factory farms – the vast industrial enterprises which pollute their regions with vast sewage lagoons, and pollute our food supply with contaminated meat and poultry – is pending in New York. Daniel McGowan is locked away in our heartland GITMO. Today, June 11, is an international day of support for Eric McDavid and Marie Mason who both sit in federal prison on sentences far longer than those given for rape and murder. And today all of us can be arrested on criminal charges that will send us to a federal prison for years – or even for life – if we protest and carry out non-violent civil disobedience in a manner that costs some megacorporation remotely connected to food a single penny.

How did we get here? What has happened to our country and our freedoms? How have we lost so much of our freedom – and how we regain those freedoms? For answers, we can turn to Will Potter, who has spent years on these questions.

Today is a very good day for Will Potter to join us at FDL, and we are very fortunate to have him with us.

92 Responses to “FDL Book Salon Welcomes Will Potter, Green Is the New Red: An Insider’s Account of a Social Movement under Siege”

BevW June 11th, 2011 at 1:54 pm

Will, Welcome to the Lake.

Kirk, Thank you for Hosting today’s Book Salon.

Will Potter June 11th, 2011 at 2:01 pm

Hello everyone! Thank you for inviting me.

BevW June 11th, 2011 at 2:05 pm

Will how long have you been an activist?

Kirk Murphy June 11th, 2011 at 2:06 pm

Will, thank you for being here! And, bev, thanks for making this Salon possible.

Will, can you share with our readers what the Green Scare is, and what it means for all of us?

ThingsComeUndone June 11th, 2011 at 2:08 pm

How many different federal agencies go after the Greens? Peace groups, Commies etc? How much money and manpower are they wasting going after us when they could have been getting Ossama?
Or is that information classified?

Will Potter June 11th, 2011 at 2:09 pm
In response to BevW @ 3

In the late 90s I got involved in a variety of social movements, including environmental and animal protections issues, and the global justice movement. At the same time, I was writing for newspapers and magazines. The book is an outgrowth of both of those paths.

Will Potter June 11th, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Hi Kirk. The term “Green Scare” is used to refer to the crackdown on the animal rights and environmental movements. The metaphor, of course, is comparing the branding of activists as “eco-terrorists” with the scare-mongering of the Red Scare. Then, and now, the real danger of these corporate-led campaigns is that they single out one group of people because of their political beliefs. Corporations and politicians are trying to silence political activists who are effectively threatening their interests.

greenwarrior June 11th, 2011 at 2:12 pm

hi will,
welcome to the lake!

ThingsComeUndone June 11th, 2011 at 2:12 pm

Will goes on to describe how Daniel expected the Federal Bureau of Prisons would support his attorneys’ request he begin his sentence in low-security facilities – after all, Daniel had never been violent. Instead, today Daniel is confined in the BOP’s Communication Management Unit: America’s domestic GITMO.

Whats the reputation of this prison in order to break people and get them to confess or rat out their friends the cops often put people in a bad cell block or even a cell with a person who will pretend to be their friend then claim they confessed to whatever the police want to hear.

Kirk Murphy June 11th, 2011 at 2:15 pm
In response to Will Potter @ 7

FDL has written about ALEC, but not all the readers are familiar with the topic, or with ALEC’s fudners and history. Can you talk about how Paul Weyrich is still impacting our lives decades after he laid the ground for the Reagan admin?

Will Potter June 11th, 2011 at 2:15 pm

Hi ThingsComeUndone, that’s a great question– and one that I’ve found quite difficult to answer. The FBI and Department of Homeland Security are clearly at the forefront, but as I discuss in my book there is also reason to believe that the NSA has been involved, and so has the Department of Defense. This is just the government side of things, though. There has also been a rise in third-party (corporate) firms that provide “terrorism intelligence” about political activists, surveillance, etc. It’s hard to put a number on how much this is costing, but it’s clear that there are millions of dollars flowing from the federal government to all levels of law enforcement to fight “domestic terrorism,” and according to the FBI these groups are the “number one domestic terrorism threat.”

Will Potter June 11th, 2011 at 2:17 pm

One other point to raise about the resources spent on this issue: The FBI’s own Office of Inspector General issued a report warning the FBI that these activities were wasting law enforcement resources. If folks are interested, you can read more about that here (and see the full report): http://www.greenisthenewred.com/blog/justice-department-warned-fbi/3423/

ThingsComeUndone June 11th, 2011 at 2:18 pm

Why is the US Department of Justice locking away non-violent eco-activist prisoners in domestic GITMOS? Why did the US Government spend vast resources on a provocateur named Anna to set up prosecution of Eric McDavid? Eric was her lover, he along with another young man was arrested right after they stepped out of a hardware store with materials for a bomb making plot designed and instigated by the FBI’s paid informant and provocateur, Anna. At a time when we all know corporatist banksters have done trillions of damage to America’s economy and walked free, why was Eric McDavid sentenced to Federal prison for over twenty years on terrorism charges when he hadn’t actually destroyed anything?

Why are the Feds spending this much money effort and WTF sending in under cover spies to sleep with activists? Unless the corporations really do have something to hide this behavior is awful suspicious.
How many Coke Dealers, Klansmen never mind Ossama could have been caught if those resources had not been wasted hassling Greens?

greenwarrior June 11th, 2011 at 2:19 pm

This is the scariest book I have tried to read since Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine. As an environmentalist, I had no idea this was happening. In the book, you go into great detail about exactly how it’s been put into place. I have to put it down every few pages to let the fear and shock and new information integrate. I’m very much appreciating your courage in writing and publishing it.

I’m about 3/4 through the book, so forgive me if you write this later, but how are Jake, Lauren, Kevin, Andy, Josh and Darius faring? Are any of them still in jail?

Will Potter June 11th, 2011 at 2:20 pm

Thanks Kirk, ALEC is a group everyone who reads FDL should know about. ALEC is the American Legislative Exchange Council, which was founded by right-wing culture warrior Paul Weyrich. Over the years, Weyrich’s vision for the group has evolved, and it has now became a tool for creating model legislation that is sent out through conservative state lawmakers across the country. What’s really shocking about this group is that it is nearly completely funded by corporations, and in exchange for their “donations,” these corporations get a say in drafting this model legislation. I’m sure FDL readers are well-aware of the union busting in Wisconsin… ALEC had a hadn in that. And in terms of my work, ALEC has published model “eco-terrorism” legislation that has been introduced in many states.

Kirk Murphy June 11th, 2011 at 2:22 pm
In response to Will Potter @ 12

When even the FBI’s AG warns of waste, we must be looking at squandering on steroids. We’re seeing the DHS pay out, as well as NSA / DOD. What forces benefit from this diversion of Federal power? I also can’t help wonder how much we’d have saved if the same amount of law enforcement resources went to stop banksters from destroying our economy – or went to fight the eco-criminals who still dump poison in our water and air.

Will Potter June 11th, 2011 at 2:22 pm

That’s an excellent point, and one that I think really resonates with a wide range of people. To put it another way: there are limited government resources, and spending so much attention on political activists means those resources are NOT being spent on serious threats (such as anti-abortion extremists, the rise of armed right-wing militias, racists who have attacked mosques, etc).

nahant June 11th, 2011 at 2:23 pm

Hey Kirk hey Will..
Kirk great intro.. Will now I have to get and read your book… This just another front on the rights of the people to address their government. Corporations Must be reigned via regulations otherwise we Will lose our country and ALL our freedoms/Rights!!
This whole thing that a you can’t jail a corp as it is just a piece of paper is just a way for the Rich to be Above the Law and get away with virtually anything. Anything at all including co-opting our government at their whim for profit

Will Potter June 11th, 2011 at 2:28 pm
In response to greenwarrior @ 14

Greenwarrior: That, I think, is the true danger of all of this. Fear. Just like the Red Scare, these tactics are about instilling fear in everyday people and making them think twice about speaking up for what they believe. I appreciate your comment, because I think it’s critical that we speak honestly about the fear that these tactics can create. This was my motivation for writing the book: I think that the best way to address this fear is to confront it head-on. Learning about these laws, court cases, and surveillance can be scary indeed, but it can also be empowering. By taking a close look at HOW these groups have manufactured this fear, we are in a much better position to fight back.

Jake, Lauren, Kevin, Andy, Josh and Darius are doing well. Kevin is the only one still in prison. The others are adjusting to life post-prison, and all re-integrating themselves into the movement and moving forward with their activism.

ThingsComeUndone June 11th, 2011 at 2:28 pm
In response to Will Potter @ 11

Greens beat out the paranoid types who backed the Oklahoma city bomber, the Klan, Right Wing Militia groups, the American Nazi’s, the anti immigrant Minute Men…. American Bankers ? Ok can you try and explain their reasoning?
Threats to human life? Cost to our economy ( Bankers got that sewn up ), what is the rational they use?
Its been said that the more a society spends whether public or private on internal security and well media propaganda then the less popular it is.
How much longer can the Feds keep the truth from the people?
Also I came across some statistics that urban people live longer than rural people I suspect farm chemicals maybe the reason why and contaminated ground water.
Any theories?

Kirk Murphy June 11th, 2011 at 2:32 pm

Will, among the chilling and essential topics you cover in Green Is The New Red, the CMU’s are among the most ominous. You write:

…CMU’s are not “second-tier prisons”. They are political prisons. They are used to isolate prisoners with “inspirational significance”, to use the government’s language, from the communities and social movements of which they are a part. These secretive prisons are for political cases the government would rather remove from the public spotlight.

Your book was published (I think) before Daniel McGowan was thrown back into the Terra Haute CMU. When you learned that news, were you surprised?

Will Potter June 11th, 2011 at 2:33 pm
In response to nahant @ 18

Nahant and Kirk, I think you both touch on a really important point: corporate power. That word, “eco-terrorism,” actually was created by a fringe group called the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise. That should really come as no surprise, that corporate interests want to demonize their opposition. But what was really shocking to me in researching the book is how this rhetoric has been completely embraced by law enforcement and politicians. Government polities have become completely indistinguishable from corporate interests.

eCAHNomics June 11th, 2011 at 2:34 pm

Hi Will,

How much has the “green” political movement been infiltrated by corp & USG? I have read that corp donations to Green Party and Sierra Club, to name two, have made them into corp lapdogs. I noticed during the oil disaster in the Gulf that neither org had front page coverage on their websites for days.

Also, USG must have a lot of spies in such orgs.

ThingsComeUndone June 11th, 2011 at 2:34 pm
In response to Will Potter @ 15

ALEC is the brain or one of the Borg brains then that creates the GOP talking points that all the talking heads in the media all say at the same time on the same day they all cover the same stories. Any ideas how many Borg Brains are there I always suspected Karl Rove of being a GOP Borg Brain but is he only a Sock Puppet too?

marksb June 11th, 2011 at 2:35 pm

Will, thank you for your work, I’m looking forward to reading this.

Having spent some time in Mendocino county over the last thirty years, I am reminded of the “Redwood Summer” events of 1990, the Judi Bari pipe bomb, and the incredibly crocked legal experiences everyone involved had to deal with for several years. Much of the energy of those protests to protect the Headwaters Forest and other old-growth was lost during this time of FBI and other activity. Tree spiking plans were scuttled, redwood sit-ins were shortened, but the worse thing was the green-vs-green split that happened, courtesy of law enforcement and the courts.

What’s surprising about what you are documenting–compared to those times–is that law enforcement is proactively working to entrap potential violators, even if it means planning and encouraging the action, and then using the broadly painted “terrorism” label to scare off any other potential activists.

Have you looked at how this legal progression has evolved?

greenwarrior June 11th, 2011 at 2:35 pm

Will, what do you think is the best way to regain the freedoms we have lost?

Kirk Murphy June 11th, 2011 at 2:36 pm

Will, I’m hoping our guests today will all get and read your important book. For those who haven’t, can you tell them the consequences for you simply applying to visit Daniel McGowan in the Marion CMU?

ThingsComeUndone June 11th, 2011 at 2:36 pm

How many people in these prisons who is sent there only Greens or a mix of prisoners who the mix is can tell us something about their strategy toward prisoners.

eCAHNomics June 11th, 2011 at 2:37 pm
In response to Will Potter @ 22

Even Law & Order, one of my guilty pleasures, has done episodes on the dangers of the green movement. Shows you how pervasive the corp interests are in influencing the public.

Will Potter June 11th, 2011 at 2:39 pm

Actually, I was surprised to learn that Daniel McGowan was sent back to a Communications Management Unit after he had been released. Even though I have spent years immersing myself in these issues, day in and day out, it is still shocking to see how secretive prisons like this can exist with no checks and balances on government power. When I learned about his transfer it was also shocking because I knew how much that would devastate Daniel. When I visited him, he said that the hardest part of being in the CMU is never being able to hug his wife, hug his nieces.

greenwarrior June 11th, 2011 at 2:42 pm

What continues for me as being really incomprehensible is that the people in the corporations actively encouraging pollution to make a profit also live on this planet, along with their children and generations to come. Are they completely unaware that they must breathe the air, drink the water and eat the food grown on soil they are polluting?

ThingsComeUndone June 11th, 2011 at 2:44 pm

Remember how the American Press used to say we have freedom of the press, no political prisoners, no torture etc unlike the Commies never mentioning we have more people in prison than any other country, are the only developed country with the death penalty.
This new information makes me wonder if America only had a better cage?

Kirk Murphy June 11th, 2011 at 2:45 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 29

Will sets forth how in January 2009 the US Attorney in Philadelphia spoke of the Government’s motivations when the SHAC defendants appealed their conviction : “this case was never fought on the basis of what actually happened, by and large…This case was fought on the battleground of ‘should we be held responsible for what other people are doing’.”

Will goes on to describe the Appeals Court decision “The court ruled it did not matter the defendants did not break the law; they were part of a conspiracy through their speech.”

Will, can you describe how the key players prosecuting the SHAC case have gone on in politics? Their trajectories spotlight eCAHN’s concerns…

Will Potter June 11th, 2011 at 2:46 pm
In response to marksb @ 25

Marksb– I’m glad you brought up the attack on Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney. I think law enforcement tactics have adjusted over time, but overall I don’t think the tactics have radically changed. In fact, I would argue that the tactics we’re seeing now (from Judi Bari through the entrapment of Eric McDavid) are the same bag of tricks that have been used for many years. COINTELPRO was a program in the 60s and 70s in which the FBI sought to “disrupt” and “neutralize” groups like the Black Panthers, AIM, SDS, and the broader civil rights movement. After the Church Committee hearings, those tactics ostensibly ended. But what we’re seeing now is a continuation of those policies, coupled with a new set of “terrorism” tools.

eCAHNomics June 11th, 2011 at 2:47 pm

Thanks. My original Q about this is in 23.

nahant June 11th, 2011 at 2:47 pm
In response to greenwarrior @ 31

I don’t think they can see beyond the $$$$’s they are making!! Self centered and very selfish, genuinely bad people to the core. It would do them good to have what many victims of their greed had done to them have done to their families…

Kirk Murphy June 11th, 2011 at 2:48 pm
In response to Will Potter @ 30

We’re all primates – being deprived of physical contact with other primates actually changes brain function. One of the cruelest aspect of our vast prison industrial complex is to deprive inmates of simply holding thei rloved ones, or hugging their families.

eCAHNomics June 11th, 2011 at 2:48 pm
In response to Will Potter @ 34

Editorial aside: The U.S. has no enemies, so much make them up (or make them via boneheaded policies).

ThingsComeUndone June 11th, 2011 at 2:49 pm

I saw an NCIS rerun a Green terrorist was going to sink a submarine by poisoning the crew with Sarin gas. Hollywood seems to be colluding with big corporations to demonize Greens maybe the Greens should sue Hollywood for intentionally defaming their reputation.

eCAHNomics June 11th, 2011 at 2:51 pm
In response to nahant @ 36

Also long run vs. short run.

Also environmental movement of the earlier postwar decades didn’t get any headway with govt until rivers caught fire.

IOW, it takes an environmental disaster before govt will step in. And even that’s not the case anymore, towit the Gulf oil gusher; forging ahead with nuke plants despite Japanese meltdown (“we” can do it better).

john in sacramento June 11th, 2011 at 2:53 pm

Kirk:

Why is the US Department of Justice locking away non-violent eco-activist prisoners in domestic GITMOS? Why did the US Government spend vast resources on a provocateur named Anna to set up prosecution of Eric McDavid? Eric was her lover, he along with another young man was arrested right after they stepped out of a hardware store with materials for a bomb making plot designed and instigated by the FBI’s paid informant and provocateur, Anna. At a time when we all know corporatist banksters have done trillions of damage to America’s economy and walked free, why was Eric McDavid sentenced to Federal prison for over twenty years on terrorism charges when he hadn’t actually destroyed anything?

Small world. I know his lawyer

greenwarrior June 11th, 2011 at 2:53 pm

There’s a reference to this in the book where Will writes about a little primate named “Britches” who was taken from its mother at birth and experimented on and how it started recovering with kindness and getting an adoptive mother who hugged him to her.

Will Potter June 11th, 2011 at 2:53 pm

It’s undeniable that there are political and career rewards for securing victories in the War on Terrorism. From talking to former FBI agents and U.S. attorneys, it’s clear that there is an institutional pressure to deliver results and show some kind of “terrorism” victory on the resume. Those involved in the SHAC case certainly used that to boost their career trajectory. The U.S. attorney Chris Christie, for instance, went on to be governor, and is now considering a presidential bid. Of course, I’m not saying that the SHAC case is directly responsible for that. But the pharmaceutical industry certainly gave him and a big gold star for that victory.

Also, Charles McKenna (the lead prosecutor) went on to be head of the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness. In his new job, he told the press: “Jihad, Crips, extreme animal-rights activists, it’s all the same: people trying damage the system.” (http://www.greenisthenewred.com/blog/jihad-crips-extreme-animal-rights-activists-all-the-same/2984/)

These people are not being reprimanded for pushing a corporate political agenda, and attacking free speech… they are being rewarded.

nahant June 11th, 2011 at 2:55 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 40

They will never learn. As is said “Money Talks and Bullshit(no money) walks”.
Bring back Ike’s tax rates!!

Will Potter June 11th, 2011 at 2:56 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 35

It’s clear that these movements are becoming more mainstream every day, and as that happens, corporations are seeking ways to profit from them. This will really be a turning point for the environmental movement. Will “going green” be greenwashed into simply buying more stuff, or will the movement refuse to be co-opted?

greenwarrior June 11th, 2011 at 2:58 pm

Will, have you considered what we might do to regain our freedoms? I asked that at 21

Kirk Murphy June 11th, 2011 at 2:59 pm

Will, please forgive me if I’m tossing more questions than can be addressed – your book raises so many!

The case of the four California animal rights activists the FBI arrested in January 2009 under the (ALEC driven) AETA is truly chilling. Their “crimes” appeared to consist of chanting loudly at home demos, chalking slogans on sidewalks, and wearing bandanas. Even the US District Court saw through this, and tossed out the charges because the government hadn’t clearly explained the protesters’ alleged crimes. Yet you write about the government fighting disclosure of their reasons for trying a Minnesota grad student, Scott DeMutrh, on terrorism.

As you watch the goverment pushing for the power to impoze long terrorism sentences simply by calling “terror”, where do you see this going?

And are we seeing deployed against Americans at home the same kangaroo court tricks we saw used in Gitmo?

Will Potter June 11th, 2011 at 2:59 pm

That’s an excellent point– the power of popular culture can’t be ignored. This idea of “eco-terrorism” was once a fringe concept. It has now become fodder for TV dramas, and reporters used the term indiscriminately. This scare-mongering campaign has really taken on a life of its own, as Hollywood types see it as an interesting idea without thinking critically about the political interests at play.

Kirk Murphy June 11th, 2011 at 3:02 pm

I’m hoping you and Will may be able to say more about Eric and his case.

applepie June 11th, 2011 at 3:03 pm

Hi Will. Thanks for being here. I haven’t ready your book yet, and am undecided on whether I will or not. I have worked with Ruckus and RAN and many other direct-action groups, but have always felt that ELF’s tactics, while maybe justifiable, were an invitation for the shadow govt to start to move against envmntl activists (whom we need more of today, not less!) in a COINTELPRO style (which is why I personally push for no visible leadership hierarchies for them to take down.)

Sorry for the circularity of my comments…as I have said, I have not read your book, and I do not meant to challenge you here, but am curious as to the overall message. Is it something that you feel may attract, or repel, people from future civil disobedience? Or, is it only reportage on a fascinating splinter group of the larger envmntal movement? It’s very sad to hear what has happened to Eric McDavid, and we have had tortuous prison system for a long time, especially with the super-max SHU’s, and now these CMUs. Of course it is unjust, but I must wonder if Eric’s fate is as real a deterrent as ALEC wants. I hope not, but is your book meant to deter young activists as well (because of Eric’s and other ALF/ELF infiltrations and incarcerations?)

Also, as an aside, what is your take on the Deep Green Resistance movement?

Thanks, and really, no insults meant from me on your important work. Please continue to document these issues.

Will Potter June 11th, 2011 at 3:05 pm
In response to greenwarrior @ 46

Greenwarrior: I struggle with that question constantly, as we all do. For all the doubts and questions I have about what tactics will be successful, I firmly believe that the first step has to be education. Most people have absolutely no idea that this is going on. Even activists, within the animal rights and environmental movements. I’ve seen that slowly begin to change over the last few years (with the help of sites like FDL and you all of course!) and as the general public becomes aware of these issues they’re outraged. In addition to those education efforts, I think we also need to use this as an opportunity to build bridges between diverse social movements, with the understanding that these campaigns are an attack on the freedom of us all.

tjbs June 11th, 2011 at 3:06 pm
In response to greenwarrior @ 31

The Goldenthousand ( 400 richest and their public persona’s the top 600 in government) don’t care about you ,me or their kids they are blinded by their thirst for more wealth. Really they don’t love their flesh and blood more than money.

eCAHNomics June 11th, 2011 at 3:07 pm
In response to Will Potter @ 45

I would distinguish the “movements’ ” leaders from the movement.

The leaders can be easily coopted bc corps can reward them financially much more so than if they stick to their knitting. And thru the cooption of the leaders, the orgs themselves become tainted or worse.

However, real peeps might still be able to resist by not buying corp and/or by buying local & green. Though that kind of behavior is difficult to have any macro influence bc not enough people participate. I observe my local CSAs and farmers’ markets as examples. Thriving but small, and the farmers work their butts off 24/7.

Phoenix Woman June 11th, 2011 at 3:07 pm

ALEC is everywhere. That kind of reach is possible only when your funders have a combined fortune of over $44 billion: http://thepoliticalcarnival.net/2011/03/12/koch-bros-increased-wealth-by-9-billion-as-they-fund-laws-to-make-working-class-poorer/

Will Potter June 11th, 2011 at 3:09 pm

It’s appropriate that this chat is taking place today, June 11, because today is also an international day of solidarity with Eric McDavid and Marie Mason. McDavid and Mason are two activists who (in two separate cases) were convicted as terrorists and sentenced to 20 years in prison. In McDavid’s case, as was briefly mentioned above, he didn’t actually DO anything. The government argued he was part of a “conspiracy” to sabotage the Nimbus Dam. That conspiracy, however, was completely manufactured. The FBI paid an undercover informant named “Anna” to become friends with McDavid and others, finance their travel, supply them with bomb-making recipes, and prod them into action. McDavid and the others never took action, so the government based its case on a conspiracy charge (which has been used throughout history when nothing else will stick).

If folks would like to learn more about June 11, please visit: http://www.greenisthenewred.com/blog/day-of-solidarity-marie-mason-eric-mcdavid/4936/

CTuttle June 11th, 2011 at 3:13 pm

Aloha, Doc and Will…! It’s astounding the parallels between the war on eco-terrorists and the war on the free speech of Palestinians/Colombians supporters, CodePink, Moveon, etal…! 8-(

I myself do worry if I’ll ever receive a knock on the door, for my I/P activities…! 8-(

applepie June 11th, 2011 at 3:16 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 56

Well if they come a knocking, just remember you do not have to say anything. Tell them to talk to your lawyer.

greenwarrior June 11th, 2011 at 3:16 pm
In response to Will Potter @ 51

Thank you. In a way, i’m a perfect example as I wasn’t aware of what was happening myself.

seaglass June 11th, 2011 at 3:18 pm
In response to Will Potter @ 55

None of this is new. During the 60′s anti-war days many orgs. were destroyed from within by agent provocateurs. Its a US Gov’t specialty. Look at how the Gopers and hard right have penetrated and essentially destroyed whats left of the Dem. party. Nobody in Gov’t represents the public anymore.

Kirk Murphy June 11th, 2011 at 3:19 pm
In response to Will Potter @ 48

As you’ve described above, eco terror came from the CDFE. The PR flack who coined “eco-terror” – Ron Arnold – was a timber megacorp flack who co-founded the Center For Defense of Free Enterprise you discuss in your book. [Not surprisingly, he went on to write the authorized biography of James Watt.]

Timber – like energy, mining, and ranching – are the poster children for massive corporate welfare in the American West.

Broadly speaking, eco-activists in the American West end up taking on one one or more of the four big extractive industries which depend on taxpayer subsidies for their profits. Out of one pocket the billionaires (Koch et al) we’re all supporting pay for the think tanks and PR campaigns that demonize Americans who want to protect their communities and families and the land held in trust for all of us. Out of another pocket the billionaires fund ALEC’s work to lock up our freedoms as Federal crimes. Out of yet another pocket the billionaires pay for the judicial junkets where right wing ideology gets peddled to the venal Federal judges who show up at “seminars” held at immensely expensive resorts. Our of yet another pocket the extractive industry billionaires and their pals from commodities and other megacorps pay for the pols who follow ALEC’s marching orders.

Without placing the burden of finding a solution upon you, Will, do you have any thoughts about how the rest of America – and the world – can defeat this sutained and centrally co-ordinated corporatist assault?

Will Potter June 11th, 2011 at 3:19 pm
In response to applepie @ 50

Hi applepie: No insult taken at all, thank you for your questions. To be clear, the focus on the Earth Liberation Front is just one component of the book. Some of the other cases I discuss (the SHAC 7, the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act) pose threats that extend far beyond saboteurs. I think that take-away message from all of this is not that young activists should be deterred from their work– far from it. It is absolutely imperative that activists continue speaking up for what they believe in the face of this corporate and government backlash. I think we all need to educate ourselves about these threats to civil liberties so that we can more effectively combat them, while continue to organize and agitate.

CTuttle June 11th, 2011 at 3:19 pm
In response to applepie @ 57

*heh* I fully know my rights, I’m a trained paralegal…! ;-)

john in sacramento June 11th, 2011 at 3:21 pm

It’s been awhile since I’ve talked to him about it

iirc she was the instigator behind the entire thing. None of the people in their little group even thought about doing any violence until she came along, and even then they weren’t enthusiastic about it. I think all they wanted to do was smoke pot. And, surprise! she made a lot of money from the gov for her “help”

CTuttle June 11th, 2011 at 3:26 pm

I think all they wanted to do was smoke pot.

*heh* The Original Green Movement…! ;-)

veganrevolution June 11th, 2011 at 3:31 pm

Part of the reason they crack down on animal rights people is because some are green anarchists and Oilbomber and the US gov’t hate anarchists. It’s definitely politically motivated.

nahant June 11th, 2011 at 3:33 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 64

Hey CT don’t Bogart that joint…☺☺☺

Will Potter June 11th, 2011 at 3:35 pm

The assault you describe is certainly overwhelming. I think part of the solution is recognizing that we’re not alone. Through my book tour and speaking tours I’ve had the good fortune to meet diverse groups of people, people who do not identify as “activists” or “radicals” yet who see what is going on in the world, and are outraged by it. The average person on the street might not articulate specific details, or have a detailed critique, but they sure as hell know that corporations have more influence and more power in this democracy than they do. They know that the natural world is being destroyed at our own peril. Of course, both of those values (a distrust of corporate power, a trust of the natural world) are being co-opted in various ways. But my point here is that, as we talk about solutions, we need to step outside of our comfort zones. We need to engage people–our friends, colleagues, family members– even when it isn’t convenient or easy. I think we’d be surprised how many people feel the same way.

Kirk Murphy June 11th, 2011 at 3:35 pm

Will, I may be perseverating on the SHAC case, but as you point out in Green Is The New Red “the ruling departed from a long history of First Amendment law in a few ways” Could you elaborate on that here?

Also, do we yet know if the Supremes have decided on hearing the appeal?

And yet another question: the ACLU’s complicity in AETA’s passage floored me – reading your book is the first I’d known of that. Can you help folks here understand what the ACLU did – and did not do – and why?

CTuttle June 11th, 2011 at 3:36 pm
In response to nahant @ 66

‘Ere… Have I ever…? ;-)

Kirk Murphy June 11th, 2011 at 3:36 pm
In response to Will Potter @ 67

Thanks – that is encouraging!

veganrevolution June 11th, 2011 at 3:37 pm

Hey the only eco-terrorists I know are the oil companies and the US gov’t who allow them to destroy the earth. Destroying property may be reckless–but it’s a-okay to lob depleted uranium bombs at little kids in Iraq and Libya. As long at the state can kill that’s fine and dandy.

applepie June 11th, 2011 at 3:38 pm
In response to seaglass @ 59

The other aspect to this is to create fear in activists about trusting new people. The Mark Kennedy case in England is definitely worth checking out.

nahant June 11th, 2011 at 3:38 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 69

NOPE!!

applepie June 11th, 2011 at 3:41 pm

I agree, calling environmental defenders eco-terrorists is newspeak at it’s worst.

So, Will are you still on book-tour? Where to next?

CTuttle June 11th, 2011 at 3:43 pm

…which only passed Congress on a voice vote without a quorum…

That is truly a travesty that not even one ‘Progressive’ critter would at least ask for a recorded vote…! 8-(

Frank33 June 11th, 2011 at 3:44 pm

Let us change the narrative. The polluters such as the KochRoaches and Monsanto and Barack Obama are the real terrorists. Their poisons cripple and kill. The US Government has been hijacked by corporate terrorists.

A KochRoach was appointed to the NIH to approve the KochRoach’s profitable poisons. The corporations have their own private espionage networks to commit dirty tricks.

Alex Jones, Glen Beck, the KochRoaches, Peter Peterson and Barack Obama have one common goal. The want to destroy the lefties, the environmentalists and the lesser people.

Last year, the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer reported that billionaire David Koch, whose company Georgia Pacfic (a subsidiary of Koch Industries) is one of the country’s top producers of formaldehyde, was appointed to the NIH cancer board at a time when the NIH delayed action on the chemical. The news was met with protests from environmental groups. Faced with mounting pressure from Greenpeace and the scientific community, Koch left offered an early resignation from the board in October.
Yesterday, the NIH finally handed down a report officially classifying formaldehyde as a carcinogen

Will Potter June 11th, 2011 at 3:45 pm

A critical component of First Amendment law was the result of Brandenburg v. Ohio, and is called the incitement standard. In short, it holds that you can say outrageous, controversial, inflammatory things up to the point it will lead to “imminent and lawless action.” In other words, if you want to write an essay about political violence, that’s one thing, but if you post here on FDL trying to get people to go outside right this moment and break the law with you, and it’s likely they’ll follow your lead, that’s probably not protected speech. What the government did in the SHAC case was to abandon this standard entirely. The government never argued that SHAC was inciting imminent and lawless action, and it never argued that their speech reflected a true threat. Instead, the government said that their website, which included news of PAST crimes by OTHER people, amount to a conspiracy.

The Supreme Court recently declined to hear the case, which means the appellate court ruling stands.

To your other point:

The ACLU opposed the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act at first. Then, as it was being rushed through the House, it was revealed that the ACLU said it “does not oppose” the bill. The ACLU is a powerhouse in DC, so not opposing is tantamount to giving the bill the green light. Supporters waived that letter like it was sign-off on how the terrorism bill wasn’t a threat to civil liberties.

greenwarrior June 11th, 2011 at 3:46 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 75

Do you know, Will, why Kucinich, since he was present and opposing the bill, didn’t ask for a recorded vote?

Will Potter June 11th, 2011 at 3:48 pm
In response to applepie @ 74

Book tour has been winding down, but I’ll be in Minneapolis next week, and I have a few West-coast events later this summer!

Kirk Murphy June 11th, 2011 at 3:49 pm

Will, on the news blog you’ve run for years (Green Is The New Red), you’ve been covering this topic all along, both before and after publication of your book. Since the book Green Is The New Red was published, what news have you covered that you’d like FDL readers to know of?

applepie June 11th, 2011 at 3:50 pm
In response to Will Potter @ 79

If you are in Portland, OR, I’ll be there to get you to autograph your book.

veganrevolution June 11th, 2011 at 3:51 pm
In response to Will Potter @ 77

I ignore our “legal system” for the most part because it’s entirely arbitrary. They decide when your “rights” apply and when they don’t. Basically, you are on your own. In a regressive era like ours it’s even worse. Or maybe it was always bad, who knows? Point is, to rely on the courts to decide your fate is thin gruel. I applaud the ACLU–but let’s be honest they don’t have much power–or at least their power has been diminished in the last few decades. If they had any power or influence, the Patriot Act would have never become law.

Kirk Murphy June 11th, 2011 at 3:52 pm

“The Supreme Court recently declined to hear the case, which means the appellate court ruling stands. ”

Tragic – and very sinister. Still, it’s what I expect from the corporatist Roberts court. The megacorps invested well: they have the judges they paid for.

BevW June 11th, 2011 at 3:53 pm

As we come to the end of this Book Salon,

Will, Thank you for stopping by the Lake and discussing your new book.

Kirk, Thank you for Hosting this Book Salon.

Everyone, if you would like more information:

Will’s website and book

Just quick reminder:
Membership drive! Are you an FDL member? If not, please join and help keep FDL delivering kick ass activism and independent journalism. You can join HERE.

Thanks all,
Have a great evening.

Kirk Murphy June 11th, 2011 at 3:54 pm
In response to Will Potter @ 79

Goody! How can we find out where to see you on the rest of the tour?

Kirk Murphy June 11th, 2011 at 3:57 pm

Bev, thanks for making this Salon happen all the hard work you’ve put in over the years creating FDL’s Book Salons.

Will, thank you for being here, for Green Is The New Red, and for the many years of your life and work you’ve devoted to this crucial task.

And thanks to everyone who participated and everyone who stopped by to read – and please go and buy this book!

Will Potter June 11th, 2011 at 3:57 pm

One topic that hasn’t been mentioned yet in this discussion is the case of Tim DeChristopher. He non-violently disrupted an oil and gas auction by placing fake bids (which increased the price of the leases for corporations). He was convicted of this civil disobedience, and he is now facing 10 years in prison. His case has gotten quite a bit of attention, but what many people don’t know is that soon after his disruption, Utah lawmakers tried to pass a new law labeling his style of civil disobedience “eco-terrorism.” His sentencing is coming up on June 23rd, and I hope everyone will help raise awareness about this important case.

Will Potter June 11th, 2011 at 4:00 pm

Thank you so much Bev, Kirk and the FDL community for having me here. It has been great chatting with such an engaged and informed group of people. I’ll close by echoing Bev’s suggestion that you join FDL and support this community’s activism and independent journalism! Thank you!

Kirk Murphy June 11th, 2011 at 4:00 pm
In response to Will Potter @ 87

Will, I’m so glad you mentioned that today and in your book. Tim deserves all the support we can give!

Kirk Murphy June 11th, 2011 at 4:05 pm

And echoing Will and Bev – if you haven’t become an FDL member, please do so today: your support makes FDL possible and made this Salon possible. Thank you.

heavyrunner June 11th, 2011 at 6:14 pm

I would argue that Greens have somewhat of a teflon coating when it comes to red baiting. When a local or state Green candidate calls for worker rights or a State Bank it just doesn’t wash for them to be labeled “commie.” People see through that, and “commie” just doesn’t have the punch it once did now that the Soviet Union is no more.

Greens may be the target of the fascist oppressors now that there aren’t so many “commies” around, but I don’t think it is as easy for the Pig to demonize people who want clean air, safe food and pure water. Solar power is difficult to label as a threatening conspiracy. The same evil, compromised knuckleheads may be targeting Greens now as used to carry the McCarthyite banner against the parties of the left, but in the arena of public opinion I think they have a much more difficult and uphill battle when it comes to making people afraid of Greens.

AdamPDX June 11th, 2011 at 8:52 pm

I followed the Judi Bari case. No surprises for me.

Jury’s message to feds in $4.4 million verdict for Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney
(revised 6/19/02)

On June 11, 2002, a federal jury returned a stunning verdict in favor of Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney in their landmark civil rights lawsuit against four FBI agents and three Oakland Police officers.

The jury unanimously found that six of the seven FBI and OPD defendants tried to frame Judi and Darryl in an effort to crush Earth First! and chill participation in Redwood Summer. That was evident in the fact that 80% of the $4.4 million total damage award was for violation of their First Amendment rights to speak out and organize politically in defense of the forests.

“The jury exonerated us,” said Darryl Cherney. “They found the FBI to be the ones in violation of the law. The American public needs to understand that the FBI can’t be trusted. Ten jurors got a good, hard look at the FBI and they didn’t like what they saw.”

“It’s really beyond our wildest dreams,” said Darlene Comingore, Judi Bari’s friend and executor of her estate who stood in for her as co-plaintiff in this suit. “We hope the FBI and Oakland and all the police forces out there that think they can violate people’s rights and get away with it are listening because the people of the state of California and Oakland today said, ‘No, you can’t. You can’t get away with it.’ ”

Lead attorney Dennis Cunningham said the message he hopes the verdict sends is that: “Ashcroft is doing precisely the wrong thing to abandon the (Levi) guidelines and let the FBI go after dissent with a free hand. It’s clear that their intention is not about fighting terrorism, it’s about suppressing dissent. That’s what the FBI has always been about. Hopefully it will make Congress think twice about giving them a free hand.”

http://www.judibari.org/#History

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