Endemic: The Move To Label All Civil Disobedience "Terrorism"
Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act makes peaceful protesters terrorists
An endemic crackdown on peaceful protest and dissent has continued with President Bush signing the 'Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act,'. Under the guise of protecting researchers, scientists and their staff who conduct experiments and tests on animals, the latest terror bill seeks to class as "terrorists" those who seek to protest against such activities.
The bill expands criminal prohibitions against the use of force, violence, and threats involving animal enterprises and increases penalties for violations of these prohibitions. The operative term being "threats", because what an activist may see as protesting may be construed under the law to be threatening.
The Senate passed the bill by unanimous consent in September, just prior to the Congressional recess. A similar bill, H.R. 4239, was approved by the House of Representatives this month.
"It's depressing to know that, just because of our beliefs involving animals, we are going to be branded terrorists if we protest," said Lori Nitzel, a Madison attorney and executive director of Alliance for Animals, a statewide group that pledges nonviolence.
Nitzel wonders if even the kind of leafleting the group did Friday near a Madison fur store could be construed as illegal. The bill can impose punishment if an animal enterprise suffers "economic damage."
"We are, in fact, hoping to cause economic damage to the store," Nitzel said.
One report states that backers of the bill say opponents are trying to alarm people with wacky what-ifs. Unfortunately with the government's track record, with any piece of legislation like this you have to ask "what if?".
Without getting into a debate about animal testing itself, the real issue of concern here is the term "terrorism". The push to merge crime and terrorism laws can be no clearer than in this case.
What happens if down the line terrorism legislation begins to be combined? Suddenly you end up with a number of animal rights "terrorists" who can be labeled as enemy combatants and detained without trial.
The more crimes that become "terrorism", the more people you can label as terrorists and treat in the same way. Every time a piece of legislation like this becomes law, the more the Bill of rights is eroded and free speech is restricted.
"The frightening thing for me is that it heavily criminalizes civil disobedience, and just for animal rights activists," Lori Nitzel says. Nitzel is right, however, there are plenty more moves afoot to criminalize other forms of civil disobedience.
We have previously documented cases where those who attend antiwar demonstrations or Quaker meetings have been monitored and placed on a Pentagon database as possible threats. Think about that for a minute, the military is monitoring peaceful US citizens who do not agree with illegal warfare and placing them on a list of possible enemies.
We have previously reported multiple times on how the intelligence and law enforcement agencies have "domestic-terrorism files" into which peaceful protesters have been placed. These are not isolated incidents.
The precedent is set, if you protest you go on the subversive list and you'll be first into the forced labor camps when a city or two gets nuked.
Of course, we have known for a long time that The renewed and extended Patriot Act will target protesters and allow secret services a wider latitude at public events. Penalties for such violations would increase from six months to a year in prison.
The Patriot Act as we have exhaustively documented is the key police state weapon the authorities have in their armory. The party line often heard from Neo-Cons in their attempts to defend the Patriot Act either circulate around the contention that the use of the Patriot Act has never been abused or that it isn't being used against American citizens. The Legislation's reach HAS gone beyond terrorism and it IS actively being used to target American citizens.
The most recent example of a U.S. citizen being targeted using terror legislation involved BBC investigative journalist Greg Palast, who was pursued by Homeland Security and charged with unauthorized filming of a "critical national security structure," (an Exxon Oil refinery that was readily available to anyone with an Internet connection at Google Maps), under PATRIOT Act legislation. The charge was later dropped after an activist outcry.
Remember, section 802 is specifically aimed at US citizens and announces any crime as "domestic terrorism". Citizens can be held without a trial as "Enemy Combatants"
The Washington Post recently reported "The Bush administration is developing a parallel legal system in which terrorism suspects -- U.S. citizens and noncitizens alike -- may be investigated, jailed, interrogated, tried and punished without legal protections guaranteed by the ordinary system, lawyers inside and outside the government say."
Also under the Patriot Act police are authorized to impose "Free Speech Zones".
Top legal experts and scholars are nearly unanimous that the Military Commissions Act, another piece of Constitution shredding terror legislation, also affects American citizens.
Yale Law Professor Bruce Ackerman states in the L.A. Times, "The compromise legislation....authorizes the president to seize American citizens as enemy combatants, even if they have never left the United States. And once thrown into military prison, they cannot expect a trial by their peers or any other of the normal protections of the Bill of Rights."
The endemic movement to kill off free speech has spread to Britain too. Free Speech Zones were also introduced in Britain last year, making it illegal to protest outside parliament. The new draconian laws forbid spontaneous free speech within a one-kilometre radius of the House of Commons.
Last year the Scotland Sunday Herald reported that the British Government was considering just banning protest altogether after a major terror attack and making it against the law to criticize the government in a State of emergency.
Both Britain and Australia also have domestic surveillance databases that gather the information of anyone who criticizes them or who they consider to be subversive
Everywhere we look the First Amendment is under attack. It seems that legislation is being passed daily, each bill tearing away at fundamental rights and condemning another form of protest as terrorism. It has got to the point for the government where what is being protested is less of an issue than the act of protest itself which they clearly see as the real threat