September 11 brings sounds of silence to animal & habitat activism
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, September 2001:
WASHINGTON D.C.–Activism for animals and habitat is abruptly
quieter after the September 11 hijackings of four airliners that left
an estimated 6,333 people dead at crash sites in New York City,
Washington D.C., and Somerset County, Pennsylvania.
Both the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense
Council immediately hushed criticism of the policies of U.S.
President George W. Bush–even on Endangered Species Act enforcement
and oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, where their
views and those of the Bush administration are polar opposites.
“In response to the attacks on America,” said a Sierra
Club internal memo disclosed by Counterpunch columnists Alexander
Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair, “we have taken our ads off the air;
halted our phone banks; and removed any material from the web that
people could perceive as anti-Bush. We are taking other steps to
keep the Sierra Club from being seen as controversial.”
The NRDC cancelled ads rapping Bush for opposing regulations
to reduce residual arsenic levels in drinking water.
“In deference to our need to pull together, we are not going
to make any statements on the issues at this point,” NRDC
communications director Elliott Negin told Associated Press writer
Cockburn and St. Clair noted similar retreats by other groups.
International Rivers cancelled protests against Morgan
Stanley investments in the Three Gorges dam in China after learning
that Morgan Stanley lost 50 floors of offices and many staff at the
World Trade Center.
The Ruckus Society cancelled a training camp for potential
participants in anti- World Trade Organization protests.
The Rainforest Action Network asked other groups involved in
the anti-WTO campaign to suspend forthcoming protests.
The events of September 11 seemed likely to build
Congressional support for HR 2795, the “AgroTerrorism Act of 2001,”
introduced on August 2 by Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-California) to
update and replace an earlier draft, HR 2060, by George Nethercut
“The bill would give the FBI new tools to pursue
animal-and-plant-related terrorism, increase penalties for
animal-related terrorism, and establish a National Animal Terrorism
and Ecoterrorism Clearinghouse at the FBI,” said Animal Welfare
Institute executive director Cathy Liss.
The Nethercut bill was introduced on June 5, two weeks after
May 21 predawn arsons claimed by the Earth Liberation Front did $2
million worth of damage to the Center for Urban Horticulture at the
University of Washington in Seattle and razed two buildings plus
numerous vehicles at the Jefferson Poplar Farms tree nursery in
Clatskanie, Oregon. Another alleged ELF predawn arson on June 1
destroyed three logging trucks at Schoppert Logging Inc. in Eagle
June 1 was also the day that National Animal Interest
Alliance founder Patti Strand started an online petition asking
President Bush “to instruct attorney general John Ashcroft to
investigate the exploitation of IRS charitable tax-exempt status by
certain ‘animal rights’ groups,” not named, that Strand alleged
“use intimidation, harassment, and deception to raise money.”
All three arsons came after the convictions of old-growth
forest activist Jeffrey Michael “Free” Luers, 22, and associate
Craig Andrew “Critter” Marshall, 28, for allegedly setting fires at
Joe Romania Chevrolet in Eugene, Oregon, that did $400,000 worth of
damage in June 2000. Luers drew more than 22 years in prison;
Marshall got five years plus six months.
Just before Luers’ trial, a March 30 fire at Joe Romania
Chevrolet destroyed more than 30 sport utility vehicles, doing in
excess of $1 million worth of damage.
Two weeks after that, another arson claimed by the ELF did
$210,000 worth of damage to three cement trucks at Ross Island Sand &
Gravel in Portland.
Speaking for a multi-agency task force also including the
FBI; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms; the U.S.
Forest Service; the Oregon State Police; and the Lane County
Sheriff’s Office, Eugene police captain Thad Buchanan told a
Portland Oregonian reporter in late July that investigation of the
crimes focused on three suspects.
Buchanan said that the firebombs used in the March 30 and May
21 arsons had the same “signatures” as those used in a September 2000
arson at a Eugene police substation and a January 2001 arson at
Glendale’s Superior Lumber in Eugene.
“We think we have the right people,” Buchanan claimed, but
three months later there were still no arrests in those cases.
In Omaha, however, 19-year-olds Jason L. Thiemann, Kraig
A. Schjodt, and Brian K. Hindley were on June 19 charged with felony
mischief for allegedly vandalizing four golf courses, apparently
inspired by vandalism at a golf course in British Columbia last
January, claimed by the ELF, and at the Pure-Seed Testing
Company–a developer of genetically modified turf for golf greens–in
Canby, Oregon, in June 2000, claimed by “the Anarchist Golfing
Other apparent copy-cat incidents brought the February 2001
arson convictions of 17-year-olds Jared McIntyre and George Mashow
Jr. and 16-year-old Matthew Rammelkamp in Central Islip, New York.
Charges remain pending against fourth suspect Connor Cash, 19. The
four allegedly torched nine new homes on Long Island and vandalized
10 other sites including a plot of genetically modified corn at the
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.
Investigators believe they had no links to other ELF groups.
But the ALF on April 30 claimed to have taken 250 ducklings from the
Cornell University Duck Laboratory in Southampton, Long Island. “All
the ducks were brought cross-country to a sanctuary where they will
live in peace and serenity,” said a statement released by convicted
Canadian ALF lab raider David Barbarash.
Barbarash on the same day announced that the ALF had taken
more than two dozen rabbits from ICRC, a medical research firm in
The Cunningham refinement of the Nethercut bill was
introduced after Oregon assistant U.S. attorney Stephen F. Peifer
told U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) in early July that a recent
Oregon Supreme Court ruling against the use of deceptive
investigative practices is “handicapping use of undercover work and
agents wearing body wires to get information that would otherwise be
admissable” as evidence in cases involving the ELF and Animal
Within the next three weeks the ELF allegedly tried to
disable the $23 million ski gondola at the Heavenly Valley resort
near Lake Tahoe, California, and claimed to have spiked hundreds of
trees to prevent logging in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.
At least 45 unsolved crimes are attributed to the ALF and ELF
in Oregon and Washington alone. Many were claimed in statements
released by Craig Rosebraugh, 29, owner of a vegan bakery in
Portland and volunteer publicist for the ALF and ELF since 1997.
Rosebraugh in May 2001 began selling a video called Igniting the
Revolution: An Introduction to the ELF, admitting to media that his
goal is recruitment.
On September 5, House subcommittee on forests chair Scott
McInnis (R-Colo.) asked House Resources Committee chair James Hansen
(R-Utah) to subpoena Rose-braugh to testify at a Congressional
The FBI has already twice searched Rosebraugh’s home.
Rosebraugh and housemate Elaine Close were also subpoenaed in January
2001 by a federal grand jury, along with associate Josh Harper.
Responded Rosebraugh, to Robert Gehrke of Associated Press,
“I’m not going to participate in any effort that is going to
incarcerate any of the people involved in the ELF.”
A House Resources Committee vote on a motion to subpoena
Rosebraugh was set for September 12, but was delayed due to the
September 11 terrorist attacks.
ANIMAL PEOPLE has noted since July 1997 that ELF actions tend
to produce a backlash advantageous to animal use industies.
In May 1997, for example, as fur farmers sought stronger
federal protection from ALF mink releases and sabotage, the ELF
linked itself to the ALF for the first time in claiming a mink
release at Mount Angel, Oregon. The remains of mink allegedly
trampled by the perpetrators were shown on TV.
After exposes by Martha Mendoza of Associated Press brought
public demand for reform of the Bureau of Land Management wild horse
program in early 1997, the ELF and ALF jointly claimed a July 1997
arson at the Cavel West horse killing plant in Redmond, Oregon, and
a November 1997 arson at the BLM corrals near Burns, Oregon.
In June 1998, when a bill to slash funding for USDA Wildlife
Services (formerly Animal Damage Control) was before the House, the
ELF razed two Wildlife Services buildings near Olympia, Washington.
The House approved the funding cut on the first vote, two days
later, but well-hyped backlash helped reverse the cut the day after
In October 1998, as Endangered Species Act protection for
lynx was pending, against opposition led by Rep. Rick Hill
(R-Montana), the ELF torched a ski lift near Vail, Colorado,
ostensibly to protect lynx habitat where no lynx had been seen since
ELF arsons and vandalism started in Indiana in October 1999,
after the endangered status of the Indiana bat interfered with
logging and development. Frank Ambrose, 26, Midwest coordinator
for the American Lands Alliance, was charged in January 2001 with
allegedly spiking trees at the Morgan-Monroe State Forest near
Bloomington, Indiana, in a June 2000 action claimed by the ELF.
Ambrose admitted visiting the forest, but denied spiking trees. He
had refused to condemn the tree spikings and a local ELF arson, but
associates said he was an unlikely suspect. His attorney, Richard
Kammen of Indianapolis, suggested that he was framed.
ANIMAL PEOPLE pointed out in March 2001 that the American
Lands Alliance, founded by former Indiana Congressional
Representative Jim Jontz, appeared to be a prime target for agents
provocateur because the ALA board included people from 11 “green”
groups which often sue federal and state agencies. If Ambrose were
found guilty, ANIMAL PEOPLE explained, all 11 groups could be
accused of having terrorist links.
ELF press releases further tied the Ambrose case to terror by
asking that April 5, Ambrose’s first scheduled trial date, be a day
of “militant direct action” at FBI offices and other federal
buildings. But the only April 5 action was a failed firebombing on
the roof of a Nike outlet store in Albertville, Minnesota.
On September 12, Monroe County prosecutor Carl Salzmann
announced that all charges against Ambrose had been dropped.
Salzman said investigators now suspect that the ELF incidents
in Indiana were the product of a broad conspiracy.
“There just wasn’t any evidence,” Kammen said.
In mid-June, however, a federal grand jury in Phoenix found
enough evidence to indict reputed religious conservative Mark Warren
Sands, 50, on 22 counts of arson and extortion for allegedly
torching eight luxury homes near Phoenix and Scottsdale between April
2000 and January 2001. The arsons were claimed by a group Sands
purportedly invented as cover, called the Coalition to Save the
Preserves. Sands, a freelance publicist who from 1978 to 1982
represented University Hospital in Salt Lake City, reportedly said
he was motivated by “inner demons.”
Whether or not Sands’ activity fits the description, there
is much history of pro-animal and habitat activism being disrupted by
agents provocateur hired by controversial businesses to discredit
their critics–often by associating the critics with terrorism.
Most notoriously, operatives of Perceptions International,
a private security firm hired by U.S. Surgical, in 1988 gave dog
rescuer Fran Trutt the money to buy a bomb, drove her to the U.S.
Surgical headquarters, and arranged for her arrest as she put the
bomb in the parking lot.
Jeff Stein, military affairs writer for the online news
magazine <www.Salon.com>, detailed covert disruption of PETA and the
Performing Animal Welfare Society in the Salon editions of August 30
and August 31.
Funded by Feld Entertainment, owners of the Ringling
Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, the infiltrations were done
from 1989 until 1992 by operatives of the private security firm
The operation was directed by Clair E. George, deputy
director of operations for the Central Intelligence Agency from July
1984 through December 1987. Responsible for all CIA covert
operations worldwide, George was convicted of lying to a
Congressional committee in 1987, but was pardoned in December 1992
by former President George Bush, one-time CIA director and father
of the current President.
Stolen PETA and PAWS documents, including donor lists, were
shared with the anti-animal rights group Putting People First.
The infiltrations came to light as result of a falling out
among the spies, one of whom tried to sell their secrets to PAWS
founder Pat Derby. Derby sued Feld Entertainment in June 2000.
Associated Press reported in March that Feld settled the case “by
agreeing to turn over some retired Ringling circus elephants to PAWS
and pay for their care,” adding, “The number of animals and amount
of money provided for their care were not disclosed.”
PETA sued Feld in May 2001.
The Putting People First involvement links the PETA and PAWS
infiltrations to the the allegedly dead far-right attorney Bill
Wewer–and, perhaps in a roundabout way, to some unsolved ELF actions.
Wewer, founder of the National Committee to Preserve Social
Security and Medicare, was in 1984-1985 investigated by Congress and
reprimanded by the Justice Department for his direct mailing
practices. He went on to form the Doris Day Animal League in 1986,
but left DDAL in early 1990 to join Putting People First, begun by
his wife Kathleen Marquardt in 1989. Early PFF publications often
lauded Ringling Brothers.
Claiming to represent Norwegian whalers and sealers as of
November 1992, PPF eventually became Putting Liberty First, then
merged into the American Policy Center.
Seldom seen after mid-1991, Wewer boasted in a 1997 fax to
ANIMAL PEOPLE that he had “moled into” an animal rights group,
apparently unaware that ANIMAL PEOPLE already suspected he had been
working for the Animal Welfare Institute as Rick Spill since 1993.
Resembling Wewer, Spill used a Social Security number first issued
to a man 19 years younger–and rented premises around the U.S. near
the sites of many subsequent ELF actions.
Cofounding the Cetacean Freedom Network in 1994, Spill was
central to the disputes that in 1995 broke up the Sugarloaf Dolphin
Sanctuary. He worked closely with then-Friends of Animals staffer
Ben White, who made more than a third of the calls he billed to FoA
to Spill. White succeeded Spill at AWI when Spill left abruptly in
Among Wewer’s few appearances during those years was
attendance at a February 1997 fundraiser for Representative Rick
Hill–the foe of ESA protection for lynx.
Learning of the ANIMAL PEOPLE probe, Spill abruptly left AWI
in May 1997. Joan George, president of the Humane Society of
Ventura County, California, hired Wewer to represent the society
later that year. Her relationship to Clair George, if any, is
Marquardt on April Fool’s Day 1999 reported that Wewer had
died of cancer. ANIMAL PEOPLE found that the San Francisco Medical
Examiner’s office issued a death certificate without identifying the
remains, which were purportedly cremated.
Spill briefly reappeared in Nov-ember 1999, helping White to
organize protests against the World Trade Organization meeting in
Seattle. At PPF, both Wewer and Marquardt strongly opposed world
trade regulation, on the theory that it could lead to global bans on
whaling, sealing, and fur trapping.