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Are they terrorists?
Posted by: McQ on Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Interesting question for you to hash out. First a definition:
Terrorism is "an offense that is calculated to influence or affect the conduct of government by intimidation or coercion, or to retaliate against government conduct; and is a violation of several different offense categories, among which is arson."
So, given that definition, it is a crime against government, since it is an offense calculated to influence, affect the conduct of government etc. etc.

What happened?
Members of the Family have entered guilty pleas in more than 20 attacks carried out from 1995 to 2001 that caused more than $40 million in property damage in five states. Targets included both private property and facilities belonging to government agencies, including the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management.

No one was hurt or killed ...
Who were the "Family"? Members of the Earth Liberation Front.

By legal definition above, they were charged with being terrorists.

One of the defense lawyers said:
"KEVIN TUBBS IS NOT A TERRORIST," Tubbs' lawyer wrote in melodramatic fashion in a court brief (the capital letters were his). The given reason: Tubbs' violence was motivated by a love for animals and an "overwhelming feeling of despair."
Of course we could take that defense and do a little substitution. "Osama bin Laden's violence was motivated by a love of Islam and an overwhelming feeling of dispair that infidels hand despoiled the holy lands".

Hmmm. That doesn't really cut it does it?

But was Kevin Tubbs really trying to "influence or affect the conduct of government by intimidation or coercion, or to retaliate against government conduct"?

Frankly I don't know. ELF is listed in the MIPT Terrorism Knowledge Base (which doesn't necessarily make them a terrorist organization) and from there we learn:
Founding Philosophy: The Earth Liberation Front (ELF) is an international underground organization consisting of autonomous groups of people who carry out direct action according to the ELF guidelines. It was founded in 1992 in Brighton, England by Earth First! members who refused to abandon criminal acts as a tactic when others wished to move Earth First! into the mainstream. The group jumped to North America in the mid-90's. Historically, the group has concentrated efforts on the timber industry and animal rights issues. More recent actions indicate that some ELF factions are also targeting suburban sprawl, with New York a hotspot for this type of activity. Within the past year, a number of under-construction condominiums and luxury homes have been set on fire by ELF operatives. Subsequent press releases describe an "an unbounded war on urban sprawl", adding that "we will not tolerate the destruction of our island" and "if you build it we will burn it." There is not a centralized organization or membership to speak of in the ELF, so individuals or cells are driven only by their personal decisions to carry out actions.

Current Goals: According to the ELF website, which guides individual member's actions, "Any direct action to halt the destruction of the environment and adhering to the strict nonviolence guidelines, listed below, can be considered an ELF action. Economic sabotage and property destruction fall within these guidelines."

1) To inflict economic damage on those profiting from the destruction and exploitation of the natural environment; 2) To reveal and educate the public on the atrocities committed against the earth and all species that populate it; and 3) To take all necessary precautions against harming any animal, human and non-human.

The ELF advocates "monkeywrenching," a euphemism for acts of sabotage and property destruction against industries and other entities perceived to be damaging to the natural environment. "Monkeywrenching" includes tree spiking, arson, sabotage of logging or construction equipment, and other types of property destruction. Economic damage is often accomplished via acts of vandalism, ranging from breaking windows and gumming locks to setting fires and damaging equipment. Public education is typically achieved by means of anonymous press releases following acts of sabotage. Spray paint is also used to communicate messages and to claim responsibility at the site of sabotage.
Now, I don't know about you, but "sabotage and property destruction" are not considered "non-violent" actions where I come from. But according to this founding philosophy statement, I don't see where ELF is directed toward "trying to "influence or affect the conduct of government by intimidation or coercion, or to retaliate against government conduct". It may indeed be the case, but if it is, they are careful enough not to put it in their founding philosophy.

But, prima facia, they did attack "government agencies, including the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management." So that at least puts them within the definition. Do they, however, really fit the definition?

Again, I don't know. But, arguendo, let's put it another way. If they had only gone after private property, would they still be tried as terrorists?
 
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But, arguendo, let’s put it another way. If they had only gone after private property, would they still be tried as terrorists?
Maybe not, but if a firefighter got injured, then they could be, since they are civil employees and thus "part of the gov’t".

I recall those huge fires at those housing developements in I think it was Aspen of Denver (maybe somewhere in Cali, I don’t exactly recall) that were linked to ELF...
 
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
Maybe not, but if a firefighter got injured, then they could be, since they are civil employees and thus "part of the gov’t".
Keep it pure, Scott ... if all private, are they terrorists?

If not, why not?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
If they had only gone after private property, would they still be tried as terrorists?
They should be. Hell, ELF, ALF and their PETA funders and enablers should get the Gitmo treatment, just for spite.
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
No. If VA (Vail Associates) owned the land instead of leasing it from USDeptAgriculture then the case probably would not have been argued in federal court as terrorism is primarily a federal charge.
 
Written By: bains
URL: http://
Keep it pure, Scott ... if all private, are they terrorists?
By the law, I suppose not...

Just your regular, run-of-the-mill criminal scum...
 
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
Intent. That would seem to be the (Science help me, I’m going to use a cliche) litmus test.

If they were acting only on private property but with the recognized goal of affecting Government, then the charge would seem to stand.

One does not only influence Government by burning their buildings, burn enough buildings in the private sector and the same ends are achieved.

But I tend to view tree spiking as attempted murder and arson as attempted mass murder, so what the hell do I know.

If instead of bombing trains in Spain they had bombed a private school with the intent (and unfortunate result) of wrong-footing the Government, would there be any hesitation in describing it as an act of terrorists?
 
Written By: Uncle Pinky
URL: http://
It’s a bad definition. Really and truly bad.

Firstly, requiring that government be the target.

Political is the target whatever political it may be. Could be a national government, city or home owners association.

Goal... not vandalism or a desire to hurt people physically or to deprive them of their property or pyromania or simple greed... it needs a political goal. The goal is to change policy.

The target to cause policy change through terror can be (and usually is) not a government target, but it could be a government target. The goal is to force a policy change. Terrorizing private citizens or others with *no* connection to the government can still force policy change... it’s the hostage thing... change policy or I kill one innocent... change policy or I burn one building. Scare the population so that the population *multiplies* the political influence and power of the group using terrorism.

Simply attacking the government might be guerrilla warfare and probably is if fear is not being used as a multiplier.

A classic example of terrorism was Charles Manson. He had a political goal which required the rising up of Blacks and to force them to rise up he and his followers horribly murdered a pregnant, white, actress. The target, the actress, was intended to motivate the masses of white people to oppress Blacks even more so that Blacks would do what Manson wanted them to do.

The various European terrorist groups operated much the same way. Terrorize the population forcing *more* oppression so that they’d finally be able to convince others to join their cause against the government.

Islamic terrorists have used the same sort of thing. 9-11 was that sort of act. So are the attacks on public market places or mosques or on the police recruits and others.
 
Written By: Synova
URL: http://synova.blogspot.com
One definition of terror;
"panic: an overwhelming feeling of fear and anxiety"

I have a real problem with the definition of terrorism you cite.
Do any of these illegal, violent actions by elf cause "an overwhelming feeling of fear and anxiety"? In my opinion, this is an abuse used by government because it is easier and more convenient for them, like the abuse of the RICO statute and civil forfeiture and, of course, eminent domain. It trivializes terrorism. I seriously doubt that any government official feels "an overwhelming(or even just a whelming) feeling of fear and anxiety" over the acts of elf.
 
Written By: tmactual
URL: http://
This is settled law.

Ann Coulter, the Constitutional lawyer and brilliant legal mind, had previously determined the following...

"Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims."

Ergo, unless these ELF’s are Muslims, they can burn empty ski lodges in order to save prairie dogs all day, and they’re still not terrorist.

The Coultergeist has spoken




 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
Recently, there was a discussion on this blog about so-called hate crimes. Most who commented were opposed to laws against so-called crimes. A common complaint was that those who committed such crimes were being judged not simply on the basis of their conduct, and whether they knowingly or intentionally engaged in the conduct, but also the basis of their motive or intent, which was wrong. In other words, a white guy who beats up a black guy should receive the the same sentence as a white guy who beats up a white guy, all other things being equal, of course.

The basic contention was that the punishment should be based on the conduct, not on some post hoc analysis of what may have been the defendant’s subjective intent in carrying out the crime.

Fair enough. Let’s assume intent does not matter. Only (voluntary, knowing) conduct matters.

The problem, however, is generalizing that principle. Can those who oppose hate crime legislation stick to their guns when it comes to criminal behavior that is motivated by a principle or political ideology they disagree with? Can they adhere to the principle that only the conduct matters, not the intent behind the conduct?

After all, the conduct at issue here is vandalism and destruction of property. Getting into the issue of whether it could constitute "terrorism" requires an examination of the "intent" of the defendant in engaging in the conduct. This is an inquiry that most wingers oppose on self-proclaimed principled grounds. So one would assume that they would apply the same principles here, right?

Wrong. As one coommenter put it:
Intent. That would seem to be the (Science help me, I’m going to use a cliche) litmus test.
As another said, the defendants in these cases should not simply receive the regular punishment for their criminal conduct. Their criminal conduct should receive "extra" punishment because of the subjective intent of the actors:
They should be. Hell, ELF, ALF and their PETA funders and enablers should get the Gitmo treatment, just for spite.
Indeed, the premise of this post is that it is proper to inquire into the subjective intent of the actor in question and, accordingly. punish him more harshly than another person who engages in exactly the same conduct with a different intent. This post posits only the question of what is the correct answer to the inquiry; it does not challenge the propritey of the inquiry itself:
Now, I don’t know about you, but "sabotage and property destruction" are not considered "non-violent" actions where I come from. But according to this founding philosophy statement, I don’t see where ELF is directed toward "trying to "influence or affect the conduct of government by intimidation or coercion, or to retaliate against government conduct". It may indeed be the case, but if it is, they are careful enough not to put it in their founding philosophy.
So it’s ok to ask whether one criminal defendant is engaging in criminal conduct with the purpose of intimindating government, but it’s not ok to ask whether another defendant engaged in the same conduct with the purpose of intimidating a person or persons based on race. I suppose this is because the latter inquiry requires analysis of the subjective intent of the actor, whereas the other inquiry requires examination of the subjective intent of the actor.

Wait a minute. Those are the same things.
 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
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Written By: trtytrty
URL: http://
The definition makes the government the target... and is at odds with other definitions. Google it.
By the definition used here, our founding fathers were terrorists. Carrie Nation was a terrorist. And I don’t accept that writing or believing or distributing "Blows against an Empire " is all that is needed to be defined as a terrorist.
The entire history of the CIA would be defined as terrorism if we use this definition and would make the US a terrorist country.


 
Written By: kindlingman
URL: http://
For me, this mental exercise stops with this,
Recently, there was a discussion on this blog about so-called hate crimes. Most who commented were opposed to laws against so-called crimes. A common complaint was that those who committed such crimes were being judged not simply on the basis of their conduct, and whether they knowingly or intentionally engaged in the conduct, but also the basis of their motive or intent, which was wrong. In other words, a white guy who beats up a black guy should receive the the same sentence as a white guy who beats up a white guy, all other things being equal, of course.
Exactly.

A crime is a crime is a crime. No matter the intent.

You burn down a building.
It’s arson and vandalism.
You go to jail.

The question here is whether or not ELF should be charged with terrorism. (Or if they fit the legal description.)
A more interesting question is whether or not there even should be a separate charge of “terrorism”.

Cheers.


 
Written By: PogueMahone
URL: http://
God help me, I completely agree with Pogue and MK. However, I think there IS such a thing as terrorism and hate crimes, but I don’t think our current legal definitions handle them well. The definition of terrorism in use here seems wrong in that it is focused on damage to government, and I believe terrorism is focused on civilians as a means to influence government, which is not quite the same thing.

One quibble with MK’s statement:
So it’s ok to ask whether one criminal defendant is engaging in criminal conduct with the purpose of intimindating government, but it’s not ok to ask whether another defendant engaged in the same conduct with the purpose of intimidating a person or persons based on race.
Government tends to have a lot more direct power to punish than "race" does, and one is not exactly like the other. But MK is right in that increased legal penalties "require(s) analysis of the subjective intent of the actor", and requiring subjective anything in a court case gives me the shivers.


 
Written By: Bill W.
URL: http://
Let me put forth my working definition for your consideration. Terrorism deliberately targets civilian populations to frighten the population into submission or capitulation. Let’s not use the term for every case of sabotage, covert attack, or injury to persons and property. McVeigh was a terrorist but ELF is not. The attack on the WTC was terrorism but the attack on the Pentagon was not. Both were despicable because they were attacks on America — acts of war.

Terror is only a tactic. The problem isn’t that the jihadists don’t fight like gentleman but that they attack America. They are our enemy — a most loathsome enemy. The main problem is what they fight for, not how they fight. It isn’t surprising how readily they use terrorism but they’d be a vicious enemy even if they fought “clean”.
 
Written By: Jason Pappas
URL: http://libertyandculture.blogspot.com/
Good point mk, but...

I thought I had something in there about a stated goal which could lead to provable intent.

Most of the hate crime prosecutions that I have read infer intent through some questionable and suspect reasoning. Furthermore, these prosecutions are usually aimed at individuals whose motives it may be difficult if not impossible to divine. When it is an organization that has made several public statements we’ve got a kettle of fish of a different colour.

One of my problems with hate crime legislation is the seemingly arbitrary manner in which it is enforced, and it should be scrapped (So declareth the Pinky) but members of organizations are sometimes prosecuted quite differently than individuals.

That being said, the definition could certainly use some tightening up and by some I mean take it behind the barn with an axe and get a new puppy.
 
Written By: Uncle Pinky
URL: http://
One important thing to note is that there’s another statutory definition of "Domestic Terroristm: 18 USC 2331 defines domestic terrorism as:

(5)... activities that

(A)involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;

(B)appear to be intended

(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;

(ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; ...


So merely intimidating the population, via threats of "you build it, we burn it", and following through on such threats (the "acts dangerous to human life ... a violation of the criminal laws"), seems to meet that statutory definition under 18 USC 2331 (5)(B)(ii).

Jason: If ELF burns buildings to frighten people into submitting to their ideas of what should be built and what businesses should exist, that’s terrorism by your own definition (and that of the law).

ELF is not committing acts of war, but of terror. Unless logging camps or car dealerships or housing developments are military targets, that is?

(I agree - by the way - that the attacks on the Pentagon were much more like acts of War than of terrorism, though the use of an airliner full of random civilians is arguably a terror tactic in itself (as using civilians effectively as weapons can’t but intimidate them).

Had they used a truck bomb or some other means, I’d be willing to call it a pure act of war.)
 
Written By: Sigivald
URL: http://
McQ, I know where you’re coming from and where you want to go with the "against the government" definition. In the current issue of Joint Force Quarterly a definition of terrorism quotes two sources, either of which satisfies my concepts of what constitutes terrorism.
Bruce Hoffman defines terrorism as “the
deliberate creation and exploitation of fear
through violence or the threat of violence in
the pursuit of political change. . . . Terrorism
is specially designed to have far-reaching
psychological effects beyond the immediate
victim(s) or object of the terrorist attack.”2
The Department of Defense defines terrorism
as “the unlawful use or threatened use of force
or violence against individuals or property to
coerce or intimidate governments or societies,
often to achieve political, religious, or ideological
objectives3.
I like this phrase: "Terrorism
is specially designed to have far-reaching
psychological effects beyond the immediate
victim(s)
or object of the terrorist attack.” and in the DOD’s definition I like the whole quote.
 
Written By: tom scott
URL: http://
McQ,
This is in response to the post - Are they Terrorists?

What are the charges against Environmental Activists? - Destruction of property? - endangering human life?

The Military Industrial Complex is doing much more damage to property - it is going around carpet bombing entire countries - flattening entire countries. The Military Industrial Complex is endangering much more human life - it is actually killing - killing millions in War/ Violence - directly or indirectly.

Who is the real Terrorist? - Environmentalists or Industrial Society?

The human race has been destroying/ killing animals, trees, air, water, land and people from the very beginning of civilization. Science and Technology has increased this destructive capacity millions of times.

Every man is a serial-killer. The per-capita destruction of Environment - per-capita destruction of Animals, Trees, Air, Water and Land in Industrial Society is thousands of times greater than what it was 1000 years ago - 500 years ago - 200 years ago.

Before Industrialization humans killed Environment primarily for Food.After Industrialization humans are killing environment for Food and [unnecessary]Consumer Goods.

The Military Industrial Complex has killed millions of people in War/ Violence. It has decimated all plant and animal species. It has destroyed all ecosystems. It has polluted and poisioned the Sky, Land and Oceans. It has raped and plundered "Mother Earth" in the name of Progress and Development.
The crimes of "Military Industrial Complex" are millions of times greater than the crimes of Environmentalists.

Comparing the crimes of Environmentalists with the crimes of "Military Industrial Complex" is like comparing the Lamp with the Sun.

The entire Industrial Society is a Terrorist.
Science and Technology is the Terrorist.
Military Industrial Complex is the Terrorist.


In this context I want to post a part from my article which examines the impact of Speed, Overstimulation, Consumerism and Industrialization on our Minds and environment. Please read.

Industrial Society Destroys Mind and Environment.

The fast-paced, consumerist lifestyle of Industrial Society is causing exponential rise in psychological problems besides destroying the environment. All issues are interlinked. Our Minds cannot be peaceful when attention-spans are down to nanoseconds, microseconds and milliseconds. Our Minds cannot be peaceful if we destroy Nature.

The link between Mind and Social / Environmental-Issues.

Subject : In a fast society slow emotions become extinct.
Subject : A thinking mind cannot feel.
Subject : Scientific/ Industrial/ Financial thinking destroys the planet.
Subject : Environment can never be saved as long as cities exist.

Emotion is what we experience during gaps in our thinking.

If there are no gaps there is no emotion.

Today people are thinking all the time and are mistaking thought (words/ language) for emotion.

When society switches-over from physical work (agriculture) to mental work (scientific/ industrial/ financial/ fast visuals/ fast words ) the speed of thinking keeps on accelerating and the gaps between thinking go on decreasing.

There comes a time when there are almost no gaps.

People become incapable of experiencing/ tolerating gaps.

Emotion ends.

Man becomes machine.


A society that speeds up mentally experiences every mental slowing-down as Depression / Anxiety.

A ( travelling )society that speeds up physically experiences every physical slowing-down as Depression / Anxiety.

A society that entertains itself daily experiences every non-entertaining moment as Depression / Anxiety.


Fast visuals/ words make slow emotions extinct.

Scientific/ Industrial/ Financial thinking destroys emotional circuits.

A fast (large) society cannot feel pain / remorse / empathy.

A fast (large) society will always be cruel to Animals/ Trees/ Air/ Water/ Land and to Itself.

To read the complete article please follow any of these links :
PlanetSave
FreeInfoSociety
ePhilosopher
Corrupt

sushil_yadav
 
Written By: sushil_yadav
URL: http://
"Subject : A thinking mind cannot feel."
"Emotion is what we experience during gaps in our thinking."

You obviously feel very, very, very strongly about this.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
I think terrorism charges should be reserved for policies intended to employ or cause physical violence against living organisms.

I also support simply charging the underlying crime in all cases, be it murder, mass murder, or arson. No need to have add-on terrorism charges. Probably going to be used badly. Arguably already are.

Everyone wants to influence the government. It can be argued that lobbying organizations use fear by sending scary letters. Using fear and wanting to influence the government is not enough to make someone a terrorist.

 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
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