Environmental Terrorists Deserve No Special Treatment

There is no shame in believing that those among the Left who most profess their “caring”, for animals, the environment, and other non-human “causes” are simply anti-people.This summer, “environmentalists” defended the fruits of their advocacy for more sharks, necessitating expansion of sharks' search for food in areas frequented by (and thus increasingly feeding upon) humans, as a legitimate regulatory goal. That was the most recent exhibit of their preferences, until-September 11.Certain “caring” types have since failed to contain their true passions. For example, the Earth Island Institute (EII) editorializing on their website site that the September 11 victims essentially got what they deserved. After all, EII sneered, they mostly worked for the Pentagon and “multinational financial empires”, all perpetuating an oil-based economy.Campus faculty outrages abounded, of course, though others attempted to distance themselves from the hijacking terrorists. This, given the anti-anti-American backlash that led even EII to implausibly label its editorial as a personal email accidentally posted (by, ahem, the site's editor) and not reflecting EII's views.With equal plausibility if even more deeply flawed logic, spokesman for the eco-extremist Animal Liberation Front (ALF), David Barbarash, declared “to call ALF 'terrorist' is an insult to those who lost their lives on September 11”. According to NannyCulture.com, Barbarash's record includes being charged with possessing explosives and impermissibly toting weapons. One can safely presume he is not a hunter.Still, ignore that. Avoid further confusion by also ignoring that on September 11 ALF took credit for firebombing a Tucson McDonald's. NannyCulture.com reports, “ALF has also set off firebombs at meat companies and feed mills, kidnapped and tortured a British journalist, and was called 'a true domestic terrorism group that uses criminal activity to further their political agenda' by the FBI.Jane's Intelligence Review calls ALF 'the most prominent eco-terrorist group' in its current issue, noting that one ALF target 'received two letter bombs, letters with razor blades, his car was damaged and the windows and doors of his house destroyed.'”It seems at the same time both unnecessary yet imperative to point out the intolerable nature of such activity by civilized society, and that a policy of turning the other cheek towards such “low level” terrorism irrefutably encourages escalation. Now that the President has declared “war on terrorism,” not attacking this scourge is irresponsible. It hit our shores well before September 11 and is increasing.Former FBI Director Louis Freeh, in his May prepared remarks submitted to the Senate Committees on Appropriations, Armed Service and Select Committee on Intelligence, provided the following summation: “The FBI views domestic terrorism as the unlawful use, or threatened use, of violence by a group or individual that is based and operating entirely within the United States or its territories without foreign direction and which is committed against persons or property with the intent of intimidating or coercing a government or its population in furtherance of political or social objectives. The current domestic terrorist threat primarily comes from right-wing extremist groups, left-wing and Puerto Rican extremist groups, and special interest extremists… Special interest terrorism differs from traditional right-wing and left-wing terrorism in that extremist special interest groups seek to resolve specific issues, rather than effect more widespread political change. Special interest extremists continue to conduct acts of politically motivated violence to force segments of society, including, the general public, to change attitudes about issues considered important to their causes. These groups occupy the extreme fringes of animal rights, pro-life, environmental, anti-nuclear, and other political and social movements. Some special interest extremists — most notably within the animal rights and environmental movements — have turned increasingly toward vandalism and terrorist activity in attempts to further their causes.Freeh continued: In recent years, the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) — An extremist animal rights movement — has become one of the most active extremist elements in the United States. Despite the destructive aspects of ALF's operations, its operational philosophy discourages acts that harm 'any animal, human and nonhuman.' Animal rights groups in the United States, including ALF, have generally adhered to this mandate. A distinct but related group, the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), claimed responsibility for the arson fires set at a Vail, Colorado, ski resort in October 1998 that destroyed eight separate structures and caused $12 million dollars in damages. In a communique issued after the fires, ELF claimed that the fires were in retaliation for the resort's planned expansion that would destroy the last remaining habitat in Colorado for the lynx. Eight of the terrorist incidents occurring in the United States during 1999 have been attributed to either ALF or ELF. Several additional acts committed during 2000 and 2001 are currently being reviewed for possible designation as terrorist incidents.”We have already heard from the Left that those who bomb abortion clinics must not be excluded from the current war. On what grounds could they, or the Bush administration argue that, for purposes of the overdue “war on terrorism,” there are “bad” terrorists, and “good”, or exempt, terrorists such as “environmentalists”?The administration defines “domestic terrorism” in its anti-terror legislation consistent with former Director Freeh. Wherein lies an acceptable distinction, between similar actions, driven by purported Islamic fundamentalism and complaints with our society grounded elsewhere?The House of Representatives has scheduled hearings on precisely that issue. Let us hope they exact a promise, or impose a duty, that our government will not play favorites.Christopher C. Horner is a Senior Fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute